Yeah, Badtz sums up the problem pretty well.
Addiction, in and of itself, does not necessarily constitute a significant social problem. Millions of people are Afrin addicts, yet that poses no real threat to society. Even nicotine addiction, which represents a serious health problem, is not a social problem in the way that we think of heroin or cocaine addiction as social problems. Through increased price and decreased purity, it is the drug laws which produce the actual social ills.
Case in Point. If there are drugs out there today that we do want legalized (or decriminalized at the very least) they are the opioids (heroin, codeine, opium, percoset, morphine, etc.). The numbers vary from year to year, but typical American black market heroin is usually about 5-10% heroin (10% being a truly generous estimate). The rest is usually some concoction of speed designed to disguise the acual amount of heroin in the product. Relatively speaking, opioids are difficult to overdose on (more on that in a minute) – the poison one buys on the street is not.
What we wind up with then is a very dangerous, very expensive, and very addictive drug. Unless one has limitless reserves of cash, the artificially high prices created by the black market (created by the drug laws) will lead the addict to poverty (will lead the addict to crime, etc.). By far the worst consequence of drug addiction in the U.S. is imprisonment (for obvious reasons, not the least of which is that prison does nothing to cure one’s addiction).
When opium is cheap and plentiful, it need not be mainlined in order to get the most out of the miniscule amounts of the drug that one can find/afford. Instead, it can be smoked or taken orally, both of which are infinitely safer (i.e. more difficult to OD on) than I-V injection.
We can conclude these things, in part, because there was a time when opioids were legal. Prior to the Harrison Narcotics Act (1914, IIRC), the typical opium addict was a housewife (as opposed to her husband, the typical alcoholic). These women were addicts, and this was not a good thing. They were also not put in danger of poverty, not shunned or imprisoned by society, and (most importantly) healthy. Unlike nicotene and alcohol (and even caffeine to a lesser extent), opioids do not damage one’s internal organs. There are certain physiological effects (mild constipation, shutting down of ovaries for those with large habits, etc.), but none that could be considered life-threatening. When heroin addicts are able to obtain cheap, pure heroin, taken in an informed manner, they are healthy people, undisposed towards criminal activity or general wretchedness.
If heroin has “unpredictable effects,” as SPOOFE asserts, it is because it has unpredictable contents. Opioids themselves do not induce violence or insanity. If truly stoned, one will get very happy and rather mellow. I wouldn’t want such a person on the road next to me, but the drug is also not conducive to getting up and doing stuff (as opposed to alcohol: “Shit, I can drive. Let’s go get pancakes!”).
Anyway, it’s late and I didn’t bring my copy of Licit and Illicit Drugs with me to school (if I had, this post would be 5 times as long and packed with statistics). I’ll deal with other drugs and other arguments as they come up . . . if I feel like it.