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October 03, 2007

Comments

cathyf

Not to mention the simple point that resources spent investigating drug runners are resources not spent investigatinf terrorists.

I thought that after 9/11 the drug war was called off for awhile so that all assets could be focused on terrorists. I guess they called it back on...

PaulL

Throwing people in prison for drugs is stupid, sellers or users.

But no politician will ever say drugs should be decriminalized.

Walter

Huzzah!

And Hurrah!

Let us consider the advantages of rethinking the current approach:


  • Treatment is cheaper and more effective than jail.

  • Law enforcement resources could be used to investigate and prosecute crimes not involving consenting 'victims'.

  • Because drug merchants may not rely on our legal system to resolve disputes, they have developed extra-legal systems which have adverse consequences for non-participants in the market (ie. unlicensed and unregulated armed security, collateral damage from drive-by shootings, systems to evade the law which may be monetized by supplying other, more pernicious activities, etc.)

  • The opportunity cost of foregone tax revenue.

  • The negative impact on our balance of trade and employment caused by off-shoring the production and manufacturing of illegal substances. (Sure, it's not that much, but a few billion here, a few billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.)

But, I wouldn't want to be seen as soft on crime...

MayBee

Walter:
"Treatment is cheaper and more effective than jail.:

Do you think everyone caught using and/or selling drugs nees or wants treatment?

I don't. Someone with a .08 blood alcohol level probably doesn't need treatment. The guy selling pot to your neighbors probably doesn't want treatment (so it isn't going to work). So I don't agree with the treatment or jail dichotomy.

Sara

Clarice: I just finished your AT article on the Wuterich lawsuit and I want to say thank you. I've followed the Haditha cases pretty closely and I am so happy to actually understand this side case, thanks to you. Great job.

Steve

Great site, keep it up!

Would you like to do a Link Exchange with The Internet Radio Network? At the IRN you can listen for free to over 40 of America's top Talk Shows via Free Streaming Audio!

http://netradionetwork.com

narciso

Of course, who was in charge of that operation; none other than
future NSC dissident, Richard Clarke colleague at the Kennedy
school, and Kerry partisan Rand
Beers

qrstuv

I'd bet Afghanistan could lift itself out of poverty pretty quickly if its main crop were not illegal in the US.

cboldt

The connection between the CIA contribution to the Peru shoot down and interrogation of prisoners is typical workplace behavior, even though the conduct at question is remarkably different.

What does one expect for a reaction when an innocent person is killed by mistake? (e.g., shooting down missionaries) Everybody to say "Oh well, mistakes happen, carry on."? On the other hand, only a very few prisoners are alleged to have been interrogated to death. In that sense, one might wonder why the interrogators were bothered. Surely, they didn't think they were killing missionaries by mistake.

But the typical workplace concern about "crossing the line" works on almost everybody, interrogators too, and without regard to similarity of infraction beyond it "being infraction." The interrogators are merely inquiring up the chain of command for CYA protection. An urge to make that inquiry is naturally triggered upon learning that the boss came down on your peers for making a mistake that resulted in shooting down missionaries.

Funny thing, this drug war. The Afghans had a record poppy harvest this year. Drug war is big business. It's not just the flight schools, the boat builders in Florida enjoy having the competitors vying for faster boats.

RichatUF
One of my great unrealized hopes was that 9-11 would prompt a drastic rethinking of the war on drugs for one obvious reason - the drug trade has led to a huge infrastructure oriented to moving people, money and material (i.e. drugs) clandestinely, and terrorist organizations were likely to piggy-back off of that infrastructure.

More like they have and have been doing so for a long time:

Dawood Ibrahim

and states have been a pretty big offender in this area as well:

Pong Su

And why not look at the "drug trade" in terms of another type of incendiary attack that nations and transnational groups use against their enemies instead of making excuses for users and sellers.

cathyf-

Not to mention the simple point that resources spent investigating drug runners are resources not spent investigatinf terrorists.

Or that the usual formulation is that when investigating terrorists it usually is a pretty straight line to drug-runners

Drug Funded Terrorism

RichatUF

qrstuv-

I'd bet Afghanistan could lift itself out of poverty pretty quickly if its main crop were not illegal in the US.

You can't be serious. Heroin addiction is the single greatest problem in Afghanistan. Why do think so many Afghan's stuck in the Iranian and Pakistanin camps in the late 1990's came back to Afghanistan addicted to heroin [hint: an addicted population is a controlable population].

kim

We R in UR ablesst & powncing all dangers.
========================================

cboldt

There is quite an overlap between drug runners and what we think of as terrorists. Including blowing up commercial planes midflight. "In 1989, a commercial airliner headed for the United States was blown up in flight because the Medellin Cartel believed an informant was aboard. All 107 passengers and crew were killed ..."

The primary target of FISA has been drug runners, for decades.

At any rate, by rounding up drug runners, one will also be rounding up terrorists. They "run together" to some extent.

FWIW, I think the drug war, as fought, is a mistake with manifold negative ramifications. There should be more social pressure and less legal pressure.

RichatUF

State Department statement of Peru Shootdown

I'm still reading the times article and I'm still scratching my head...maybe I need a second cup of coffee.

RichatUF

Drug Funded Terrorism

Goofed up the link, fixed

RichatUF

cboldt-

The primary target of FISA has been drug runners, for decades.

I thought the primary purpose was intelligence gathering and most targets were members of the PLO and abu Nidal Organization?

I could see that maybe in the late 1980's and early 1990's the focus shifted to Columbian cartels and the FRAC but the Clinton Administration was romanticist about the "third world guerrillas" and wouldn't provide any counter-insurgency help.

Walter

Maybee,

Great question. In considering a response, I've come up with three anecdotes, an idle speculation, and two policy arguments. cboldt just mentioned one ("social pressure"--cigarette use has been declining dramatically without (Bloomberg excepted) draconian measures).

But I'd rather leave you with the genesis for my (intentionally) over-the-top formulation. I've just been reading about Gall, argued Tuesday in the USSC. From the sentencing report (.pdf) we get the picture of a kid seduced by the fun (whatever its faults, most users view MDMA as a lot of fun) and excitement ($30-40K for what amounts to some 60 hours of 'work' is pretty exciting for a college kid) of the drug lifestyle. He left it behind in order to finish school and start his own business installing windows.* Some years later, the Feds knock on his door and, four years after his last drug sale, he is convicted of conspiracy.

"So what?", you might say. Well, he's at the Court because the AUSA (.pdf gov't's brief on the merits) wants him to sit in jail for three years instead of going to Northwestern to fix their windows. Won't someone think of the poor freezing children unable to concentrate on their studies while being subjected to the chilling blasts off of Lake Michigan? Oh, yes, Gall's attorneys (.pdf reply brief) will.

I'm just about to start the transcript of the oral arguments. Reportedly, Scalia channels Brennan, suggesting "it could not possibly be unreasonable for a sentencing judge to say he 'thought only in a rare case should there be jail time.'"


As always, it is entirely possible and even probable that others will draw different conclusions.

References stolen shamelessly from Sentencing Law Blog

*Oddly enough, given his degree in information technology, he installs Pella windows.

narciso

This whole issue of Newsweek is a tribute to BDS from the usual suspects. Besides the Romney profile, there is Jonathan Alter channelling the late Arthur Schlesinger's attempts at witty
repartee'; he was the one who discovered the "Imperial Presidency" only during Nixon, A theme that resufaces in Christopher Dickey's
survey of War on Terror literature, notably
Charles Savage's Takeover; as usual no case is made for surveillance of international communications of terrorists; the aggressive
interrogation of terrorist, et al. It's actully less balanced than that piece from the Times. A companion piece on the anti war
films which will crash and burn at the box office; complete with the balanced "Battle of Haditha" with Murtha's special massacre spin. Then there a piece, apparently relaying the point of the insult to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia; seen by Iranian dissidents.

Semanticleo

Enhanced interrogation?

Is that like, 'collateral damage', or 'friendly fire'?

Glad to see you're still current, Maguire.

Looking for holes in the NYT story? Maybe more later.

Bless you, my child.

MayBee

Walter- your answer was more thoughtful and generous than my two second question deserved!

I must say that I am unsure where I stand on the idea of the way the "drug war" should be prosecuted, or if it should. In the end, I think our country has social problems that are not the result of the way drug offenses are treated, but rather a symptom (much like the problems in our education system are a symptom of social problems).

I think of having lived in Asia for 5 years, where the drug war is different but the punishment for offenses much more severe. I knew a few kids that were thrown in jail for weeks for buying one joint. I knew of another whole family deported for a marijuana purchase. Sure, Japan has it's share of drug users but drugs aren't the scourge they are here, and certainly inner-city life in Tokyo is nothing like an American inner-city.

So yeah, maybe in the US drug offenses could be treated differently, but I don't think overly punitive drug laws are the problem, just as I don't think treatment-based penalties are any kind of answer.

Sorry if this doesn't make sense.

MayBee

Oh-- a symptom of unique social problems.

memomachine

Hmmmm.

1. "Treatment is cheaper and more effective than jail."

Prove it. Don't bullshit me here. Prove it.

2. You make it more available, it *becomes* more available. Look at the Netherlands where they are seriously rethinking their policy on drugs. Instead of making the problem manageable their open policy has made it a nightmare.

cathyf

The real question about any Prohibition, whether it be heroin, marjuana, alcohol, cigarettes, trans-fats, whatever, is whether the benefits to society of the prohibition outweigh the costs to society. Whether or not "treatment" is more or less effective than jail is irrelevant.

If now-illegal drugs were made legal, there would be no reason for the sellers & manufacturers of those drugs to be any more linked to terrorism than the sellers & manufacturers of alcohol, cigarettes or trans-fats are linked to terrorism. And saying that l.e. resources targetted to drug runners is going to pick up terrorists is bullshit -- l.e. resources targetted on terrorists are going to be more focused on terrorists than the l.e. resources that get terrorists as a lucky side effect of going after drug runners.

Terrye

There is a drug war because Americans do not want drugs to be legal. Libertarians think they do, people who use drugs think they do, but if you talk to people in the real world they do not generally think of meth or heroin as something akin to drinking a beer.

And as for treatment vs jail, treatment is available for people if they really want it. There are programs at churches, public outreach etc.

I have seen people completely destroy their lives and their family's lives over drugs. I know alcohol can do the same thing, but there is no such thing as a social junkie.

I heard or read somewhere that Iran has a huge drug problem. Maybe that is why they have not used chemicals on those poppy fields in Afghanistan.

And what makes people think that if the drugs are legal, the same people won't still be making money off them? I doubt if the peasants will be the ones getting rich in Columbia or Afghanistan.

Terrye

cathyf:

I disagree. When Prohibition ended there were legitimate people out there who had been in the business of making booze who were ready and willing to get back into it.

If you make heroin legal, it will not be Phillip Morris selling those drugs...it will be the same war lords and drug runners who are running it now.

It will just be a lot easier to buy narcotics.

Jane

WE could tax them to fund health care for the middle aged.

Rick Ballard

MayBee,

Perhaps the Orient's experience with drug addiction on a legal and vast scale has clouded its judgement concerning the "obvious" benefits of legalization? They just need to get over their silly objections to personal and societal degradation and Moveon! to the brilliant future promised by those for whom degradation of many is a small price for the license (disguised as PERSONAL LIBERTY) that legalization will bring.
__________

I have seen people completely destroy their lives and their family's lives over drugs. I know alcohol can do the same thing, but there is no such thing as a social junkie.

Terrye,

There are plenty of statistics suporting that observation - it's right on the mark.

MayBee

The minute you subject things to taxes is the minute that you open up a black market for them. In this case, the black market already exists. If drugs were made legal and taxed, why wouldn't the current underground just continue? I think it would.

JSinAZ

Terrye, when prohibition ended there were plenty of illegitimate people ready to get into the high-profit-margin business of narcotics trafficing. Alcohol prohibition had the effect of forming business ecosystems around the manufacture and distribution of illegal alcohol, ecosystems which were readily adapted to the narcotics business.

The deep irony of your statement "[t]here is a drug war because Americans do not want drugs to be legal" is precisely true regarding alcohol when that amendment to the Constitution was ratified. Carrie Nation and the prohibitionists had the effect of creating and enabling the very criminal enterprises that we now know as the "drug cartels".

So yes Terrye, plenty of Americans are filled with the best of intentions when they wish to have some drugs remain illegal - and we are continuing to pay the real cost of generations of that kind of altruism - inner cities reduced to drug sales markets and entire generations of the new bootleggers.

Your best intentions along with those of your fellow travelers have paved this road to Hell that we are all now following.

Rick Ballard

OT,

Flip has a rather interesting conjecture up concerning the possibility of matching Hsu's.

MayBee

taxes--- taxation

Walter

MayBee,

I should thank you for giving me an opportunity to spout about Gall. And the relatively measured language.

Your perspective is interesting; I had not considered whether approaches used in different cultures would be applicable here. I really don't have much understanding of drug policies and their efficacy in Asia or Africa (or Australia or Antarctica for that matter). I suspect that cultural homogeneity plays some role, as do Confucian principles.

I'm rather attached to my point about the lack of legal remedies causing the development of extra-legal means of enforcement. I've always considered that to be an enduring lesson from the US experience with Prohibition. How do the criminals (such that they are) resolve differences in Japan?

Memomachine,

Such language!

In substance, I'll give you $43,000 as the cost of a year in California jails. (It was handy--supply your own reference if you'd like to debate a different jurisdiction.)

The cost of a year of daily NA meetings? $0 (unless you contribute for the coffee).

So, we've got cheaper. How about efficacy?
Recidivist rate for prison: 66.7% rearrested within three years. Scroll down to Table 9. (I know the table is old. Find your own if you want more recent numbers.)

This article shows rearrest rates for people granted probation and given residential treatment were 36% for the two years following treatment. (Yeah, it's old too. but it covers a similar time period. Feel free to explain what's changed about prison and treatment since then to make the comparison unsound.)

Maybe they all go bad in the third year. Maybe the population is different. Let's look at only those prisoners whose most serious crime was possession. Whoops! Their recidivist level was 67.5%.

Apparently there's quite a lot of ongoing research in this area. A recent (-er) survey of drug court programs offering treatment rather than probation showed that it reduced recidivism everywhere but Las Vegas. Since my argument is treatment vs. prison (with or without treatment), I won't rely on it.

For a summary of studies on cost effectiveness, see page 41 of the survey above. Please post fair-use portions of the cited studies if you've got SSRI access.

MayBee

Rick- I read that. Interesting. I have been wondering about the virtual blackout of details about his life from 1996- 2002.
It will be interesting to find out if they are related, but as many Hong Kong Chinese used to say laughingly, "Hong Kong: 7 million people, 5 last names." It isn't a surname rich environment.

The details are certainly worth exploring, however.

PeterUK

The treatment argument always presumes that the addict wants to kick the habit,not necessarily so,most of them enjoy it.Large numbers are in and out of treatment and rehab numerous times,basically they will lie through their teeth,rob,steal,con,sell their bodies to get their fix.They will dig implants out of their skin,move to different drugs if they are given blockers,the sole obsession in life is the next fix.
Substances like heroin alter the brain,addicts are no longer normal people,often the only way to get addicts into treatment is to incarcerate them.

Walter

Bother. The second reference is to this article summary.

PeterUK

"If drugs were made legal and taxed, why wouldn't the current underground just continue? "

This is very true,witness the big crime syndicates which have grown up on the sale of cheap cigarettes.As the taxes increased to deter smoking so the illicit trade in "duty free" tobacco products grew.Now these products are being counterfeited,and guess what, some of the money finances terrorism.

Terrye

JS:

Prohibition did away with the legal sale of booze, not the legal consumption of booze.

People not only do not want drugs to be legalized and taxed, they want the government to do a better job of enforcing the laws.

I find it interesting that a lot of people are willing to ignore drug laws even though all manner of murder, mayhem, dysfunction, corruption and ruin accompany them...however, they find the very idea of allowing an illegal alien to sign up for a guest worker program to be anathema because illegal is illegal..but when it comes to meth or crack or heroin...who cares? Just tax it.

So much for the rule of law.

Walter

I have seen people completely destroy their lives and their family's lives over drugs. I know alcohol can do the same thing, but there is no such thing as a social junkie.

You and many others:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix"

And that happened while the drugs are illegal. So, exactly what purpose does the crackdown serve? People get it (whatever "it" is) if they want it badly enough.

Can't we consider minimizing the harm and cost to the rest of us while helping those with true addictions?

Social pressure plays a role. Crack use is down. Is the war on drugs finally working? Well, not exactly. People have seen what a crack addiction looks like after several years. They don't want to end up that way, therefore they avoid it.

Rick Ballard

MayBee,

I worked for a bit for a company that had operations in Hong Kong. My Hong Kong counterpart's wife was the 16th child (out of 19). Her father had four wives. All nine of her brothers were educated in either the UK or the US so I wouldn't be startled if there were a connection.

At least the surname is Hsu rather than Lee.

Terrye

Walter:

And what is the cost when the druggie kills a mother of three in shoot out with another druggie? What is the cost when an addict breaks in a home and steals everthing that is not nailed down so he can buy some poison to put up his nose?

When his teeth fall out and he ends up with Hepatitis C and God knows what else....who will pay for his health care assuming he does not die in a card board box somewhere? And if he does die alone, who will pay to bury him?

What is the cost of ruin?

Terrye

Walter:

The purpose? If it is illegal at least some people will think twice about doing it. That is what the purpose is.

People still kill people in spite of the fact that you get the death penalty for it, but that does not mean we should make it legal.

Walter

Drat again! I should probably point out that Howl is not suitable for work, small children, or people in general.

Walter

If it is illegal at least some people will think twice about doing it.

I agree with you. And if I believed that we'd go the way of colonized China, I wouldn't make these arguments.

But can you tell me how many people will not try drugs because they are illegal? As far as I can tell, 50% will try drugs even if they are illegal. So, how many of the remaining 50% are only holding back because they respect the Law?

On a different note, opiates and cocaine were legally available to the public in the US for at least 100 years. What's different about society now that we'd become a nation of drugged-out hobos when we didn't earlier?

MayBee
I'm rather attached to my point about the lack of legal remedies causing the development of extra-legal means of enforcement... How do the criminals (such that they are) resolve differences in Japan?

Like any good criminals, some kill each other. In Hong Kong by "chopping"- machete slicing people to death. In Japan usually by stabbing, but there was one gunfight in the three years I lived there. In both places, guns are illegal and rare. Of the few random murders that occurred in Tokyo while I lived there, 3 were Iranian drug dealers.
The thing is, violent crime in general is just so low. Tokyo has around 20 million people and maybe 4 or 5 murders a year. Hong Kong has 7 million and a few more murders per year, like 7-15. Maybe. I can't think of any streets or neighborhoods you just wouldn't walk through, night or day. Whatever they are doing to resolve their differences, it isn't creating urban cesspools.

I know it's due to cultural differences, but I'd much rather see some of those behaviors embraced by Americans than see drug legalization embraced by Americans.

PeterUK

"What's different about society now that we'd become a nation of drugged-out hobos when we didn't earlier?"

Liberals,the culture of entitlement,the fact that it is cool to get whacked out,the Sixties,a popular culture where celebrity can be won through excess,an enemy which is using drugs the destroy your society.

Rick Ballard

Another OT,

The Wuterich suit (brava, Clarice) against Murtha is looking better. No murder charges at all will be filed concerning Haditha.

Jane

Clarice,

That was one of your best! Thank you!

clarice

Thanks to both of you.. I sent an update to AT--but Thom must be away from his desk.

MayBee

Great, clarice. You were on this story early. How right you now seem to be.

boris

What's different about society now that we'd become a nation of drugged-out hobos ... ?

It does seem that the upbringing and education of the last several generations has resulted in a large fraction of the population that requires a playpen society for survival. Freedom has become more about "freedom from harm" than the kind that requires self discipline.

OTOH dangerous drugs are widely available already. Prohibition seems more about "doing the minimum to avoid blame" for the corrosive effects of illegal drugs on society. Can't really do anything substantive about it so taking an unenforceable anti-posture with legal jeopardy at least avoids being part of the problem.

Together they pretty much rule out any sort of rational solution.

MayBee

The last generations have had the benefit of social safety nets and ease of life that previous generations just didn't have. If you were a coke addict, you fell out. Nobody was there to send you to rehab, nobody was going to pay your hospital bills and promise your job would wait.

The opposite question could be asked, of course. As Rick mentioned, Hong Kong had a long history of legal opium that became illegal only when its resultant social problems became too great. What changed that they couldn't handle their drug problem then, but they can now?

cathyf
I have seen people completely destroy their lives and their family's lives over drugs. I know alcohol can do the same thing, but there is no such thing as a social junkie.
I've had lots of social pot smokers among my acquaintences. They'd smoke dope maybe a couple of times a month, and get sleepy and eat doritoes, and then wake up the next morning and get on with their lives and jobs.
clarice

Thanks, Maybee.
Does anyone seriously believe that in a society where some communities are banning OUTDOOR smoking, demandung the elimination of trans fats and that restaurants post nutritional and calorie info, the move to decriminalize drugs will be successful?
I don't.
The desperate need to nanny us is too great.

M. Simon

Want to read about some really good drug war interrogation tactics? Read this one about a fellow named Siler. Some National review stuff in there also.

Or you might like this one about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Nice video there too.

M. Simon

I don't understand why heroin addiction is a problem.

It is cheap and causes less harm to the body than tobacco and alcohol.

Heroin

M. Simon

Say. Do any of the Drug Prohibitionists here remember how we solved the crime problem caused by Alcohol Prohibition?

I thought not.

MayBee

cathyf- I would separate pot out from other drugs. I'm not sure how decriminalization of pot would work, because there seem to be many barriers to using pot publicly and say, driving afterward. There would also be age barriers to legal purchases.
But yeah, clarice has a point. My city is considering banning smoking cigarettes in your own apartment. There is already a total outdoor and public-space ban.

M. Simon

Well let us see. Does addiction alter the brain or was the brain altered before addiction:

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

Addiction Is A Genetic Disease


In any case if the substance is cheap as most drugs are what is the harm of adding another necessary vitamin to the diet?

M. Simon

Did I mention tobacco is an anti depressant favored by schizophrenics? If you look around you will find that schizophrenics also favor pot and alcohol. So now we have a war going on the mentally ill. What a country!

It is great to be an American. We don't make war on the mentally ill like those evil Nazis. We find out what they like and then ban it.

Then we go around saying "Well they could give it up. It is not like they need it."

WE have the best Nazis in the world in America.

Extraneus

In Singapore, I believe the penalty for drug dealing is death. Not too sure about drunk driving, but I know it's dealt with pretty severely, although I'm not sure there's been a case of it in the last half century. I've heard that same death penalty is applied for drunk driving in Malaysia.

There are no drug problems, or drunk driving deaths, in either place. In Singapore, for example, you can put your 10-year-old in a cab, send her to the movies, and never give it a thought.

Of course, they also use caning for what Americans would get slapped on the wrist.

I've always wondered whether a drastic increase in the penalties wouldn't solve these and many other problems here, too.

boris

there seem to be many barriers to using pot publicly and say, driving afterward

One problem recently discussed in the media is measuring impairment. Alcohol can be measured accurately enough to set an impairment threshold eg .08% but with pot there is no comparable way to measure anything related to impairment.

FWIW I started playing in rock bands in 1963 ...

IMO it is not possible to achieve impairment comparable to .08 blood alcohol with any amount of pot. Scientific studies seem to bear that out.

MayBee

Extraneus, you are correct about Singapore. A Vietnamese Australian man was hung there in 2004 for a drugs violation.

In Indonesia (Bali), bringing drugs into the country is punishable by death. I was told it is still fairly easy to get drugs there, but there certainly is no crime problem even though there is poverty (at least by Western standards). I spoke with a Bali resident who had bribed his way into keeping his cel phone while he was in prison awaiting charges for having hashish. He was looking at about 40 years.

There are currently several male Australians on death row in Bali for smuggling heroin, and female Australian Schapelle Corby is about 2 years into her 20 year sentence for bringing marijuana into the the country. She was stupid not to bribe officials before they pressed charges, but she was determined to prove in court that she had been used as an unwitting drug mule. She failed.

I don't advocate punishments like that at all. I simply think it puts paid to the idea that strict drug laws cause societal problems.

Rick Ballard

"What changed that they couldn't handle their drug problem then, but they can now?"

Mao

Dalrymple pegs the "treatment" problem.

MayBee

Boris-
There's no way to impair judgment for driving with pot that is equivalent to about 2 drinks? Oh, I can't (and don't) believe that.

boris

impair judgment

Actually alcohol impairs reflex and reaction time more than judgement at that level.

Judgement impairment accurately measured would be great, but even without drugs a significant fratcion of the population would fail.

boris

** fraction **

MayBee

Funny and true, boris! It seems to me poor judgment impairs reaction time. Not to mention lack of concentration. Driving high isn't a good idea simply because there's no good way to measure.

Rick, interesting article. Hong Kong never had Mao, though. Opium went from freely traded drug to government controlled drug (complete with taxes!) with Opium dens and public storefronts. It was not until 1946 that Opium was declared illegal altogether and phased out by the then-British government. It was what some here might call a prohibition, although it has stayed in place and therefore is rarely brought up by those that want to use the US alcohol prohibition as an example of why prohibition doesn't work.

narciso

Consider that the Brits used Indian grown opium to crack the China market wide open; that should tell you the point of large scale consumption of opium. The French tried
an opium tax in Indochina, to finance colonial expansion; they had to abandon it.
The Harrison act, the grand pa of American prohibition goes back nearly a century; and it arose out of the systemic abuse of over the counter opium stocks

boris

Driving high isn't a good idea simply because there's no good way to measure.

Minor quibble ....

3AM driving home 150 miles after a rock and roll gig. Choices ...

  1. Sleepy driver ...
  2. Sleepy driver on alcohol ...
  3. Alert driver on pot ...
  4. Alert driver on meth ...

Not sayin I chose # 3 but ...

Jane

I don't really care about the war on drugs. I don't want heroin to be legal, because then I'd want to try it. And if coke were legal I'd be an addict in about 20 minutes. But I don't have any issues with legalizing marajuana and it's a good thing to tax.

Terrye

M. Simon:

My mother was an alcoholic, you do not need to tell what life with one is like.

But the fact that alcohol messes people up is no reason to make narcotics legal.

As for weed, I have not touched the stuff in years. I do know some shady people who deal in it however.

MayBee

Gee, boris. Why don't you give me alert driver on alcohol or sleepy driver on pot? Or how about goofy driver on pot? There are all kinds of ways to be impaired while driving, I agree. But let's not pretend that pot doesn't affect your ability to think clearly. What else is the point of getting high? It isn't a good state to be driving in.
I doubt, given restrictions on alcohol and driving, that it will be legal to drive while high. I don't know how they'll measure, but if you imagine that legalization will come without restrictions, well...you're high.

Patrick Tyson

"Social junkie" is a contradiction in terms. There are plenty of recreational drug users. I was one. When drug use started to induce paranoia I quit. Within a year I was having panic attacks. When they finally got so bad that I had to do something about them I decided to try biofeedback before asking for legal drugs. I stopped drinking coffee for a month and smoking cigarettes for a year when I started. That first month was the only month where I've been "drug-free" since I turned thirteen. Biofeedback worked for me.

kim

We're guessing. Actuaries know. I'm with Boris; cannabis impairs but doesn't seem to increase wrecks, much, if at all.

Here are approximate numbers, per cent addicted after trial following drug.

Nicotine-50%
Narcotics-30%
Cocaine and crack-30%
Meth-30%
Alcohol-10%
Marihuana-5%

All killers but the last. And even it is not harmless. Don't they say about kief that a little warms, and a lot burns?
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clarice

Pot is not harmless. People with a tendency towards schizophrenia are often pushed into it by pot use. (I know two of them.) Still, nothing in life is harmless and a completely risk free life is (a) impossible and (b) probably some kind of half-life.

RichatUF

Rick-

Violent conflict, not confined to the home and hearth, spills out onto the streets. Moreover, I discovered that British cities such as my own even had torture chambers: run not by the government, as in dictatorships, but by those representatives of slum enterprise, the drug dealers. Young men and women in debt to drug dealers are kidnapped, taken to the torture chambers, tied to beds, and beaten or whipped. Of compunction there is none—only a residual fear of the consequences of going too far.

...

This truly is not so much the banality as the frivolity of evil: the elevation of passing pleasure for oneself over the long-term misery of others to whom one owes a duty.

"The Frivolity of Evil" Theodore Dalrymple

Old Will

Alcohol is a state owned monopoly in Alabama, North Carolina, and a number of other states. Those states make hugh profits from the sale of this "drug." If they could also be the sole vendor of pot, cocaine, etc., then maybe the profits could be used to deal with the adverse social consequences of increased use i.e. more state funded rehab clinics??
Maybe some "pot friendly" states could experiment with such a notion??

Rocco

There are 4543 words in the original constitution, including the signatures. There are 26,911 words in recent legislation regulating the price of cabbage.

I say legalize them all. If you want to kill yourself...go right ahead. But don't expect society to bail your ass out when you find it in the gutter.

Rick Ballard

Rich,

Dalrymple does the best job that I've seen of exploring the societal impact of the "If It Feels Good, Do It" philosophy. Of course, "let those who have ears" defines the problem - and the fact that the solution will be a great surprise.

kim

The cause of schizophrenia is unknown.
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Terrye

Patrick:

Of course it is a contradiction in terms, that was my point.

Terrye

I doubt if it will be legal to drive while high on weed, considering the fact that the law can get you for driving while high on cold medicine. Impaired is impaired.

Terrye

My point to the term there is no social junkie should be obvious, people do not do meth or heroin just to relax.

Terrye

I'm sorry but I just think it is kind of funny that all these conservatives want to make narcotics legal and then tax them.

Why tax them? I mean what right has the state to do that?

And while we are at it, who cares how many 15 year old wives a guy has? After all, she has legs..she can walk away. Back when the Declaration of Independence was written 15 year olds could legally anyone they damn well pleased.

And what difference does it make if a couple of guys want to tie the knot? Whose business is it anyway?

Jane

Why tax them? I mean what right has the state to do that?

The same right they use while taxing anything else I presume.

From what I can tell the biggest pot users are babyboomers - who have been dabbling since college. At this point, who cares?

kim

So what is the impairment with driving? Does anybody know?
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boris

sleepy driver on pot? Or how about goofy driver on pot?

In the situation described, 3AM long drive, it counteracts drowsiness. Even better than caffine because it works faster and doesn't prevent sleep once home. The choices presented were intended to be realistic, based on experience (30+ yrs ago), not theoretically comprehensive.

PeterUK

Boris,
Modern pot isn't the mild weed you smoked in the sixties, skunk is very powerful stuff.This is what is so dangerous abount the "Hey,I smoked pot in the sixties and it didn't do me any harm" attitude.This is one of the reasons there is a problem.

To All,
Most addicts can not and do not function in a way that enables them to take part in society,the next fix is their only obsession.Gradually addicts drop out,jobs school,then they have to obtain money,by any means.
Separating drugs up into neat little categories,alcohol,heroin,cocaine,pot,nicotine ,amphetamines,is utterly naive.Many simply do the lot according to availability.Crack users take heroin to come down,tranquilisers to steady the shakes.Amphetamine users can consume vast amounts of alcohol,pot users smoke.
It is no use viewing this from the safety of the striving classes in the underclass there is a vast problem which parallels the Gin craze in Georgian England.Where the problem was so rife that a man swapped his wife for gin but the man who took her brought her back because she drank so much.
Now there is open warfare,people shot down in the street,over drug "turfs".Young children,12 or 13 talk a little bit of "sniff" for the weekend,schoolboys can boast what a "Really nice guy" his dealer is.Some of these kids are lighting up a joint on the way to school,many don't even get there or do not return after a smoke at lunchtime.
Yes,there is a problem.

It is a sad mistake to think that those who have no concept of self restraint can handle any drug responsibly.

The argument about whether drugs alter the brain is irresponsible,there is enough evidence to indicate that drugs damage the brain.Drugs certainly impair an individuals ability to function,so the libertarian view is not valid,since addict become burden on society in one way or another.

kim

The generic flaw with mind-altering, addictive, drugs is that they are a short circuit to brain chemicals that otherwise require work or social effort. Nicotine is slightly outside this paradigm since so much of its action is peripheral, and may explain why it is commonly smoked in conjunction with cannabis. Nicotine is in fact a beneficial drug, except for those with arrhythmias or peripheral vascular disease; we just shouldn't smoke it. It lessons fatigue, hunger, thirst, releases stomach acid, calms mood and increases alertness. Think how many lives have been saved by smoking truck drivers.

Thanks for the link, P. Chickens, eggs, fowl indeed.
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boris

Modern pot isn't the mild weed you smoked in the sixties

The mates in the band back then dint bother with the "mild weed". Those mates are still around and some still smoke. Better pot is just better pot. After all, one can get just as drunk on beer as on whiskey. Just have to pee more often.

But don't get me wrong, I quit cigaretts and I quit pot (in that order) about 30 yrs ago. Neither one is good for anybody. OTOH I think smoking bans are nanny state BS.

MayBee

I too think smoking bans are nanny state bs.
And boris, I adore you, but the idea that a little toke while driving at 3 am makes someone *more* alert is a hare-brained idea that only a young carefree person would have. Much like the person that knowing you are drunk makes you a more cautious driver (you drive soooo slowly).
Sure, doing something to break the monotony might wake someone up, but a high person is hardly the best judge of their own abilities.

kim

Actuaries are. What do they say?
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PeterUK

Boris,
I too saw t cannabis use in the sixties,more rarely in the fifties,what was then a mild euphoric now results in extreme psychotic behaviour,it isn't simply better shit it is real shit.Moreover,users don't have an occasional toke,now they are smoking with the regularity of cigarette smokers.
I have even seen a teenage mother smoking a spliff whilst pushing a baby buggy.

boris

the idea that a little toke while driving at 3 am makes someone *more* alert is a hare-brained idea

Okay, for the record ... you know this how ?

Perhaps you don't "believe" that pot perks up a jam session or a long drive. Been there done that.

Sue

The mates in the band back then dint bother with the "mild weed".

Did they like Acapulco gold? Or Panama Red?

Not that I know the difference or anything.

::grin::

Sue

Perhaps you don't "believe" that pot perks up a jam session or a long drive. Been there done that.

Sorry, Boris, but perking up a jam session yeah because everything sounds better high, but a long drive? I have to disagree with you here. Anything that makes you mellow doesn't perk you up.

MayBee

Okay, for the record ... you know this how ?

How do you think? But I'll admit I never drove high. Perhaps the act of getting behind the wheel makes pot a perk-ifier, but otherwise....

boris

what was then a mild euphoric now results in extreme psychotic behaviour

Reefer madness rides again? Again, not advocating pot here. Just correcting some false claims. Seems to be more "extreme psychotic behaviour" in general these days so correlations with other "new" developments, such as XTC, KAT, crack, and crystal meth make more sense for cause and effect.

boris

yeah because everything sounds better high

Not just "high". It is an effect associated primarily with pot and it kicks in well before subjective intoxication.

That same effect makes a long drive less boring. BTW mellow and alert are not mutually exclusive.

PeterUK

Boris,
"Perhaps you don't "believe" that pot perks up a jam session or a long drive. Been there done that."

It's all in the mind.

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