August 19, 2008

Were We Talking About Legalizing Drugs?

Here's an argument for moving it higher on the priority list; I'm surprised I didn't think of this, but I was probably already seeing red from the Feds' infringement upon the rights of Californians, so I wasn't able to "zoom out" and look at the international picture.

The War on Drugs is even more destructive when one looks beyond the U.S. borders—and, within and without those borders, when one takes a peek at where that "black-market premium" is going:

The Taliban is able to sustain their operational pace in fighting against ISAF and the supported Kabul government because they have been able to tap into the cash flows generated by the opium/heroin production and distribution markets. Opium eradication efforts sponsored by either the Kabul government or foreign military forces pushes farmers to turn non-state actors for protection. Those non-state actors provide protection for a cash fee and temporary loyalty. The loyalty buys silence and logistical support while the cash provides weapons, corruption and a means of making credible promises.

We also know that prohibition has not been successful in eliminating drug use in the United States or other rich nations. It is a moral/political posture of luxury that may bite us in our ass as it fuels a visible insurgency in Afghanistan, potentially funds Hezbollah in Lebanon and could potentially lead to a massive failed state in Mexico with the attendant mass migration flows that would entail.

Bringing the drug market into the overt and open white market and away from the black market would be a significant blow to these insurgencies. Legalizing most narcotics and then taxing them at a high rate is a viable option. It will strengthen weak states where the United States has a strong interest for stability. This will occur by removing a significant funding stream for the guerrillas and transferring it to the state.

Fester, quoted above, was in turn riffing off of this piece from the Small Wars Journal. Read both articles, mkay?

Along with energy policy, drug legalization should be placed within the interconnected set of issues that affect national security, and shame on me for not noting that when I blogged about the "War on Drugs" earlier in the day.

Via Insty.

Posted by Attila Girl at August 19, 2008 05:54 PM | TrackBack

Yup. The effect of prohibition on high-power criminal enterprises worldwide is a fact that too many statist Republicans are entirely too willing to turn a blind eye to.

Legalize, tax and regulate, or better yet just frickin' legalize and then divert the vast excess law enforcement budgets toward genuine harm reduction efforts, and we'd be no worse off than the status quo (domestically) and quite possibly a lot better off in the big (worldwide) picture.

Posted by: Desert Cat at August 19, 2008 09:20 PM

And I'm perfectly willing to use some of the savings/tax revenue to set up more clinics. Which is probably a bit liberal of me, but might make the whole thing a bit more palatable politically.

We're just hurting from this stupidity on every level: The Fourth Amendment has just about been vaporized via the WoD. And what IS it, by the way, that the cops are always looking for when they conduct those lame-o "no knock" raids on private citizens, using--for crying out loud--SWAT teams?

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 19, 2008 09:29 PM

The strange thing is that you prosecute and you say you wage war and allathat... but you don't kill 'em off. Or even threaten to kill 'em off.

Now, take Malaysia and Singapore (heck, even Indonesia). Draconian as anything. Get caught with drugs, you face a MANDATORY death sentence, preferably carried out within 3 weeks. Not to say you won't find drugs here, but you'd have to work really, really hard.

I happen to hate drugs. With a vengeance. Alcohol and caffeine I can live with. Opium, barely - and I hate it because of the Brits. All the narcotics and amphetamines and crap, I would prefer if someone actually A-Bombed the damned people who make the stuff. But on principle, I believe regulations should be relaxed for medical usage.

Point is, if you lynched every druggie distributor you came across, or threatened to (and actually did a large majority of 'em in), I'd say your War on Drugs would see a whole lot more success, Tom Clancy style.

Posted by: Gregory at August 20, 2008 02:14 AM

Um. But if we did that, we wouldn't, like HAVE drugs around.

It is, as Benny Hill would say, like burning down the house to get a piece of toast.

No Ritalin for people with ADD? No SSRIs for people with OCD? No sleeping pills for people with Delayed Sleep Onset Syndrome? No pain killers for people with . . . pain?

No weed for cancer patients?

Come on, Gregory: let's go all the way, and outlaw antibiotics.

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 20, 2008 02:32 AM

And I'm perfectly willing to use some of the savings/tax revenue to set up more clinics.

That is what I meant by harm reduction. Yeah, kinda liberal sounding to me too, but not really. Because the net effect is likely to be less government spending, lower taxes, and less government intrusion into the lives of citizens. (Not to mention actually *helping* the people who don't want to be addicted anymore.)

Which, last time I checked was a pretty conservative set of ideals. (Not that I have any illusions about most Republicans being conservative anymore these days.)

Gregory, where does that leave you on the weed? It's certainly less harmful than opium, and generally more benign than alcohol.

Posted by: Desert Cat at August 20, 2008 07:15 AM

In Gregory's defense, I don't think he's really known anyone who simply toked a bit on the weekends to relax. The fact is, MJ isn't really a drug-of-choice for me--but it sure doesn't make people violent, like alcohol can, if it [alcohol] is abused assiduously enough.

I personally prefer alcohol, but marijuana is unquestionably a safer drug. And I know a lot of people have a big argument with smoking as a means of delivery, but that is, in fact, the way a lot of people control their dosage. When I was a teenager, someone gave me a brownie that was dripping with weed, and it sent me on a trip that was a good deal more intense than my later experiences were with LSD. (And unpleasant, which no experience with Acid or X ever was.)

With smoking, it's terribly difficult to overdose, because (1) anyone these days knows that weed is more potent than it was in the 1970s. No one I know actually smokes an entire joint of decent-quality stuff on their own, and that wasn't at all uncommon when I was a teenager (again--I observed in those days more than I participated, because the stuff did nothing for me). The conventional unit has changed to a "hit." The joint or bong or pipe is passed around socially--with everyone aware of the approximate potency of what's being smoked--and anyone in the circle generally takes one hit at a time, with 5-10-15 minutes in between to gauge the effect.

So until THC measurements are damned precise--in terms of potency and quality--I'd say that the smoking method is probably safest, however counter-intuitive it is that MDs would prescribe "smoking" as a medicine. Also, the ritual quality of the smoking tends to relax people on its own, quite apart from the actual THC.

Rituals are important: would a doctor who was seeing a couple with sexual problems suggest that couple each take a quarter of a valium before heading to bed? Or would he/she suggest that they share a glass of wine over dinner, and then rub each other's backs for a few minutes before starting to make love? Probably the latter.

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 20, 2008 05:38 PM

Dear Attila;

But on principle, I believe regulations should be relaxed for medical usage.

Hmm, methinks someone's been juicin' on somethin'... :D

Dear Desert Cat;

Did I mention I hate smoking? And inconsiderate smokers? Guess where that puts me and the weed.


See, here's the thing. Withdrawing from alcohol tends to make you snappy and ill-tempered. Smoking, much the same. If you have a dependence on paracetamol (not bloody likely; you'll die from liver failure before then), you'll probably have a heckuva headache for weeks before it gets flushed from your system.

From narcotic drugs? Nowhere near as pleasant. It takes 3 days(!) to get addicted to heroin.

As for Ritalin and other stuff like that, I'm all for stricter regulation, you bet. Don't kick me for inconsistency - unlike my sister who's all for solving all sorts of problems with one drug or another (she's a pharmacist, so, you know). I take a different route; Panadol for everything, Aspirin for whatever Panadol can't fix, Neurofen for whatever the other two can't fix. Antibiotics for bacterial infections ONLY. AND course finished.

The rest of the drugs can be left for 'big gun' medical issues.

Doesn't make me much of a libertarian, I know. But I never pretended to be one.

As I've said, this is my stand. I understand others have different stands, and I can see, theoretically, their points. That's not what interests me. What interests me is the disconnect between what your govt SAYS (ie get tough on drugs etc) and what your govt DOES (i.e. pretty much nothing useful). And it's not as if the White House doesn't know...

Consider Malaysia, a nation with an effective drug control force and strict sanctions for drug trafficking (including a mandatory death sentence for certain drug crimes)

I don't quite care about the drug policies, you see. I don't drug, hence not my business. And won't be until someone frames me or something. But this disconnect gives me great cognitive dissonance...

Posted by: Gregory at August 20, 2008 06:05 PM

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