Friday, December 05, 2008

War on Drugs

Anytime you hear the words "war on" and it's not followed by a group of people then you should know that its not a war that can be won. You can't wage war against terror, drugs, poverty, or an idea, and you sure can't hope to win a war against stupid. I'm still in the middle of reading this article but so far it's pretty good. It makes the obvious comparison between prohibition and drugs. The "war on alcohol" as we would call prohibition if it occurred today, was a absolute failure even after enough of the country agreed with it to get a freaking constitutional amendment passed, it failed so miserably that they passed another amendment to repeal the stupid law, again taking a huge number of pissed off people to get it passed. It's also an interesting note that conspiracy theorists love to point out that the Taliban saw heroin as a great evil and tried to eradicate it, and were quite successful at it. I'm trying to find just how much they reduced Afghanistan's production but I want to say around 90%. Heres a little article about it. But then the US invaded and the peasants went back to the best way for them to make money, grow poppies. Production has increased 2,000 percent since the US invasion, constitutes 87% of the world supply, is 50% of Afghanistan's GDP, and is the worlds largest drug crop in a single country. Afghanistan under US control has more acres for the production of heroin (and illegal morphine) than Columbia does for cocaine. There are those who claim this is not a coincidence or even an unfortunate side effect of the "war on terror." But I'm sure I can take it that far. Is it possible? Yeah. But I just don't have enough evidence to put on tin foil hat. I will say that the US must have known this would happen and did not have a plan in place to prevent it. I'm just more apt to blame incompetence than malfeasances.

Anyway the war on drugs is an absolute failure. It's the main reason we have the crime rates that we have, its the main reason we have the insane prison population that we do that is doing nothing to help reduce this countries economic woes. We could drastically reduce the cost of prisons (which admittedly would put a lot of guards in my town out of work), we would tax the sale of drugs to help the federal government out of debt, we would take away the main source of illegal income in this country making getting a real job more appealing, and those who abuse drugs could get the treatment they need instead of a jail cell and ending any chance of a good life.

Who ever thought this was a good idea anyway?


The Vicar said...

I have seen it suggested that many of the people who voted for Prohibition thought it would apply only to hard liquor and were surprised when all alcohol became illegal, which is something to think about.

Also: there is, in fact, a historical model for control of a dangerously addictive and abusable substance. When distilled liquor first appeared in the U.K., it had approximately the same effects as cocaine currently has on the U.S. (people becoming addicted, spending all their money on it and dying, etc.).

When distillation of alcohol first became understood in the west (it was first discovered by Islamic alchemists), the British government encouraged it, because it allowed farmers to turn a profit on their grain surplus. But then it became obvious that the effects of unrestrained distilled alcohol were devastating, particularly to the poor, so there was a successful move to ban it outright. This failed, because there was no way to hire enough policemen to carry out the ban, or enough jails to put all the distributors in jail.

What eventually worked to halt the societal effects was a multi-step process:
1. Legalize distilled alcohol, with a very cheap license
2. Weed out all the unlicensed vendors
3. Raise the price of license somewhat and regulate the heck out of the business

Would that work on other drugs? I don't claim to know. I'm not so sure that it would be desirable to legalize all drugs. But it's a model which has actually worked, as opposed to either of the extremes.

Kilgore Trout said...

To be honest I'm not sure of my stance on the legalization of all drugs. Marijuana is easy, I simply cannot find a reasonable argument as to why it's illegal but Tobacco and Alcohol are ok. As for the hard drugs, well that gets a whole lot trickier. I think it would solve a great deal of problems, but it would also create a whole other set of pretty obvious problems.

I honestly don't think a whole lot more adults would use heroin than they do today. It's not availability that keeps most people off drugs, its that they don't want to be on drugs. My only real concern is that kids would experiment even more than they do today. And by kids I mean late high school/ college age when kids are experimenting with life.

I don't have a solution to this, obviously neither does the government because the one they have attempted has failed. At some point one must have the strength to stand up and say, "we tried, it didn't work, it's time to try something else."