The Drug War

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Thad
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The Drug War

Postby Thad » Sat Apr 02, 2016 11:57 pm

Dan Baum has a pretty excellent piece in Harpers called Legalize It All (paywall workaround: Google the URL. Thanks Cait!).

It starts provacatively, quoting no less an authority than Watergate conspirator John Ehrlichman as saying that the real purpose of the War on Drugs was as a smokescreen for a war on black people and the anti-war left. But from there, it goes into policy, and it's pretty thorough.

I think what I respect most about Baum's approach is that he doesn't sugarcoat the risks of his proposal. He acknowledges that we can't predict the consequences with legalization, and that there is a real possibility that it will lead to increased drug use, addiction, and death. And when he cites examples to the contrary, like decriminalization in Portugal, he's upfront about the problems those countries have faced.

His proposal isn't a Libertarian free-market fantasy, either: he proposes a government monopoly on distribution. His argument is that under a profit-based system, the drug market will turn out exactly like the alcohol market: reliant on abusers and incentivized to encourage abuse rather than seek to cure it.

It's a very thorough and well-argued article; it's worth reading in its entirety.

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Re: The Drug War

Postby Mongrel » Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:49 am

Haven't read it yet (I will, it sounds very good), but off the top of my head one of the most crucial aspects of any full-on decriminalization scheme is that society's dealing with drug addition has to be shifted to a medical model where it's really properly treated as an illness.

On top of that, people need to be comfortable with some treatments simply being lifetime maintenance dosing of the drug they're addicted to (yes, sometimes doctors prescribe an ersatz replacement, but to take one of the more well-known examples, for many people methadone is no substitute and may be significantly worse than just lifetime maintenance dosing of proper heroin).
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Re: The Drug War

Postby Thad » Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:00 pm

Definitely.

It also bears noting that, while Baum advocates for a government monopoly (because he believes that's the best way to set prices that will put most black-market dealers out of business while not making the drugs so cheap as to be too appealing), he's realistic enough to acknowledge that's very unlikely to happen in America, and says that, failing that, a robust, competitive, but of course well-regulated market is the next-best way to go.

He points out the main issue with Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and DC is that we're seeing the same kind of economy as with alcohol: it's reliant on binge users, and therefore on some level must encourage binging.

He also talks about Ohio's legalization initiative, which failed because it would have handed distribution over to a single distributor.

We've got two competing initiatives vying for the November ballot here in Arizona. One is like the one that failed in Ohio, the other is more open to competition.

As opposed as I am to cartels and monopolies, I think they're a lesser evil than the drug war. If the anticompetitive initiative is the only one that makes it onto November's ballot, I think I'll end up voting for it.

Ray Stern at the New Times seems to be on the same page I am; he has some pretty good arguments that I wish he hadn't formatted as a goddamn listicle.

Although, note to self, Cthulhu, Bal, and anybody else registered to vote in Arizona: the less-restrictive Marijuana Legalization Initiative has a map of sites where you can sign the petition to get it on the ballot.

Oh shit, there's a place I can sign it right next to Duke's? I go to Duke's all the time.

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zaratustra
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Re: The Drug War

Postby zaratustra » Mon Apr 04, 2016 6:01 am

Merely decriminalizing marijuana would be huge - you'd get all pot users, plus everyone that gets hooked on opiates because modern legalized pain medicine is shit, plus people that just don't care enough about hard drugs.

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Re: The Drug War

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:40 am

Justin Gardner at Alternet: How the War on Drugs Makes People Eat Other People’s Faces After Stabbing Them to Death

Because psychoactive drugs that humans have used for centuries have been banned by most modern governments, people turn to synthetic attempts at mimicking the high. Just as Spice (synthetic marijuana) has emerged to supposedly mimic cannabis, flakka is sought after to mimic cocaine.

But the difference is, Spice and flakka cause psychotic symptoms, bodily damage and death, whereas cannabis has never caused an overdose and has well-recognized medicinal value. Cocaine sourced from the black market, which is laced with other unknown chemicals, can cause overdose death – but people aren’t stabbing and eating the faces of other people while on cocaine.

Flakka is far more dangerous than cocaine.

Much of the dangers associated with cocaine would diminish if the drug were legalized and people had the freedom to put what they want into their own bodies. In a legal market, this extract of the coca leaf – which has been used for thousands of years by South Americans – would be produced in exact dosages known to the consumer, free from harmful synthetic chemicals.

If people could go to the store and buy a bit of cocaine, as they can buy alcohol, we could expect the demand for flakka to be non-existent.

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Re: The Drug War

Postby Bal » Mon Aug 22, 2016 9:31 am

Just imagine a huge rant about Methadone in this post.

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Re: The Drug War

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:14 am

I'm afraid my knowledge of methadone is limited; I've heard some pretty nasty stuff but haven't done research. I'm guessing from context that you're saying it's worse than meth?

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Re: The Drug War

Postby Mongrel » Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:02 am

Methadone is a synthetic heroin replacement, not meth.
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Re: The Drug War

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:39 am

I almost wrote "heroin" but then I thought "wait, that can't be right; it's got 'meth' right in the name."

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Brentai
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Re: The Drug War

Postby Brentai » Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:47 am

It also has 'done' right in the name.


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Re: The Drug War

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:49 am

It's called the Method One Clinic.

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Bal
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Re: The Drug War

Postby Bal » Mon Aug 22, 2016 1:08 pm

In brief, methadone is a drug that is nearly identical to heroin, except that it is far worse for you, much more addictive, doesn't feel anything like as good, and is legal because a company patented it and sold it as an aide to get people off of that evil heroin, only to then need to go through the much more difficult detox off of methadone.

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Re: The Drug War

Postby Mothra » Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:12 pm

I drive through an area of Boston called Methadone Mile every day on my way back from work, full of addicts wandering around, shooting up, asking for money. It isn't pretty. My cousin just married a crime writer for a Boston Globe who recently co-wrote this piece on it, for the interested.

For my part, I've had multiple friends overdose and die from heroin over the years. If a friend gets into heroin, it's a pretty solid bet they're not getting out, no matter how hard you try. That said, my best friend in high school recently pulled himself out of that pit using slowly-decreasing increments of methadone, set by his doctor. He's been fully off drugs of any kind for about a year now, and that's after years of heroin use and homelessness in San Diego.

I would say you need, more than anything, the driving desire to get off of opiates entirely in order to actually make methadone useful. Without that drive, yeah, it's just another stand-in for heroin, but with that drive, it can really help to wean you off of the harder stuff.

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zaratustra
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Re: The Drug War

Postby zaratustra » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:33 am

There was an article somewhere that suggested a social support network was the most vital step to fight addiction.

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Re: The Drug War

Postby Sharkey » Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:25 pm

We hunted a guy down, jailed him for a year, and basically destroyed his life over a transcription error.

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And yeah, it was Florida.
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