How the war on pot fed the crack epidemic
January 13, 2012 10:49 AM   Subscribe

In the '80s, price increases in marijuana drove demand toward other drugs. The war on drugs hard, soft, or otherwise helped persuade pot smokers to put down the bong and pick up the pipe, the mirror, or the needle.
posted by latkes (67 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
So wouldn't this utterly destroy the claim that ceasing the War on Drugs would collapse the price of illegal drugs and thereby drive the drug dealers out of business?

The economics just don't make sense in this piece. It's not as if the "War on Drugs" was entirely a war on marijuana, or as if there has ever been a time in the US when marijuana was actually all that difficult to come by.
posted by yoink at 11:07 AM on January 13, 2012


That seems pretty spurious. I don't know how it was in the 80s, but in the early 90s the potheads who couldn't get any weed would rather bitch about not having weed rather than do something harder.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:09 AM on January 13, 2012 [22 favorites]


Almost posted this myself a couple of days ago. Meanwhile, in related news, it appears that pot smoking doesn't damage lungs to the degree that tobacco smoke does. Speculation is that, for mild-to-moderate pot smoking, the anti-inflammatory effects of THC help offset any inflammatory effects deriving from other components of marijuana smoke.
posted by darkstar at 11:09 AM on January 13, 2012


That, and the fact that marijuana smokers don't smoke nearly as often as cigarette smokers.
posted by Melismata at 11:11 AM on January 13, 2012


Huh? I used my share of substances in the 80's, and I don't ever recall anyone saying "Wow, pot's expensive, let's get some smack instead."
posted by jonmc at 11:11 AM on January 13, 2012 [20 favorites]


That, and the fact that marijuana smokers don't smoke nearly as often as cigarette smokers.
It depends on the pothead. I know a number of potheads that can't even take a crap without a bong in hand.
posted by PapaLobo at 11:15 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Honestly, the pull quote I chose probably represents the weakest assertion of the article. More interesting to me was the claim by Rick Ross that he would have sold pot instead of crack if it had been feasible. If true, the lack of available pot in the 80s does seem a likely contributor to the ubiquitous accessibly of crack at that time.
posted by latkes at 11:16 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are risking long jail terms for your border crossings, then economically it makes more sense to bring in substances that have greater value for weight. Nobody smuggles straw, they smuggle diamonds.

Thus, cocaine influx, marijuana becomes a grown crop in the US.
posted by dglynn at 11:16 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I hope we're not ignoring the fact that maybe crack became more prominent because it's way more fucking addicting than most substances on the planet.
posted by Melismata at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


All the more reason we should return to the marijuana standard. You must put down the duckie if you want to play the saxophone. That's what I -- Oh wait, man, turn this up, I like this part. Shh, shh. This part. Yeah! OO BABY I LOVE YOUR WAY EVERYDAaaay...
posted by not_on_display at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


More interesting to me was the claim by Rick Ross that he would have sold pot instead of crack if it had been feasible.

Except that that is the claim that, if true, destroys the argument against the War on Drugs which claims that the high prices resulting from reduced supply are precisely what draws the dealers into the market.

This seems very much like a "he would say that, wouldn't he" kind of situation. Nobody thinks weed dealers are evil these days, everyone still thinks crack dealers are evil--it's not surprising he likes to say (and possibly to believe) that he was "forced" by the eevil gubmint to switch from being a weed dealer to a crack dealer.
posted by yoink at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope we're not ignoring the fact that maybe crack became more prominent because it's way more fucking addicting than most substances on the planet

Um, isn't that a widely debunked myth?
posted by yoink at 11:20 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This makes sense to me. I know from experience that when Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors announced plans to raise the price of their beer in late 2009 due to lower sales volumes and higher commodity costs I switched to meth in response. I mean, there are some drawbacks, but A-B/InBev and MC control over 80% of domestic beer production! That's a lot crazier than a weekend meth habit.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:20 AM on January 13, 2012 [17 favorites]


But his claim wasn't that pot cost to much, but rather that it was just unavailable much of the time.
posted by latkes at 11:20 AM on January 13, 2012


Although I agree that it's perfectly possible or even likely that he is not remembering correctly for the reasons you suggest.
posted by latkes at 11:22 AM on January 13, 2012


But his claim wasn't that pot cost to much, but rather that it was just unavailable much of the time.

Well, he kinda contradicts himself on that point:

I wanted to sell pot. You couldn't get pot at a decent price

I couldn't get a constant, steady, good-price pot [connection]

It wasn't price, because I had the money to buy whatever I wanted. So it wasn't the price. It wasn't available. It was a market I was shut out of.

The shifting story also adds to my sense that this is just what he now likes to tell himself about why he became a crack dealer.
posted by yoink at 11:25 AM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


The story isn't all that inconsistent. Pot was too expensive, too unsteady, and too inconstant. Having stacks of cash to pay for pot doesn't mean anything if you don't know when the next shipment will come in, or how much each shipment will cost. He chose crack because it was easier.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:29 AM on January 13, 2012


> He chose crack because it was easier.

Probably so, but the overlap between his business decision and demand from marijuana users is probably not as great as he would portray. I'd bet more that his customer base shifted. But this is just one dude's hazy recollection of his dealings and not even close to anything approaching a rigorous deconstruction of drug prices, availability of preferred substances, and consumption of alternates. I doubt such a measurement is really possible.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:33 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Um, isn't that a widely debunked myth?

That crack is more addicting that pot? No, I don't think that's a myth.
posted by Hoopo at 11:34 AM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know a number of potheads that can't even take a crap without a bong in hand.

BTW that is the worst hotbox ever.
posted by Hoopo at 11:36 AM on January 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


Except that that is the claim that, if true, destroys the argument against the War on Drugs which claims that the high prices resulting from reduced supply are precisely what draws the dealers into the market.

Wha...? But marijuana dealers very much existed, and still exist. Rick Ross chose to deal crack instead of pot; other people made other choices.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:36 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suppose this is what I can blame for my one-time nutmeg problem, or, as I prefer to call it, my nutmeg solution.
posted by Glomar response at 11:38 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing this would have been more pronounced in economically disadvantaged areas where things like crack are more available. You'd be a lot less likely to see this as a teenager in the suburbs, because chances are you wouldn't even know where to get any crack if you wanted some.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:38 AM on January 13, 2012


That crack is more addicting that pot? No, I don't think that's a myth.

That wasn't the claim. The claim was that it's more addicting than "most substances on the planet." That was the "myth" I was referring to.
posted by yoink at 11:40 AM on January 13, 2012


Wha...? But marijuana dealers very much existed, and still exist. Rick Ross chose to deal crack instead of pot; other people made other choices.

Precisely. Which is why I think the claim is NOT true.
posted by yoink at 11:41 AM on January 13, 2012


I thought for sure this was going to be a post about Dope Wars.

Little known fact: Zynga had a version of Dope Wars for Facebook where you ran around a casino instead of NYC.
posted by furtive at 11:46 AM on January 13, 2012


2bucksplus: "This makes sense to me. I know from experience that when Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors announced plans to raise the price of their beer in late 2009 due to lower sales volumes and higher commodity costs I switched to meth in response. I mean, there are some drawbacks, but A-B/InBev and MC control over 80% of domestic beer production! That's a lot crazier than a weekend meth habit."

You started a meth habit because Budweiser was expensive? Dude. Perspective, dude. Smoke some skunk and chill.
posted by Splunge at 11:46 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Crack is NOT the most addictive substance on the planet. Oxygen is.

Crack is NOT more addictive than is powder cocaine. They're pharmacologically identical.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 11:49 AM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I make sure to keep some crack on hand for the times when Metafilter goes down.
posted by mannequito at 11:51 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Am I reading the article correctly that all the writer does to substantiate this claim is that note two price series for marijuana and cocaine from 70s to 80s and then conclude that one caused the other? Do we need to repeat "post hoc ergo propter hoc" everytime someone says this? Correlation isn't causation. Maybe something is independently causing both of those trends, maybe it's random, maybe it's causal. It's a lot harder to go from correlation to causation with observational data than simply eyeballing a line though.
posted by scunning at 11:52 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco: "I'm guessing this would have been more pronounced in economically disadvantaged areas where things like crack are more available. You'd be a lot less likely to see this as a teenager in the suburbs, because chances are you wouldn't even know where to get any crack if you wanted some."

Maybe in the beginning. Now it's everywhere.
posted by Splunge at 11:58 AM on January 13, 2012


From the article:

The DEA reported seizing 64,579 plants at an estimated value of $130 million. Federal-law-enforcement figures marched in the streets chanting, "War on Drugs! War on Drugs!"

Was the auther trying to conjure the hallucinatory image of numeral after numeral walking through the street, chanting? Or am I just prone to that sort of thing...

Also:

[Cocaine] cost nearly $600 a gram in 1982.

No. It didn't.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:59 AM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anecdotally, a lot of my friends switched to meth when the government broke up a big MDMA importing ring in Baltimore that completely destroyed supply in the early 2000s.

So, I think there is a certain amount of fungibility between drugs, and that if some people can't find soft drugs, or that soft drugs become prohibitively expensive, they will go to harder drugs that offer more 'bang for the buck'.

There are also a lot of people who will stop getting high entirely if their drug of choice isn't available, too.
posted by empath at 12:00 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The prices quoted from the article have to be California or urban east coast prices. Texas in the 80's, both weed and coke were exactly half of the stated price in the article. Modest quality Mexican weed, good quality coke.

Technically, crack/cocaine is not addictive. It is however, *strongly* habituative. The dopamine crash following cocaine use is a powerful motivator to get more coke, immediately. Over the long term, natural dopamine production can be inhibited, which is an addiction-like process.

Regarding addiction, I really think the whole thing is far more complicated than the experts like to pretend. That goes for many fields of study.
posted by Xoebe at 12:03 PM on January 13, 2012


> Crack is NOT more addictive than is powder cocaine. They're pharmacologically identical.

I think the delivery methods also have something to do with usage. Injected cocaine is probably the most addictive way for those who are into it. But yeah, the scares about crack being disproportionately addictive and the resultant 100 fold increase in prison sentences was pretty much racist/classist bullshit.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:03 PM on January 13, 2012


Yeah, I remember those days. The government announced a program to spray the herbicide Paraquat on Mexican pot fields to eradicate it at the source. I had several pothead friends who complained they couldn't find pot but they liked this new crack stuff they discovered. That was the point when they disappeared and I never heard from them again.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:07 PM on January 13, 2012


The plural of anecdote is not "evidence". To plunder a line from Stephen Pinker - Any hypothesis that comes out of left field to explain a massive social trend with a single overlooked event will almost certainly turn out to be wrong, even it is has some data supporting it at the time and especially if that hypothesis comes from an "80s Crack Kingpin"
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:09 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


C'mon guys, crack is whack.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:12 PM on January 13, 2012


Over the long term, natural dopamine production can be inhibited, which is an addiction-like process.

If it quacks like a duck...

"And then there's this thing called freebasing. It's not free, it costs you your house. It should be called homebasing."--Robin Williams
posted by Melismata at 12:14 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh? I used my share of substances in the 80's, and I don't ever recall anyone saying "Wow, pot's expensive, let's get some smack instead."

Anecdote. December 1993. I'm in L.A. and jonesing for some of the good ole BC Bud I'd left behind when I crossed the border, mainly because L.A. just felt incomplete without a good marijuana blur. Anyway, I meet a guy at a party who actually has some good smoke so I ask him about buying some. He quotes me an insanely high price (compared to back home) but what the hell, I'm on vacation, why not?

A few days later, he gets back in touch and says he can't score any quality herb but there's lots of excellent heroin around.

I spent the rest of that trip popping caffeine pills and drinking red wine.
posted by philip-random at 12:15 PM on January 13, 2012


Actually, now that I think about it, maybe crack is not whack. It's just a mild stimulant with a refreshing high, suitable for both grads and dads.

If Eazy-E hadn't started Ruthless Records with the money he made selling crack, we might not have Straight Outta Compton and Eazy-Duz-It. Too bad most of Eazy's post-N.W.A. work makes you wish he went back to selling crack.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:16 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are risking long jail terms for your border crossings, then economically it makes more sense to bring in substances that have greater value for weight. Nobody smuggles straw, they smuggle diamonds.

Thus, cocaine influx, marijuana becomes a grown crop in the US.


So what you're basically saying that the war on drugs facilitated insourcing and created jobs for Americans?
posted by Talez at 12:20 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, dunno about the hard drug link, but I'd bet the influence is statistically significant.

I do, however, know several people who have switched to (or temporarily substituted) synthetic marijuana, which is still legal and available at any head shop in my state, when the real deal wasn't available. (Either that, or they drank more alcohol.) As a friend said, "I swipe my Visa and done -- no meeting up with sketchy dealer guy." And synthetic appears to have much greater health risks than nature's own:
wiki
What Is Synthetic Pot, and Why’s It Causing Heart Attacks in Teenagers?
Real dangers of fake pot
posted by LordSludge at 12:26 PM on January 13, 2012


Thus, cocaine influx, marijuana becomes a grown crop in the US.

Not really. I remember back in the mid 80s, Tim Leary told me that every country in the world that has any agricultural economy of any sort, their primary cash crop is pot.

I remember back around '85, the Farm Aid era when family farms were going out of business and being bought up by big business, there was an amazing trend around here in Iowa. A lot of farmers set aside little corners of their fields and leased them to pot growers. They'd avoid spraying pesticides near the pot, and tall corn was the perfect way to hide tall pot plants. A lot of local Sheriffs deliberately turned a blind eye to these crops, since they were keeping the local farmers afloat.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:28 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think another important piece of the puzzle is that not all drug users are created equal. Sure, there are a lot of people who smoke pot because they want to chill out -- but there are also a not-insignificant number of people who want to Get Fucked Up At All Costs. I know there are people out there who would trade up from soft drugs to hard based on price and availability: I went to college with them. Some people just want a way out of their heads and aren't too picky about what gets them there. How else to explain stuff like Robotripping, PCP, and "bath salts"?

Whether there are enough of those people in the drug market to create the large-scale phenomenon described in the article is another question. But it seems clear that a) people want to get fucked up, and b) if a (relatively) safe way isn't available, people will take risks with the more dangerous disassociatives.
posted by Misunderestimated at 1:05 PM on January 13, 2012


Over the long term, natural dopamine production can be inhibited, which is an addiction-like process.

That can be said about just about anything that is enjoyed to excess. The problem is that when we start saying that, say, cocaine is "addictive," then we open the door to such notions as "sex addiction" and "internet addiction," which are qualitatively different medically from dependencies like alcoholism or opioid addiction.

"Addiction" does not mean "bad habit," and it's not helpful to anyone involved to pretend that it does.

As for the reason crack was/is so psychologically addictive, I think a lot has to do with the sociology and psychology of the average user. Because crack was (maybe still is) so inexpensive, it's available to people who are very poor, homeless, even severely mentally ill. After the high and the inevitable (temporary) low, many of these people have no particular motivation to move on and stop smoking: they don't have a job to go to at a particular time, they don't have family or non-user friends to whom they have to answer. There is nothing, esssentially, to bridge them past the relatively short "down" period. What does make sense for them is to scare up a little more money and get high again.

There was a piece in the Sunday Times magazine a few years ago talking about meth rehab, and the upshot of it was that people quit meth when they understand clearly and intuitively that meth is (for them) a bad tradeoff. In other words, they have other things (jobs, family) they value more than getting high on meth. I would think more or less the same thing is true about crack use: in other words, people will use crack until they find something that makes them happier than crack does. The problem, obviously, is that crack users don't have the means to find that "something." They're poor and on the fringe of society to start with.
posted by La Cieca at 1:07 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's what I was saying, Charlie.
posted by dglynn at 1:12 PM on January 13, 2012


Sorry, but suggesting that cocaine is not addictive is absurd, even if it has a different action in the body than alcohol or heroin. The wikipedia article on addiction is pretty good.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 1:18 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


As for the reason crack was/is so psychologically addictive, I think a lot has to do with the sociology and psychology of the average user. Because crack was (maybe still is) so inexpensive, it's available to people who are very poor, homeless, even severely mentally ill. After the high and the inevitable (temporary) low, many of these people have no particular motivation to move on and stop smoking: they don't have a job to go to at a particular time, they don't have family or non-user friends to whom they have to answer.

you've never known any crack addicts, have you? - because guess what? - the ones i knew, including the girlfriend i was living with in the 80s had jobs, families, houses, cars, etc, etc - they had all the motivation in the world to stop, but they didn't - and many of them lost it all because they didn't

if you think that solidly secure middle class people were able to just quit when they understood it was "a bad tradeoff", i'm here to tell you they didn't - no matter how much they knew they were screwing up - no matter how their loved ones would cry and beg them to stop, even threatening to leave if they didn't

i LIVED this awful story in the 80s - i was in a small midwestern city in the suburbs and she had a good job at the post office - and she ended up stealing 20K from them in six months to support a 300 buck a day addiction

when she got arrested and lost her job, she did quit - but later on, went back to other drugs and eventually ended up dying from an insulin overdose that may have been intentional - my best friend's wife at the time ended up overdosing on pills and alcohol

average user? - it's all the same when it becomes addiction - you want it and you'll keep doing it even if it costs you everything, including your life - and you're really not any different or better than the homeless guy who's doing it or some millionaire rock star who's doing it - you're just an addict

i didn't even have the escape of work to help me distance myself from it - i was a motel night auditor and from 1985 on, it was dealers, crackheads, drug raids, gangsters and cops - and then i'd come home and she'd have been up all night getting wired

that was my life for years

and no, you DON'T understand it
posted by pyramid termite at 1:40 PM on January 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


This post reminded me I need to hunt down the doc Square Grouper.
posted by waraw at 1:42 PM on January 13, 2012


So what are you saying, termite -- these people had no control over their drug use? (Not rhetorical.)
posted by Misunderestimated at 1:55 PM on January 13, 2012


pyramid termite

I am very sorry about your experience. However, we are talking about two very different things: you are talking about your perception of your girlfriend's experience, and I am talking about her perception. Or, so as not to appear too patronizing, let me say, I am talking about the user's perception. I think most people who end up using hard drugs habitually are starting, even before they get high the first time, at a disadvantage: a difference in brain chemistry or some other reason that they don't experience life even in a moderately pleasurable way. That "some other reason" might be situational (frustration or boredom or anger at current life circumstances) or it may be something else. But the point is: lots of people have the opportunity to use cocaine and opioids, but relatively few of the people who do try these drugs end up habituated. (My experience, second-hand, is that this is also true of crack. In NYC in the mid to late 1980s, there was a good deal of dabbling in crack as a gay party drug, but most people were willing and able to walk away from it. Some people had a little rougher time of it than others, and a small minority ended up with a dependency that needed professional intervention.)

My point is that there is nothing intrinsic in the drug, even in its method of delivery, that makes it signficantly more liable to abuse; rather, the likelihood for abuse is built into the user.
posted by La Cieca at 2:00 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I think most people who end up using hard drugs habitually are starting, even before they get high the first time, at a disadvantage: a difference in brain chemistry or some other reason

Dr. Gabor Mate speaks at length (one hour) on this subject, based on his research and work with addicts. Your general statement is in accord with what he sees in many cases. If anyone is seriously interested in this that video is a good use of your time.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:15 PM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


My understanding is that pot is $700 an ounce here in Idaho. At that price, I understand why people grow their own.

And no, I do not partake. Partly because I'm hoping to find a job, and wouldn't jeopardize it for a lousy drug test, and mostly because being around potheads annoys me. They act stupid. I'm silly on one beer; who needs more?

I can't imagine being straight and being around a crackhead.

Pyramid, I'm sorry for your troubles. I don't know how you could deal with it that long.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2012


Huh? I used my share of substances in the 80's, and I don't ever recall anyone saying "Wow, pot's expensive, let's get some smack instead."

Do you recall anyone saying "I couldn't score any weed. I could score some crack though."?
posted by BurnChao at 3:23 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


you've never known any crack addicts, have you?

I don't think I've ever met a crack addict, but I did know a bunch of people who used coke casually, and it rarely seemed to be as much of a problem for them as meth was for the tweakers I knew.
posted by empath at 3:27 PM on January 13, 2012


However, we are talking about two very different things: you are talking about your perception of your girlfriend's experience, and I am talking about her perception.

i don't think either perception is a simple matter - i would have to write a novel to explain it, but i was hardly unfamiliar with how she saw it before, during and after

My point is that there is nothing intrinsic in the drug, even in its method of delivery, that makes it signficantly more liable to abuse; rather, the likelihood for abuse is built into the user.

although i agree that some people are much more likely to fall prey than others, i'm going to have to insist that some drugs are more likely to be abused like this than others

---

I don't think I've ever met a crack addict, but I did know a bunch of people who used coke casually, and it rarely seemed to be as much of a problem for them as meth was for the tweakers I knew.

that's an interesting point, as meth was around back then, too - only it was snorted instead of smoked - we'd never heard of smoking it and had no idea that it was makable with common items - it also wasn't real easy to find

convenience and intensity when made available to addictive persons can be really ugly and i think that's why crack and meth smoking have such awful results

---

I can't imagine being straight and being around a crackhead.

neither can i - i wasn't into crack, but i sure as hell wasn't straight
posted by pyramid termite at 3:41 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you recall anyone saying "I couldn't score any weed. I could score some crack though"?

I'm reminded of my middle and high school years in Pennsylvania, when we smoked ridiculous amounts of pot but almost never drank, because it was REALLY hard to get alcohol, but pot (and coke, and pills, and acid, ...) was everywhere.

So much for the War on Drugs.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:28 PM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


My understanding is that pot is $700 an ounce here in Idaho. At that price, I understand why people grow their own.

It's more like $300/ounce (cite), but maybe. Growing a few plants is a felony, 5 years, $15k fine (cite), so it'd be short-term thinking to save a buck while risking being utterly fvckerd..., although the odds are probably with you.
posted by LordSludge at 4:38 PM on January 13, 2012


. That "some other reason" might be situational (frustration or boredom or anger at current life circumstances) or it may be something else. But the point is: lots of people have the opportunity to use cocaine and opioids, but relatively few of the people who do try these drugs end up habituated.

I've dropped this "fact" here before but it's worth repeating. According to an old friend of mine who ended up in Narcotics Anonymous (heroin related), the statistic they use there is that of everybody who tries heroin once, only 15 percent end up addicted. That's 15 percent of the already small percentage of folks who actually try heroin.

So the big question they ask there is, what is it about us 15 percent? Why do we WANT this shit so badly that we'll trash the rest of our lives to get it? It's an interesting approach because it quickly gets you away from heroin (or cocaine, or speed, or organized religion) being inherently bad and focuses instead on the other "situational" factors that feed addiction.
posted by philip-random at 5:12 PM on January 13, 2012


I know a number of potheads that can't even take a crap without a bong in hand.

That is a funny image.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2012


I know a number of potheads that can't even take a crap without a bong in hand.

That is a funny image.


Kind of, but it was true of back when I smoked cigarettes, and a lot of other people too, I bet.
posted by jonmc at 6:04 PM on January 13, 2012


I know a number of potheads that can't even take a crap without a bong in hand.

I feel the same way about my iPhone.

aw yes the "p" in your name IS capital, yes it is...
posted by LordSludge at 6:15 PM on January 13, 2012


So wouldn't this utterly destroy the claim that ceasing the War on Drugs would collapse the price of illegal drugs and thereby drive the drug dealers out of business?
Um, no? It's not even clear how you arrived at that conclusion. How many criminals deal legal drugs like Nicotine or Alcohol? If the prices are high, they're high because of taxes. The people who make money off them are your neighborhood grocery store and gas station. If drugs are legal the "drug dealer" would be no different then a liquor store today, or a wall-mart. It would drive the current drug dealers out of business, the same way the Mafia no longer makes a ton of money on moonshine.
I hope we're not ignoring the fact that maybe crack became more prominent because it's way more fucking addicting than most substances on the planet.
It's the same thing as cocaine, which had been around for a long time. I doubt people suddenly 'discovered' crack in the 1980s. People must have known how to make it before -- it's just "freebase" cocaine.
Except that that is the claim that, if true, destroys the argument against the War on Drugs which claims that the high prices resulting from reduced supply are precisely what draws the dealers into the market.
Well, first of all one random claim from one random person does not 'destroy' an argument, and second of all, like I said you don't seem to understand what the argument is saying. The argument is that, if drugs were legal, the current drug dealer networks would be completely superfluous. People would just buy drugs at the supermarket, liquor stores, whatever the same way they buy other products. And beyond that, if somehow current drug dealers are able to compete by going legit, they would no longer have any reason to resort to violence. They could have legally binding contracts and sue each other. They would have every incentive to cooperate with the police if some one threatens them, and so on. They would be no different then any other small business person today.
I do, however, know several people who have switched to (or temporarily substituted) synthetic marijuana, which is still legal and available at any head shop in my state, when the real deal wasn't available. (Either that, or they drank more alcohol.) As a friend said, "I swipe my Visa and done -- no meeting up with sketchy dealer guy." And synthetic appears to have much greater health risks than nature's own:
I know a guy who's really into pot. He'll go for a long time not smoking it, then go back to smoking it, whatever. Lately he told me he'd started smoking the synthetic stuff. And he said it was actually way more addictive then normal weed, and also he thought it was really messing up his body. But the fact that it was so risk free kept him at it, for a while anyway, then he went back off of them.
That can be said about just about anything that is enjoyed to excess. The problem is that when we start saying that, say, cocaine is "addictive," then we open the door to such notions as "sex addiction" and "internet addiction," which are qualitatively different medically from dependencies like alcoholism or opioid addiction.
Well, I think that's actually the difference between "addiction" and "dependence". People can get into situations where they want to stop something, but can't, all the time.
I think most people who end up using hard drugs habitually are starting, even before they get high the first time, at a disadvantage: a difference in brain chemistry or some other reason that they don't experience life even in a moderately pleasurable way. That "some other reason" might be situational (frustration or boredom or anger at current life circumstances) or it may be something else.
Yeah but that's totally unfair. Some people just have less self control then others, it doesn't necessarily mean you're unhappy, or whatever. I'm sure motivation plays a roll -- the stronger your desire or your need to stop doing something, the easier it might be. Take Junk food for example. Lots of people know they need to cut back, but because it's so easy to just take an opportunity to just grab some at those low ebbs of self control, it's hard to stop. Cigarretes are another example. People who smoke and eat junk food aren't depressed or unhappy all the time except when they're stuffing their face or smoking a cigarette. I would imagine people addicted to harder drugs are similar.

And it's like, you could be happy 99% of the time, but it's just that 1% of the time when your willpower dips below a certain point that you go back to drugs, smoke a cigarette, or eat some cake.

I'm sure brain chemistry plays a roll, just like it does with junk food, or depression, or whatever. Different drugs affect people in different ways. So someone who gets a string effect, or a more pleasurable effect, or whatever is probably more likely to get addicted.
posted by delmoi at 9:14 PM on January 13, 2012


I can't speak to the details but I'm surprised at the amount of scepticism at the basic premise, I alway sassumed it was common knowledge. Certainty a similar pattern played itself out in the U.K. in the late eighties/early nineties in different places: a dope drought followed close on by a flood of cheap brown. The year I turned 21 I left town at the start of a drought that didn't ever go away and when I arrive back a year later the fist thing I hear is a role call of all the people I knew who had turned into junkies in the time I was away.
posted by tallus at 12:49 AM on January 14, 2012


Dr. Gabor Mate speaks at length (one hour) on this subject, based on his research and work with addicts.

This is a really good talk. Thanks.
posted by latkes at 10:42 PM on January 14, 2012


There was a time, in the 1980's, in NYC, when I was dependant on street dealers for pot. And I'm here to tell you, it was rough. Coke was very readily available everywhere. Pot was difficult. I wish I could recall specific years, but I really can't. Probably 1984. Guys would stand around quitely going 'coke coke coke', for those who paid attention. You had to look long to find the ones saying 'smoke'.

Bryant Park was full of dealers in those days (the park behind the main library). And that goes for an amazing high value of 'full'. The vast majority were all trying to sell coke. It was all so blatant and open it made me nervous as hell.
posted by Goofyy at 12:25 AM on January 15, 2012


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