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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10773/the-drugs-of-john-gray/

The Drugs of John Gray

October 6, 2009 by

People from all across the political spectrum are now, more than ever, calling for some degree of drug decriminalization or legalization. There are lots of reasons for legalization but only one really great one. FULL ARTICLE

{ 44 comments }

Gil October 6, 2009 at 9:08 am

“He could have noted that alcohol abuse is a greater social problem than illegal drug use . . .”

That’s hardly a winning argument – alcohol abuse is a greater problem because there are no real barriers to getting it. Therefore legalising drugs will see drug use and abuse rise as there are few barriers to getting them.

Mike C. October 6, 2009 at 9:11 am

The only proper basis for law is the protection of individual property rights. When a government starts proposing and enacting laws to cut off the perceived risks and dangers that one segment of the population might potentially pose on the other it has crossed the line, endangered all freedoms, and become a criminal itself.

“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Mike October 6, 2009 at 9:13 am

This is somewhat tangential, but I’d like to point out that illegal drugs can have useful non-medical purposes when used in moderation. My personal experience with marijuana is that when done occasionally and in moderate amounts, my mind is often opened to dramatically different ways to attack various problems I’m having either at work or personally. Moderation with a drug like weed which has such a potential for enhancing pure pleasure is admittedly a very difficult thing to master, but that does not mean the individual shouldn’t have the right to try.

Professor_Blitzkrieg October 6, 2009 at 9:20 am

Hmm… the libertarian position is certainly unanswerable, though I’m not sure about its validity.

One has to remember that the great libertarians are far from great philosophers. Authors such as G.E. Moore, Richard Rorty and AJ Ayer demonstrate the futility of objective or universal ethics.

As such, my take on Austrian economic theory is amoral in the same way that the laws of physics are amoral.

Abandoning the safety of libertarian ethics, which so lend themselves to free market/anarchy, makes libertarian theory less cogent, but also more universal.

I believe the Austrians can win both the Freedom and the Utility debates.

The Utility debate is probably more important because all oppressive government policies are pitched in terms of social good.

Mushindo October 6, 2009 at 10:27 am

Gil said: “That’s hardly a winning argument – alcohol abuse is a greater problem because there are no real barriers to getting it. Therefore legalising drugs will see drug use and abuse rise as there are few barriers to getting them.”

This kneejerk statement needs more thought, Gil. Alcohol ‘abuse’ might well be a ‘problem’ for some (what from of ingestive intake of anything doesnt have its share of overindulgers?), but it does not follow that all users of alcohol abuse it. By far the majority of , say, wine drinkers, use it moderately and responsibly, and their lives are rendered happier as a result. Furthermore, moderate alcohol use correlates with IMPROVED life expectancy relative to both teetotallers and heavy drinkers. This is borne out by the mortality statistics used by insurance companies, who would hardly be expected to knowingly overstate life expectancy).

By your logic, we should outlaw all automobiles because some people will drive recklessly and crash them. But no sane person regards the road death toll as a sound reason to go back to the horse and cart.

There also an inherent framing fraud in any discussion of illegal drugs: The default legislative position is that all ‘use’ is by definition ABuse, and any discussion of moderation vs excess, or even risks vs benefits, is simply dismissed as out of bounds for discussion.

Returning to alcohol, Gil is commended to look into the costs and consequences of Prohibition, whose damage to the American economy, and indeed the very fabric of its society, was simply incalculable. And I’ll bet the whole exercise did nothing to reduce the incidence of alcoholism – it just drove it underground and placed its victims even further away from the reach of those who would have been able or willing to offer them help.

I dont rememebr who said it first, but drugs are far too dangerous to leave them exclusively in the hands of criminals. Let the bright light of day shine on the drug trade, and de-link it from its intimate entanglements with coercive prostitution (and associated human trafficking), gun running, and protection racketeering. Therein lies the path of not only least harm, but most benefit. And let those on th emargins who are enslaved to any drug through addiction , be free to seek help without risk of arrest and demonisation.

the same goes for prostitution, too, invariably cited as undesirable by the thin-lipped (religious or radically-feminist, makes no odds) on account of its ‘inherent’ exploitation of the vulnerable and marginalised. Aside from the fact that this view does not even acknowledge the possibility that some people might willingly choose to enter this field, and would be better off doing so honestly and openly, the brutal truth is that the lot of those who are most vulnerable to exploitation is made incalculably worse, by driving them underground and placing them beyond the reach of alternative choices or help.

PS: To Mike: as regards Marijuana, my experience leads me to the view that the nastiest thing about it is that it renders the user hopelessly boring. But clearly, the most dangerous thing about it is that it is illegal.

Tangentially to your tangent, in South Africa, the police and prison workers Union has recently made a public call to legalise it, something Id warrant would make jaws drop in the US. I can’t fault the call in itself, but I rather suspect it is motivated not by principle but by pragmatism. You see, in South African prisons, dagga ( aka marijuana) use is almost universal among prisoners, and warders invariably turn a blind eye to it (some even facilitate supply), but they are much less tolerant of any alcohol use. The underlying reason? Stoned prisoners tend to be compliant and well-behaved, drunk prisoners tend to get violently belligerent. Theres a lesson in there somewhere.

Property October 6, 2009 at 10:40 am

Mike C.

“The only proper basis for law is the protection of individual property rights.”

So you want the very same people that tax your earnings, invade your privacy, invade your property, violates Habeas Corpus to protect your rights ??? !!!!

You want to hire Johnny Dillinger to guard your savings ?
You want to hire John Allen Muhammad to guard your body ?

It never ceases to amaze me that “libertarians” and “minarchists” would want to let the government control exactly what it should not: private property and liberty.

It is NOT an individual property right if you cannot defend it yourself as an individual and are forced to depend on government for that protection.

The best way to defend individual property is to let individuals armed with guns shoot any looters or invaders.

Trust me, there should be more Joe Horns in this country, crooks are more afraid of trigger happy individuals than the state.

If you can’t defend your own property by yourself, then it’s not your property, it’s the government’s.

The only reason why the government doesn’t want you to defend your property by yourself in Illinois and D.C. it’s because they don’t want you to defend yourself from the government.

They want to be able to invade your home and confiscate your property without fearing your reprisals.

The government couldn’t care less about your safety or your rights unless it’s a political liability to them and that’s rarely the case.

Will October 6, 2009 at 10:49 am

An astute distinction between legalization and decriminalization.
If legalized like alcohol, drugs will be controlled, regulated, and taxed giving the misleading impression that they are safe because you are allowed to use them by the benevolent grace of the state.
If Decriminalized like jumping off a cliff, you use drugs at your own risk–no one will save you from your own stupidity.

libertyforall October 6, 2009 at 10:55 am

to each his own.

If someone wants to take certain substances, why not? After all, everyone is solely responsible for his life.

Who is anyone to tell others what they are or are not allowed (!) to do with their own body? The NAP and the concept of self-ownership are at stake here.

libertyforall October 6, 2009 at 10:57 am

to each his own.

If someone wants to take certain substances, why not? After all, everyone is solely responsible for his life.

Who is anyone to tell others what they are or are not allowed (!) to do with their own body? The NAP and the concept of self-ownership are at stake here.

Eric October 6, 2009 at 11:41 am

If it were not for alcohol prohibition we would never have had the wealthy Kennedy family. No great burial ceremonies when they die; Americans would not have their royalty.

And don’t forget, if we legalize drugs, we’ll have to put the entire DEA on unemployment or welfare. Cops would be in great danger as they shift to working in other crime areas. We’d start having overcrowding of prisons with murderers and thieves.

And what of the drug gangs? Do you want them to become unemployed too? If the legal drug pushers can have a protected monopoly, so should the illegal pushers of drugs. Fair is fair.

Nooooo, we must continue the war on drugs. After all, no good problem should be wasted!

Baten October 6, 2009 at 12:15 pm

All drugs should be LEGALISED not decriminalised, and some of them should even be offered for free – like heroin, cocaine or meth, all the most dangerous drugs on the market – in specialized distributing locales.

Only by ofering them for free the illegal market will be crushed and will disappear. These drugs cost almost nothing to produce – one gram of cocaine or meth costs about 1 cent to produce. So offer them for free in special locations, since if you dont, the people consuming them will buy them anyway from the street.

By offering them for free, in controlled locations, you make sure that only the addicts will get them, and they will never present a problem to the general population. I find it hard to believe that somebody who has never tried meth will go to such a center, full of creepy addicts, to simply try it. This will stop drugs being a temptation for youngsters and kids, since nobody will be pushing them on the streets.

And it will be much easier to try to educate and even cure the addicts if you have them gathered in these centers.

The soft drugs should be treated the same way as alcohol and tobacco. As long as you dont bother anybody after using them, as long as you dont commit any crimes – what is the problem?

libertyforall October 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm

@Baten:

You are wrong in your assumptions and arguments.

If the state decides to give certain drugs only to certain people in certain locations than there will be an illegal market for other people (those who do not get them the legal way) in other locations (eg for those who do not want to get the drugs from the state enforced locations). By monopolizing goods some people will always choose illegal paths to these goods or substitutes of them.

Michael A. Clem October 6, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Drug abuse is a problem for society, I’m forced to admit. However, as has been pointed out, not everybody who uses drugs abuses them. Also, this is a social problem–trying to make it a criminal problem by making it illegal doesn’t help the drug problem, but makes it worse, more difficult to deal with.
Ultimately, it seems that drug prohibition laws are intended to protect people from themselves, although I fail to see how branding someone a criminal, throwing them in jail, and confiscating their property actually does much to help them, whether they are a drug abuser or a responsible drug user. And if they can’t keep drugs out of jails, then jail doesn’t even keep them from the drugs.
Any way you look at it, drug prohibition is full of hypocrisy and logical contradictions.

Professor_Blitzkrieg October 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm

If any of you read the article, the whole point was that individual liberty requires drug decriminalization. Since individual liberty is the supreme value, utilitarian arguments get thrown out the window.

I believe most of you are making utilitarian arguments.

Now onto the fun stuff

@ Baetan

“All drugs should be LEGALISED not decriminalised, and some of them should even be offered for free”

Dude if i could get free pot I would totally smoke it all the time.

“I find it hard to believe that somebody who has never tried meth will go to such a center, full of creepy addicts, to simply try it”

Uhh… have you ever done any drugs at all?

@Will

“If Decriminalized like jumping off a cliff, you use drugs at your own risk–no one will save you from your own stupidity.”

Yeah freedom is bad. If you give people freedom they might make a decision you don’t agree with.

Even though we’re claiming government shouldn’t persecute drug users, that doesn’t mean we as individuals have to give them anything.

Libertarians agree to a right of free association. If you disagree with someone’s drug use, you don’t have to be friends with or hire them.

People need to channel their narrow-minded ethical impulses within their own rights. When people debate about what government should do its just a ploy to extend the views of one person onto many.

Regardless of the merits of any opinion, one person can not debate their way around self ownership.

Obamageddon October 6, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Michael A. Clem,

“Drug abuse is a problem for society, I’m forced to admit.”

How is it so ?

This nation now experiences 20% true unemployment.

Is there 20% crack-cocaine, meth addicts in this country ?

I don’t think so.

There are more people suffering from bad government economics than from drug uses.

I don’t see how a fringe class of drug users would be a bigger problem than almost a 1/5th of our nation out of work.

Could it be that the real problem concerning the war on drugs is that the average american is addicted to the government.

And as history tolds us, this is the most deadly and destructive form of addiction.

Even crack-cocaine looks better than addiction to government.

Obamageddon October 6, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Michael A. Clem,

“Ultimately, it seems that drug prohibition laws are intended to protect people from themselves, although I fail to see how branding someone a criminal, throwing them in jail, and confiscating their property actually does much to help them, whether they are a drug abuser or a responsible drug user. And if they can’t keep drugs out of jails, then jail doesn’t even keep them from the drugs.”

Just like psychiatry, and in psychiatry they brand you an incompetent mentally ill subhuman underdog and they take away your human rights. Even criminals have more rights than the alleged mentally “ill”. Plus when they LOCK YOU UP in a psychiatric ward, your time is indefinite and could even be for life.

And to add insult to injury, they force you on drugs.

Any way you look at it, drug prohibition is full of hypocrisy and logical contradictions. ”

Just like Psychiatry and in psychiatry they FORCE you to take drugs, LOL !

Obamageddon October 6, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Ritalin is said to be as potent as cocaine, yet they FORCE young children to take those drugs and if parents or children refuse to take those drugs then the government sends the armed police force to remove child custody to the parents.

So drugs are only illegal when the government says they are, except when they government orders you to take drugs, then it’s illegal not to take them.

So I guess the psychiatric laws are even more hypocritical and contradictory than the drug prohibition laws.

What prohibition ? there are 12 MILLION children in the USA on Ritalin !!!

I bet there is not that much Americans on cocaine.

So neither does the government act on utilitarian purposes, they act for the sake of power and domination.

They decide who will be criminalized for taking a puff of marijuana and they decide who will be criminalized for refusing to take his Ritalin pills.

A completely sick country that deserves everything Igor Panarin said will happen.

Baten October 6, 2009 at 3:26 pm

@libertyforall
it’s not free for some people, it’s for everybody who wants it, but it’s only on some locations. I doubt you can create an illegal market for a product given for free to anybody who ask for it, just because you cannot get it at the supermaket.
And these locations dont need to be state-owned, they should be managed by the local comunities.
Also, it’s not about a state monopoly, since if somebody wants to sell the mentioned drugs, he should be free to do so. But what would be the price? The current black market for drugs exist because the mark-up is 1000%. For cocaine is 17000%. The cocaine addict will hardly pay 100 dollars for a product that he can get for free two blocks from where he lives. You could interest him with one or two dollars, but then who would bother to sell for this ammount?

@Professor_Blitzkrieg
pot should NOT be free – you wish. As alcohol has no reason to be free, neither should pot, or other soft drugs. There should be a free market for them, governed by competition, quality, diversification etc, that will ensure that only good quality products will remain on the market, and that kids dont have (outright) access to them.
And no, I never tried drugs, not even pot, only alcohol and tobacco for me (actually I never got the chance to smoke weed, I would not have passed it, I plan to, when I will visit Amseterdam this winter).

My argument for offering free hard drugs to addicts is indeed utilitarian, but legalizing pot, or LSD or extasy, or khat etc, is not, it is based on the freedom of individuals to make whatever choices with their lives, as long as they dont do anything wrong to others.

greg October 6, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Drug use, legal and illegal, is a problem for the health of society. A person I know was taking at least 10 different prescription drugs and his health was less than marginal. He went to a health institute for a month and reduced his drugs to just 3 pills a day. Through exercise and proper diet, he was able to correct many of his problems.

All of those that are hooked up on drugs are just lazy and don’t want to take the hard road to correct their problems. Try changing your lifestyle and you will enjoy life much more.

Now, should the government control drug use? My answer is no. However, all those that abuse drugs should be held accountable for their heathcare and any harm the do to others while under the influence of drugs or any devaluation of property due to drug activity.

Eric October 6, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Professor_Blitzkrieg

If pot were free, you’d smoke it all the time. So… why should anyone care? You can snort ajax cleanser for all I care. You can get prescription drugs for all I care too.

When I was young, it was sniffing glue. So, they tried to make glue illegal for kids. So then we got fake ids and bought big quarts of ale and beer. When they stopped us from doing that, we got whiskey.

Amphetamines were once legal as diet pills. They made that illegal and coke became the new upper. They went after coke hard, and rock coke was invented. They went after that and meth labs were created. They went after that and….

Even during alcohol prohibition there was bathtub gin and wood alcohol sold that was more dangerous than beer.

Conclusion: most of the most dangerous drugs (or boos) came about BECAUSE of prohibition of less dangerous drugs. So, even if the argument is purely utilitarian, as with most government programs, the opposite of what was intended happens.

Professor_Blitzkrieg October 6, 2009 at 4:04 pm

@Baten

“pot should NOT be free – you wish. ”

I didn’t say i wanted pot to be free.

“As alcohol has no reason to be free, neither should pot, or other soft drugs”

Soft drugs? Alcohol is pretty hardcore. Whatever.

“And no, I never tried drugs, not even pot, only alcohol and tobacco for me (actually I never got the chance to smoke weed, I would not have passed it”

Are you going to be a bloody nun when you grow up? Bet you use 2 condoms.

“I plan to, when I will visit Amseterdam this winter”

Make sure you “pass” weed while you are in “Amseterdam”.

“My argument for offering free hard drugs to addicts is indeed utilitarian”

Shouldn’t you know that on the free market the price of these drugs will approach zero anyway? Shouldn’t you realize the utilitarian and deontological problems with a redistribution of wealth?

“pot, or LSD or extasy, or khat etc”

I thought LSD and “extasy” (ecstasy) were hard drugs. I didn’t even know what khat was, but it looks like a hard drug too.

Professor_Blitzkrieg October 6, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Actually scratch that, Khat is a super soft drug. I found this chart some of you might like it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rational_scale_to_assess_the_harm_of_drugs_%28mean_physical_harm_and_mean_dependence%29.svg

Walt D. October 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm

When Nixon enacted the current drug laws, he did not do it out of concern for people’s health. He did it to get the face of anti-war critics, many of whom smoked pot. The original marijuana laws were meant to target Mexican immigrant farm labor. The only reason we still have the drug laws is that the “great non-inhaler” Bill Clinton did not want to be seen as weak on crime. Also the drug companies do not want legal marijuana since it competes with their own products.

Mike C. October 6, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Property, the problem, IMO, is not that governments exist; government is simply a tool like a hammer or a gun, and it only becomes abusive and dangerous when it is put into the hands of meddling intellectual fools and thugs.

Had America more properly and precisely defined it terms from the beginning and adhered to its own founding principles better we would not have an army of fuddled bureaucratic fools, with PhD’s and the mental capacity of egotistical little security shack guards, running amuck thinking that they can somehow better run industry and everyone’s life from cradle to grave.

Perhaps, if there ever is another chance to correct or setup a government from scratch again, it should start with a total separation between the economy and the state, just as, and for the same reasons, there is a separation between church and state… Money, religion, and government do not mix.

Government’s soul moral purpose is to provide a basic secure environment for free civilized producers and traders and to act as a simple and impartial arbiter. And it should never be allowed to become more than that, as it has no more moral authority or right than does a common street bum or the pope to be an aggressor or a controller and manipulator of the value of an individual’s products or currency.

Gil October 6, 2009 at 9:05 pm

“Conclusion: most of the most dangerous drugs (or boos) came about BECAUSE of prohibition of less dangerous drugs.” – Eric

That’s a false conclusion – people have been strengthening drugs long before they became prohibited. Similarly, when alcohol was relegalised people didn’t go back to light beer.

Gil October 6, 2009 at 9:20 pm

I s’pose Mushindo that when drugs are legalised you’ll find that light/moderate usages correlating with good health? Actually I would find it more likely that the minority of alcohol users actually drink it in moderation. After all, few people have ever complained that drunken effect of alcohol got in the way of enjoying the taste hence ‘non-alcholic beers and wines’ sound oxymoronic to most people. Libertarians are presuming that when drugs are legalised drug use will go right down yet if anything it will go up. Libertarians see some people breaking the law during Prohibition and presume everyone is breaking the law when in fact many people weren’t willing to touch alcohol. Besides considering people can’t use alcohol when it interferes with their interaction with others, legalising drugs may be a let down when people find out they can’t drive or turn up for work stoned.

At the end of the day there’s only one safe drug that’s mildly addictive and that’s caffeine.

Bala October 6, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Mike C,

You said

” The only proper basis for law is the protection of individual property rights. ”

I disagree. I think that the only proper basis for law is the protection of individual Liberty. Protection of private property is a logical consequence of the protection of Liberty. To put it in simple terms, to take my property away from me by any means other than trading, you need to initiate force against me, or in other words, violate my Liberty.

In fact, it is when we allow protection of property rights as the basis that we get caught up in a fairly pointless discussion of “What is Property?” and end up in a regime that protects Intellectual Property. Starting with Liberty as the founding principle of Law, IMO, helps us avoid this problem.

The conclusions will be the same. Only the axioms will be different.

Russ October 6, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Gil wrote:

“Libertarians are presuming that when drugs are legalised drug use will go right down yet if anything it will go up.”

No, some libertarians, lots of them in fact, don’t really care whether drug use goes up or down. If I do pot, or coke, or heroin, for that matter, and don’t violate anybody else’s rights in doing so, then it’s really nobody else’s business but my own. It’s my life, and I have the right to screw it up if that’s what I want to do.

I believe that you’re right about use of some drugs; it probably will go up a lot. Pot use, for instance, will probably go up a lot. I don’t think that the use of hard drugs will go up so much, because most people know better. But I also believe that the price of the drugs will go down, since they will no longer be artificially scarce, and the instances of violent crime associated with drugs will also go down without the monetary motive. I also believe it will be easier to get into a program to get yourself off the drug if you want. For instance, take coke. If it were legal, then programs could be started to help people get off it gradually, instead of having to go cold turkey. Also, you wouldn’t have people slowly killing themselves smoking the who-knows-what that goes into drugs like meth, since if they were legal they could be cheaply produced in laboratory conditions without all the dangerous impurities.

Gil October 7, 2009 at 12:30 am

Russ – how do you know the ‘dangerous impurities’ are doing the damage? Some imputies do some damage but other are probably neutral. Besides it’s the alcohol and nicotine are the reason people bother to drink and smoke and both are essentially poisons therefore people can’t have it both ways – getting high and not damaging their bodies over time.

However, what happens with drugs if they were technically but get hit with all the restrictions that alcohol and cigarettes attract? Does ‘doing drugs’ in your own private residence and timing it such that you’re sober in time for work and ‘not harming others’ practically amount to the same things as prohibition (except you won’t go to jail)?

burgess October 7, 2009 at 5:18 am

summers coming to new zealand soon and ill be putting on some sweet out door raves.the only drug we will be banning will be alcohol funny aye.people dont tend to fight on e and acid in fact its near impossible. the only person to have died during any of the main raves was because alcohol when after being kicked out fell asleep on a foggy road.i love asking people who do not take any drugs do they not take them due to fear of the law or lack of supply.one must ask has there been any possitive effect any at all of current drug laws(decriminalization would not go far enough)

Mike C. October 7, 2009 at 6:22 am

Bala,

Considering that you are in a sense your own property, liberty and happiness would seem to be a logical extension. If you have the right to do whatever you wish with your own property, aside from violating the equal rights of others, then you have natural law personal liberty.

I do not consider the discussion of property rights useless either nor have I been convinced concerning anarcho-cap views on IP yet. Perhaps I am slow and unimaginative, but IMO, if we do not first establish a firm foundation for rights based on property then I do not see how we could ever properly define or defend personal liberties.

Mushindo October 7, 2009 at 7:15 am

Walt D said: ‘The original marijuana laws were meant to target Mexican immigrant farm labor’.

This might be superficially true, but accepting it as such misses the delicious intrigue in the sub-plot. sub-plot. Hispanic marijuana smokers were more like convenient decoys than firm targets.

Its no accident that the marijuana laws coincided with the end of prohibition. Prohibition HAD to be repealed because it had become a political embarrassmsnt, and repeal was a political necessity. The question was, what to do with the hundreds of thousands of Federal enforcement officials enforcing the liquour ban? Laying them off en masse would have been political suicide. So they cast around for a replacement bogeyman, and settled on a (then) obscure smoking habit, confined only to Hispanics and perhaps a sprinkling of (Black)jazz musicians, and outlawed it wholesale, giving the enforcement infrastructure something else to do (On this reading, it had a flavour of a Keynesian make-work program). Marijuana was very convenient, because targeting rural hispanics and a few black artists had no negative political fallout among the electorate, indeed quite the opposite given the almost universally institutionalised racism of the day. Adding a simplistic, hysterical and wildly unfounded propaganda campaign to whip up public outrage against this dire threat to civilisation finished the job, and the rest is history.

Ironically, had it not been for the ‘reefer madness’ campaign, its unlikely that marijuana smoking would even have caught on among the wider population decades later – some of the films became cult hits, because they were so outrageously stupid and patently untrue, they were regarded as wildly funny.

The fact that the stuff the Hispanics smoked was a simple by-product of hemp fibre was also convenient from another point of view, because the pulp and timber industry lobbies were then on the rise ( Hearst has colossal investments into timber plantations), so the business lobby groups supported these measures enthusiastically – as they firmly eliminated the primary ( and cheaper) fibre alternative to wood pulp – the few niche hemp fibre farmers never had a chance of fighting back.

All of which is why the US ceased to be involved in the hemp fibre industry at all (Barring special measures during WW2 when the ban on hemp farming was briefly lifted to address a chronic rope shortage in the military, then swiftly shut down again after the war).

the strange absurdity is that the stuff is manifestly non-toxic, and a lethal dose is probably impossible to ingest. It is simply a weed that grows in the ground, and produces fine and strong fibres that can be up to a few metres in length ( compare to cotton’s inch and a half at most).

Giiven that such a plant’s very existence has been declared illegal, what makes it even more absurd is that there is an almost unlimited range of other plants, deadly poisonous ones, which are not regarded as illegal. If the outlawing of hemp is accepted, consistency demands that these too should be outlawed so that no American may grow any poisonous plant of any sort at all. It is telling that at least one, Jimson weed – is routinely abused by kids for their dangerously narcotic effects. I would imagine that some US states have laws prohibiting the ingestion of these things, but the concept of arresting anyone for merely having them growing on their property is unheard of – particularly as they must infest acres of fallow State-owned land. But if some hemp plants emerge from some stray seeds ( perhaps dropped by an illegal immigrant farmworker ;-), the owner of th eland is open to criminal prosecution. For weeds growing on his land!.

Its all quite absurd.

Michael A. Clem October 7, 2009 at 8:40 am

Government’s soul moral purpose is to provide a basic secure environment for free civilized producers and traders and to act as a simple and impartial arbiter. And it should never be allowed to become more than that,
What an opportunity to point out that this Mike C. person is not me, but someone new and different! Not that that’s bad, or anything, I’m just making the distinction.
Mike, I, too, thought that, but came to realize that while the above may be a legitimate purpose for government, it is not the reason governments were created, but merely an afterthought of the Renaissance and the development of classical liberalism, as people tried to remake or justify government into that purpose after the fact.
A limited or minarchist government is a nice idea, but it is absurd to think that you can give some people “legitimate” power over other people and then not expect them to use it, however noble a cause or end they claim to serve. Or perhaps it’s even more likely that they’ll abuse that power for a noble cause or end. Furthermore, there’s no reason to think government agents are or can be impartial arbiters. They are merely human, after all, with their own personal interests to think of. See Public Choice theory.

Russ October 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Gil wrote:

“Russ – how do you know the ‘dangerous impurities’ are doing the damage?”

Do you know what goes into street meth? Ammonia, red phosphorus, iodine, paint thinner, lithium batteries, starter fluid, drain cleaner, freon, camp stove fuel, antifreeze, lye and acetone are some of the ingredients used to make it. I’ve even heard that some dealers buy their users’ urine, so that they can distill the meth back out of it. It’s nasty s***; it can put holes in your lungs and make your teeth fall out.

“Besides it’s the alcohol and nicotine are the reason people bother to drink and smoke and both are essentially poisons therefore people can’t have it both ways – getting high and not damaging their bodies over time.”

But the impurities in meth are not the reason why people use it, and they would gladly do without them if they could. Besides, the biggest health issue with cigarettes is not the nicotine itself, but all the carcinogens, which are by-products, not the active ingredient.

“However, what happens with drugs if they were technically [legal?] but get hit with all the restrictions that alcohol and cigarettes attract?”

They would still be much cheaper than they are now, and thus would result in less violence.

“Does ‘doing drugs’ in your own private residence and timing it such that you’re sober in time for work and ‘not harming others’ practically amount to the same things as prohibition (except you won’t go to jail)?”

Huh? You’re not making sense, Gil. The word “prohibition” means you’re not allowed to use the prohibited substance. How could prohibition possibly be the practical equivalent of personal freedom?

Ball October 7, 2009 at 4:40 pm

There is only one winning argument for decriminalization:

It’s my body.

Gil October 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Gee, Russ, isn’t there another recent article here dealing with the way cigarette smoking is all but banned? What if drugs were legal but faced the impositions that cigarette smoking attracts – extra taxes (making them expensive again) and very limited spaces in which your allowed to smoke (people still getting into trouble for using drugs)? This would be a different from people who are hoping they could walk down the street puffing on a joint.

Russ October 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Gil,

If other drug use were restricted to the same level as cigarettes, that would be better than what we have now, but still not perfect.

And I don’t recall seeing anybody say that cigarettes are all but banned. Gee, I just bought a pack at a party store; I sure couldn’t do that with a pack of joints, now could I? All we were saying was that cigarette smoking at privately owned establishments such as bars should be up to the owner, and that morality shouldn’t be legislated by hypocritical “sin” taxes, which the governments never make too high since actually getting rid of the “sin” is not really their objective.

Besides all that, did your last post have a point? Was it intended to argue for why drugs should be prohibited? Do you actually have an argument?

Mushindo wrote:

“the strange absurdity is that the stuff [marijuana] is manifestly non-toxic, and a lethal dose is probably impossible to ingest.”

I’ve read somewhere that unless you are smoking highly concentrated THC, there is no way that you can possibly OD on it before you simply fall asleep.

Professor_Blitzkrieg October 7, 2009 at 9:19 pm

@Gil

The reason drug use will go down if you legalize everything is that the profits of dealers will go down due to competition. Right now dealers have an incentive to get people hooked on drugs because if someone is addicted and you are the only supplier, you can charge whatever you want.

Rather, free and open competition among dealers would probably drive prices really really low, since these drugs are already produced efficiently. The difference is that no one would have an incentive to get you hooked on the drugs because A) there would be no profit in it and B) other dealers might get the adictee’s business.

The only reason you can possible cite as why drug use would go up is the decreased cost. Given that people who are poor as hell still buy drugs, I think cost isn’t really an issue for the consumer base :P.

Also if it were legalized, companies would work to create safer less addictive versions of these drugs, since there is a demand for such a thing.

Also, taxing drugs just leads to a black market for the pre-tax product. Ironically it also gives government an incentive to get people hooked on drugs to collect tax revenue.

Oh yeah and then there’s all the libertarian arguments based off of freedom and self ownership and non-agression and bla bla. Just all this hippy BS; basically you don’t need to bother arguing with it.

Russ October 7, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Professor_Blitzkrieg wrote:

“The reason drug use will go down if you legalize everything is that the profits of dealers will go down due to competition.”

I do believe that marijuana use would go up, because it’s so easy to grow. And other drugs would be easier to access, without, you know, having to go to the crack house at the scuzzy end of town to get them. And even though profits will go down, demand should go up at least somewhat as prices go down. So maybe Gil is right and that drug use may go up. My answer is “So what?” At least then the problem will be out in the open, and can be dealt with without criminalizing people who are not violating anyone’s rights.

“Oh yeah and then there’s all the libertarian arguments based off of freedom and self ownership and non-agression and bla bla. Just all this hippy BS; basically you don’t need to bother arguing with it.”

OK, so I’ve been told on another thread that I don’t get humor. So, just to clarify, that was sarcasm, right? *grin*

Gil October 7, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Surrrre, mushindo, everyone’s heard of the evils of the Little Tabacco! Besides, the cigarette companies are banned from getting their customers addicted in the West what with bans on advertising and sponsorship. On the other hand, the dealers do have a reason to get you hooked on drugs just the cigarettes companies do – the old addicts die and they need young people who at the right age where they’ll get addicted via peer pressure and will be too far gone when they realise they ought to quit for their health but find it extremely difficult to do so.

“Also if it were legalized, companies would work to create safer less addictive versions of these drugs, since there is a demand for such a thing.”

Does Jack Daniels bother to make a softer version of whiskey? Do young people think “wow I’ll better drink with light beer so I won’t get drunk and rowdy especially considering alcohol is legal and all”?

I’m not arguing over prohibition rather the Libertarian notion that the “drugs are safe” belief Libertarians have.

Gil October 7, 2009 at 9:50 pm

*cough* *gasp* *wheeze*

I was replying to Professor_Blitzkrieg and not Mushindo just then. 8(

Professor_Blitzkrieg October 7, 2009 at 10:00 pm

“Does Jack Daniels bother to make a softer version of whiskey? Do young people think “wow I’ll better drink with light beer so I won’t get drunk and rowdy especially considering alcohol is legal and all”?”

Well, because alcohol is legal, companies have worked to make it safer to consume. Alcohol during prohibition was often contaminated and dangerous for consumers. There is a a posteriori limit to how safe you can make something. I think alcohol stops being alcohol once it’s not alcohol…

These sort of limits may not be true of other drugs, and we won’t know till we let our best R&D’s tinker with them.

At the very least, things like mushrooms, meth and coccaine could be manufactured safely. If you get bad hits of that, you could die.

“On the other hand, the dealers do have a reason to get you hooked on drugs just the cigarettes companies do”

Actually cigarette companies don’t want you to be addicted to cigarettes, they want you to be addicted to their particular brand. If there were a free market, any producer could mimic marlboros or camels or whatever. Thus the competitive environment re-emerges and profit margins go to zero.

“where they’ll get addicted via peer pressure and will be too far gone when they realise they ought to quit for their health but find it extremely difficult to do so”

I think the addiction argument was addressed above. Even if addiction is still a problem in the free market, it is much less of a problem than if you get your drugs on the black market.

Americans dont really care about their health anyway. Fast food… soft drinks etc. Frankly, I can see where they’re coming from. Historically human beings haven’t lived for more than 30 years, so its no wonder that we aren’t genetically programmed to maximize our life expectancy.

Russ October 7, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Gil wrote:

“Does Jack Daniels bother to make a softer version of whiskey?”

Well, actually, they do have a line of “Country Cocktails”, including Black Jack Cola, Jack’s Sweet Tea, Downhome Punch, Lynchburg Lemonade, and Watermelon Spike.

“I’m not arguing over prohibition rather the Libertarian notion that the “drugs are safe” belief Libertarians have.”

Ah! Well, I, for one, am not arguing that. I’m arguing that despite the fact that drug use can be harmful, it should still be legal for two reasons; 1) just because some people overdo their recreational chemicals of choice, that doesn’t mean that those who don’t should be criminalized, and 2) freedom includes the right to make mistakes, or it isn’t freedom at all.

“*cough* *gasp* *wheeze*”

OK, Gil, put down the bong and step away sloooowly! *grin*

Nuke Gray October 8, 2009 at 12:19 am

Mike C., and Michael Clem-
Have you thought about time-share democracy?
I think we will be able to keep government small if we all have an equal share in it. I imagine that we would, in a future world, be able to join our local county as a citizen of the county, instead of a tolerated guest. Citizenship means that we would have community services to perform, like road patrols, or firefighter duties, or other government functions. After 11 months of intermittent acts of citizenship, our reward would be that for all citizens who joined up in the same month that you did, we then, for one month, would be the Parliament or congress of the county, passing and repealing laws as we thought fit. The citizens who come after us could do the same, and since all citizens could recieve arms training, the chances of a coup seem small.
That might be the only way that a minarchy could stay small- get rid of professional politicians, and taxes, and limit county laws to public properties.
You could hire firms, as needed, to represent the county in other counties (no embassies), and at conventions. Or you could appoint the champions of the militias to be the heads of an emergency council, and they co-ordinate when there’s an emergency, and represent the county when needed.

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