Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Drugs are bad, mmkay?" Part 1

AHB's article about the Socratic Method sparked an unexpected, but very well
executed, debate about the efficacy of drug laws in the United States.

My official stance on the "War on Drugs":  it has largely been a failure.  But do I think that means that because drug laws are difficult and costly to enforce, we should strike them from the books altogether?

No.  I've heard all the arguments.

"Prohibition leads to black markets and organized crime."

"Cigarettes and alcohol are drugs, and both are more addictive and result in more deaths every year than illegal drugs.  So why are those drugs legal, but others aren't?"

"People have the right to ingest whatever substances they want, and it's not the government's business to tell them otherwise."

And a new one that I've heard recently:  "these laws carry penalties that ruin lives."

Of course, that is not an exhaustive list of anti-drug law arguments, but those seem to be the most common--at least in my experience.  So let's take some time to examine those arguments.

Prohibition leads to black markets and organized crime.

I will concede to that fact.  So in theory, if all drugs were legalized, then we should expect to see a decline in drug related violence perpetrated by organized crime.  People who make that argument are making a naive assumption: that people in organized crime are rational, civilized human beings, and not the type of people that will behead 100 women and children just to make a point.

If terrorists are willing to blow up a school bus full of children for an idea, then what makes you think that the cartel lords are above blowing up a legal, commercial meth lab in order to protect their monetary interests?  Money is an extremely powerful source of motivation, and the drug lords have shown that they will commit unspeakable horrors just to maintain and expand their profit margins.

Think lifting prohibition will stop the madness?  Dream on.

Cigarettes and alcohol are drugs, and both are more addictive and result in more deaths every year than illegal drugs.  So why are those drugs legal, but others aren't?

That one is usually a rhetorical question, but it's pretty flimsy.  Cigarettes are destructive, but in order for a human body to fully manifest the full destructive power of smoking tobacco, one would have to smoke regularly and heavily for many, many years.  Even people who have smoked since they were teenagers live to their 50s and 60s.  It takes decades of smoking cigarettes in order to destroy your life.

Want to venture a guess of how long it takes for habitual meth use to kill the average human?  Five to seven years.

Some drugs are prohibited because they are irredeemably destructive and highly addictive.  As far as I know, I've never heard of anyone that had to go to rehab in order to quit smoking.  Many people quit cold turkey, some use the patches or gum.  It's not easy to kick the habit, but it's certainly manageable without treatment.

It's not impossible to kick something like meth, or coke, or heroine.  However, it's common experiential knowledge that nearly all addicts will require some form of treatment in order to conquer their addiction and stay clean.

And alcohol.  Just like the hard drugs, you can kill yourself in one night by ingesting too much alcohol.  It impairs your ability to function, and it can be addictive.  However, alcohol in moderation has proven health benefits.  There is no amount of heroine that is beneficial to human physiology.

There's a reason that cigarettes are age controlled: because they wreck the human body, and no one wants their children to smoke.  Why should some drugs remain prohibited?  Because it's all about the children.

In my line of work, I've met many drug addicts and children of drug addicts.  I've seen, first hand, how destructive drugs are.  So I think to myself: do I want these drugs to be more easily accessible to my own children?  No.  Say what you want, but no parent who isn't completely retarded would ever say "yeah, I would be okay with my kid trying crystal meth.  Life is all about experimentation!"

Stay tuned for part 2.


Anonymous said...

Don't have much time today to comment on this Jackie but I want to make two observations that you probably don't realize.

Nicotine addiction is far harder to buck than most of the heavyweight drugs. It literally re-wires your neural receptors and specifically the conduction of nerve signals themselves. Heroin for instance is more about pain receptors like the other alkaloids, so while it is really no less addictive, the damage it does is more to your senses than it is to your memory.

I can tell you first hand that once it has it's grasp on you, it is powerful. I have recently tried ecigs and vaping for nicotine, and although it does alleviate some of the symptoms of withdrawl, there are so many other chemicals in cigarettes it's hard to duplicate the effects of them with glycol and nicotine alone.

That is not to say quitting is impossible however, I know many people personally who just quit cold turkey, they had a rough go of it for a few weeks while the brain returned to normal so to speak, and probably would be much easier to become addicted to nicotine again no matter how much time passed.

The second observation is when you stated that a common argument against the war on drugs is the volstead act and it's monumental disaster. You are missing one huge fact in your argument about the cartels and the terrorists and all that other shit.

You can already go to a place like Amsterdam and the drugs flow like wine. You can get a 2 liter of pure morphine at the corner drugstore. Why aren't the kingpins setup against them? What is giving the drug lords the power and the sway over people and drugs is the illegality of it is profitable. If the enterprise was no longer profitable by criminal means, then the influence of the drug lords will not be great enough to sustain a jihad.

How many people blew up the distilleries when prohibition ended? You had people down south running shine clear up until the 80's from my estimation. There was hardly any retaliation from the gangs of the 20's unto the beer and booze makers.

The criminals will simply move on to an arena where they can make money again, and there won't be money in nuking the pfizer plant.

Jack Camwell said...

This is assuming that if drugs were legalized in America, that anyone would be allowed to produce them. We both know that if, say methamphetamine were legalized, the government would set up a billion dollar bureaucracy around it, and the production and sale of meth would be tightly controlled.

And meth is a good example to use because the production of meth is extremely dangerous. Like prescription drugs, meth would become a highly controlled substance. How much do you want to bet that a black market would arise there just as it has with prescription drugs?

The difference between Amsterdam and America is that there is a much larger market for the hard drugs here. Drug lords don't give a shit about what goes on in Amsterdam because it's not as profitable for them to have a huge presence there.

I guarandamntee, though, that if one of their biggest markets (the US) vanished, there would be blood shed. The turf wars wouldn't end, and it would not be surprising to see an actual uptick in violence in order to significantly raise the cost of doing legitimate business in drug manufacturing and sales.

It's like I said before, these drug lords are monsters. They would kill 10 school buses full of children if it meant holding on to their multibillion dollar drug trade. I highly doubt that they would just all of the sudden say "oh, well I guess we just have to pack up and find something else to do. We can't hope to compete with big drug manufacturers."

And if all drugs were made legal to produce in the comfort of your own home, people would never be able to sell it on the streets, because they would be met with the same cartel/gang violence that keeps them from selling it on their own right now.

Unlike alcohol, hard drugs are not nearly as popular or ubiquitous--and they never have been, even when they were legal. Mob violence curbed when prohibition was lifted because it would have been nearly impossible to stop the manufacture of it in personal homes. How many people do you think would start their own meth lab in their house?

Jack Camwell said...

And yes, I know the nicotine addiction is powerful. But to say that it is more addictive and more difficult to get over than, say, crack, I think is an over-generalization. I'm no expert, but I would venture to guess that it largely depends on an individual's unique physiology.

"Heroin depresses, or slows down, the central nervous system. This can cause the heart rate to slow, and blood pressure to drop. Respiratory functions can also be impaired. Prolonged use of heroin can lead to heart and/or lung failure. Heroin creates conditions of bad health over all, making the body susceptible to illness. Liver disease and pneumonia are just a couple of the problems that can result from the body's lowered immune system abilities.

Heroin is also a drug for which the body develops a tolerance. This means that as the body becomes used to the effects of heroin, more and more is needed in order to produce the "rush." Eventually, as increasingly high dosages are needed just to achieve the same thing that the first dose did, the body becomes dependent on the drug. This means that the body almost needs heroin to function. The heroin has negative effects of the body overall, but the body has become used to having the drug present in its system."

As I said before, a smoker can smoke heavily for decades, and in some cases might not even suffer any serious health risks. A heroin addiction, left untreated, will kill the average person in about 5-7 years. Heroin has similar, if not worse, effects on the central nervous system, and I can almost guarantee that chemical dependency would classify as a restructuring and corruption of neural receptors.

Anonymous said...

Last quick post for the day:

"The difference between Amsterdam and America is that there is a much larger market for the hard drugs here.

hard drugs are not nearly as popular or ubiquitous--and they never have been, even when they were legal."

Which one is it mang?

Back on point:
Knowing the history of legal cocaine and heroin and what not, you still believe the drug lords would stick around in a "market" they couldn't compete in, to a buyer who would not buy an inflated price from them?

Exhibit A: Chinese goods in America

Cost is king Jackie, and there is no way Tony Montana competes with Merck without owning the means of production, which he does not currently have.

Why open a meth lab in your house and risk all those explosions when Walgreen's has your fix, for pennies on the dollar of your operation, in a much purer form you could create on your own, and without all that hassle of you know, bombs.

That would be like me making a PCB etching facility for my insatiable lust for electronics.

As for your point about nicotine... numerous studies back me up that I will find for you when I have the time. You also build up a resistance to nicotine sir, but that is not the secret to it's addictiveness:

Nicotine literally burns itself and it's sensations into your memory.... Heroin dulls your senses and strangles your brain, Nicotine heightens your senses and strangles your entire nervous system.

More on this tomorrow to be sure.

Jack Camwell said...

"The difference between Amsterdam and America is that there is a much larger market for the hard drugs here.

hard drugs are not nearly as popular or ubiquitous--and they never have been, even when they were legal."

Those were two completely separate thoughts. The second part about the ubiquity of hard drugs was a comparison to alcohol. Not sure why you took that second part way out of context. It should read "hard drugs are not nearly as popular or ubiquitous AS ALCOHOL--and they never have been, even when they were legal."

"Why open a meth lab in your house and risk all those explosions when Walgreen's has your fix, for pennies on the dollar of your operation . . ."

You're assuming that reputable business would suddenly start selling hard drugs over the counter as they do aspirin. Selling the hard stuff would essentially be business suicide. Do you really think that Walgreens, or any store for that matter, wants to attract MORE junkies? And do you really think it would be sold for pennies on the dollar?

The hard drugs are an inelastic item. The people who use them will pay any price to get it, and businesses would be retarded to provide the drugs at a price significantly lower than a competitor. It would end up being like gasoline. Sure, the Flying J sells its gas almost 10 cents cheaper than anywhere else . . . but that's only 10 cents.

Also, whose to say that the junkies won't just ROB the Walgreens for all its drugs?

As for your contention about nicotine, I'm not sure why this is even an argument, really. You will probably live to be at least 60, even smoking as much as you do. Meanwhile, that meth head down in the Hilltop, same age as you, who has been using regularly for the last 5 years only has a few more years left if he doesn't kick the habit.

Also, you can still function and be a productive member of society right after you smoke a cigarette. I'm pretty sure you don't do much of anything productive after you shoot some H.

The Smoking Man said...

I think I like a lot of libertarians have argued the pro-legalization point enough at this point. So why don't I make an argument for a semi-libertarian semi-authoritarian compromise?

How about we fully legalize weed, since you yourself admitted it has low potential for harm. Americans aged 21 and older can now go to a licensed vendor and pick up a pack of Uncle Sam's taxed and FDA regulated wacky tobacky. Assuming we don't descend into anarchy, that alone will reduce the number of non-violent individuals we are throwing in prison, bring in much needed revenue for the federal government, and it may even take out a sizable chunk of gang profits. Hell, it may even reduce the number of people who do hard drugs, since now there is a safe and legal alternative.

Now, how about we also make possession of personal sized quantities of other narcotics legal. We aren't allowing people to make or sell it, but at least now we aren't taking addicts who need help and throwing them into the cogs of the ever expanding prison system, which is in fact a sort of de facto "Three Generations of Punishment" when you look at how the cycle repeats itself.

I realize this is a radical notion (because enslaving people for putting a certain chemical in their body is in no way radical) but maybe, just maybe it wouldn't be the end of the world for civilized society.


Jersey McJones said...

Your argument that legalization wouldn't curtail organized crime is partly right. But they won't be blowing up Pfizer labs, just as the Mafia didn't go around blowing up Budweiser distilleries after Prohibition ended. They'll just find some other endeavor. That's what history pretty strongly suggests. Overall, crime would be significantly reduced, at least here in the US. History is pretty clear about that too. Just the same, we would have to ask ourselves, is that worth legalizing hard drugs?

As for the difference between cigarettes, alcohol, and hard drugs... Cigarettes aren't much of a comparison. They're just a bad, unhealthy habit, like junk food. Alcohol is another matter, which is why it was prohibited back in the 20's in the first place, and it's legalized status compared to illegal drugs (especially pot) is obviously hypocritical to any fair-minded person.

That all said, it's not like most people are pushing to legalize hard drugs. Cocaine, heroin, meth, these are horrible, dangerous drugs that ruin lives and damage society, drug crime itself aside. But as we learned with alcohol, drug abuse should not be a criminal matter. It is a health issue and should be treated as such.

Treatment, as I'm sure you well know, is difficult to say the least. When someone has cancer, let's say, all they want to do is get rid of it and be healed. When someone wants to escape reality and get drunk or high, that's a different story. And the fact of the matter is that no for any addiction treatment works particularly well anyway. The success rates are abysmal. But we try, and we're getting better at it. As well, it's not a one size fits all.

If you get cancer, the treatment is pretty much the same for everyone who has that particular cancer. If you are addicted, your treatment to overcome that addiction has to be unique to you.

The argument about drug legalization, like control, is not all or nothing, black or white. While marijuana, a relatively harmless drug, should of course be fully legalized, hard drugs can not enjoy such a status. They are too dangerous. That said, the sort of criminalization of we have today is extremely destructive and helps no one in any way whatsoever, except, of course, those heavily vested in the prison industrial complex.


Anonymous said...

I have to disagree on this one. No matter their legal status there will always be a social stigma attached to the use of hard drugs, and I really doubt that legalization would drive any significant number of non-users to suddenly become tweekers and junkies. Quite frankly I don't see it as a bad thing for idiots to remove themselves from the gene pool by drug use. I believe the law should be like those regulating alcohol, set an age limit and penalize behaviors that put innocents in harms way like DUI, public intoxication, providing drugs to minors, etc. If someone wants to waste their life chasing a chemically induced high in the privacy of their own home what business is it of mine?


Anonymous said...


I meant to include that entire thing... you first made a statement that says there is a larger market over here, then you freely admit it's unpopular compared to something that is socially accepted.

What is it, for serious?

Look mang... there is nothing legally stopping you right now from going to walgreens, spending about 40 bucks on 5 laps of unisom, breaking them up into your chilli, and going out in a nice dream.

There is something legally you have to overcome going to walgreens and loading up on Oxy, and going out in a mess of colors, namely you would have to rob the dude across the counter to give up the Oxy, gank it, etc.

If people want to do harm to themselves, like me and smoking... the only things you can do in the face of this is to A: convince them they shouldn't do this B: deal with it

I am of the mind that the way we should deal with it, is not lock them up and prop up a criminal enterprise both on the streets and in the prison system/federal criminal shits.

You would have to be naive as shit to not realize the gubment is getting paid for this war.

The illegality is the issue, not the other implications of how dumb you have to be to mainline draino.

It's been quite a while since me and Jersey actually have a similar point, like he damn near parroted me.

To use our trademark line:

I understand you, but I don't agree entirely.

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