Legalize It All: How to Win the War on Drugs
March 22, 2016 7:43 PM   Subscribe

"We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” - John Ehrlichman, a senior aide to Richard Nixon. posted by Rustic Etruscan (65 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
 


"That's a mighty nice tape machine, Mr. President"

-Elvis
posted by clavdivs at 8:03 PM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


The article is sort of all over the place. I think the evidence for full decriminalization of all the things as a viable policy is fairly weak, and isn't very well argued in this piece. That said, I do think it's time to legalize marijuana everywhere, and by doing so, we stab the drug war in its cold, evil heart.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:07 PM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


You mean Trump wasn't the first Republican racist. Huh. Did anyone tell CNN?
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:34 PM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


The type of system that he's advocating, far from simply being mere legalization, is a proposal to create a government bureaucracy to not only exercise a monopoly on distribution of drugs, but also to monitor individual use and offer treatment to people who are using too much, i.e. all the addicts in the country. I'm not sure that the author, who still has about a third of the one joint that he bought after taking half a dozen hits off of it, really understands the nature of addiction.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:36 PM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


But it's all about shifting the Overton Window, isn't it?

"Legalize it all" is kind of like supporting Basic Income... I mean, it's clearly not going to happen anytime soon. But forcing this discussion into the national spotlight might get the rest of the US in get in-fucking-gear and legalize cannabis, and then maybe psilocybin, and perhaps even coca leaf.

Humans are going to take drugs, and when they are illegal we will make some pretty gnarly stuff out of otherwise normal, natural plants. I don't support full opiate legalization, but I sure as shit think weed and mushrooms should SO be legal. And I'd stand in a Legalize It All rally in a heartbeat, because you have to ask for a mile just to get an inch.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 8:54 PM on March 22, 2016 [55 favorites]


The nature of addiction in the US at present is that people who want to cut down on their use can't get help at all and those who are interested in cutting their substance of abuse out of their life entirely find it difficult at best thanks to limits on the number of people an individual physician can treat and the limitations on how that treatment can be delivered.

In the case of bupenorphine and methadone, said roadblocks are there to prevent diversion to the black market, but it is still counterproductive. So what if someone wants to take some bupenorphine or methadone instead of heroin?

Even most drug addicts know what they need to do to get their life back in order, and at some point have the desire and motivation to do so. Sadly, we deny them the tools to do so thanks to our puritanical paternalism. Because reasons.
posted by wierdo at 8:54 PM on March 22, 2016 [17 favorites]


I'm not sure that the author, who still has about a third of the one joint that he bought after taking half a dozen hits off of it, really understands the nature of addiction.

The author has written one of the best books on the war on drugs that I've ever come across. Whether he understands addiction or not, I'm not sure that your ad hominem snark changes that.
posted by blucevalo at 8:55 PM on March 22, 2016 [23 favorites]


From what I can see around here, there are basically no barriers to an addict buying drugs, but there are almost insurmountable barriers to an addict getting treatment.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:01 PM on March 22, 2016 [66 favorites]


Yeah, we need to start shifting the Overton window on this.

Remember; We take adderall - they take speed. We take hydrocodone - they take heroin. We go to college - they go to prison.
posted by Justinian at 9:39 PM on March 22, 2016 [69 favorites]


Was Nixon's move not always obvious? Eliminate liberals from government, police, and the military. Drive those institutions far far to the right. And then Reagan's ubiquitous drug testing made employment and therfore healthcare unavailable for their political enemies.

It's a war on drugs all right, and the cannon's pointed at you.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:53 PM on March 22, 2016 [18 favorites]


What's wrong with full opiate legalization? Wouldn't having a pure, known-potency (and acetaminophen-free) drug supply reduce crime and harm? And opiate users tend to just chill, unlike drunks who get amped up and aggressive. Any drug which remains illegal will be supplied by criminal networks, often with horrifying results, viz. krokodil. No half measures.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:06 PM on March 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


Most opiates are already legal, after all.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:11 PM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


That's kind of misleading. By that measure cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are legal.
posted by Justinian at 10:12 PM on March 22, 2016


(I'm assuming you mean "legal with prescription").
posted by Justinian at 10:12 PM on March 22, 2016




Well, yes, cocaine is legal with a prescription, as is methamphetamine. The majority of stimulant doses taken in the US are taken legally, as are the vast majority of opiates. It's part of the absurdity of the war on drugs that people believe that "opiates" or "meth" are horrible, awful, immediately addicting drugs, when of course they are used legally and safely most of the time.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:38 PM on March 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Legalization would increase the number of drug users despite, alreday you can find it on almost every corner like it's legal. Increased number of drug users wolud reflect on the crime rate because there would be more ane more people with reduced power of judgment (temporary insanity) on the street.

On the other hand, drug is a great source of black money for lot's of government's and some influential people. They will fight against the legalization because of their wallet.
posted by korpe4r at 12:06 AM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Legalization would increase the number of drug users

Cite?

Increased number of drug users wolud reflect on the crime rate

Cite?
posted by maxwelton at 12:58 AM on March 23, 2016 [24 favorites]


What are estimates of how big the War on Drugs actually is? If America fully legalized pot (as I hope we will), how many cops would lose their jobs? How much money would end up back in state and federal budgets? What else would be collateral in this?
posted by macrael at 1:00 AM on March 23, 2016


What are estimates of how big the War on Drugs actually is?

Some quick googling has a couple different sources pegging the U.S. cost at roughly $40 billion per year and $1 trillion since it started. I imagine any loss of law enforcement jobs would be offset by the millions of people contributing to the economy instead of rotting in prison or being denied many types of work because of felony drug convictions.
posted by edeezy at 1:14 AM on March 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've known people who were addicted or very heavy users for my whole life - it runs in the family. I hate drugs and I wish they could disappear. But the war on drugs has to end now. The damage criminalization does to society is far worse than anything legal, regulated drugs could ever do.
posted by mumimor at 1:27 AM on March 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


Legalization would increase the number of drug users

Cite?

Using Portugal, the only country that I know of where drugs have been decriminalized as an example, your statement that legalization will increase the number of drug users would be incorrect with the caveat that it would have to be done done in tandem with a vigorous mental health care approach.

Here is your citation: Portugal's decriminalized drug statistics.

Addiction is a mental health problem, not a criminal problem.
posted by Jernau at 2:25 AM on March 23, 2016 [27 favorites]


Addiction is a mental health problem, not a criminal problem.

Last year, this Statement of Principles (pdf) (by Law Enforcement Leaders To Reduce Crime & Incarceration), declaring to shift the focus from incarceration to providing mental health care when dealing with drug users. One of the stated reasons behind this was, of course, the following:

“We’re talking about using a scarce resource — beds in jails and prisons — in the most effective way,” said Benjamin David, a member of the group and the district attorney for New Hanover and Pender Counties in North Carolina.

To begin dealing with someone humanely, it is first necessary that one can no longer afford to deal with them inhumanely?
posted by sapagan at 2:41 AM on March 23, 2016 [16 favorites]


All the lobbying by for-profit prisons is a major obstacle to legalizing drugs.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:02 AM on March 23, 2016 [14 favorites]


It's clear all the stereotypical hallucinogens like like psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, and DMT should simply be legalized, along with marijuana. Yes, there is a tiny minority who can find a way to abuse say LSD, but the vast vast majority will be like "Ok, that was be fun, see ya again in 6 months".

Amongst the hallucinogens, all the harmful ones like PCP lie amongst the dissociatives. We need a productive debate about which dissociatives should be legalized because the stereotypical hallucinogens do not really serve the same recreational function as say ketamine. Yes, ketamine has some dangerous side effects, but if legalizing it kept people away from PCP then that's great.

Also, there is an extremely strong argument for legalizing everything made in:
Meet Carl Hart, the Scientist Debunking America's Myths About Drugs

GG: What kinds of things should we teach kids about drugs?

CH: If you're going to use a drug, you need to make sure you start with low doses. Don't take large doses if you're getting high with an experienced drug user. If you're going to be using heroin, don't mix it with another sedative — that's the thing that kills you, not the heroin. With amphetamines, make sure you're getting enough sleep and attend to your eating habits. Route of administration: if you take a drug orally, that's probably safer for beginners. Those are the kind of things we should teach kids.

CG : What do you want readers to take away from High Price?

CH: When we think about drug effects, I want people to understand that they have less to do with pharmacology and more to do with context: the history of the user, the dose of the drug, etc. That's not to negate the role of pharmacology, but I do want people to understand the importance of context in trying to evaluate drug effects. We often talk about a drug as if it alone is causing all of these social harms. I want people to think about it in a more nuanced way.

I also want readers to re-think the way they view certain people who have been vilified by society. If they do that, they'll see that we've been racist in our thinking in this country. We have not really owned up to it. People need to understand the difference between individual racism and institutional racism. Individual racism is not a big deal these days. You'd be hard-pressed to find many people who are outright racist. They don't need to be, because our institutions are. I hope they understand that.


I think Carl Hart's argument shows that everything should be legalized eventually, but we might find transforming our cultural controls on drug abuse easier if we legalize some drugs before others.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:29 AM on March 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


If you're going to be using heroin, don't mix it with another sedative — that's the thing that kills you, not the heroin

I've never been an opiate user, but, isn't that completely wrong and dangerous information?
posted by thelonius at 4:07 AM on March 23, 2016


I think the evidence for full decriminalization of all the things as a viable policy is fairly weak...

See Jernau's link and reflect on Portugal's decade of decriminalization. I think it's the best evidence extant; most of the US "evidence" is tainted by vested interest.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:23 AM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Countries that legalize drugs do not go back to the old model. It works. Treating addiction as a medical issue is framing it in a narrow way, admittedly. The relationship between people and mind-altering substances is complex. People with M.D.'s do not have all the answers.

But it's sure better than the War on Drugs. Switzerland, and the other (mostly) European countries that have set up programs to administer heroin/methadone in clinics like the results. Addicts like it. New users? Not so much. It's not Lou Reed/William Burroughs cool to go to a nurse to shoot up. So: less hanging out in the squat sharing needles.

The Erlichman quote was chilling. I'm at least as cynical as the next guy, and know about the opium/Chinese; cocaine/Negroes; marihuana/Mexican ploys in American history, but to hear Nixon's henchman admit that the War on Drugs was nothing more than a war on hippies and blacks back in those days when we were all trying to stop that idiotic horrific war...well even I didn't know it was THAT coldly calculated.

Legalize it.
posted by kozad at 4:29 AM on March 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


The type of system that he's advocating, far from simply being mere legalization, is a proposal to create a government bureaucracy to not only exercise a monopoly on distribution of drugs, but also to monitor individual use and offer treatment to people who are using too much, i.e. all the addicts in the country. I'm not sure that the author, who still has about a third of the one joint that he bought after taking half a dozen hits off of it, really understands the nature of addiction.

It seems to me that it's much better having the government responsible for regulation, product quality, distribution, etc, than having it in the hands of criminals.

It also seems better for government to offer treatment for addiction, than to have no treatment at all, or have this burden placed on family members, or local communities. I also believe it's better to pay for treatment and rehabilitation, than to suffer the continued costs of criminal behaviour and law enforcement.
posted by daveje at 4:32 AM on March 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


The review of Portugal's experience which Jernau linked is a must-read in this topic since it both strongly supports the argument that treating addiction as a medical problem is the only effective strategy and also highlights the most likely source of problems in the U.S. – bad economic policy mixed with our usual political attacks on “wasteful” social programs:
There is a real risk that Portugal’s severe economic recession will undermine many of the drug-related health and social improvements observed since 2001.

The independent Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which was responsible for implementing the national drug strategy, has effectively been abolished and absorbed by the country’s National Health Service, which in turn has had its budget cut by 10%. A number of harm reduction services are also facing partial closure, or experiencing significant delays in receiving public funding, all of which has had a negative effect on the extent and quality of services provided.
I really like the idea of ensuring that nobody fails to get treatment due to fear or financial barriers, but it's pretty easy to imagine some ugly failures due to an increasingly unpleasant economy for large numbers of people in many areas, calls for austerity, and calls to “save” by giving funds to private companies of widely varying quality. It's still better than pipelining people into jails but I hope someone gets some early successes to ward off the crowd just waiting to say the real problem is that we haven't been punitive enough.
posted by adamsc at 4:46 AM on March 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Assuming that decriminalising drugs as widely as possible would result in a more humane society with less avoidable misery - and I believe that to be the case for many, many reasons and many, many experiences - then one big problem is what do you do with all the drug warriors? You can't demobilise an army overnight without huge disruption to lives and economies, no matter what you think about the morality of that army, and when that army is your own people and the economies it interacts with part of your own economy, you really have to take that part of it seriously.

If you look at that aspect of decriminalisation as akin to any problem of shifting away from an out-of-date industry to a new model, then the path forward becomes clearer. The saner path to decriminalisation - for which read less disruptive, more politically palatable and more controlled - is to bring drugs into the sort of regulatory regime backed by support services for health and social welfare that the rest of legal society runs on.

This is going to need bureaucracy, money, training, facilities, just plain stuff, but we're already maintaining equivalents of all of those as part of the standing army of drug warfare, with the concomitents such as the involvement of the legal and penal system.

So, a plan to phase the latter out and the former in would seem to be a good plan, even if it's going to be very hard. You have to turn the economy of drug enforcement into the economy of drug management, and thinking about things in those terms suggests pathways that may be useful.
posted by Devonian at 5:11 AM on March 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think first we need to treat America's religious addiction to feelings of moral superiority.
posted by srboisvert at 5:39 AM on March 23, 2016 [20 favorites]


If you're going to be using heroin, don't mix it with another sedative — that's the thing that kills you, not the heroin

I've never been an opiate user, but, isn't that completely wrong and dangerous information?


Fatal Overdoses Rising From Sedatives Like Valium, Xanax: When combined with narcotics, these drugs can be lethal, researcher says
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:43 AM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


one big problem is what do you do with all the drug warriors?

Split them up into smaller, more easily disbanded groups, and have them wage wars on several unrelated fronts. I propose we declare war on poaching, driving slow in the fast lane, catcalls, and littering.
posted by sfenders at 5:56 AM on March 23, 2016 [14 favorites]


I note that what John Ehrlichman is saying about the Nixon drug war, would have been dismissed as a demented conspiracy theory if it was coming from anybody else. There were similar claims IIRC in the 1980s which were of course not taken seriously
posted by talos at 6:27 AM on March 23, 2016


Fatal Overdoses Rising From Sedatives Like Valium, Xanax: When combined with narcotics, these drugs can be lethal, researcher says

That is very different from the apparent claim in that interview that heroin alone cannot kill you.
posted by thelonius at 6:36 AM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, the "squarest man in the world" link posted by The Whelk does not refute John Ehrlichman's statement. It merely provides personal context arguing that Nixon himself has additional reasons, but John Ehrlichman's statement clearly describes what Nixon's advisers felt. And the collective reasoning of the president's advisers should usually be considered the more important question.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:37 AM on March 23, 2016


It never ceases to amaze and amuse me when people insist that The War On Drugs has been and is a dismal failure. It hasn't failed at all. It has done exactly what it was planned to do. And it has done so with a remarkable precision.

It was planned -- and implemented -- to get US citizens to gladly usurp their rights, to get US citizens to allow cops to do anything in the name of getting rid of Big Bad Drugs. It was planned -- and implemented -- to enlarge the police state, to move the US from Sheriff Andy Griffith to flippin' SWAT teams, even in small communities. SWAT teams, with armored vehicles, fully automatic combat weapons, hard-eyed scumbags wearing black uniforms, ready, willing, and able to kill you, your cousin, even your fkn dog if any of you move after your door is kicked in at 3 AM and these pieces of shit come screaming into your home, assault weapons pointed at anything that is alive, plus anything that isn't alive, also.

Legalize it all. Everything. Some certain percentage of human beings are going to get lost into addiction no matter what. It is a piece of human behavior. I read a book once that pretty much insisted that there has been alcoholism since man first crushed grapes, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. Some people are going to get lost to alcoholism. Some people are going to get lost to drug addiction. It's in the weave. It's human. Any and all high-minded thought that it "shouldn't be" that way is pretty much avoiding looking at the facts of the matter.

In fact, okay, I'll buy some -- it "shouldn't be" that way. There "shouldn't be" alcoholism. There "shouldn't be drug addiction. It oughtn't to be allowed. Plus, every human being "shouldn't have" to live without love. Plus, there "shouldn't be" phlegm. Or bad gas in a small car on a first date. There "should be" an easter bunny. Santa Claus, there "should be" a Santa Claus.

Oh man, am I ever happy, just thinking about these things! Let's write them into law! We'll make them happen!

Anyone who is awake even a little bit can easily see that human behavior cannot be legislated, and if a society does legislate it, all it does is create huge profits for people who are willing to take huge risks to provide what other people want. If the drugs that help them feel decent or free or whatever it is they need to feel are against the law, someone is going to be willing to gamble that they can fill those needs, if there's enough money in it.

But if those drugs were freely available at small cost in controlled dosages so people would know what they are getting, well then, we've just decriminalized human behavior. Many human beings will stop dying because they shot the wrong shit into their arm, and/or the wrong amount. We've just stopped putting junkies into jail. We've just stopped putting *a lot* of people in jail, and though the blue-noses in our lovely society almost certainly wouldn't go with it, all of that prison money could be spent helping that (admittedly small) percentage of addicts and alcoholics get past their addiction, or at least live a higher quality of life in spite of their addiction. And we've just cut the profit motive completely out of it, and the people who are into that will find another way to take huge risks for huge profits, maybe bake sales; I'm not of that mind, I don't know what they'd go for Next.

Don't ever for one second think that The War On Drugs has been a failure. Consider instead what it really has always been about. Know that it's been an unbelievable success.
posted by dancestoblue at 6:39 AM on March 23, 2016 [45 favorites]


First, on what basis should the tax apply? Federal taxes on alcohol are set according to potency, but keeping up with the THC content of every strain of marijuana would be impossible.

This seems like an odd objection; we have federal regulations forcing every food producer, down to the littlest packaged snacks, to list how many calories they have. I'd be surprised if a similar guideline couldn't be applied to reefer.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:02 AM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'd be surprised if a similar guideline couldn't be applied to reefer.

Agreed. This would be phenomenally easy (at least in Oregon...I'll admit I don't know the regulatory details of the other jurisdictions that have ended prohibition). In Oregon each batch sold for retail needs to be independently tested for THC and CBD content, posted and provided to the end user. This has been done mostly to ensure product safety and let individuals gauge their consumption. THC and CBD levels can apparently fluctuate pretty wildly based on how the plant is grown? But since a tax based on 'active ingredient' potency is already being done on alcohol, and the regulatory body that manages that tax is the Liquor Control Commission, with that testing information, I would assume it would be relatively easy.

The flipside of the argument I guess is that weed is phenomenally cheap (here) compared to booze. Even with the temporary 25% sales tax on it, so it might not be worth hammering out a tax structure that takes into account that resolution of detail?

I'm not necessarily in the 'legalize everything' camp. I'm probably more in the 'decriminalize everything' camp with heavy doses of 'make everything as safe as possible.' Injection sites, needle exchanges, etc. I think the experiment that Portugal has run shows a pretty reasonable middle of the road approach.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:54 AM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


That is very different from the apparent claim in that interview that heroin alone cannot kill you.

Agreed. I assume he was bullet-pointing in the interview, and that his proposed educational guidelines would be more detailed. What he's saying is that a dose of heroin that won't kill you by itself may become lethal when added to a dose of sedative that won't kill you by itself.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:23 AM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Am I correct in my understanding that Portugal's model decriminalizes drug possession (still susceptible to fines) but doesn't legalize it or create a model for safe, affordable distribution? The effort seems more designed to address public health and safety, which is awesome, but that wouldn't do much to address systemic issues such as drug violence or corruption in the Americas would it?

As a side note, I hope this leads to a comprehensive study of the psychological/sociological effects of legal prohibition in general.
posted by echocollate at 9:27 AM on March 23, 2016


I've seen this banging around the Internet for the past few days. And each time I get more annoyed. It's like no one ever heard of Lee Atwater's southern strategy:

 You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Yes, Ehrlichman's quote predates Atwater's by 13 years. All that means is that Atwater was the latest in a long, long line of Republicans who are consistently using race and class to divide, conquer, and destroy, consequences be damned.

Don't be shocked. Be awake.
posted by aureliobuendia at 9:58 AM on March 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


There is literally a show on TLC called "My Strange Addiction" where people are addicted to eating dryer lint or chalk or toilet paper. I don't see any laws trying to regulate anything like that because some people get addicted.

Everyone won't be addicted to something but everything has someone who is addicted to it.

Decriminalization is the answer. And legalization for some drugs would be even better.

One thing I do wonder about with legalization (actual legalization, not decriminalization) is what about prescription drugs? People abuse drugs like Xanax, Colonopin, Hydrocodone, etc. Hell, the main reason heroin is making a comeback is because its cheaper and easier to find than prescription opiates. Would those be available without a prescription?
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:00 AM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Still the best written explanation of drugs, why they are illegal, and why it's a bad idea: Peter McWilliams, from his Magnum Opus "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do"
posted by Quasimike at 11:10 AM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


(CH): ... "Be prepared to let evidence dictate what you think."
Not a lot of that going around.
posted by MtDewd at 11:16 AM on March 23, 2016


I've never been an opiate user, but, isn't that completely wrong and dangerous information?

Opiates alone certainly can kill you - the base therapeutic index is pretty low compared to other recreational drugs besides alcohol - but the absolute dose required to kill a heavy user can be very high. The popular notion that tolerance to euphoric effects outpaces tolerance to respiratory depression does not seem to be true - certainly at least analgesic doses in pain patients can escalate to many times what would be lethal to an opiate-naive person. So in practice drug interactions likely have a lot to do with opiate overdose deaths - especially people who manage to OD on pills of known dose and composition.
posted by atoxyl at 2:46 PM on March 23, 2016


The other part of the utilitarian calculus that rarely gets mentioned is all the people whose lives are improved by recreational drug use, and whose experiences of that would be significantly improved by legalisation. Taking unadulterated, accurately measured drugs is pretty good fun for most people, most of the time.
posted by howfar at 4:04 PM on March 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


FUN? FUN!?
Being a consumizen is serious business, goddammit! If you have time for fun, you're doing it wrong!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:51 PM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


This sounded odd to me:
Binge drinkers — 20 percent of the drinking population — consume more than half of the alcohol sold, which means that for all the industry’s pious admonitions to “drink responsibly,” it depends on people doing the opposite.
...
Already, legal marijuana in Colorado is following the grim economics of alcohol. Daily smokers make up only 23 percent of the state’s pot-smoking population, but they consume 67 percent of the reefer. That may have been true too when marijuana was illegal; maybe the number of daily stoners is neither rising nor falling. We’ll never know, because one problem with illegal markets is that you can’t track them. But we do know that the legal, for-profit marijuana business in Colorado is already mimicking the alcohol business in its dependence on heavy users. From a public-health standpoint, that’s troubling.


It seems weird to say the industry depends on heavy users. Is it meant to imply the industry will resist any public health efforts?
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 6:34 PM on March 23, 2016


And that they have an interest in recruiting more heavy users, yeah, since that's where the money is. I have a hard time seeing the words "grim" and "daily pot smoker" next to each other honestly. Though once you get to all day sort of smokers side effects are probably increasing and I'm sure those people account for a significant subset of the subset.
posted by atoxyl at 3:20 AM on March 24, 2016


You'll have to prove to me that being a "heavy user" of canabis is actually harmful before you start calling it "grim economics".

It can't be the only business where 20% of it's customer's account for 80% of it's sales. Off the top of my head, I think Ferrari sells most of it's new cars to existing owners (and certainly Super-cars like the Enzo are exclusively to existing owners and their various race team's current and former drivers IIRC).

Telling me that a 23% of a business's customers are responsible for 67% of it's sales is not, in itself, a cause for concern (unless I'm a small business lender maybe).
posted by VTX at 6:23 AM on March 24, 2016


It can't be the only business where 20% of it's customer's account for 80% of it's sales.

It's not. American casinos generate 90% of their profits from 10% of their customers.That fact was widely reported during the recent effort to allow casinos in MA, and it did not persuade the legislature, the Governor, or the electorate to reject casinos.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:29 AM on March 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure airlines have that pattern as well.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 12:27 PM on March 24, 2016


The pattern is true for tons of things. It's cited as a dirty secret of the alcohol and gambling industries because the top ten percent of drinkers and the top ten percent of gamblers seem fairly self-evidently to be problem drinkers and problem gamblers - especially when you look at how high the rates of consumption/spending actually are. Which is a a fair enough criticism I think, but I don't find it as convincing applied to cannabis - as I've seen done by a few people recently - because while the harms are non-zero they seem to be notably less, especially since you don't actually have to smoke it.
posted by atoxyl at 1:02 PM on March 24, 2016


Repurposing the drug warriors.

Fine. Let's do that, then. They can help remove the newly available beds from prisons and jails, and into shelters for the homeless, or safe houses for the abused. If they are dedicated to public service they can take a few relevant courses and gain entry-level jobs in counseling and rehab facilities.

Anyhow, I'm pretty sure nobody supports the theory that we need to keep on keeping on because jobs will be lost if we stop treating people as if they were either commodities to be warehoused, or garbage to be thrown away.

Now that we have that settled, let's talk about my submachine gun.
posted by mule98J at 5:44 PM on March 24, 2016 [2 favorites]




> I've seen this banging around the Internet for the past few days. And each time I get more annoyed. It's like no one ever heard of Lee Atwater's southern strategy

Related thread: The Southern Strategy and the devil down south.
posted by homunculus at 9:16 PM on March 24, 2016




I've always just assumed that the police will just go back to doing actual police work once they don't have the relentless pressure to produce drug arrests hanging over them.

There is a speech that one of the characters gives to one of his subordinates on The Wire where he tells him that the drug war is not police work and explains what the actual role of the police is. That cop takes the lesson to heart and is shown doing what police are actually supposed to do (be members of the community, know and understand the area that they police, etc.) and finds it much more fulfilling.

If we decriminalized all the drugs, we'd need someone to give that speech and have that same effect for police everywhere.
posted by VTX at 6:20 AM on March 25, 2016 [2 favorites]










« Older Another whirl on the Sovereign Citizen carousel?   |   No Batteries Included And No Strings Attached Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments