is this a democracy? (a drug debate)

No, we just have a President that exactly 49% of the people wanted . . .


Sorry to nudge the thread off-topic, but I’d like to ask you a question that connects with one that I asked on the other current drug-related thread. If you feel that your drug use has made your life better, would you actively encourage your children to try them (as opposed to the dissuasion that probably the majority of parents would give)? Or would you just tell them to go ahead and be careful, if asked for permission? None of the above? What if they wanted to try harder drugs than you had experience with?

That’s great, Ryan. But the question is whether or not the United States is a Republic, in which case, the definition of “Democracy” is utterly useless.

Yeesh. Do you just get off on being contrary?

The two don’t seem mutually exclusive to me, perhaps you could elaborate as to why they are?

actually, from here, it looks as if the thread title begins with the question “is this a democracy?” you are the one who has said that it is not, yet you haven’t provided any cite to support that claim. based on the one argument you presented (that this is a republic rather than a democracy), I see the definitions as rather useful.
so if you have any sort of back-up for the claim, please post it, otherwise, you have no place criticizing others’ arguments.

If the US were a ‘democracy’ where the majority ruled, then we’d be having news stories about President Gore. The US is a REpublic (“I pledge alligance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands…”).

The difference being, that we do not directly enact our laws individually, we elect representatives to do that for us. So, to get drugs to be legalized, you’d have to convince a majority of the elected officials that it’d be A. a good idea (and more importantly) B. Likely to cause them to be re-elected.

At this point, the best you can hope for (IMHO) is that the more punitive laws regarding drugs may be altered (ie those lifer laws etc.).

In the past couple of decades, we’ve (collectively, the US in general etc) increased the penalties for drug possession, use, sales etc. The effects are now being seen in the bulging of the prison populations. There have been some successful attempts to do something else (here in MI, the ‘lifer law’ is under serious scrutiny, in CA recently, they altered the laws to allow for a treatment option for drug offenses - remember Robert Downey Jr?). HOwever, in response to the OP, first I’d want to see a demonstration of support that ‘most’ Americans want ‘drugs’ to be legalized (my own personal belief is that there’s likely support for decriminalization for possession of certain-not all- drugs, but that’s about it)

Hi, Jack!

Did the current laws hasten Emmitt Scott’s death? Mr. Scott, if you recall, amused the nation by calling police after people raided his garden to steal some of the cannabis that he grew to mitigate the pain he suffered from a failing kidney.

Instead of helping him, the police were obliged to cut down all of his contraband plants and charge him as a criminal.

Twenty days later, without his daily cup of cannabis tea, Emmit Scott died.

According to a neighbor, “All of the sudden when this bust started, you know he looked like he went downhill and just got sick.”

God bless America.

Oh, for crying out loud…


As ol’ Dan said… “I’m getting too old for this shit…”

Kurt L. Schmoke ran for both the 1982 State’s Attorney Race and the 1987 Mayor’s race with drug legalization as part of his platform. It didn’t stop him from winning those offices, but then again we are talking about Baltimore.

You are delibretly infering that lack of cannabis killed this man. This is simply untrue. Even with his daily cannabis tea he would had died. Neither liver disease nor kidney failure is cured by pot. Indeed Mr. Scott may have been better off on a more standard pain medication.

Medical marijuanna proponents may soon lose out to a more effective synthetic version anyway.

Oh sheesh…Where to begin? But I only have a few minutes…Hmmm…

SPOOFE irritating yung’uns, eh? Republic, folks. Republic. Stop being jerks and go take a US Politics 101 course.

Ender I dislike your analogy because me smoking pot in my living room would never ever have a remote chance of killing a family of 4. There is a whole world of debate out there on the differences between consensual/victimless crimes and other situations where something you do can have a direct negative effect on another.

kalishnikov Spot on. The reason they call it a ‘War’ on drugs is because you can then justify innocent casualties and other ‘unfortunate’ by-products such as police corruption. No-knock John Doe raids that kill the wrong people? Sure! Screw the Constitution! It’s a WAR! Police get to keep everything they find at a drug raid, BEFORE a judge and jury? Sure! Screw the Constitution! It’s a WAR! That ol’ ‘innocent until proven guilty’ thing must have been a typo anyways…

Blackclaw But y’see, legalizing drugs and having them put under those same standards is a GOOD thing! People die from drugs because of purity problems and the other chemicals that get put into the mix. If they were held up to standards, then deaths from drugs would plummet. Heroin users OD because they are used to cut heroin- 40% pure let’s say, and then they get a batch of 80% pure, and bye-bye johnny. Regulated drugs would give users a set amount that they would know exactly how much to take, and they wouldn’t run into the problems that they do now. Ectasy? There is a similar drug that is sometimes found in the pills that is very dangerous- it can even cause your body temp to rise to 104 degrees after you have died (I think Cecil reported on this). Again, all easily controlled by legalizing and enforcing purity laws. Oh, and good catch on the Emmit Scott, yes he would have died. But there is a case of Peter McWilliams in California who took pot to control his nausea and keep his AIDS drugs down. He was caught growing and forced to stop. They found him in the bath tub after he suffocated on his vomit. That is such a case where the pot would have kept him alive.

And generally, the Libertarians are for the legalization of drugs. They have had that on their platform for awhile now.

The OP: Could have worded it a bit better, and I think you took too many things for granted. Although many people are for a change in drug laws, I don’t think that people are ready for a complete legalization yet. They are going to have to live through many more years of damage to their rights, and society as a whole, before they wake up. The War on drugs causes much more harm to society and our rights than drugs themselves ever would.

As an aside: Has anyone else ever noted how the laws against drugs don’t actually add any benefit to existing laws? When you talk about laws against drugs, they are said to prevent the side-affects that come with illegal drugs - robbery, extortion, murder, etc. But we already have laws that cover all of those crimes. If you legalize drugs, it is still illegal to rob/murder/etc someone. You can legalize drugs- purify them to make them safe, tax them to make them profitable- and you’d still be able to put nasty people behind bars.



I’m not arguing against such standards. I’m just pointing out that more has to be done than simply waving a magic wand and declaring drugs are legal.

Aren’t there other anti-nauesa drugs available besides marjiuanna? For the record, I don’t oppose medical useage of anything for the terminally ill. But I have limited patience for overdramatic stories such as the one Mr. Mudd shared with us.

First of all, let me apologize for my initial off-topic post. But since you ask, let me respond.

I am completely candid with my kids when discussing drugs. The most important advice I think I can give them is to be extremely careful with any drugs they may choose to use, including and especially alcohol. It is the caution that I exercised that kept my experiences safe and fun. There’s more to it than that but it’s best saved for another thread.

There’s no need to take a Poli-Sci course to understand that America is a democracy.
All the necessary information is in this thread. I’ll not belabor the point further because some posters seem determined to maintain the fallacy that if X is in Set A it can’t also belong to Set B. I’ve run into enough conservatives here and elsewhere to despair at them ever seeing their illogic. Despite my frustration I wouldn’t have jumped hard on Spoof’s 2nd post. I thought he was making a valid point. It is not untrue to state that America is not a democracy; it’s just misleading. The unmodified term “democracy” can and traditionally has referred to direct democracy. The tradition continues even though all modern democracies are of the representative persuasion. Since the OP seemed a bit unsure about the reality that we were governed by our representatives I thought it was spot on and even humorous for the Spoofter to bring it up.

Speaking of the OP, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll came out yesterday found the highest numbers ever in support of legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately for fecal_nugget ( and me ) only 34% were in favor. Here’s a link to the story. Don’t know how long USA Today will keep it around.

As for the question of how the few can impose their will on the many I suggest you read this post by Pjen. Hopefully you will find it informative, fecal_nugget. Sorry for continuing the hijack. You will notice that I did refrain from giving SpoilerVirgin examples where our particular constitutional republic, although it might sound like a good idea, has actually led to extremism, demagoguery, and the tyranny of the minority.

Just my 2sense
No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. - James Madison

If there is a change to the international view of drug use as a mainly criminal matter , we can be fairly sure that it will not originate in the USA. This is for several reasons, connected ultimately with the greater effective direct democracy (pace SPOOFE) which ensures that the USA is more likely to follow voter demand for legislation than most other democracies. As most voters will be conservative and using ‘common-sense’, radical change is unlikely.

The USA has pulled the Western world along its ‘War on Drugs’ line for the past thirty years. This is now breaking down; Portugal this week effectively legalized personal use of illicit drugs- look for most of Europe to follow over the next ten years (Britain being last and probably only pulled their by the actions of the Scottish Assembly); Aus and NZ and others will follow, inclusing, embarrasingly Canada. Then the USA will stand isolated once again and will take another ten yea

You believe that Americans have more influence over government via the ballot box than Brits?
And if so, why?

Just my 2sense

There are essential differences between the ‘democracies’ of the USA and the UK.

The UK is essentially an elective dictatorship- once elected, the government can do what it likes with virtually no checks and balances- there is no effective legislative power- the Lords can only delay legislation for one year; the judiciary is effectively subservient to the executive. Until recently, the government was unitary- no major differences in legislation (save minor exceptions for N Ireland and Scotland- nothing approaching the differences between legislation between the individual states). There is no effective referendum procedure. There is no local independence for political parties. Consequently, the whole picture is different to the USA.

Effectively the American system allows greater theoretical possibilities for change and is more likely to follow the will of the majority of the people. Over the last fifty years there has been a ratchet effect with increasingly conservative legislation. However, there is no easy mechanism whereby drugs could be legalized against the stated will of the people, even if this might benefit society.

In Britain, if Tony Blair decided that we should follow Portugal and de-criminalize possession of drugs, it would be law within a year, and given the current state of the opposition, he would be likely to be re-elected again in four years, even if the majority of people were strongly against it. It won’t happen that way in Britain for a few years, but the possibility is there.

In the USA, suppose a single state governor proposed decriminalizing drugs and was possibly confidant of getting it past the legislature. Any president (scared of being soft on drugs) would then propose to withdraw federal funding from, say, healthcare or social security programs for states which did not continue the ‘War on Drugs’ position.

In the UK there is a tenable process towards decriminalizing; in the USA there is currently no such route. Portugal and the Netherlands have done so already as their systems of government are more similar to the UK than the USA.

And BTW my previous post was truncated and should have read that it is the very existance of popular democracy that makes decrimialization less likely in the USA.

the measure would be soundly trounced.

Why? Drew Carry said it best.

“I don’t think drug users get to the polls as often as they would like. ‘What?? It was yesterday???’(slaps forehead)”

Cite, please?

And for the democracy-republic bickerers - why is this such a debated issue? This is at least the fourth time I’ve seen this fight in GD, most recently here Who freaking cares? Whether or not this country is technically a democracy or a republic (BTW, IMO we are a “representative democracy”), all that matters is people know what you are talking about. If right now a majority of U.S. citizens would define our system of government as a “democracy”, we are a democracy. Ditto “republic”. If, later on, a majority of U.S. citizens begin to refer to our system of government as a “kumquat”, well then, by golly, we will be the Great Kumquat of the United States of America.


Sua -

The reason that the issue of exactly what kind of a government we have is debated so frequently is that it makes a big difference in answering the kind of question raised by the OP. The OP is saying that we do not have a democratic society because we do not use the pure democracy model of having all citizens vote on each issue and then ruling by the majority. This would only be true if what we meant by “democratic society” was that type of pure democracy. Sure, you can call our form of government a kumquat, but if no one understands precisely what a kumquat is, it is impossible to debate the role of kumquat government in the drug legalisation debate, or any other important issue.

2sense -

Of course I’m aware of the injustices that have occurred under our current form of government. My intention was not to paint our republic as perfect. The James Madison quote in your sig. is appropriate here – we have a system of checks and balances, but that can’t entirely prevent the people from running amuck. My point is that our government is specifically designed not only to allow representative rather than popular democracy, but also to filter and dilute the views of the people through any number of means. The system posited by the OP, in which the people as a whole simply go to the ballot box and vote on individual laws, bears no resemblance either to what the founding fathers envisioned, or to democracy as practiced today in the U.S.

But all anyone ever fights about is terms and dictionary definitions, not about how decisions are made in our governmental system. And how decisions are made is not a Great Debate - it is a matter of 5th grade civics.