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LowDown

Rethinking My Position on Drug Legalization

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While I've generally been in favor of drug legalization I've always felt that some drugs are too dangerous to legalize. These are the stimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, etc. This is because habitual use basically destroys the human body, resulting in brain damage, kidney failure, malnutrition, open skin sores, etc. If you'd like to see what I mean, look here.

I had thought that narcotics were a lesser danger and that legalization could lead to a tolerable situation, but as we've gained more experience with chronic narcotic use it is becoming clear that they are even more toxic than meth class drugs. It's just that it's a more subtle form of toxicity. What we didn't realize was that chronic narcotics sap a person's will to live, sap their energy, sap their ambition and turn them into blobs who sit around doing nothing day after day. Narcotics destroy their lives making them apathetic about personal relationships and responsibilities. We knew that narcotics are subject to a tolerance effect such that higher and higher doses are required to get the same high, but there was little realization that even with tolerance the effects on respiration can be just as bad. The result is overdose deaths, which have turned into an epidemic.

Some advocate legalizing everything and letting Darwin sort it all out. Those who are going to over-use drugs will die, so just let them die. The trouble with this is that history has shown that there is no upper bound to the proportion of the population that can end up addicted to narcotics. In some Chinese cities in the 1800s 80% of the population was smoking opiates and the economy in those places had ground almost completely to a stop. It was this that forced the Emperor to make opiate use punishable by death.

So, by all means, legalize the less dangerous drugs and turn all those non-violent drug offenders in prison loose. But some drugs need to remain restricted. If this means I'm not libertarian enough then so be it. I don't think that libertarianism has ever meant to advocate an absence of law and good order.
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  1. Empirica's Avatar
    As you suggested; legalizing the "dangerous drugs" might possibly be beneficial to getting our species gene-pool back on course!

    It seems all those 20th Century progressive policies have so polluted the human gene-pool that it now looks more like a cesspool!
  2. Chomsky's Avatar
    You've come around on your thinking about hard drugs because you believe 'new things' are being "found out", when the reality is these pathologies have been pretty consistent but the collective layman's knowledge of them has to be re-learned by each succeeding generation or two.

    "Speed Kills" was a common '60's mantra, and death by respiratory failure due to opiate overdose has been known for a very long time. There's nothing new here, except for your understanding and perception.

    And I imply no personal ignorance on your part. That's just the way these things seem to go.
  3. Fearandloathing's Avatar
    I have been working in the addictions field since May 21, 1991. As a recovered addict/alcoholic I too have learned a thing or two, and have changed my view as well. But, this story begins with the cold, hard fact, most addictions are to prescription and over-the-counter medications.

    That pretty well kills the idea that a "war on drugs" is actually going to do anything more than drive up the street price and thus profits for traffickers.

    Today, 12 step programs are filled with kids, people who have hit bottom and gone through institutional recovery by the age of 19. That's how fast the **** out there takes people down.

    Now comes the really hard part, where I am reminded of the head drug cop character of Michael Douglas when he turns to his department heads and asks if anyone has any new ideas on what to do....and there is a long, long silence.

    The bad news is we know exactly what to do, but we are afraid to try. You hit on part of it, legalize pot at least, and stop making criminals out of users. Possession of small amounts of even the hard core **** should no longer be a felony, but a means of the courts directing the user into rehab. It's hard, arduous and extremely frustrating. I have first hand experience on that after walking with more guys than I care to recall who "couldn't wait for the miracle" and are dead now. The path to recovery, just like with cigarettes, usually takes a few tries.

    Next comes harm reduction. Give them alternatives, or at least a safe place to load up. I was extremely opposed to this for years...until I met a former user who OD'd twice and was recovered at Insight saying "they kept me alive so that I could recover". And that's a tough one because even liberals will fight it. I have seen it work and am sworn to harm reduction as one tool to use against the problem.

    the next thing that has to happen is that we go big and hard on prevention. The police here some years ago produced a short film called "through a Blue Lens" documenting drug users from fairly good health, through their deterioration and death. It has a huge impact. But its a drop in the bucket. I would like to see some of these wealthy movie stars who have had their own struggles throw their weight at it. What if we had a star studded cast in an anti-drug using movie?
  4. Fearandloathing's Avatar
    I have been working in the addictions field since May 21, 1991. As a recovered addict/alcoholic I too have learned a thing or two, and have changed my view as well. But, this story begins with the cold, hard fact, most addictions are to prescription and over-the-counter medications.

    That pretty well kills the idea that a "war on drugs" is actually going to do anything more than drive up the street price and thus profits for traffickers.

    Today, 12 step programs are filled with kids, people who have hit bottom and gone through institutional recovery by the age of 19. That's how fast the **** out there takes people down.

    Now comes the really hard part, where I am reminded of the head drug cop character of Michael Douglas in the film "Traffic" when he turns to his department heads and asks if anyone has any new ideas on what to do....and there is a long, long silence.

    The bad news is we know exactly what to do, but we are afraid to try. You hit on part of it, legalize pot at least, and stop making criminals out of users. Possession of small amounts of even the hard core **** should no longer be a felony, but a means of the courts directing the user into rehab. It's hard, arduous and extremely frustrating. I have first hand experience on that after walking with more guys than I care to recall who "couldn't wait for the miracle" and are dead now. The path to recovery, just like with cigarettes, usually takes a few tries.

    Next comes harm reduction. Give them alternatives, or at least a safe place to load up. I was extremely opposed to this for years...until I met a former user who OD'd twice and was recovered at Insight saying "they kept me alive so that I could recover". And that's a tough one because even liberals will fight it. I have seen it work and am sworn to harm reduction as one tool to use against the problem.

    the next thing that has to happen is that we go big and hard on prevention. The police here some years ago produced a short film called "through a Blue Lens" documenting drug users from fairly good health, through their deterioration and death. It has a huge impact. But its a drop in the bucket. I would like to see some of these wealthy movie stars who have had their own struggles throw their weight at it. What if we had a star studded cast in an anti-drug using movie?
  5. bungleodeon's Avatar
    The question of legalizing all drugs has ties to a lot of different things, but the one that I think is most relevant to the issues of today is the one relating to society. What type of society do we want to live in? Ethics/politics aside, most people would agree they want to live in a world where people did not have to use drugs or did not want to use them, but that isn't realistic. We have to look at our realistic options for today.

    Do we want to live in a society where drugs are free and available, where addicts can fill any high they want relatively easily?

    Or do we want to live in a society that shames addicts by making them criminals, forcing them to pay high rates for their thrills, and making them contribute to gangs/cartels/terrorists if they want to get their drugs?

    We already live in a society (in the US) where addicts are everywhere and drugs are everywhere. We have already failed in stopping these drugs from being in our cities (one can argue our war on drug efforts have been minimal, or even complicit in distributing drugs in the US from countries they were involved with). Drug cartels, making the large majority of their money from Americans, are terrorizing countries in our hemisphere. Drug money is keeping a lot of much worse criminals in business, I think it would make a lot more sense to hurt the gangs/cartels by legalizing it.

    We have to be looking at the users and not the drugs themselves at this point. We know drugs are bad; many of us still use drugs. When we look at users, do we want them to be criminals? I don't. I also don't think people should be using drugs, and I would certainly hope the education system takes an honest approach on how they handle this topic with children, unlike how they did with me when I was young, but preaching abstinence from drugs isn't working, it isn't going to work, and it has never worked before. Drug laws have been ineffective at stopping drug use. At this point, it would be much better to stop treating drug addicts like fringe members of society.

    I don't mind living in a society where drug addicts/users are not considered criminals.

    Then, there is also the argument for people that are not drug abusers. I recently broke my hand. I know enough about the injury and have some friends that work at the hospital, so I set it myself. It is fine. But, I would have loved some pain pills. I have to go to a doctor to tell them I am in pain and I need pain pills. I could have walked up to a 10 year old, shown her my hand, and I bet one of the first 5 comments she would make would mention something about how bad does it hurt, did it hurt, does it still hurt. My point? If drugs were legal I could walk into a store and treat a pretty common problem, pain, with strong drugs. Instead, I have to go to a doctor, pay money or have insurance, so he can say, "I bet that hurts, have some pain pills, but only this many because I could get investigated if they think I am giving you too many." Why can't I determine how many and how often I need them? Because of the possibility that someone else may get hooked to these drugs because they can get you high? That's pretty stupid.

    I once was refused pain pills by a dentist. I just had my wisdom teeth out, I filled my prescription, I used the pills, I got a dry socket, the pills ran out, I went back in to check on my dry socket because it was terrible and it hurt and was refused any more because I had already used my prescription.

    Again, I don't think people should be using drugs they don't need, but I don't think those of us that are comfortable with how our body handles medication need a doctor for every prescription. My local drug dealer would probably teach me how to take heroin, I doubt I'd have problems figuring out the proper dosage of drugs that are created in individual doses. People shouldn't be punished because drug addiction is a real thing.
  6. LowDown's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Chomsky
    You've come around on your thinking about hard drugs because you believe 'new things' are being "found out", when the reality is these pathologies have been pretty consistent but the collective layman's knowledge of them has to be re-learned by each succeeding generation or two.

    "Speed Kills" was a common '60's mantra, and death by respiratory failure due to opiate overdose has been known for a very long time. There's nothing new here, except for your understanding and perception.

    And I imply no personal ignorance on your part. That's just the way these things seem to go.
    It is the case that the thinking of the medical profession as a whole in the US has evolved over the past 20 or 30 years. Back in the '80s there was a push to liberalize the use of narcotics in an effort to better treat pain. So lots of patients were put on big doses of the medications. Now the medical profession is looking back on the resulting experience and is appalled by what they have wrought. Hundreds of thousands of lives in the US ruined or ended by narcotic addiction. Just the other day the CDC issued new guidelines for the use of narcotics in non-terminal chronic pain. In short, their advice was don't use them. Not for anybody.
  7. Cephus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by bungleodeon
    The question of legalizing all drugs has ties to a lot of different things, but the one that I think is most relevant to the issues of today is the one relating to society. What type of society do we want to live in?
    But you can say the same thing about any crime. We have singularly failed to stop robberies, rapes, murders, all manner of financial crimes, etc. Should we just give up because we haven't managed to end them? There isn't a single law on the books that has ever managed to stop the crimes it refers to. Not a single one.

    So the question of what type of society we want to live in becomes more important than can we actually stop everyone from breaking the law. And the type of society I want to live in is one where people are rational and intelligent and care about dealing with the world as it actually is, not as they emotionally wish that it was. Yes, that's a long shot, but it is a goal worth working toward, at least IMO. And the only way to work toward a goal is to take that goal seriously, which we honestly don't do. We haven't had a "War on Drugs". We never have. At best, we've had a "Media Campaign on Drugs". We talk about it a lot, we don't actually have the balls to do what needs to be done because it will make us look bad and we're more concerned about our appearance than our success. That's something that is true of pretty much everything the U.S. does. We're more concerned about our PR than we are with winning these various and sundry "wars". That's why we fail on every single one of them and will continue to fail so long as talk is more important than action.

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