Time for another look at drug decriminalization in the U.S.

For one thing, the War on Drugs was dishonestly based on a blatantly racist agenda from the start – I mean, from the Nixon Admin, before “War on Drugs” was even a phrase. From Dan Baum’s April cover story in Harper’s:

Of course, it still could be a good idea undertaken for the wrong reasons – but, it ain’t. As Sean Illing writes in Salon:

Does anyone see a downside?

N.B.: The government of the Netherlands does not take a simply libertarian ain’t-nobody’s-business-if-you-do approach to all drugs. It does consider drug abuse a problem – but a public-health problem, not a crime problem. Therefore, you may not simply buy or sell heroin like you can buy or sell heroin, but addicts can get heroin from the government under careful supervision. Well, why not? In the U.S., heroin addicts can get methadone from the government under careful supervision – the only difference is that methadone satisfies the biochemical addiction-craving without getting the user high, or stoned, or whatever you call the psychoactive effects of a heroin dose. I don’t see how that’s any better, it seems to merely a case of American pleasure-denying puritanism.

Portugal, OTOH, apparently is taking a simply libertarian approach. And the results appear to be just as good as in the Netherlands.

Sorry, I meant to write, “like you can buy or sell aspirin.”

Since I assume the addicts are looking for a high, I see a potential problem.

I see it as more of a what-the-hell thing. AIUI, heroin users – and users of opiates generally – can be very high-function people if they have access to a steady and cheap supply of the drug (and if they’re sensible enough not to fix before going to work); it is mainly the social conditions under which they must feed their habit that make them losers.

And look, we have an example by the third post of “American pleasure-denying puritanism.” Assuming there are no safety concerns, why do you care if someone gets high?

The war on drugs is a war on the poor. It was birthed in racism, and is used as a tool by the powerful to keep their lessers beneath them. I’m with BrainGlutton on this one.

I would actually worry more about cocaine than heroin – I’ve known people who were really driven 'round the bend by it.

Nothing of the sort. If methadone therapy is intended to satisfy the craving for opiates but the addict is still engaged in crime in order to get the high they want, the criminal/general destructive behavior is not solved.

I’m not necessarily against decriminalization of drugs but I don’t think just throwing the doors open is the best way to do it.

  1. If the drugs are legal and cheap enough that the addict does not need to steal to feed his habit, the criminal behaviour is solved.

  2. That’s not the question I asked. I asked why you cared if someone got high. Your assumption that an addict is a criminal stealing to feed his habit says quite a bit.

Hmmmm…I haven’t touched the stuff in over 20 years, but if ten-gram bottles of pure cocaine were sold at every newsstand for a few bucks…I would probably be dead in a few months.

However, far be it from ME to stand in the path of the Public Good.

Fine, then let’s do it the Dutch way, not the Portuguese way. But at any rate we should be trying to learn something from foreign examples here (and a great many elswheres, but that’s another discussion).

My wife & daughter both work for a non-profit that provides methadone treatment.

It is supplied to keep the addicts from suffering from withdrawal, not to satisfy cravings. By the time the addicts hit the program, the high is not the object of shooting up - avoiding the agony of lack of opiates is.

The experience of HAT - Heroin Assisted Therapy in Switzerland is instructive.

Well, of course, all drugs are not the same.

And any reform effort should begin with recognizing that fact.

OTOH, cocaine is not only a public-health problem – the illegal U.S. market for it keeps the Latin American drug cartels in business, with disastrous social and political consequences there and here, and far worse there, and I can think of no way to drive them out of business short of full decriminalization.

I doubt marijuana is much of a problem in that regard – coca plants can only be grown in the South American highlands, but hemp can grow almost anywhere, including here. Look for the Union Label!

I guess going to a clinic for your smack kind of spoils the Cool Factor.

That quote in the OP is deeply chilling. It speaks of a level of cynism deemed to ubelievable for House of Cards . And yet I believe it.

I’m for drug legalization pretty much across the board, but I call bullshit on that*. Both marijuana and heroine were illegal long before Nixon was president, and (from wikipedia):

Emphasis added.

*Not that many laws might have been racist all along, but that Nixon had much to do about it one way or the other.

There was a news story recently that the flow of MJ from Mexico was quickly slowing and may even reverse. It seems that marijuana grown in the US is much higher quality than that grown south of the border. Credit this to medical marijuana mainly, although the legalization in several states helps.

Uruguay has a state-run marijuana industry, apparently. (In general, Latin American countries are increasingly moving in the direction of liberalizing on drugs, and calling for more widespread legalization).

Yes, I know, since the 1920s. But Nixon made a national issue of it, he gave it unprecedented attention and priority, he created the DEA, he started the first national War on Drugs since Prohibition.

Yeah, you wouldn’t catch William Burroughs DEAD there.

Finally, some good news for America’s balance of trade! :slight_smile: