Monday, June 05, 2006

The War on Drugs is a Waste and you know it is

Wow! I'm really impressed that the Daily News is for the decriminalization of marijuana. But did they have to hide it in the last sentence of one of their articles? I think they should write an editorial on the issue instead. Personally I don't smoke. I've tried a few times and have had good experiences, but I can count the number of times on one hand. That doesn't change the fact that I'm strongly for the legalization of pot and other drugs. It makes sense on so many levels.

You’ve seen it written about here in this blog in a number of places. The “War” on drugs is just such a waste of resources and does nothing to stop the actual usage of drugs. And has anyone ever bothered to debate on weather recreational drug use is actually bad at the macro level? Any reasonable person imagining a country with legalized drugs can hardly not make the connection to our usage of alcohol and cigarettes. In both cases, the substances are dangerous, and cause a lot of deaths, but for some people, maybe for many, they provide a safe way to relax and enjoy life.

This “War” also has had an adverse affect in some ways on our youth. As an example, let’s take Ecstasy usage. Here is a very popular club drug that is used by a huge number of people. Originally designed by a chemist at Mecrk and then used by therapists the drug has had a very interesting history. There still is no official determination on weather the drug is dangerous over the long term.

But in the media, MDMA (Ecstasy) is the devil incarnate. Everyone knows that there is a concerted effort to get young people to stop using MDMA. Most of this effort is found in the mainstream media. Oprah talks about it, there are news articles telling us about speculative papers that 'prove' that MDMA causes brain damage, there are commercials 'just say no', etc.

The problem here is that the users believe that they are being fed disinformation, they simply don't trust what they hear from the media and the government. So, even if there are true facts to be distributed to the users, they will probably be treated as more of the same and ignored, at worst, they will be deliberately misinterpreted.

For example, say the message is: "2 doses of MDMA in an hour will cause brain damage in 20 years". Here is how most of the MDMA crowd will interpret it: "There are no ill effects, you can easily see that. You've taken 2 doses before, what's happened in a week? A month? A Year? You're fine aren't you? What about your friends, hey, they're fine too...all we can do is scare you a bit by saying that in 20 years you will be's all we can do to get you to stop."

If there was no “War” and recreational drug use was treated as alcohol usage is, perhaps the level of mistrust between users and the media (our tie to the medical/science/research community) would decrease to the point of triviality. We certainly give non-drug stories with a lot more credibility. If there was an article in the newspaper, or a story on Oprah about how eating the worm in Mezcal Tequila causes cancer in 20 years, I can guarantee you that most worm eaters would stop. The same would happen with drugs. Access to real/true information is the key to a better society.

Continuing with MDMA, there have been a few deaths reported. I know of two of them. In one, the person died not from the drug, but from ingesting too much water after taking the drug. That’s something that could have been avoided with good education programs. In the other case, it was determined that the drug ingested was not pure and contained an unusually high amount of poisons in it. Again, this is something that happens when one is forced to buy drugs from unknown sources.

With recreational drugs made legal what would drug companies do? You know as well as I do that they would manufacture recreational drugs. They clearly are set up for it: they have the r/d, the capital, the machines, and the materials. But here is the important question for you. Would it be to their advantage to make the drugs unsafe? You bet it wouldn't. While there is always some unsafety with all drugs (legal and otherwise), things like unknown side effects, interactions, etc., there is an acceptable risk level. The drug companies would certainly make safer, more controllable, less addictive, more concentrated recreational drugs...just like the companies that make beer and liquor.

What else may happen if the War was over? I would argue that for one thing amount of dialog would increase, not only between parents and children, but among people in general. The medical/science/research community would have more studies both for and against drug use...the debate would grow and from that would blossom even more good information.

Then there is the obvious one. I've heard that right now, 98% of violent crime is attributable to illegal drugs. Almost every criminal deals drugs or steals so they can buy them. Why? There is a huge profit motive in selling drugs, because the sale prices and the addiction level is so high. Remove the profit motive by selling the drugs at CVS (or in government sanctioned store) and the illegal drug trade goes away. Once legal, you can even tax them and use the money for public health or information campaigns.

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