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Author Topic: Drugs
Snowden
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There are too many people in jail for drug related crimes. I'm not looking for some large scale free-will argument on how we have a moral obligation to allow people to take drugs, but I am looking for an alternative to throwing people in jail.
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RickyB
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Don't.
Seriously, just don't, at least not for use and possession. What's the problem?

[ November 27, 2004, 01:45 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Snowden
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The problem is opium ridden pre-Mau china. If we make drugs legal, poor communities are going to go from marginally functional to wastelands. One of the virtues of living in America is that I, for the most part, like associating with Americans. It's one of the reasons why people like attending Ivy League schools. It's not the faculty or the facilities, it's that people like associating with people from Ivy League schools.

I don't like associating with drug users, especially heroin and methamphetamine users, and I worry that the rampant availability and countenancing of drugs is going to create a society with the degrade the quality of public space.

Drug use in society degrades my quality of life by association, it's kind of the same reason that I don't want casinos popping up everywhere I go.

If we got serious about education. If we pulled out all the tools, starting bring crack-whores into second grade classrooms, and making a concerted effort to stigmatize drug use as not only a illness, but is deficiency in character, then may be I'd abide by legalizing them.

It would attack the problem of the pushers.

[ November 27, 2004, 06:29 PM: Message edited by: Snowden ]

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RickyB
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"poor communities are going to go from marginally functional to wastelands"

Why hasn't that happened in Holland? True, hard drugs are still criminalized (as opposed to ganja), but they're not packing their prisons with users.

And guess what? Holland has one of the lowest rate of hard drug users in Europe, and the average age of the dutch junkie is one of the highest (meaning fewer young users are joining the ranks).

I totally agree about education, which is something that could be funded by saving on incarceration and so on. But in oprder to educate effectively against hard drugs, you MUST make a clear distinction between them and soft drugs.

I also agree about stigmatizing. Putting someone in jail for something, sends a message that the "crime" was bad. Bad has an allure. WEstern democracies don't put people in jail for being losers. Only when in the course of being losers they bother someone else. The attempt to use criminalization to scare people away from drugs has evidently backfired. I think that a message of "(hard) drugs = total losership" would be much easier to convey if you didn't have a criminal penalty, which seems to convey that this is something so desirable that they had to legislate against it.

As for pushers, start a program where registered addicts can get their fix for cost at a state-run clinic and you'll see pusher profits plummet. Beginners will pay more to avoid contact with the man, but hardcore junkies will gladly pay a buck instead of 30 or more. They've already been busted before, so they've got little to hide. Hardcore junkies are where pushers make their money. Break that market, you break them.

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JoshuaD
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Here's a question I've been curious about for a while. Where does the government currently get the jurisdiction to illegalize drugs?

It seems to me that the 18th and 21st amendments together suggest the government does not have the authortiy to control what we put in our bodies. So what mechanism do they use to create these laws?

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Zyne
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Everyone who has wanted to do drugs, has done drugs. They'd hurt my neighborhood less if they were out in the open. But that's off topic...

Education, community, and treating addiction/the cause are the key. Instead of jailing productive citizens, inform them how drugs may or will adversely affect them, introduce them to others in their communities who have struggled with drugs or alcohol, and treat any addiction or other cause to see drugs, such as mental health problems. Do this without shaming the individual, and drugs won't be anything approaching a large scale problem any more.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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JoshuaD -

I could be wrong, but I believe the authority for the 'War on Drugs' comes from the Interstate Commerce Clause.

Ditto with FDA & co., AFAIK

--Firedrake

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scifibum
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quote:
Everyone who has wanted to do drugs, has done drugs. They'd hurt my neighborhood less if they were out in the open.
Respectfully, I would ask how can anyone know this? People who want to take drugs right now want to do so in defiance of law and some aspects of the culture they belong to. If we remove the legal obstacle, and hence at least part of the cultural stigma, who knows how many more people might decide they want to try drugs? (I'd probably drive 100 MPH on certain stretches of freeway under certain conditions if it wasn't illegal, even knowing some good reasons why I shouldn't.)

quote:
Why hasn't that happened in Holland? True, hard drugs are still criminalized (as opposed to ganja), but they're not packing their prisons with users.

And guess what? Holland has one of the lowest rate of hard drug users in Europe, and the average age of the dutch junkie is one of the highest (meaning fewer young users are joining the ranks).

Also, I think there's a danger in modeling drug policy after the Dutch, because we don't really know that it would work out the same way in the context of our culture. Look at obesity, teen pregnancy...we have other problems that can be ascribed to a lack of restraint and moderation in behavior, especially concerning things that feel good. I'm concerned about what would happen if drugs became even more available in this context.

Stop jailing people for individual use/possession, I'm OK with that. I still think we need to deter drug use with at least fines (hey it's one more way to pay for education).

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Snowden
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I'm worried when I look at obesity. Our kids aren't exactly the model of self-control and discipline, and I fear that those same qualities would lead to increased drug use.

I worry that it's going to be around more. Sure, most people who want to do the hard stuff can find it, but most people who don't look for it, can avoid it. I don't know if that's going to be the case when it's legalized.

[ November 28, 2004, 02:11 AM: Message edited by: Snowden ]

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The Drake
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One point to work out. Legalisation is not the only way to keep people out of jail. These crimes, if they are to remain crimes, need to be reduced to Misdemeanor offenses at the most. Personally, I'd put it in the same category as "open container" fines, or selling alcohol to a minor.

Then we could address the question of whether adults should have legal access to drugs, and if so of what variety.

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RickyB
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scifi, I apologize in advance if I come off as imaptient. I've just logged way more hours at debating this topic than you have (no, I don't know you. Willing to bet the farm anyway).

The "unique cultural context" thing has been done to death. I can marginally accept it when proferred in Israel, where the necessary militariization of the culture offers a non-trivial argument in allowing people to explore alternate states of consciousness whenever the hell they choose *

But in America? There is nothing substantially different enough in the culture between the Netherlands and the USA to justify the assumption that we should have problems with drug legalization that they didn't.

* I myself believe these arguments are also ultimately beatable - not as important as others -but they are not based on a totally false premise to begin with.

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Zyne
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scifi, agreed that that is unknowable. I have a hunch it's true because so many people involved with drugs say it's true, from users to police to prosecutors. Stigma depends on the drug and the group--there are groups where use of "hard" drugs is both condoned and expected (musicians and cocaine, for example), and very few groups are intolerant of marijuana.
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stayne
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I'm with Ricky. Just stop. The War on Drugs is more onerous and unjust than the problem itself. I tend to think that there would indeed be an initial problem. But we could divert a crapload of money from interdictment and enforcement to education and programs that would help people break addictions, and we would still have a lot of money left over. It is true that some people would still ruin their lives with drugs, but honestly, some people will ruin their lives regardless of what we do. And maybe that's best. Maybe the object lesson would be worth a fortune in education.

What I do know is this: I would rather have my kids experiment with drugs and not be imprisoned than be imprisoned. I experimented with drugs when I was a youth, and I stopped, because I grew up and became responsible. I can always hope they will learn better, and stop using drugs. I can try to help them get into a program to stop. I can do a lot of things to help them get back on their feet, and not have their lives ruined. A criminal conviction _is_ a life ruining event, IMO. It's a cure that is worse than the disease.

And this says nothing about the terrible things we do in the name of drug laws. We rape the constitution, arrest property, imprison our youth, and enforce our will on other nations. I always wonder when I hear some bright eyed idealist bitching about Iraq, "What the hell do you think about _Columbia_?" At least no one can argue that Hussein was an evil dictator who deserved to get thumped, maybe not by us, but by _someone_, if only the Iraqis. WTF is Columbia doing but making stuff that _no one_ is compelled to purchase? They are filling a demand for something _we_ decided was illegal, and we figure it's our place to stop them?

Someone asked in World Watch if we had ever angaged in an immoral war. The War on Drugs would fit the bill.

[edited for spelling]

[ November 28, 2004, 08:39 PM: Message edited by: stayne ]

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The Drake
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Ending the War on Drugs doesn't necessarily mean that drugs start getting sold in the supermarket, but I agree that it is an incredible waste of money. It is also getting cops killed, as the sentences for dealers are now so severe that it becomes worthwhile to escape at all costs. Dealers are also naming random people as parts of plea-bargain arrangements to reduce their own sentence without really fingering the guys that can have them killed.

The biggest proof possible that the War on Drugs is ridiculous, is that the government can't even keep drugs out of prison. And those guys have lost every civil right in the book. Random searches, detainment, controlled access. None of it can stop the flow of drugs into jail.

I say, fine them and then use that money to fund rehab and education programs.

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philnotfil
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If you are against the legalization of marijuana, what is your stand on alcohol?
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