Regulated Drugs Distribution Proposal
March 3, 2005 5:20 AM   Subscribe

The King County Bar Association of Washington state, has released a resolution as part of their Drug Policy Project calling for a non-commercialized & state-supported regulated distribution of currently illicit drugs. Their FAQ addresses the inevitable concerns over such an approach. Another document provides a tour of the historical and cultural contexts of drug laws. The Association also outlines how the regulated approach might be workable, considering the purview of the federal Controlled Substances Act. [via DrugWarRant]
posted by daksya (13 comments total)

 
Let's not forget that both Russia and Brazil, two of the largest and most populous countries on earth have either legalized or seriously de-criminalized drugs in the past year or two. I'd get the links but it's late and I've got to go out and get...some milk here on the west coast.
posted by telstar at 5:27 AM on March 3, 2005


I don't think anywhere in the world, drugs have been legalized. By which, I mean, nowhere can you legally grow cannabis, opium or coca, or manufacture MDMA or LSD for the purposes of trading for human consumption. Russia's system, IIRC, is that if you're caught with 11 doses or less of a substance, you just get fined. Even Holland hasn't legalized cannabis, only tolerated its sale in designated coffee shops. At best, as far as possession of personal use quantities goes, Portugal has the most liberal laws that I know of. I'd be surprised if anywhere, one could legally manufacture drugs. Well, South American countries allow legal sales of coca tea which contains cocaine, but that's grandfathered in. Most countries are party to the UN Drug Conventions, which require criminal penalties. You can be sure that the US will be breathing down the neck of anyone daring to implement a regulatory drugs framework.
posted by daksya at 5:37 AM on March 3, 2005


There's a lot to like about the white paper. The public policy thinking and argumentation is quite thorough.

There are a few key gaps:

First, I really doubt the notion that in-state production and prescription-free distribution of marijuana could be protected from the federal government as an exercise of the state authority to regulate medical practice. Broadly decriminalized marijuana in a populous state would impact the supply-demand of marijuana across the entire country -- the interstate commerce clause under its post-New Deal interpreration almost certainly would give Congress the ability to shut down the contemplated marijuana plan.

Second, the assertion that a meaningful supply of cocaine for use for registered and diagnosed addicts could be procured under the cover of the (exceptionally) small set of federally-approved uses seems quite fantastic.

Third, and this is quite buried, the Association concedes that there'd be no way to cover heroin -- because it has neither the peppercorn of Federally-approved medical utilization of cocaine, nor (it would seem) can opium poppies be cultivated in Washington. Therefore they propose to substitute other opiates for heroin. Somehow I wonder if junkies would accept the substitute.
posted by MattD at 5:56 AM on March 3, 2005


the interstate commerce clause under its post-New Deal interpreration almost certainly would give Congress the ability to shut down the contemplated marijuana plan.

One of the arguments is that by making the state an actor, the commerce clause does not apply. To quote: "If a state is a "market participant" and not merely a regulator, the federal government cannot intervene using its commerce power."

nor (it would seem) can opium poppies be cultivated in Washington.

According to Q11 of the FAQ: "The state would not have to smuggle or purchase heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine from Latin American criminal gangs, nor would in-state cultivation of opium, coca or ephedra be necessary (although each might be possible).".
posted by Gyan at 6:05 AM on March 3, 2005


I'm suspicious of any proposal that begins with acceptance of the belief that all drug use is inherently bad. Sure, this resolution aims to decriminalize, but it takes a strong medical use/reduce harm approach.

While that may be a good PR strategy, to sell to the masses, it is inherently dishonest.

Why can't we just own up to the fact that people like to chemically recreate?
posted by yesster at 6:08 AM on March 3, 2005


I'm with yesster here. I’m always flummoxed by plans like this. I don’t give two damns what you do on your time, so long as it doesn’t affect me (which is a separate issue entirely); I don’t think our money is well-spent on the misguided War on Drugs; but I don’t want to see the government (even local) getting even bigger as a result. Legalize and turn it over to private enterprise. Let people make their own choices in the absence of State-funded lies about drugs and see what happens. Dollars to donuts we wind up with a bigger economy, a happier workforce, and less crime, organized or otherwise (although where do all the ousted drug-trade workers go? This is troubling).
posted by uncleozzy at 6:14 AM on March 3, 2005


yesster, adopting the nuanced moderation approach guarantees that the proposal won't go anywhere. If something like this happens in, say, 4-5 years, then there's the chance for more earnest attitudes to be adopted another 7-10 years down the line.
posted by daksya at 6:16 AM on March 3, 2005


daksya, here's the skinny on decrim in Brazil. I'll try and post the Russia details later.
posted by telstar at 6:01 PM on March 3, 2005


True, as you say, daksya, Russia will no longer jail anyone caught with up to 10 times the single dose unit of any drug. Of any drug. Details.

Try imagining that happening here in Jesusland.

You can be sure that the US will be breathing down the neck of anyone daring to implement a regulatory drugs framework.

I think the US is kinda busy with its religious-war fantasies in the Middle East right now.
posted by telstar at 8:30 PM on March 3, 2005


telstar, I would guess the Feds employ more than one employee.
posted by daksya at 8:33 PM on March 3, 2005


telstar, you were saying about the US being busy?
posted by daksya at 8:38 PM on March 3, 2005


I was wondering what happened. But hey, the government has stated it's intent. I notice also that there's also no actual evidence of the US stepping in. Having been to Brazil, and seen first hand how the illegal drug market works there, (quasi-legal, well-established) I would guess that the pressure could just as well be coming from the inside. Much like the US, eh?

All that aside, pronouncements of the drug war's demise in Brazil were greatly exaggerated.
posted by telstar at 1:12 AM on March 4, 2005


telstar writes "I notice also that there's also no actual evidence of the US stepping in."

What would such evidence be; statements released to the press? That's an option only when internal pressure fails. The reason I suspect US involvement is simply because as more programs like Brazil's sprout up, the harder it is to justify US-style blanket prohibitionist approaches. The US has always been at the forefront of global drug control initiatives.
posted by Gyan at 1:22 AM on March 4, 2005


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