Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
The Economist survey on drugs

By Paul Johnson in MLP
Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 01:03:31 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

The Economist has published a survey on illegal drugs.

It's long, but its packed with facts. If you are interested in the subject then it is well worth reading.


This being The Economist, they take a long look at the economics of the drug trade, where the markups are, and what implications these have for drug enforcement policies.

Their conclusions are that the current policy of prohibition is a Bad Thing. Ideally radical liberalisation should follow, but in practice the political situation makes cautious liberalisation more likely to succeed.

They also note that the current network of anti-drug treaties makes it very hard for any individual country to go it alone in liberalisation experiments. The US is particularly likely to object.

The Economist has a long-standing history of objecting to the prohibition of drugs, and this is the most recent example. Their style is very strongly based on fact and logic: they almost never lapse into polemic or emotion-based argument. However they do have strong editorial stances on a number of topics and consistently publish stories which favour these positions.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
Drug laws should
o Be abolished 61%
o Permit soft drugs only 10%
o Be based on likely harm 20%
o Also prohibit alcohol and tobacco 6%
o No change 1%

Votes: 223
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o The Economist
o a survey
o Also by Paul Johnson


Display: Sort:
The Economist survey on drugs | 82 comments (81 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
liberalization (2.75 / 8) (#1)
by eLuddite on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 09:26:43 PM EST

The illicit drug trade is already liberalized. It consists of capitalists who have instituted (albeit informally for obvious reasons) property laws, rules of conduct, financial infrastructure, "family values" and, of course, muscle to enforce all of the above. If you want to experience true institutional capitalism and its power structures, ask your neighborhood monopoly to make you the acquaintance of its peers in the oligarchy. If you get far and high enough, ask someone to make you an offer you cant refuse.

Badabing, badaboom. Fughedoubtaboutit.

---
God hates human rights.

Capitalism != Libertarian Anarchism (3.40 / 5) (#3)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 01:59:53 AM EST

Capitalism is the concentration of the means of production in the hands of a few, who then employ the proletariat.

Just about everyone in the drug trade with the exception of some of the couriers and "mules" own everything they use or sell and are effectively self-employed freelancers. So the current illegal drug industry is not actually capitalistic. This especially includes the farmers who are the primary producers: they own the land and whatever agricultural tools they use to produce the drugs. Even synthetic drugs tend to be made in small laboratories by the people who own the equipment used, although they probably rent the premises.

I think you muat be confusing capitalism with anarchy. The drug trade lacks any form of legal or regulatory infrastructure. This seems to be the state of affairs advocated by some brands of Anarchists and Libertarians, but it is not some kind of purified essence of capitalism.

Of course its possible that your article was just meant to be funny rather than a contribution to the debate. If so, sorry I didn't get it.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

the drug trade is 100% capitalism (3.71 / 7) (#5)
by eLuddite on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 02:45:08 AM EST

I think you muat be confusing capitalism with anarchy.

That would be an impossible confusion for me to make.

Just about everyone in the drug trade with the exception of some of the couriers and "mules" own everything they use or sell and are effectively self-employed freelancers.

They have the means of production, do they? Drugs come from a very few, controlled sources. The only independent small businessmen in the illicit drug trade are really, really small-time horticulturists who sell weed to their friends.

The drug trade lacks any form of legal or regulatory infrastructure.

Here's three ways you can test that theory. (1) Buy an ounce of cocaine from one source and sell it in the territory controlled by a different source. (2) Fly back from Colombia with several kilos of coke (assuming you can find a seller who wont simply betray you to his regular clientele) and try to sell it below street cost. (3) Attend a cocaine auction.

Drug empires are de facto states. They absolutely do have their own territories, "laws", "capital", "contracts" and "police." You really dont know what you're talking about, here.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

some of them even have "flags" (3.25 / 4) (#7)
by eLuddite on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 04:42:17 AM EST

Drug empires are de facto states.

If you want to see what the "flags" look like, go to one of the two major strip joints in CITY after a professional fight (they invariably flaunt their colors for boxing matches) and look for designs sewn onto leather jackets. If you see more than one such design, one will be the "state", the others will be "municipalities" under the state's control. Or under the control of the one other warring state, in which case either pause to enjoy the dancing ladies because you trust a protocol has been previously established, or you leave asap.

There really is an incredible amount of control in the drug trade, which is considerably less anarchic and more consistent than our own reality. It is, for example, much easier for a businessman to get away with cheating his customers than it is for a dealer ("merchant") to abuse junkies. Repression is swift and predictable, drive and initiative does not go unrewarded, consumption is fetishized to the extreme and extreme envy of any red blooded American businessman, etc.

Even synthetic drugs tend to be made in small laboratories by the people who own the equipment used,

As far as the market in STATE is concerned, you will not be selling any drugs at a rave without someone noticing and regulating your activities as well as dictating your supply.

although they probably rent the premises.

In reality, "rent" and "taxes" are extorted as the cost of doing business.

This is all fairly compelling sociological evidence for the blurred distinction between State and Capitalism.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

More confusion (3.66 / 3) (#12)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:29:06 AM EST

When I said "legal or regulatory infrastructure" I meant laws created by a legislative body and enforced by an independent judiciary. I did not mean a feudal dictatorship, which is what I agree the drug industry does resemble. Its what any culture will resemble if it lacks democratic institutions.

To me "capitalism" means a system where a small number of people have effective control of the means of production, but their activities are regulated by a democratically elected government with an independent judiciary. In other words the way most industries work in the G7 nations.

If I understand you correctly, you would see little or no difference between, say, a judge who sentences you to prison and a dealer who has you kneecapped. Am I right?

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

capitalism: some nice places to visit (3.50 / 4) (#15)
by eLuddite on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 06:17:04 AM EST

but I wouldnt necessarily want to live in all of them.

To me "capitalism" means a system where a small number of people have effective control of the means of production, but their activities are regulated by a democratically elected government with an independent judiciary.

That seems arbitrary and is an inaccurate description of the world. The USA, friend of democracy, actively supported Capitalist states in Latin America that I am sure you would agree were more repressive than they were nominally democratic. The G7 and NGOs do the same today the world over. In 1997, the WSJ and Heritage Foundation gave Singapore their highest rank for economic liberty. Finally, Democracy does not appear in the definition of Capitalism.

In other words the way most industries work in the G7 nations.

Who knows how things might evolve if drugs were legal and privatized? The way most industry works in G7 nations is not the way it worked 100 years ago. Nor are G7 industries particularly good tourists today:

In two open letters released in April, Human Rights Watch criticized the contractual relationship between Colombian security forces and two international consortia of oil companies operating the principal oil fields and pipelines in the nation. The letters detailedterms of the multimillion-dollar security contracts and reports of killings, beatings, and arrests committed by those forces responsible for protecting the companies? installations. Human Rights Watch called on the companies to implement contractual and procedural structures to ensure respect for human rights as a result of their security arrangements.

A consortium composed of Occidental Petroleum, Royal Dutch/Shell, and the national oil company, ECOPETROL, which operates the Caņo-Limón oil field in Arauca department, took no action to address reports of extrajudicial executions and a massacre committed by the state forces assigned to protect the consortium?s facilities. The companies? response was that human rights violations were the responsibility of governments, and they did not announce any programs to ensure that their security providers do not commit human rights violations. Royal Dutch/Shell, the only member of the consortium with human rights policies, announced its intent to sell its share of this project as part of an overall divestiture of its Colombian holdings.

If I understand you correctly, you would see little or no difference between, say, a judge who sentences you to prison and a dealer who has you kneecapped. Am I right?

As far as Capitalism requires, both are systems that protect capital and property relations. You may disagree with the severity of punishment, but there is no reason to suspect corruption or believe punishment is unfairly or inconsistently meted out. Many people dont agree with zero tolerance policies in the USA, either.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Democracy & Capitalism necessary. not sufficie (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by Paul Johnson on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 10:41:32 AM EST

Democracy does not appear in the definition of Capitalism.

Point conceeded.

However as far as I can see all the nice places to live around the world seem to have a combination of the two. They are not sufficient to have a relatively free and prosperous population, but they do seem to be necessary. Whenever someone tries improving the general lot by abolishing one or the other things go rapidly down hill.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

thus... (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by Luyseyal on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 01:26:42 PM EST

...democracy is not magic pixie dust that settles the problems people face. I don't think anyone here would argue that.

Democracy doesn't work if the underlying culture doesn't support it. Hell, very little works unless the culture supports it.

What's your point?

The USA leadership has problems?
The drug trade features structural similitude to feudal states?
People with exposure to certain cultural attitudes happen to exploit the same weaknesses in institutions?
Cultures that canvas greed and survival as "family values" are corrupt?
Some attempted analogy between two different political/economic systems?

Seriously, I want to know what you're getting at.

-l

[ Parent ]

addendum (2.75 / 4) (#17)
by eLuddite on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 06:30:47 AM EST

To me "capitalism" means a system where a small number of people have effective control of the means of production, but their activities are regulated by a democratically elected government with an independent judiciary.

What if I told you members of the drug world voted for their leadership and appointed their "justices"? It's not true, of course, but it can be, in principle. You and I may not have any say in matters of their shadow world, but we dont get to vote in Bulgarian elections, either.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Poll: abolition of laws (3.50 / 8) (#4)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 02:12:34 AM EST

I see that the poll is currently running at 55% in favour of total abolition of the drug laws.

(BTW, sorry I forgot to put in "No change" as an option. Duh!)

I'm surprised that total abolition would be such a strong favourite. I'm in favour of a regulatory system which bans a few drugs (not many) and regulates the sale of others. For example I'd want licensing of retailers and bans on sale to minors.

I'd ban drugs based on the following criteria:

  • Addictiveness
  • Harm done by users to others
  • Harm done to users by drug

Only if a drug scored high on at least 2 categories would I advocate banning it. Both alcohol and tobacco score fairly high on all three. Any regulations which permitted those drugs would permit quite a lot of others. Even heroin might slide in: its actually less addictive than tobacco, and if taken carefully and regularly it is a lot less dangerous.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

a good analogy ... (4.66 / 6) (#6)
by phunbalanced on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 02:50:29 AM EST

is censorship.

Is cunt a worse word then ass? If so, is it ok to censor the word cunt? if that word is censored, then what makes it that much worse then ass, that we shouldn't censor that as well.

This leads to the decision. In any situation like this, with degrees of variation, there suddenly is the necessity for a decision maker.

Whether that decision maker is a group, or single individual, it immediately allows for corruption. As soon as there is someone in charge of deciding which words are bad and which are not, they can be swayed. They are now able to make decisions about what you can say, based on their preferences, in good faith, and in bad.

While I don't argue that this should be allowed or not, it does point out the flaw in moderate freedoms. If you declare the act of censorship illegal across the board, there is no room for abuse. It is simply illegal to erode someones freedom of speech.

I hope the analogy made sense. This is why I feel, that moderated regulation is a bad thing, and only a small step towards personal freedom.

[ Parent ]

drugs vs. words (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by Danse on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 11:30:11 AM EST

At least with drugs you often can make a good case as to why one is worse than another. Whether this is enough to sway opinion or not, who knows. But at least there could be some reason given. And if someone can disprove the reasons, then there should be a reconsideration.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Was it paracelsus... (3.75 / 4) (#8)
by tomte on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 04:43:25 AM EST

who said (paraphrased): "A small dose cures, a large one kills" ?
 
Alcohol is deeply bound into nearly every culture and as studies (sorry no link, only written material) proof may, in the form of wine and in small doses, improve your health.
 
The same cultural bond goes with tobacco; tobacco does so much harm, because of the additives the big companies add to have the same taste over the years without being dependend on the quality of the actual tobacco; it wouldnīt be good for you without them, of course, but to ban it... (donīt get me wrong, nicotine is the most dangerous legal drug, but economics (adding chemicals) lead to the great dangers of tobacco as itīs sold in form of cigarettes)
 
And as you can see in the actual situation, no government can, how mildly it tries to, regulate drug-consumation by law.; If it is possible, then through educational not regulatory measures.
 
So the point is to stop pushing people into illegality. So a possible reason for the high vote for abolish: experience proofs that no regulation of drug-consumation can be successfull in achieving its proposed goals.
--
Funny. There's a brightness dial on the monitor, but the users don't get any smarter.
[ Parent ]
What chemicals? (4.00 / 5) (#11)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:17:53 AM EST

tobacco does so much harm, because of the additives the big companies add to have the same taste over the years without being dependend on the quality of the actual tobacco

I've not heard this allegation before. What chemicals are we talking about? And what evidence is there that they are so much more dangerous than plain tobacco?

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Never Heard "Itīs Perfumed" ? (4.00 / 4) (#13)
by tomte on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:55:18 AM EST

For every brand the tobacco is treated in a different way and this "perfume" is mixed in, to distinguish it of other brand containing the same tobaccos...
Have a lookt at this to get my point right. I say it again: Tobacco is harmfull, 100% pure or not, but additives take the risk a few steps higher...
--
Funny. There's a brightness dial on the monitor, but the users don't get any smarter.
[ Parent ]
Additive Names (4.25 / 4) (#16)
by tomte on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 06:27:45 AM EST

here.
But surely not all...
--
Funny. There's a brightness dial on the monitor, but the users don't get any smarter.
[ Parent ]
Tobacco.. (4.00 / 5) (#14)
by ajduk on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:57:33 AM EST

The big companies use 'puffed up' tobacco, with added magnesium to help it burn. In addition, there was (is?) a practice of adding nicotine to the first portion of the cigarette to give the user a 'rush' from the first few drags, helping to ensure addiction.

The interesting comparison is to see the difference the day after a party/get together. If people have been smoking rollups, the smell is much less noticeable than from normal cigarettes, which stink the place out by comparison. I have no idea why, though.



[ Parent ]
Nicotine (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by pallex on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 10:32:37 AM EST

Selective breeding of high-nicotine tobacco:

http://cancer.med.upenn.edu/cancer_news/1994/kessler_nicotine.html

Adding nicotine?:

http://www.mcspotlight.org/beyond/abctranscript.html



[ Parent ]
Radioactive Polonium in Tobacco (aka "Hot Tob (4.50 / 2) (#32)
by truth versus death on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 12:25:54 PM EST

Radioactive Polonium in Tobacco

So, you thought it was the tar that caused cancer...

Addl Po-210 and tobacco commentary

Why Doesn't Smoking Marijuana Cause Cancer?

NEJM: Radioactivity in Cigarette Smoke

Polonium-210 and Lead-210 in Food and Tobacco Products

ALPHA RADIOACTIVITY (210 POLONIUM) AND TOBACCO SMOKE

Lung Cancer Causes

Estimating Lung Cancer...
As already remarked in the summary (page iii), phosphate ore is relatively rich in uranium. As a result, radon gas is slowly released from the phosphate fertilizer which is used on most tobacco crops. Being heavy, the gas accumulates somewhat before dissipating, and the short-lived radon daughters (which carry an electrical charge) promptly attach themselves to microscopic dust particles. These dust particles, in turn, adhere to the sticky, resinous hairs which grow on the underside of the tobacco leaves. These short-lived daughters will all disintegrate within a few hours after being formed, leaving a deposit of the radioactive substance lead-210 (with a half-life of 21 years) in the tobacco leaves.

When the tobacco leaves are harvested, cured, shredded, rolled into cigarettes, and sold in the stores, they still carry a burden of lead-210 with them. Polonium-210 is a radioactive daughter of lead-210, and, like its parent, it is a solid at normal temperatures. However, when a smoker draws on his or her cigarette, the intense localized heat at the burning tip of the cigarette is enough to volatilize both substances. Thus the chronic smoker ends up with a deposit of lead-210 and polonium-210 in his or her lungs.


"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Holy #@%& I didn't know... (5.00 / 2) (#66)
by entranced on Sun Aug 19, 2001 at 02:27:01 AM EST

From the "Why Doesn't Smoking Marijuana Cause Cancer?" link above:
"One of the main reasons we can't pinpoint what part of smoking causes cancer is that cigarette companies have a big secret. An incredible loophole in the law allows them not to disclose about 500 of the ingredients in cigarettes. Maybe the burning of one of those ingredients causes lung cancer. But we can't test it, because we don't know what it is."
Incredible.


"You have not converted a man because you have silenced him." ~John Morley
[ Parent ]

ageing (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by Sikpup on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 04:04:15 PM EST

One of the proofs of the cigarette companines manipulating nicotine levels.

Tobacco is aged before it is processed. It is stored, dried, cured, etc. It is a very involved and time consuming process to which a great deal of attention is paid. Depending on the company this can be as long as 3 or 4 years.

One of the effects of aging is a dramatic reduction in nicotine levels. Here is where the big difference between pipe tobacco, cigar tobacco, and cigarette tobacco happens. Cigar and pipe tobacco continue on their way to the consumer, being cut, shredded, rolled, etc. Cigarette tobacco is also shredded, stems, wood, etc, parts that aren't used in pipe/cigars. Now the nicotine that the aging process removed has to be added back in to keep the smokers addicted.

There is a lot of other stuff added, but nicotine is the big one.



[ Parent ]
Wine and Health (3.50 / 2) (#62)
by ansible on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 07:18:26 PM EST

Heard from a friend (sorry, no link either) that the 'wine in small doses' bit is only a correlation, not causation.

According to one report (from the friend) the people who drink wine tend to be more affluent, and have better access to health care. This is why they apparently live longer than average. It supposedly doesn't have anything to do with the wine itself.

[ Parent ]

I`m no expert either (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by tomte on Sun Aug 19, 2001 at 02:04:35 AM EST

But the proposals I read stated a different opinion:
It isnīt mainly the alcohol, but the combination of other stuff (minerals, vitamines, polyphenol.) that cause this effect. It was stated as result of a research-project mostly with the rural population in mediterranean countries drinking the cheaper wine of there regions, not the people with an obsession for chateau-neuf-du-pape or veuve-cliquot :)
The point is: Not to much on a regular basis. The healthy effect is quickly dimished by abuse of alcohol, i.e. drinking to much wine.
 
Further reading: here and here; or search on google for "wine health"
--
Funny. There's a brightness dial on the monitor, but the users don't get any smarter.
[ Parent ]
it was a Russian satirist (4.00 / 2) (#67)
by boris on Sun Aug 19, 2001 at 08:58:31 AM EST

(Zhvanetzky) who said the immortal phrase:

Alcohol in small doses is harmless in any quantity.

[ Parent ]
yeah, hehe, or that one (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by tomte on Sun Aug 19, 2001 at 11:53:40 AM EST

we only drink small amounts of alcohol,
and seldom do we drink it,
although very much of it then...
--
Funny. There's a brightness dial on the monitor, but the users don't get any smarter.
[ Parent ]
Thats not fair (3.80 / 5) (#9)
by pallex on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:06:07 AM EST

"Addictiveness
Harm done by users to others
Harm done to users by drug"

But a lot of my friends really like to smoke cigarettes. Who are you to stop them? I`m not a big fan of this "You might hurt yourself, so i`ll put you in prison to protect you`.

If health had anything to do with it, there`d be a law against a lot of food people liked too.

[ Parent ]
Addiction and self-harm (3.50 / 4) (#10)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:13:52 AM EST

Its a tricky area. I'm not convinced that a person who is addicted is truly acting on their own free will when they take the next dose: arguably the side effects of withdrawal are a form of compulsion.

You might argue that the individual chose to risk addiction, which is a reasonable argument apart from children who become addicted. Like I said, its a tricky area.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Also. (5.00 / 2) (#46)
by mindstrm on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 04:43:27 PM EST

When someone has a heroin habit going on... they *know* they are hooked, and often *want* to stop, but it's socially destructive, embarassing, etc, to admit to anyone you have this problem. THAT is the real problem.

If they could, without feeling like an absolute loser, getting fired, ridiculed, stared at, and hated, as well as perhaps prosecuted, simply ask for help, and get it, things would be very different.


[ Parent ]
Re: Thats not fair (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by CubeDweller on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 02:43:07 PM EST

If health had anything to do with it, there`d be a law against a lot of food people liked too.

You mean like this?

[ Parent ]
I agree with you on #2 (5.00 / 4) (#19)
by toddg on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 09:42:17 AM EST

That is exactly the criterion I would use. But our backgrounds must evidently be different, as the boundaries I would set up are much further back than yours. I will, however, completely ignore long-term effects (#3), as that has no bearing on other's safety, and should be considered on the user's cognizance. I will also argue against #1, since a) the ban has been a complete failure and b) recovery is easier in the light of day, not hiding from the law. The best legal system would be no-penalty citations with provided rehab sources.

In the below, I discuss correlation of violent crime. I consider the correlation of someone being driven towards violence while impaired by the drug. Crime while not impaired, in order to pay for drugs, is already covered by existing laws. I wish the law to go above and beyond if and only if a user exhibits tendencies that comprise an extreme threat. So, my list:

Legal:

  • Marijuna - most users act kind of goofy and laugh too much. Often accompanied by munchies. Dangerous? No.
  • LSD - definitely in a class by itself. User hallucinates and laughs way too fucking much. Take only with friends; the only recorded deaths are from doing stupid things while high.
  • Cocaine - users are exceptionally awake, but not all that annoying. Little correlation to crime, but long-term effects bite. OTOH, it's not a physical addiction. But who wants to snort things? Leaves make good tea, though.
  • Heroin -- bad stuff. Physical addiction, many possible ways of ODing on it, frequent deaths. Does not IMHO, corrolate strongly with violent crime, mostly b/c users frequently pass out. HIV infection risk with needles, measurable health impact, spreading widely with this generation's youth. I recommend strongly against it, and think it should be legal precisely so the dangers can be well understood.
  • Speed -- a little discussed facet of programming.
  • X, E, MDMA - strongly correlated with phat pants, glowsticks, and crappy massages... Perhaps compelling users to attend shihatsu and fashion classes? Seriously, though, there have been several deaths from poor purity -- this is primarily a factor of production still being so low that fraud is profitable. This problem would not exist if MDMA were legal: there would be quality control and brand recognition.
Banned:
  • PCP -- I have never seen a powderhead who wasn't violent. Add in boosted strength, psychosis, and inability to feel pain, and you have an actual immediate threat. Ban it.
  • Crack -- I'm not too sure about this one. No one I know uses it. It's sort of the bottom of the drugs barrel, and no one wants to scrape it. Why ban it? I'll leave it on this list until someone tells me otherwise.

I'm not sure you get it. The ban has failed. You can get anything you want on the streets. The only thing the ban has done is raise prices, lower quality, corrupt legal authorities, and eradicate personal freedoms. It would on the whole be better to legalize everything possible, and develop a mature national ethos towards moderate drug use rather than the polarized hysteria of prohibition. I know the US is prone to polarized hysteria, it being where Puritans met pioneers, but I can still hope.

After that hopefully we can do something about hacking hysteria.

[ Parent ]

PCP vs Alcohol (3.00 / 5) (#21)
by pallex on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 10:27:33 AM EST

PCP -- I have never seen a powderhead who wasn't violent. Add in boosted strength, psychosis, and inability to feel pain, and you have an actual immediate threat. Ban it.

vs

Alcohol -- I have never seen a drunk who wasn't violent. Add in boosted strength, psychosis, and inability to feel pain, and you have an actual immediate threat. Ban it.


[ Parent ]
violence (4.50 / 2) (#25)
by Danse on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 11:25:48 AM EST

Alcohol -- I have never seen a drunk who wasn't violent.

Hmm.. alcohol seems to have a similar effect on me to what he described for marijuana. I laugh too much and act really goofy. But that's about it. I only know of a couple people who get violent when they're drunk. Of course I've seen plenty of others. As I was leaving a bar with some friends about a month ago we walked outside and right into a fight. So yeah, I suppose that violence could be a fairly common side-effect of alcohol, but I don't think that alone is a good enough reason to ban it. Consumed socially it's not even addictive. I drink with friends sometimes, but most of the time I have no desire to drink alcohol.




An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Well, (4.50 / 2) (#31)
by pallex on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 12:07:02 PM EST

i don`t know anyone who`s taken PCP. To me (in the UK) its just something which large criminals in Hill Street Blues take!

I think that a society which can handle legal alcohol can handle just about anything else. Its just that you hear about the other drugs more often, because they arent as widely used. When did you last see `Man high on alcohol steals car, kills woman, loses leg in crash`? Happens all the time, its just a statistic. If it had been LSD or E or whatever, its news.

I drink a little, and i dont get violent, but come 11pm and the streets are full of people who have drunk more than they can deal with, and are turning it into a problem for other people.

[ Parent ]
It's called Prohibition (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by anansi on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 01:45:57 PM EST

The truly ironic thing about prohibition, was thet it was spearheaded by a well organized, highly motived movement of women which had its origins in the abolishment of slavery and had just secured the right to vote. The evils of alcohol were a tempting next target, as women were not included in alcohol culture, and participated mostly in nursing the hangovers of their husbands who spent family money on drink.

Temperance is a tricky thing, whetehr you're trying to curb the excesses of Big Tobacco, or restoring a compromaised ecosystem. To simply wipe every drug law from the books would make about as much sense as halting all new construction of homes, commercial, and factory buildings to save the environment.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"
[ Parent ]

Your point? (none / 0) (#40)
by BurntHombre on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 02:37:55 PM EST

Alcohol -- I have never seen a drunk who wasn't violent.

Simple. Either you haven't seen many drunks, or you're lying.

[ Parent ]

Correlation between alcohol and violence (4.33 / 3) (#51)
by driptray on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 09:04:47 PM EST

Alcohol -- I have never seen a drunk who wasn't violent.

I presume you're exaggerating to make a point, which is that there is a massive correlation between alcohol consumption and violence. This is true in my home country, Australia.

But this correlation doesn't seem to exist in Japan, where I now live. Japan has the second highest rate of alcohol consumption in the world (after Russia), and it's commonplace to see drunk people staggering around the streets at night, staggering onto trains, vomiting etc. Groups of drunken young men can be seen roaming the streets.

But guess what - almost no violence! A group of drunken young men give off none of the threatening vibes they would in Australia. It's a nation of happy, non-violent drunks. People walk the streets and catch trains late at night with little worry about their safety.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
The Straight Dope about PCP (4.00 / 2) (#64)
by weathervane on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 11:14:54 PM EST

PCP (sold as 'mesc', although nobody is under any delusion that they are taking mescaline) is a very common street drug in Montreal and Quebec City, especially among punks. I travelled in those circles for a few years and while I saw some stupid and random stunts, I never saw anybody get violent with another person. In general Montreal is a remarkably safe city and the presence of large numbers of mesced up punks doesn't seem to change that.

PCP does however cause brain damage that is functionally pretty similar to schitzophrenia if abused over a long time. Even milder users have some recognizable personality traits, mostly a tendency to space out randomly even when they had been quite engaged in a conversation. This lasts for years after a person stops taking the stuff. Mind you, my understanding is that ketamine has very similar long term effects, but somehow it doesn't have quite the same horrorshow reputation.

For the record, my one experience with PCP was pretty unimpressive.

[ Parent ]

crack vs cocaine (4.50 / 4) (#23)
by treat on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 10:41:56 AM EST

Crack -- I'm not too sure about this one. No one I know uses it. It's sort of the bottom of the drugs barrel, and no one wants to scrape it. Why ban it? I'll leave it on this list until someone tells me otherwise.

Cocaine is usually found as the hydrochloride salt. This makes it water soluble, and suitable for snorting/injecting. However, it is destroyed at a lower temperature than it vaporizes, making it unsuitable for smoking. Cocaine freebase, however, vaporizes relatively easily. Crack is an easy and safe to make form of cocaine freebase.

Cocaine and crack are the same drug. The reason crack has a bad reputation is because it is usually done by lower income non-white people.

PCP -- I have never seen a powderhead who wasn't violent. Add in boosted strength, psychosis, and inability to feel pain, and you have an actual immediate threat. Ban it.

I've never seen someone on PCP, or done it myself. It has a worse reputation than crack. But PCP is a dissasociative, the same class as Ketamine. If the effects are similar, PCP's reputation is vastly exaggerated.

[ Parent ]

Crack = Cocaine & Baking Soda (4.50 / 2) (#27)
by Orangeshoes on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 11:45:26 AM EST

It's always nice to see some who understands that crack and cocaine are the same thing. You freebase you powder cocaine down to a paste, then mix in about 30-80% baking soda along with some water. Then you cook off the excess liquid and break the hard solid into small white rocks of "crack". So many people seem to be ignorant of these fact, I was once involved in one of those college ethics class discussions of legalization a few years ago in which out of thirty people only myself and the professor seemed aware that crack was not really any different than cocaine(different in methods of use yes, in active ingredients they are identical). In the United States at least our politicans are just as ill-informed. Federal penalties for crack are much higher than for power cocaine(which hurt the poor minorities who traffic is crack much rougher than the wealthier whitier powder cocaine users and dealers). Chapter Seven of the US governments report on Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy while a typical dry governmental report does contain some interesting contrasts between sentences. "The 500-gram quantity of powder cocaine that can send one powder cocaine distributor to prison for five years can be distributed to up to 89 different street dealers who, if they chose to turn it into crack cocaine, could make enough crack to trigger the five-year penalty for each defendant."

Anyway if anybody still question whether Crack does equal cocaine A good article at the druglibrary.org entitled The Social Pharmacology of Smokeable Cocaine: Not All It's Cracked Up to Be goes through and explains the process of creating "crack" in a bit more detail than I did, and also goes into how the "evils" of crack cocaine have been exaggerated by the media and the government.

[ Parent ]

Speaking of Baking Soda (4.00 / 2) (#47)
by lb008d on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:03:16 PM EST

i used to work the late (10PM - 3AM) shift in the City Market an Aspen CO during summers there (as a music student) - let me tell you we sold A LOT of tiny arm and hammer boxes then.......

[ Parent ]
Cocaine not addictive? (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by wiredog on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 01:52:39 PM EST

Sorry. Coke is physically addictive. I've been through coke withdrawal and it wasn't fun. Did a little crack, it's a great way to go through a lot of money in a hurry, otherwise it's just another form of coke. PCP is freaky. 9 times out of 10 it's just an intense marijuana like high. Sort of like Kona bud on steroids. The tenth time it turns you into a psychotic. Bad Stuff.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Physical addiciton & Cocaine. (3.50 / 2) (#45)
by mindstrm on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 04:39:44 PM EST

It is physically addictive, but for a long time, they have said it is not. It's psychologically addictive.

The modern term is it's physiologically addictive (as something that exhibits no physiological effects at a cellular level cannot be addictive by definition).


Cocaine use leads to the natural destruction of some receptors in the brain (because they are overstimulated, making you feel really 'good'.. so some of them naturally die off, because you aren't supposed to feel 'good' all the time.). This leads to a condition where, once you don't use cocaine anymore, you cannot actually feel 'good' in the same way via normal mechanisms. This is the basis of the addiction.

Heroin addiction is much more 'physical'.... the sickness, aches, and pains are something to be feared.


[ Parent ]
Wrong (5.00 / 4) (#49)
by localroger on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 06:18:55 PM EST

The modern term is it's physiologically addictive (as something that exhibits no physiological effects at a cellular level cannot be addictive by definition).

This "modern" term is a drug-war propagandum. Physically addictive means that if you quit, you will get sick and experience withdrawal symptoms. You can be physically addicted to drugs that are not psychoactive. Cocaine is not physically addictive. That has nothing whatsoever to do with one's urge to keep taking it; it has to do with what happens to your body if you stop.

Cocaine use leads to the natural destruction of some receptors in the brain (because they are overstimulated, making you feel really 'good'

Totally, completely wrong. This is in fact what happens with amphetamine abuse. Cocaine and amphetamine have similar results with at twist on how they're accomplished: Cocaine causes the brain to dump its supply of the neurotransmitter Dopamine, which moderates positive feedback in a number of mechanisms some of which are understood and some of which aren't. Amphetamine stimulates the receptors for Dopamine directly by attaching to them, where it cannot be cleared naturally by the process that clears them of Dopamine.

The upshot of this is that protracted cocaine use leaves you with a depleted level of Dopamine; it is dumped, experienced, flushed, and then it takes awhile for your brain to make more, during which time you can't experience natural positive feedback ("good feeling") through that mechanism. This, of course, can lead to a degenerate feedback loop where you keep taking cocaine to release what dopamine you do have so you can feel less crappy, ad infinitum.

Amphetamine by contrast may eventually kill the receptors, though it's hard to find nonbiased research affirming this. Even if it doesn't kill the receptors longterm use leads to psychosis, more in the terms you erroneously state for cocaine, because your brain's other feedback mechanisms aren't tuned to deal with constant stimulation of its Dopamine receptors.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Are you sure? (4.00 / 2) (#56)
by mindstrm on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 11:59:00 AM EST

From what I read, it's not so much that cocaine triggers the release of dopamine, but that it blocks the re-cycling of dopamine, by binding to the dopamine transporter protien. (perhaps both?) This causes a buildup of dopamine. This buildup causes the receiving neurons to be stimulated continuously.
That matches exactly what you say about overstimulation of neuroreceptors.
Also... I didn't mention psychosis anywhere.


As for things dying off.. I'll read up. It does appear that much of the research done is done using amphetamines and is wrongly attributed to cocaine.




[ Parent ]
The sources conflict (4.00 / 2) (#58)
by localroger on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 12:45:37 PM EST

I just did a quick web search, the targets of which agree more with your version than mine. However, all of these sources are overtly anti-drug. These contradict flatly the research a friend of mine did 10-12 years ago for a novel she was writing. This could mean that research has improved its model, or that the models have been perverted to further the ends of the Drug War (much as the definition of "physically addictive" has been changed). I honestly don't know which account to believe.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Yeah.. (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by mindstrm on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 08:10:05 PM EST

me neither. I agree that most of the literature comes ultimately from the same, drug-war research.



[ Parent ]
physical addiction (4.00 / 2) (#61)
by treat on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 01:57:18 PM EST

. Cocaine is not physically addictive. That has nothing whatsoever to do with one's urge to keep taking it; it has to do with what happens to your body if you stop.

While cocaine is not generally regarded as being physically addictive, a lot of drugs that don't have such a reputation can be under the right circumstances. I don't know if this applies to cocaine, but a now-classic example is GHB. It was thought not to be addictive, and in fact someone can be quite a heavy user and not get addicted. But if taken constantly, there is a fairly unpleasant withdrawal.

Other similar examples are ketamine, benzos, and alcohol.

I'm willing to allow for some individual variation in physical addictiveness. In the opposite direction, nicotine is generally regarded as being one of the most physically addictive drugs, but I can't get addicted to it.

I only mention this all because someone posted saying he had a physical cocaine addiction.

[ Parent ]

That vote is not surprising at all.... (3.00 / 4) (#20)
by TheCaptain on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 10:03:00 AM EST

The crowd on Kuro5hin is not terribly representative of all of U.S. society. (Or world society for that matter.) It's a small community unto itself with plenty of it's own biases based on the people that make it up.

[ Parent ]
Why? (4.25 / 4) (#50)
by Rainy on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 08:31:10 PM EST

Why are you surprised? "I put up a poll and most people voted not the way I'd vote. Whoa!" That's the whole point of polls, isn't it? You should be glad - you put up a poll to see what people want, and there you go.

Here are some arguments pro complete legalization: it'll result in lowest prices. Why is that important? Because junkies steal (and kill) when they don't have enough money, making the price as low as possible means less robberies and murders. Any sort of regulation will push prices up. There are people who want to sell drugs, and there are people who want to buy them. The more barriers you put between them, higher the price society pays, imho. You'll perhaps say "well, what if some idiot ODs a 6 year old kid on heroin?". Same thing as if he fed him half a bottle of tylenol - he's endangering someone's life, whatever the substance or situation is (i.e. making him operate complex and dangerous machinery). Simplify: we should never default to a complex solution; work on one only after simple one proves to be inadequate. If you legalize drugs and suddenly there's alot of OD's - look into what's causing them, are people unaware of correct dosage? Are they sold in varying grades of purity with no clear indication? You can't act on a problem before it happens like this - it's like saying "hey, lets spend a few billion into soft mattresses around this construction site for a skyscraper, just in case it does get built and someone falls off the roof." No, build it and then if lots of people start falling off, put mattresses or nets or signs red on black: Caution, falling down from the roof will likely splatter you all over the sidewalk. Make those signs funny because it tends to attract attention, otherwise nobody reads 'em.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

drugs are bad, mmmmkay? (2.46 / 13) (#18)
by planders on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 09:32:51 AM EST

Won't somebody please think of the children?

(sorry it had to be said.)

Ok, you've said it. What does it mean? (4.75 / 4) (#34)
by anansi on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 01:13:28 PM EST

Are we talking about the children of those serving prison time for nonviolent drug offenses? How about the children of the women in coca growing regions who are being raised with ther mothers in prison? (I wanted to point you here but the article is only inthe paper version)

I imagine you must be talking about the kids in the suburbs who get the same advice about sex that they get about drugs. "Don't do it". When I was a kid, that sort of refusal to acknowlege life's realities is what kept me from listing to any advice given by an adult.

Everything we do to ease the pressure on parents is also going to benefit the children. Heaping one more layer of social control on everyone helps nobody.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"
[ Parent ]

in response to your question... (1.00 / 3) (#35)
by planders on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 01:31:13 PM EST

Drugs are bad, mmmmmmkay??

[ Parent ]
To clarify (5.00 / 2) (#44)
by broken77 on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 04:04:27 PM EST

Since the poster of this comment doesn't want to clarify... He was making 2 pop culture references. The subject line is from South Park (spoken by the school counselor, Mr. Mackey), and the comment (about the children) is from The Simpsons, a catch-phrase of Helen Lovejoy (the Reverend's wife).

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Its always about the kids (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by Hefty on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 11:45:59 AM EST

I did catch your sentimental sarcasm in this comment. But still I would like to say. I don't know why there is always this legislation passed with so much concern for the well being of children. Congress comes down on Hollywood for violence and sex in movies. Congress comes down on the video game manufacturers for violence and sex in games. Gov't gets all up in arms about how kids now days have no morals and no self worth. I mean does everything in life have to be childproofed and safety sealed for our own protection and well being. If government had it there way America would turn into one big 1984 Disney land where children could always be entertained and monitored for proper and normal behavior. Excuse me but isn't that what parents are for. Oh wait all the parents are hiding under their bed's smoking weed.

[ Parent ]
error ... sarcasm not detected (3.66 / 3) (#41)
by planders on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 02:59:10 PM EST

Apparently the people rating and responding to my posts have an error in their sarcasm detection module. Upgrades recommended.

[ Parent ]
Legalizing drugs makes sense... (4.00 / 6) (#24)
by SlamboS on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 11:05:54 AM EST

... in so many ways. First off, the economical reasons alone should be cause for at least some reform. But it's not just that. If we didn't have laws banning the use of drugs, we wouldn't have drug lords, nor would we have people die because they know too much information about a drug distributor. Also, people wouldn't have to rot away in jail, ruining their lives, for something that if they would have gotten away with would have hurt nobody. There are countless reasons for abolishing the drug laws, and really only one real reason for keeping them: You can hurt other people or yourself. I don't think the hurt yourself part really has any validity, for it isn't illegal to commit suicide (I think). And for the hurt other people part, we could just have there be tougher penalities for when people commit crimes while under the influence. Just like the alchohol laws of now.

Later.
/whois JohnGalt
suicide is illegal (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by planders on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 11:46:49 AM EST

Actually in most places in the USA it is illegal to commit suicide. Stupid, that. Of course, if you succeed, there's not much they can do about it. But if you fail, it is cause to have you forcibly committed to a psychiatric ward. Sorry I don't have any references on this, I'm just going by what my high school government teacher told us. ;-)

[ Parent ]
Moan... (4.75 / 4) (#33)
by Hizonner on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 12:37:28 PM EST

You don't have to do anything illegal to be involuntarily committed in most US states (there may be a few places where they've instituted such a requirement as a safeguard against abuses; I haven't checked). You have to be judged, in what is supposedly a medical process administered by doctors, to be a danger to yourself and/or others because of some psychiatric disorder.

The whole theory behind psychiatric confinement is completely different from the theory behind imprisonment. Imprisonment is supposed to be about punishment or deterrence. Psychiatric confinement is supposed to be about medical treatment.

In practice, of course, one wonders whether this distinction makes sense, and it's certainly true that being committed is a big deal, and therefore there are lots of legal safeguards around it. It's also true that there may not be enough legal safeguards, and that there are legitimate moral arguments against a system that restricts somebody's rights based on somebody else's concept of mental illness. Basically, the ideas behind mental illness and the ideas behind law and public morality are so apples-and-oranges that it's very hard to apply reasoning from one viewpoint to the other.

Nonetheless, whether suicide is legal has damned little to do with whether you can be committed for attempting it. You can be committed for seriously considering suicide.

Not to say that there aren't a lot of old anti-suicide laws on the books, but I don't think you'll find a lot of people going to prison, as opposed to a mental hospital, for suicide in the US.

[ Parent ]

illegal for a reason (4.00 / 2) (#72)
by Luyseyal on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 12:06:39 PM EST

To my understanding, the reason it is illegal is so that someone can call the emergency hotline (911, here) and get help stopping the committer. This is a societal judgement call that a potential contributing citizen has exaggerated the bad circumstances and needs help and rebirth (waxing metaphorically...) not death.

As a leftist libertarian and a parent, I'm torn between the right to die and my parental instinct that most suicides are probably fatal mistakes rather than justifiable behavior (e.g., having AIDS and committing suicide seems justifiable; being a teenager having just been dumped is not).

I have a firm committment to the precept that governments should not bother to prevent outright, voluntary stupidity. Hell, they already tax stupidity (lottery)... but I have to wonder if this is a case of stupidity or of a person losing their sanity and reasoning powers as a citizen and thus forfeiting the choice to end their own life.

I'm not sure exactly where I stand yet, but I do think there should be some outlet for family members trying to help an attempter. Clearly, that doesn't have to be a governmental agency... I just mean I haven't decided where I think the governmental role is or is not.

-l

[ Parent ]

How we do it in British Columbia, Canada (3.50 / 6) (#29)
by theantix on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 12:00:30 PM EST

Where I live we have a really interesting take on everything, especially considering the alternatives for legalization.

For those of you who don't know, BC is known around the world as a center for growing pot. Here, the act of growing and selling pot is technically legal, but with a very minimal fine and no jail sentance. I don't even know if posession is legal or not (maybe I should) but I've never heard of a casual user being busted for posession of pot.

What we do is only bust the really high-profile grow-operations and even then only shut them down and take away their inventory, an annoyance more than anything. But what it does is prevent it from getting really big and profitable enough to have the huge crime that could be associated with it. Another positive is that it prevents pot from reaching the stage of commercialization (and abuse) that alchohol or tobacco has achieved. Many people operate little "small business" and provides income where once there was poverty with little opportunity.

Anyhow, I wonder if that is the right approach, it seems better in a few ways then how other countries are dealing with the problems.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!

*CORRECTION* growing and selling is illegal (4.00 / 2) (#30)
by theantix on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 12:03:24 PM EST

oops, I should have read what I wrote more closely -- the second paragraph should read: For those of you who don't know, BC is known around the world as a center for growing pot. Here, the act of growing and selling pot is technically illegal, but with a very minimal fine and no jail sentance.

Too bad there is no "sentence logic check" before posting. =)

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]

Regarding BC. (4.33 / 3) (#37)
by mindstrm on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 01:52:22 PM EST

I assume you made a typo; growing and selling in BC is still quite illegal, and can still land you in prison.

Posession is absolutely *not* legal; however, in many places, (Vancouver being a prime example), the local police forces are under instructions not to clog up the system by busting people for minor posession. There are plenty of people who have criminal records for posession of pot, and yes, recently. I recall a friend's mother who was caught with about 3 grams of BC's finest in her camper during a traffic stop, and she had to appear in court and everything.

High-profile grow operations? Those people end up in JAIL... not 'just let go after taking away their stuff'.

I think perhaps you need to go see the world a bit; BC is not as progressive as you think it is; and although it's known all over the world, it's not at the top of the list... and not as well known as you might assume.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a BC Kid.. And when I can work there (or get independently wealthy) I'll move back there; that's where I want to live and retire. I like my weed... and I think BC *IS* progressive, especially compared to the US.

But having just returned from a vacation to Amsterdam... we have a *LONG* way to go.
Oh.. and just another tidbid..
Many poeple think pot is 'legalized' in The Netherlands; this is not hte case. It is still technically illegal. There is an officially 'unofficial' policy of tolerance; posession under 5 grams (used to be 30, but the EU whined a lot) is not prosecuted, nor is selling from a 'licensed' coffeeshop (not sure how that licensing works.. but the gist of it is, someone's going to sell it anyway, might as well keep it contained).

Yes, the overall effect is that it 'appears' to be legal, and the people have no issue with it (funny how all those Dutch people just have no problem with it, yet politicians STILL won't remove it from the books).





[ Parent ]
mmm... I still disagree (3.50 / 2) (#48)
by theantix on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 05:40:52 PM EST

Yup, I made a typo -- of course grow-ops are still technically illegal in BC, otherwise it too would viololate the UN agreement mentioned in the linked article. Small typo, but very important to the meaning of the comment!
High-profile grow operations? Those people end up in JAIL... not 'just let go after taking away their stuff'.
Well, maybe the MASSIVE ones. I'm talking about the sub-million-dollar-per-year pot houses, which I'm told are very common in my area (the outlying areas of Vancouver near Abbotsford BC). I talked with a police constable just two days ago and he was complaining that he had to spend days of surveillance, building the search warrant, and arresting the people, only to have them get off with a fine far less than they would make in a week of operations. Now, he wanted stricter enforcement (which I don't agree with personally) but that is where I am getting my information from.
Posession is absolutely *not* legal; however, in many places, (Vancouver being a prime example), the local police forces are under instructions not to clog up the system by busting people for minor posession. There are plenty of people who have criminal records for posession of pot, and yes, recently. I recall a friend's mother who was caught with about 3 grams of BC's finest in her camper during a traffic stop, and she had to appear in court and everything.
Interesting -- you sure couldn't tell that from the experiences that I have had at UBC the past four years -- people buying and selling with impunity. Of course, I'm sure that you are right, but they sure don't spend much time harrasing the "fine upstanding" university crowd.
I think perhaps you need to go see the world a bit; BC is not as progressive as you think it is; and although it's known all over the world, it's not at the top of the list... and not as well known as you might assume.

Yes, the overall effect is that it 'appears' to be legal, and the people have no issue with it (funny how all those Dutch people just have no problem with it, yet politicians STILL won't remove it from the books).

Funny, you say this three days before I leave for France, Tunisia and Italy!! =) World, here I come!! But of course again you are right... we are not ahead of the game, but I think our approach is a lesser version of what the Dutch are doing right now. We have methadone clinics, we don't usually prosecute possesion of small amounts, have areas where people are "allowed" to sell drugs (not legally, but in reality), and don't even have large penalties for growing or selling pot.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]
I see the problem now... (4.00 / 2) (#57)
by mindstrm on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 12:05:01 PM EST

You are very correct... with regards to the lower mainland....
Unfortnately, if you go inland (I'm from Kamloops), things get a bit stricter, I'm fairly certain.

And yeah.. we are sort of going the same way as the Dutch... it's not a bad way to go. Anyone who thinks that legalizing pot is bad should spend a week or two in Amsterdam.. and just talk to people. You won't find anyone who will tell you how 'evil' it is and how it's 'destroying the children'.


Oh! And enjoy your trip! (Just remember, in restaurants, you'll have to ASK for the bill.. they won't bring it out to you... that pissed me off until I figured it out)

As for the methadone clinics.. yes, they are there, but not nearly enough, and it takes days to get approved and get involved; an addict does not necessarily have the means of transport or the constitution to wait days and days to get off their habit. By the time they are ready to cave in and inquire about methadone treatment, they are hurting... and if they don't get what they need (like some methadone) fast, they will just go back to the street/crime/whatever.

Same for rehab facilities; there are VERY few beds in the greater vancouver area. THere is, unfortunately, nowhere to go and nobody to help the majority of heroin addicts out there.


[ Parent ]
RE: How we do it in British Columbia, Canada (3.50 / 2) (#39)
by Belatu-Cadros on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 01:55:34 PM EST

In BC, possession of pot is illegal. I've had friends busted for it. But usually what happens, is the cops confiscate it.

[ Parent ]
The poster (4.00 / 2) (#60)
by mindstrm on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 01:56:20 PM EST

is referring mainly to the lower-mainland, where you will generally never get *Charged* for minor posession, and generally won't even get hassled by the cops.

Yes, cops generally confiscate things but don't charge you; this I find, surprisingly, a BAD thing. They should be forced to either act within the law (take it away, and CHARGE you, bringing it to court) or leave you alone, not halfway in between.


[ Parent ]
Busting big operations (4.25 / 4) (#42)
by coffee17 on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 02:59:22 PM EST

If it were legal, then big operations would be no worse than ... phillip morris ... er, how about nike ... er ... well, certainly there are good and bad things, but at least Nike salesman don't walk around armed.

A little bit more seriously, if you legalize something one is quite likely to remove the crime element. Consider the US during it's period of alcohol prohibition, where gangsters did the supplying, crime was high, and people lost a lot of respect for the law. If it were fully legalized, there wouldn't really be any necessary criminal element involved with large grow operations, and if the industry were regulated with minimum wages, and to not add addictive additives, it would certainly be better then the cigarette or shoe industry.

As for the selective enforcement that is a horrible thing. Suddenly now the police can essentially fine people for whether or not they like you. Do you have the right haircut? Fine, the cop won't even take your stash. Have too many facial piercings tho, and the cop will take your stash, fine you, and maybe even send you to the police station for some harrassment. This is a very bad situation, but it looks remarkably good for the privelleged classes who the cops don't harass.

in the US we use it to harass the minorities. White people have a higher per capita number of people who use drugs, and an equal number per capita who sell drugs, yet minorities are disporportionately arrested. Are you black, driving an old car on the freeway and going 5 mph over the speed limit? Have fun getting searched and delayed even if you're not carrying anything.

Selective enforcement is not the answer.

[ Parent ]

Regarding guns. (4.00 / 2) (#59)
by mindstrm on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 01:54:12 PM EST

You'll find that most grow-houses in BC are not guarded by armed guards... they just have gardners on hand to babysit the plants.

IT's not the 'big, evil, murderous' drug trade they'd like you to believe.
Yes, selective enforcement is bad...
But in this case of Vancouver, BC, cops are actually under instruction NOT to bust people for posession.

[ Parent ]
Nothing (3.00 / 4) (#52)
by overtoke on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 09:25:26 PM EST

Nothing the government can do could prevent me from obtaining my cannabis. Prisoners don't even have a problem with it. It always helps when Law Enforcement helps to distribute.

Damn right! (4.50 / 2) (#79)
by Hefty on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 11:52:10 AM EST

Marijuana is just a step away from being legalized in my eyes. Its everywhere, someone can get it if they want it. Its cheap and only getting better and better in quality. If all those anti drug advocates would just open there eyes they would see that its already here to stay and isn't going anywhere anytime soon, no matter what they think. One day, soon I hope, reality will set in with these people.

[ Parent ]
We shall overcome! (none / 0) (#81)
by marco13 on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 05:11:33 AM EST

You can fool all people sometimes and you can fool some people all the time ...
But you can't fool all the people all the time !

[ Parent ]
Real reason for prohibition (4.66 / 9) (#53)
by driptray on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 10:01:34 PM EST

The Economist article is a clear refutation of prohibition, but I'm not sure it really addresses the reasons why people support prohibition. The Economist acknowledges that prohibitionists think that taking drugs is morally wrong:

For many people, indeed, the debate is a moral one, akin to debates about allowing divorce, say, or abortion.

But there's more to it. Drugs are seen by prohibitionists as a short-cut to happiness, a way to circumvent society's systems of reward and punishment. Drugs promise a reward that is out of proportion to their cost, and therefore threaten those systems of reward and punishment. The fear is that taking drugs will cause a person to abandon the world of work, family and parenting as these are simply not enough fun compared to drugs.

This is something that prohibitionists rarely admit, as it shows them as envious of the cheap thrills that drug-users supposedly get.

But it also means that drugs are seen not in terms of a person's right to ingest whatever they want. Drugs are seen as bad for the whole society because they threaten the abandonment of work and family on a large scale, which would impact even those law-abiding non drug-users. This is why appeals to personal freedom such as The Economist's use of Mill are unlikely to convince prohibitionists. They're worried that drug-users will bring everybody down. And they're secretly pissed off that drug-users are having all the fun.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
They do have a point (3.75 / 4) (#54)
by Verminator on Sat Aug 18, 2001 at 08:43:43 AM EST

Aldous Huxley wrote in The Doors Of Perception that under the influence of mescalin he lost all interest in the outside world. There was no desire to work or do much of anything except contemplate his existence. The outside world ceased to matter to him. Of course once the effects of the drug wore of he returned to his normal state of mind, more or less, and resumed his role in society. So theoretically, if you had a society of habitual mescalin users, nothing would ever get done.

Of course, I don't know anyone who does mescalin everyday, or any other heavy hallucinogens for that matter.


If the whole country is gonna play 'Behind The Iron Curtain,' there better be some fine fucking state subsidized alcohol! And our powerlifting team better kick ass!
[ Parent ]

... for a ten-year-old, maybe ... (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by marco13 on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 04:43:38 AM EST

Ok, so Alcohol and Cigarettes, two of the most addictive drugs known to mankind have been legal since the last ice-age and those who used them still flew to the bloody moon, built skyscrapers and raised families ! Now what ?

The world didn't collapse when alcohol became legal again in the U.S. after the prohibition, just the mafia didn't have this massive income source anymore... that must have been terrible ;)!

[ Parent ]
so flame me but: (4.25 / 4) (#68)
by dakaktus on Sun Aug 19, 2001 at 10:09:16 AM EST

"As with cigarette-smoking, drug-taking is increasingly concentrated among the poor. "

FFS. cigarette smoking IS drug taking... cant people see that a drug is a drug, with some legalised and some not. I believe that drugs CAN be used properly to enhance your life, not destroy it, and if the government regulated the issue doing so would be safer for everyone; with _less_ people falling into a spiral of addiction/self-damage (ultimately the real aim, yes?)

Things like alcohol and tobacco have been around for so long that they are widely culturally accepted, whilst argurably cause more damage to society than any of the illegal drugs. From the perspective of someone that, yes, has used illicit drugs (im not from the US) it seems ridiculously hypocritical that the government endorses and regulates various drugs, and then turns its back on others that are in many ways less harmfull.

When I look across the street and see a bottle shop, and a cafe next to it I dont see merely two social centres/stores whathaveyou but a reminder of the failure of my/your government to accept that drugs are here to stay, and that any harmfull affects can be reduced by simply _regulating_ the issue.

In conclusion to my uh, cathartic outburst :) I'd like to say that what determines whether or not a person uses a drug is their cultural environment, not their legal one. Law should be used to make it safe, not anything to do with shady characters and little round things of unknown contents etc etc.

From an ex-smoker (4.66 / 3) (#71)
by dudle on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 11:36:50 AM EST

I quit smoking 8 weeks ago.

That's by far the hardest thing I had to do. I went through hell for a week. I started smoking at the age of 12, I am now 23. Marlboro Red 100's. The serious stuff at about a pack a day.

There is something extraodinary about physically addictive drugs. Nicotine is one of them. You can stop smoking pot, stop doing E and miss something but when you quit cigarettes, it's a different story.

I woke up one day and started coughing in the shower. Something I have never done before. My teeth were stained, my breath was stinky but I didn't care. Coughing in the shower was the signal. I took all my cigarettes from my apartment. In the bedroom, the bathroom (I used to smoke on the toilet), the living room, my computer, my drawers (I was hiding packs in case I was to run empty) and put everything in the garbage. I use the patch (I have 2 more weeks to go) and I still crave for it from time to time.

All I have to say is: don't start smoking. If you do smoke, quitting is doable. It ain't easy but it's definitly possible.

[ Parent ]
whoa (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by dakaktus on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 12:21:22 AM EST

that sounds like a bitch :( i've decided smoking isnt worth it since it doesnt do much for you in terms of feeling good (well, anything really) and its hard to stop. so yeah ive stopped having the occassional cigarette and moved to other less addictive (and probably less harmfull, considering how infrequently i use) stuff like pot.

just started going out with a girl that smokes, so maybe ill see if i can get her to stop too :) i dont think she enjoys it either. well done though, that habit wouldv been damn hard to quit.

[ Parent ]
All drugs should be legal (5.00 / 4) (#70)
by newellm on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 02:47:33 AM EST

Currently in the United States, the biggest problem with drugs is the users ignorance. Throughout a persons childhood they are taught that drugs are bad in the evil sense. Most kids listen to this and begin to believe it, they develop a fear and hatred for all socially unacceptable drugs.

Eventually they begin to experiment with alcohol and they enjoy it. Alcohol is socially acceptable so they think nothing of it. Then comes marujana, this is where everything goes wrong. When these people begin to use marujana, they begin to turn against everything they were taught about drugs and push all fear and hatred to the back of their minds. They feal that everything they have been taught is just a bunch of bullshit, or that drug use is worth the risks that are assosiated with it. They group all of their thoughts on socially unacceptable drugs in general, not each drug on a case by case basis.

Soon they end up at another party and some friend says "Hey, come try this". They think sure, drugs are fine, because all their experiences show this to be true. They have lost their fear of drugs and will try them without knowing the real consequences.

If we would teach kids about drugs similar to the way we teach about alcohol, they would understand that all drugs aren't evil, they can just be very dangerous. People would have a more solid understanding of the implications of a drug and could make more intelegent decisions about drug use.

I believe that weed is the best social drug available. It isn't physically adictive, it is a much better experience than legal drugs, and in most cases is less socially and physically harmful. If people would understand that it is OK to smoke weed occasionly, but that extacy can kill you with one use, there would probably be less people using extacy(I'm not saying that marujana is a replacement for extacy, just stating that people would choose safer drugs to experiment with).

Re: Drug Education (4.66 / 3) (#75)
by driph on Mon Aug 20, 2001 at 05:53:13 PM EST

I agree with you completely, and the conclusion of your comment unintentionally shows the results of poor education regarding drug use. Here, from the article itself:
"Acute deaths related solely to cocaine, amphetamines or ecstasy are unusual," says the EMCDDA in a recent report, "despite the publicity they receive." Dr van Brussel, the addiction care expert, agrees: "We have about 100 deaths a year from heroin addiction in the Netherlands," he says, "but only one or two from cocaine." Even though much of the world's ecstasy passes through the Netherlands, the country has only one death a year of a person with ecstasy in his bloodstream. Even then, it is rarely clear that ecstasy (MDMA) alone is the killer.
But overall, you are correct. Kids are told that drugs are bad, that they will kill, lead to horrible things. Eventually the kid smokes a joint, and whaddaya know, nothing bad happens. So he takes a hit of X, and doesn't die. In fact, he kind of enjoys it. Sometime later he does a few lines of blow or speed over the weekend, and contrary to what he has been taught, doesn't wake up on Monday with a sudden addiction and craving for the drug. And this is where things can go wrong, now that the kid sees that everything he's been taught in his DARE classes has so far proven to be false. Maybe he takes it upon himself to gain an educaton regarding drug use(the net is especially good for this), or maybe he continues on as he has, risking actual addiction or other ill effects as he doesn't know how to measure himself or what his limits actually are.

Drug education is a good thing. Scare tactics and false information are not, and while they may curtail use among some individuals, they may also lead to higher levels of abuse among those who realise they've been lied to. I'd rather see a higher percentage of occassional users and less heavy users, where as the current drug education system apparently prefers the opposite. As long as the overall number of users is down, regardless of who is trampled in the process, they seem to view it as a success.

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]

You still breed fear (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by Hefty on Tue Aug 21, 2001 at 11:07:48 AM EST

Well you at first you pointed out that currect drug education uses fear tactics to persuade kids. Then you yourself use fear tactics to make your point about weed versus extacy. Plus, if you read the whole Economics report on drug use, you would have found that marijuana is not the gateway drug that you make it out to be. Remember your talking about kids here that begin using alcohol and cigarettes while they are underage. So in this instance the real gateway drugs are alcohol and cigarettes which in turn possibly leads onto experimenting with marijuana. Out of the users that experiment with marijuana a small portion move onto "hardcore drugs" where they really dabble in cocaine, heroine, meth, extacy, and etc. Most people stop using these drugs after a while though and usually revert back to just using alcohol, cigarettes, and occasionally marijuana.

[ Parent ]
magazine version (4.00 / 1) (#82)
by oz81dog on Fri Aug 24, 2001 at 05:55:16 PM EST

Just so everyone knows, the hard copy of this article that they sell at the store is a lot more in depth and really worth taking a look at. The online one seems to be severly abridged. Anyway, libraries are still cool.

The Economist survey on drugs | 82 comments (81 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest Đ 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!