Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Legalization of Illicit Drugs - Yes or No

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Recently at my blog I posted on the subject of drug legalization or decriminalization, of which I received much flak from the normally supporting libertarian readers. They viewed this as an issue of liberty. An argument to have the freedom to do whatever one would want to ones own body, much like the argument the left have for abortion. However, I view drug addiction not as liberty, but as a form of slavery, and cannot see how one could equate the avocation of legal drugs with liberty at all.

If they were legalized they would have to be controlled by the government. In debating with many of them, several points were established. One is that despite the government being put into the business of regulation and distribution, the black market would still exist.

Another point is that drug use does not just affect the user, but in many cases those around them including family and friends. An estimated 100,000 babies are born each year addicted to cocaine. So don't tell me that drugs only affect the user!

Many of those that debated me on this subject kept going back to comparing it to alcohol and cigarettes that are legal. They ask what the difference is between someone blowing their check at the bar and not being able to feed his family vs. someone blowing it on crack.

While this is a good point, I don't see how advocating putting more dangerous substances on the street and making them easily available just because one dangerous substance is there makes any sense.

Another part that kept coming up was that the war on drugs is not working. The war on drugs uses enforcement, education, and treatment. I think many of these people who support drug legalization either want taxpayers to pay for rehab, or just let the people die for their own negligence. I'm not sure if either of these are real solutions to a real problem. So, I bring it to the BOP crew. There are obvious problems with the concept of legalization/decriminalization, and there are flaws in the war we are waging against drugs now. What is the solution to the problem?

Jay - Stop the ACLU

I do not believe that legalizing drugs is the way to go. Much of that is based upon my own personal feelings though, and I readily admit that. Drugs damage lives from what I've seen. They anesthetize, mesmerize and then traumatize those that fall into their grasp. Once again though, that is solely my opinion.

So aside from my personal opinions on them.. should we look at legalizing drugs (this lumps them all together from marijuana to all of the new-wave drugs)?

The narcotics industry is a multi billion-dollar industry that profits only those that are in the business of trafficking. Were laws instated that made them legal, would any more of the populace gain financially from the doing so? I don't believe they would. There would still be the big time dealers, the small time dealers and in that industry it will ever be that the sharks will eat the guppies, as in any other capitalistic venture.

Some will say that we would spend less money by not having to police it as much. I do not believe that that is true. While we may not be making routine drug stops along the roads there would still be the sociologic issues of drug use: fighting, loitering and the general misdemeanor crimes that go along with the intensified personalities of the users. There will still remain the felony crimes of theft, domestic abuse, rape and violent crime as well.

To me, the only thing that we gain in the legalization would be tax revenue and no matter what you do in this nation, there will still be those that will not pay the taxes that are due and so the revenue that might be generated is based upon the honesty of the drug dealers. I'm sorry, but all things analyzed, I can't see that they are the most honest of individuals anyway--why would this change now?

Now, when taking solely the issue of marijuana, a different logic might be applied. Marijuana has proven to be addictive but not anymore so then cigarettes, alcohol or medication such as prescribed by a doctor. It has been shown to have mood altering qualities as well as a reduction in reaction time, not unlike alcohol. If these be true, then should marijuana be legalized it should be tested for as with alcohol. For example: A man is pulled over for slowed reaction time, or erratic driving pattern. The police officer might ask "Sir have you had a drink or a joint this evening?" "Yes, officer I had a joint." The officer might use then a breathalyzer test similar to that of an alcohol breathalyzer and if after finding that the person has passed the point of "impairment" (much like the legal limits of blood alcohol content) the person would be hauled in for driving under the influence of marijuana. This would be the only logical way that I can see that would reduce the chances of impaired drivers being on the road.

In the end, I can only say that I do not believe that legalizing drugs is the way to go in our nation. I think that the drawbacks to legalization far outweigh any gains that we might make.

Nariel - Ancient Eyes for Current Times

Before I start, I want to say that I have never done any illicit drugs what-so-ever in my life. In fact while I was growing up I was a very active member of the Friend to Friend/Youth to Youth organization. As a matter of fact my senior year in high school I was the regional director for the San Gabriel Valley USD Counter Drug Task Force. I continue to this day to be involved in state and national counter drug missions both domestically and abroad.

From what I have seen, balanced with what I believe in, I think that the legalization of most illicit drugs would always be a mistake. There is only one drug that is currently illegal that I would support being legalized and treated that same as alcohol and tobacco, and that would be Marijuana. Studies have shown, paired with my own experience, that Pot is no more addictive or destructive than is alcohol, and spending millions of dollars to fight a weed is just stupid. Now that being said.

I am against all other illicit drugs being legalized, for one simple reason, hard core illicit drugs, such as Crystal Meth, Speed, and Crack, can and do kill on the very first try. There is nothing through regulation or any other type of control, which can change that about these drugs. They are lethal and HIGHLY addictive. I have seen PhD's become homeless crack heads after just one hit (so to speak), because they could not stop. I have seen upstanding people become criminals over night, because the addiction was so strong and over-ruling. There is no benefit that can come to our society through their legalization.

It would be better to legalize pot, regulate it and tax it, and use that money for drug treatment facilities. This would decriminalize an otherwise mundane drug, and lower our crime rate. Legalizing the other drugs however would have the opposite effect. We would see a sharp rise in addiction and addiction related crimes. People would be apt to "experiment" more often because it is legal, and end up dead or severely addicted. This would lead to problems that would plague us for decades. We can never let this happen.

Zaphriel - Birth of a Neocon

Jay, my friend, in my opinion, you deserved the flak from your civil libertarian guests.

We spend BILLIONS of dollars chasing after potheads, trying them, and incarcerating them. By FAR the largest percentage of people who are incarcerated for "drug crimes" are there because they were involved with POT, not some other drug that has actually been proven to be dangerous.

In fact, I believe the Constitution DOES grant us the freedom to grow something on our own land, dry it out, then smoke it for enjoyment. Just ask the Marlboro Man, or Joe Camel about that one. Studies have PROVEN BEYOND ARGUMENT that tobbacco is FAR more dangerous than pot is, so if you will not throw tobbacco growers and smokers into prison, how can you even begin to justify imprisoning so many pot heads? You CAN'T, nor can you justify jailing smokers of fine tobbacco products.

YOU said:

"However, I view drug addiction not as liberty, but as a form of slavery, and can not see how one could equate the advocation of legal drugs with liberty at all."

And *I* say:

Jay, thank you very much for your concern for my well-being, but please stop ENSLAVING Citizens to the typical right wing opinions on such things as drugs and pornography by threatening to throw them into jail if their opinion differs to the point that they just ignore you and look to the Constitution for their bottom-line Truth. Your point of view expressed above, to me, means you are deciding that since somebody might be "enslaved" by drug abuse, you might as well enslave them to your own sense of morality and right or wrong. See; I believe this is simply WRONG-O.

I'd like to see what you guys will do if there ever comes a time when somebody tries smoking some centipede grass, or Kentucky blue grass, or wheat, or hay, or whatever; just some common type of lawn grass; then learns it will make you higher than pot will. What would you guys do then? Drive all up and down the neighborhoods, mowing peoples' lawns and threatening to toss them into jail?

Jay, people have been finding ways to get high since the "caveman days", bro. Your own children find ways to get high as you watch them, and smile at them as they twirl around in little circles until they fall to the grass, all dizzy and smiling. You can call it what you want, Jay, but (gasp!); that child is learning how to get "HIGH"! It feels good, they do it again, and again, until they're tired of it, then they'll come back to it a week, a month, or a year later and do it again. By your reasoning, this child should be confiscated from the home of the parents, sent to a foster home, and if they continue doing it, we'll just toss them into a juvenile detention center until they become adults.

See how silly this is? That is how I see you guys when it comes to your little "wars" on drugs, prostitution or porn, or whatever "eveal enslaver of people" exists out there to be declaring a "war" upon. Fair enough, I guess; but hey, what makes it hurt even worse is that you make the rest of us PAY for it - billions, and billions, and BILLIONS of our own, hard-earned dollars!

The right wants to save us from ourselves while they booze down and eat fattening foods and smoke their cigarettes. BWAHAHA! "Society" is the victim of your "self-pleasing, immoral actions" they tell us as they chomp down on their bag of chips and wash it down with their 12th beer while a cigar burns in the ashtray.

I'm sorry, Jay. I respect you TREMENDOUSLY, and I hope you do not take this as a personal attack, because it's NOT intended that way. When I say "you", I'm not singling you out, I'm simply attacking the ideology that breeds this point of view, which I'll just come right out and call "far right". I'm not saying YOU are "far right", because I know differently, but this point of view IS a "far right" point of view in my not so humble opinion.

I say, no victim, no crime! And society is NOT a "victim". And if you say it IS, then I want all smokers, all obese people who are obese due to eating habits, all uninsured and underinsured risk-takers, and all heavy drinkers tossed into jail right beside your evil potheads. Then I want YOU guys to pay for it instead of making ME pay to jail all your little make-believe "villains".

You guys may think it's fine that most of the rest of the free world laughs at our draconian laws and our world-leading, high incarceration rates for these victimless crimes, but I don't think it's funny at all. I think it's a VERY EXPENSIVE, very unconstitutional attack upon your fellow Americans who have different sets of moral values than you guys do. It's a TRAGEDY, and I certainly wish you (this time, you personally, Jay) would rethink your point of view on this matter.

But, you asked for a solution, so I'll give the standard one. You legalize recreational drugs, you regulate them like you do your alcohol, tobbacco, and other dangerous items. You TAX it, and spend some of those taxes to educate people on the dangers of drug abuse. You use some of the billions of dollars you've been using to keep potheads on the lam and in the jails to help treat them, then you give us the rest of the tax money you've taken without permission to fund the "war on drugs" back to us. See, it's really a simple solution actually, and it remains pretty much, "Constitutional".

Regardless, if we must simply agree to disagree on this one, that will be okay, too. Blog ON...

Carl - The Gun-Toting Liberal
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