Holden Caulfield (the_pathogen) wrote,

Dialogs on Prohibition

These comments were taken off the Economist's recent article, proposing the end of prohibition and the need for legalization. I'm posting them as examples of quazi-educated folk's real reasons why they support prohibition, if only to prove that there is no reason to keep prohibition around. These are examples of the people who need to be persuaded, people who are not policy makers, but certainly pursue an understanding of social issues. Please comment if you think my responses are not strong enough to end the argument or if you need clarification on a specific point.

How to Stop the Drug Wars



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Legalization is unlikely to end the black market.

Legalization implies both taxation and regulation - to ensure purity, truth in labelling, and the like - that current "producers" are sure to attempt to avoid. In addition, does any serious person really think that current, legitimate companies will want to associate themselves with the production and marketing of "recreational" drugs? The plaintiff's bar is certainly salivating at the prospect!

Neither prohibition nor legalization will prove a panacea. One might be marginally better policy than the other. But only marginally, not substantially. The solution to this problem, like the solution to most problems, remains within ourselves and not the government: if each individual stopped using drugs, there would be no "drug problem".

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Of course serious companies will sell marijuana: they sell booze, cigarettes, and pills of all shapes and varieties (some of which have been fatal). The figurative "Masses Of The People" are not going to stop using drugs as long as they're available, and prohibition without extreme penalties will not stop the availability.


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While I agree with you position there is a finite limit to regulation and taxation at which prohibition behaviors kick in. Case in point. After New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg took office he quickly kept a campaign promise to give NYC the highest cigarette taxes in the nation as a way to dissuade use. Weeks later members of the Hamas palestinian group were busted in North Carolina with a truck load of cigarette destined for New York City to raise funds for the Hamas cause in the Middle East. This is a lesson for those who say legalize and then add onerous taxes to dissuade use. There is a limit at which prohibition economics kick in. There is a point at which a competitive black market will rise up and flourish.
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Indeed, blackmarket goods are always available for every product, good governance keeps that in check. Even if Marijuana (or other drugs) was legalized, we would still see blackmarket sellers of the product, and law enforcement will appropriately combat those forces. The taxation of marijuana would have to low enough to allow a competitive market place, but should still be high enough to fund social programs to combat drug abuse and provide for law enforcement.


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I think drugs should be like driving: A privilege, not a right...if you want to be a user, you would need to pass a test and get a license and some form of personal insurance incase you hurt yourself or someone else. If you act irresponsibly, then you get your license suspended or revoked.
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That's just foolishness, inebriating one's self is a natural right. With the license it would create a black market yet again.


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Oh, you Brits at The Economist seem to conveniently gloss over how you fought the Opium Wars with China in order to keep them addicted and make money off it. Back then, you were the Drug Cartels, backed up with gunboat firepower. Lovely.As for legalization of dangerous substances, the problem is that the rest of society then has to live with the effects of those substances and the substance-abusers. The more addictive the substance is, the more it will be abused and over-used to excess. At some point, society has to be able to put its foot down and allow non-users to dissociate themselves from drug-users/abusers. Otherwise, we might as well legalize rape and prostitution, too. What if prostitution rings were to employ the hyper-aggressive violence that drug cartels do? Would we cave in on that as well, allowing trafficking of women to be legalized in order to deprive the criminal element of monetary incentive? At some point, society has to acknowledge that the bloodthirsty criminal element is the problem, and that their easy resort to violence has to be disincentivized by making them pay a higher price beyond what they're willing to pay.
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Society's burden would actually be reduced, since the taxation would largely pay for the treatment of abusers. This is covered in the original article. The analogy of sex-trade to drug-trade is beyond answering, but the point of the criminal element is somewhat reasonable. The idea is to reduce the ability of the criminals to fund their actions, since crime it's self cannot be removed from society. Again, we would need extremely harsh penalties to stop the want for drugs, look at Arizona or New York for places where that's been tried and failed, those laws are already teetering on "cruel and unusual punishment".


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I am firmly convinced that mind altering drugs (including alcohol) create a huge economic and human deficit in any civilized society. Lost productivity as well as medical and law enforcement costs have to be beyond comprehension. I will even throw in the threat to our National Security. Accordingly, I can not condone the legalization of these drugs. The cost of legal mind altering drugs (mainly alcohol) is already way too costly for the same reasons mentioned earlier. I really can not see how the repeal of Prohibition has done anything to lo lessen it's effects on our society.It seems logical to me that fastest, least costly way to reduce or eliminate the drug problem is to eliminate it's source, the crops themselves and the facilities that manufacture them. An aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arabian Sea along with a little Intelligence on the areas growing and manufacturing these drugs would go a long way.I feel that we are at war with drugs and that this warrants whatever it takes to win it. Our way of life and our freedom are seriously at risk.
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Advocating violating the sovereign right of nations is completely absurd, especially considering the subversive means in which these drugs are manufactured. It would be economically impossible for us to simply bomb all the places that manufacture or grow drugs, even though our government actively pursues this policy in South America currently (by using a modern day Agent Orange). We have successfully destroyed the fields of innocent people by doing so, and drugs have not stopped coming in.

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Where I grew up marijuana and cocaine were freely available for relatively low cost. ...only a couple cleaned up and went on to have successful lives, the rest are either still smoking or have moved on to cocaine.

Legalizing sends a strong message that we as a society are ok with drugs.

....NO PERSON WHO HAS EVER SEEN THAT WOULD OPT FOR LEGALIZATION PERIOD! Horrible.

The question still at hand pertains to the type of society we want to build. If we are to legalize heroine, cocaine, meth, and a slew of other drugs then definitely abolish doctors and let me get penicillin, vicodine, hydrocodone and anything else I want without having to go through a doctor - I'm sure I can make the correct decision on usage and dosage.

I don't want my child to grow up in a world where he can walk into a convenience store and pick up a bag of chips and half a gram of cocaine for $7.95.

Nicotine and Marijuana carry all kinds of health problems inherent primarily from their delivery mechanisms....smoking. We should be very mindful when we look at legalizing marijuana for just this reason.

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I had to edit this one down for size, he's just on some hair-brain rant about the slums. This is the perfect example of a person who miss an entire point of legalization: to combat drug abuse! Legalization allow for a sustainable source of income to combat such abuses.

By legalizing drugs, it would be harder for children to get. You only have to compare the availability of Tobacco & Alcohol to Marijuana. Anyone of any age can get marijuana on street corners, by moving it to a place of business, an owner would be accountable for unethical distribution.

Prescription drugs could be abused, like they are now, but could also be sold with an associated tax to combat that abuse. If one wanted to use them medically, they could seek a doctor's advice on how to do so.

An extremely common misconception is that Marijuana must be smoked. You can eat it with no known health side effects, or you could use a vaporizer, which also causes no known side effects. People choose to smoke marijuana because it's an extremely quick way to get the THC in your body.


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I do not agree with complete drug legalization because there are some drugs that shouldn't be available to everyone like Meth or Heroine. Pentaquod I agree with you that there must be efforts to educate in order to prevent new users of those types of drugs. I am however in support for the legalization of a drug that is less harmful than alcohol, and that is marijuana.
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I agree in some aspects, although the same principles of taxation for prevention could be applied to harsher drugs, depending upon the social experiment of first legalizing marijuana.


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In all the years I have been in the field of alcohol and drug treatment I have never heard a plea of an anguished mother from a drug infested slum that if only the government legalized drugs all our problems will be solved!

Pakistan and Afghanistan barely had a heroin problem before the 1980's. The drugs of choice were hashish and smoking opium. Today Pakistan has close to 2 million heroin addicts and Afghanistan close to a million. Drug legalization disproportionately affects poor people. Harm reduction by giving out syringes,drug etc. can have devastating results. Over 56 people died in rural India from hepatitis B caused by contaminated needles used by yes, doctors! The government confiscated five warehouses filled with medical waste! How many desperatetly poor people living in the streets are going to neatly dispose off used needles in biohazard containers?

We have to continue our focus on prevention through education and provide evidence-based treatments that go way beyond self-help groups and substitution therapy for heroin addiction.

For those advocating legalization I would recommend a wonderful book titled: Hep-Cats, Narcs and Pipe Dreams by Jill Jonnes. No society can survive through drug legalization.

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The difference is in Pakistan and Afghanistan the products were not taxed for the purpose of combating abuses. Taxation could be directly proportional to the cost of treating abuse.


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When the street walking crack head buys her state taxed cocaine who has the job of taking care of her six brain damaged crack head babies?

Currently a court can require a drug addict to take contraceptives to prevent the woman from having a brain damaged baby, but if drugs are legal civil rights groups will claim that a drug addict has the right to have children just as an alcoholic can have a child.

Whether drugs are legal or illegal, addicts and alcoholics need to be sterilized or put on contraceptives, but finding out who is an addict will be easiest if drugs and alcohol are criminalized.

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The only solution to this problem, with or without prohibition, is again drug abuse treatment. Taxation of those drugs would fund, at least more than currently available, the solution.

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