Author Topic: Drug Legalization  (Read 3200 times)

JoshuaD

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Drug Legalization
« on: September 15, 2016, 04:58:25 PM »
Does anyone here disagree that Marijuana should either be decriminalized or made completely legal?  I don't want anyone serving time in jail for smoking weed, and I'm starting to have trouble even seeing the other side's argument here.

I feel this way, to a lesser degree, about all non-addictive drugs that do either minimal or incremental damage when used: mushrooms, LSD, mdma, etc.

I think highly addictive and highly dangerous drugs (cocaine, heroin, meth, etc.) should remain illegal, but I would also avoid locking users in jail for abuse of these substances.

By highly additive and highly dangerous I mean drugs that cannot be experimented with, and the damages associated with doing those drugs are not incremental. 

Gaoics79

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Re: Drug Legalization
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2016, 08:44:28 PM »
I agree with you in general terms.

But one point I would make is that the problem isn't necessarily the fact that the drugs are illegal per say, but the fact that it seems the sole means of coercive power the law has over addicts is jail. 

Just throwing this out there, but would you consider a system that forces addicts into rehabilitation, (i.e. mandatory detoxification and counselling) as an alternative to jail?

It seems to me that prison is a poor response to this kind of lawbreaking, no?

The level of coercion I am envisioning would be quite high. It might even be a violation of constitutional rights. But setting the legalities aside, would it be worth it as an answer to the (hard) drug problem? Would you rather be thrown in prison or strapped to a gurney and forcibly detoxified?

Fenring

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Re: Drug Legalization
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2016, 11:27:14 PM »
The criminal record is another problem, along with the actual experience of being in jail. Making a mistake should screw up a person's future, which therefore increases desperation and the likelihood of doing drugs (or selling them), etc etc. Great system, real nice. But of course it is really nice if the actual objective is to have many people in prison, which I do believe has been the case. Many countries have drug laws; only one has the prison population the U.S. does. Something doesn't fit.

Aside from the legal aspect of it, the banning of any drug automatically leads to a black market which creates a lot of crime, border problems, soaring prices for people who are inevitably going to seek that drug anyhow, huge financial gain for any person (in government) who makes deals with the cartels, serious chaos in the countries supplying the black market; and the list goes on. Whether or not hard drugs 'should be' illegal on some kind of moral grounds, on a pragmatic ground I suspect more harm is done by banning them than would be done by allowing people to legally destroy themselves with them. I honestly don't think it would end up being as bad as people think; especially so because part of the problem with drug culture now is the need to keep the illegal activity hidden, which therefore often leads to problems becoming untenable before a person seeks help and admits the problem. This is all speculation, of course, but if one tallied the net deaths causes by current drug laws (in the U.S. and abroad) I would put down serious money that even a drug-use 'epidemic' under blanket legalization would still not equal what's happening now.

JoshuaD

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Re: Drug Legalization
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2016, 12:46:15 AM »
Just throwing this out there, but would you consider a system that forces addicts into rehabilitation, (i.e. mandatory detoxification and counselling) as an alternative to jail?

Given the nature of drug abuse, I don't believe force-based solutions will work.

I also generally don't trust giving people that much control over another person's decisions.

Redskullvw

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Re: Drug Legalization
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2016, 08:31:47 AM »
Honestly the older I get, the more I realize that the costs to truely stop drug use is beyond reasonable for us to bare. I know what the outcome of long term drug use is amongst my peers. Even marijuana long term screws people over- especially on a cognitive level. So I can understand why drugs in general were either made prescription only or outright criminalizes. Drugs may give a temporary benefit as perceived by the individual- but long term criminalizes drugs devestate pretty much everyone.

That said, and given the fact we really don't enforce our drug laws, we seldom enforce them equitably, and have created a black market far beyond even the greatest fantasies of Al Capone, it is beyond the time to legalize drugs regardless of what it does on the individual level.

Whether they are legal or not- we will still have addict. They will still be self destructive. They will still inflict unintended costs to society at large. But if we are no longer wasting money on the criminal vs police approach we should be able to literally stop countless other unintended consequences of drugs being criminalizes.

For example gang wars are usually a result of drug distribution and market share. That would disappear. Meth labs disappear. National Forests become safe for hikers again. The nation's number one crop can be taxed. Drug addicts would be equivalent to chronic alcoholics.

I could go on but I won't. Since we cannot enforce our laws to the level of actual elimination of drug based criminal activity, and since the only way to enforce the laws would require a complete militarization of the police on a national level there is literally no argument that can support the current laws and policies. Will addicts cause needless tragedies like drunk drivers or will addicts be more likely to overdose in an environment where drugs are legal? Sure. That will totally be an expected outcome. But eventually social norms and pressures will have the same effect on alcohol use that we now have. People essentially don't abuse alcohol anymore at a level where in the past people thought nothing about jumping in a car with a 12 pack and going for a drive. To get a DUI in this day and age causes such social pressure to the guilty that literally only an alcoholic would risk getting one.

But we should learn that Prohibition of Alcohol caused so many unintended negative results, that we should be logical enough to realize the prohibition of drugs is repeating and maintaining the same types and scopes of unintended consequences. Personally I think if you use drugs it's your choice, and likely a bad one. If you're getting drunk every few days, it's your choice and likely a bad one. But both should be legally equivalent actions.

Fenring

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Re: Drug Legalization
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2016, 09:41:44 AM »
That said, and given the fact we really don't enforce our drug laws, we seldom enforce them equitably, and have created a black market far beyond even the greatest fantasies of Al Capone, it is beyond the time to legalize drugs regardless of what it does on the individual level.

Not only are they not enforced equitably, but out of all issues people claim are proof of racism in America, this is one area where I think actual racism (in the old sense; meaning deliberate) was in play when the current drug laws were devised. Only because this cannot easily be proved are the laws still in place, because if it was somehow apparent that anti-black laws were still in place there would be riots and such along with a massive movement to overturn the laws.

Along with the racism angle, the drug laws have given police forces carte blanche to pull anyone over and submit them to drug searches, regardless of the actual reason for the stop. There is the notorious and common practice where a baggie of drugs can be planted in the car if they want to impound it or arrest the driver for whatever reason, and without the drug laws being as they are there would be no replacement for this strategy. Fake drug suspicion also largely fuels the quasi-criminal practice of civil forfeiture, which could not possibly be justified otherwise.

And then we could get into how important agencies become corrupted by the allure of drug money flowing in from the cartels. There is the proven incident of the DEA being directly in bed with the Mexican cartels; not one agent, but many. The incident was so blatant we must assume that the entire organization is compromised. I won't even get into the CIA in this thread, but it's far, far worse.

Redskullvw

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Re: Drug Legalization
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2016, 02:44:47 PM »
Its just stupid policy. I guess inertia at the government level is just so large at this point that the literal implication to government suddenly not needing the resources and manpower to enforce drug criminalization would result in both budget cuts and manpower cuts. Further in places where because drugs are criminal, government can assign blame to drug related activities- instead of real reasons would suddenly reveal just how much failed government policy causes so many problems that are viewed as insurmountable to be seperate from drugs.

E.g. we blame the ghettos on the drug use and drug markets.We get told repeatedly that the ghetto improvement program failed due to the drugs. When in reality most of the ghetto improvement programs are so half assed that even in an ideal situation they wont work.

I just totally lost my train of thought.

JoshuaD

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Re: Drug Legalization
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2016, 05:02:21 PM »
@Red: We agree.  What are your thoughts on how to handle drugs that are highly addictive? (i.e. meth, heroin, etc.)

My concern with those substances is that you can't "try them out" in a way where the negative consequences rise in proportion with their use.  A few bad weeks with pot or LSD, and you're going to be fine. A few bad weeks with an opiate or meth, and you can be life-screwed.

I don't know how to deal with that, it and tends to make me want to continue to control access to those substances.

DJQuag

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Re: Drug Legalization
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2016, 05:25:19 PM »
I've had close family members who struggled with opiate addictions for five years or more, and they managed to come out the other side more or less okay.  That is not to say that there wasn't a definite bad affect both on them and society, but it wasn't a line that was crossed and then they could never return.

It ultimately always comes down to the person. There are people who have been using heroin 2 out of 7 days a week, on their days off, and are doing just fine. There are also people who burgle houses for weed money or lose their own house to a gambling addiction, despite neither of those things being physiologically addictive.

You can spend the money to put people like that in prison, or you can spend the money to provide them with help and/or treatment.  I know which one that I prefer.

TheDrake

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Re: Drug Legalization
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2016, 08:46:30 AM »
I really don't understand why fundamentally we should treat drug addiction differently from alcoholism, or the sale of drugs differently from the sale of alcohol. I also don't know why we ever jail someone for an action that only harms the offender themselves.