Drug War Roundup

- Former UK Defence Minister and Drugs Minister Bob Ainsworth is speaking out in favor of legalizing and regulating all drugs (not just marijuana, all drugs). No doubt that his experience staring into the abyss in Afghanistan over the past two years helped lead him to this conclusion. It’s hard to imagine anyone who’s recently held either equivalent position in our own government doing the same. Pete Guither discusses the impact this could have in the UK, which has historically been just as averse to science and reason as our own.

– Earlier this month, Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin placed a hold on the nomination of Michele Leonhart to head up the DEA. His specific problem with her nomination was over the DEA’s overly strict rules governing how pain medications are dispensed in nursing homes. Kohl’s objection is just one of many reasons to oppose Leonhart.

– Now that medical marijuana is becoming a legal and mainstream part of America’s economy, a national trade group called the National Cannabis Industry Association has been formed to lobby for more liberal marijuana laws in Washington DC. Locally, a group called the Washington Cannabis Association has now come together and intends to share some ideas with our legislators in Olympia on how they can lessen the impact of our budget problems while also making our communities safer.

– Paul Armentano ridicules Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske’s attempt to blame medical marijuana laws for the increase in teen drug use. It’s really not much of a fair fight as Armentano – unlike our former Police Chief – actually uses evidence to back up his assertions. And as we found out this year, even polling on whether or not someone will vote for marijuana-related bills is often skewed by a reluctance to admit support for a more liberal position. With that in mind, it’s reasonable to suspect that polling over the years might not be solely an indication of how many teens are using marijuana from year to year, but also a measure of how comfortable a teenager is to admit their use in a survey.

Comments

  1. 3

    spews:

    @1
    True, as Michael points out, both drug addicts and drug warriors are sad creatures. But is it really any different than being a laughingstock in the comment threads at a political blog? Is being the dancing monkey that we laugh and point at so exciting?

  2. 4

    Brain Damage spews:

    Where are the “free market” enterprise Republicans on this issue? I know the big government “religious right” wing of Republicans that wants government to control all behavior (for Jesus) are for the drug war (and all other government control over our lives)…but the old school fiscal conservative small government free market Republicans should be for making ALL drugs legal. After all, and they’ll tell you about this in detail, the MARKET will decide what people want, and if you try to use “the government” to artificially manipulate a market, it will always fail (or at least you will spend forever fighting an uphill battle you can’t ultimately win).

    Alas the Republicans have shoved out almost all of the old mostly non-religious fiscal conservative Republicans and replaced them with crazy religious extremists.

  3. 5

    Questioning spews:

    Some drugs, concocted in someone’s basement or garage, are lethal to many users. Even cocaine, some people have died at their first ingestion. Some drugs are addicting at first use.

    Can someone tell me how, in practical terms, we can make “ALL drugs legal”? Will the pharmaceutical companies use such a law to put untested drugs on the market? Untested as to safety and efficacy?

    If anybody has thought this through, I’d like to hear. Because at first blush, it looks like one of those Be Careful What You Wish For things.

  4. 6

    spews:

    @5
    Some drugs, concocted in someone’s basement or garage, are lethal to many users.

    The point of legalizing drugs is so that they’re no longer concocted in someone’s basement or garage.

    Some drugs are addicting at first use.

    This confuses the idea of chemical addiction and psychological addiction. You can’t become chemically addicted to any drug after your first use. This distinction is important when it comes to understanding addiction.

    Can someone tell me how, in practical terms, we can make “ALL drugs legal”?

    For some drugs (alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, mushrooms), you treat them as normal consumer products that can be sold to adults. We already do this with alcohol.

    For other drugs (cocaine, heroin, amphetamines), you have them controlled by pharmacies, but allow people to sign up for a recreational use registry. You charge people a fairly decent sum (~$200-$500) to have the privilege to obtain prescription-level drugs from a pharmacy without a doctor’s permission. The pharmacy ensures the purity of the substance, but the state doesn’t make any moral decisions about what substances people choose to put in their bodies. If people end up becoming addicted to a pharmaceutical drug and commit a crime related to that addiction, they lose their privileges within the registry and can be ordered by a judge to work with a doctor to recover from their addiction (hence the initial fee for the registry, to cover those costs).

    Will the pharmaceutical companies use such a law to put untested drugs on the market?

    No, the FDA should be given the authority to ban drugs that are simply too dangerous or addictive. If done properly, what exists today as meth would disappear, but it’s much milder predecessors (the old “pep pills”) would become legal again. Meth exists because of drug prohibition, not despite it.

  5. 7

    Questioning spews:

    Thanks, Lee, that’s very helpful; as far as it goes. Under your scenario, not all drugs would become legal, and that’s reassuring.

    Somehow I doubt that very many pharmaceutical companies would want to get into the business of making and selling drugs for recreational use, but that could open up opportunities for other businesses to begin or expand their product line in that arena.

    I expect also they would need lots of liability insurance, and/or some very thoroughly worded disclaimers printed all over their product packaging — whenever a user dies or is seriously injured using one of these drugs for the purposes it was intended, there will be litigation.

    And for drugs that people continue to want but can’t be found in your legal-drug world, they will continue to be manufactured in peoples garages, or imported via narco-traffickers with lots of big guns.

  6. 8

    spews:

    @7
    Under your scenario, not all drugs would become legal, and that’s reassuring.

    Under my scenario, it would still be illegal to manufacture and sell your own drugs. What would change is that recreational use of drugs wouldn’t be treated as a crime, and therefore the goal of public policy is to have that activity take place in as safe a way as possible.

    Somehow I doubt that very many pharmaceutical companies would want to get into the business of making and selling drugs for recreational use, but that could open up opportunities for other businesses to begin or expand their product line in that arena.

    It’s hard to predict what would happen, but no one would be able to sell a product without oversight on what that product actually contains.

    I expect also they would need lots of liability insurance, and/or some very thoroughly worded disclaimers printed all over their product packaging — whenever a user dies or is seriously injured using one of these drugs for the purposes it was intended, there will be litigation.

    Sure, and talking about the more addictive drugs that I’d put behind a pharmaceutical registry, I would prefer to see it be handled like any other pharmaceutical product. There would be dose information on the container. And I would strongly be in favor of bans on advertising.

    And for drugs that people continue to want but can’t be found in your legal-drug world, they will continue to be manufactured in peoples garages, or imported via narco-traffickers with lots of big guns.

    My contention is that if you do this right, the black market would end up being as small and inconsequential as the number of folks who still illegally make moonshine today.

    Thanks for the good questions, I appreciate it.

  7. 9

    do a survey spews:

    why doesn’t Lee do a survery of our current state legislators? Did you smoke pot ever? Did you turn yourself in? did your kid? did you turn him in? did you hear of a buddy who smoked pot and did you turn him in?

    then publish survey results.

    I’d like to see how many of them are total hypocrites wasting our money and our civil liberties with the fake war on drugs.

  8. 10

    Dr. Zaius spews:

    @3

    awww poor lee…whats the matter? wife take away your bong again after she caught you taking a few drags in the garage? good thing for your kid that there is at least one responsible adult in your household – her.

    just keeping it real, man.

  9. 13

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Portugal has taken an enlightened path on the issue of drugs. Legalization is the first step in solving a country’s drug problem. Heck, any drug can be made legal as long as it’s not used to excess by individuals. BTW, the government has no Constitutional authority to declare any drug illegal, which makes the illegalzation of a weed, marijuana, look fairly ridiculous.