I can stop if I want to!
June 4, 2004 6:14 PM   Subscribe

National Review, Pro-Drug? I was searching for information of drug use in Vietnam and during wars in general, when I found this gem. Scroll halfway down to a very interesting pro-drug discussion between the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience and Mr. William Buckley. A little dated (1990), but I never thought I'd come out of an article thinking to myself, "Maybe all drugs should be legal."
posted by geoff. (18 comments total)
The only thing the article somewhat ignores, is that addiction is not totally random. From a purely anecdotal stance, I see less alcoholics in the middle and upper-classes and more standing on the street corners. Does that mean there are functioning alcoholics we as a society are shielded to and learn to deal with their addiction? Does being alcoholic make one poor or does being poor predispose one to alcoholism. And I use alcoholism because it's the easiest available drug, alcoholism can be substituted for any addictive drug.

As the article mentions, a lot more non-bias studies need to be done upon addiction, what addiction is, and what addiction does to a society and a person. If that can be nailed down, I say let them sell cocaine at Walgreens.
posted by geoff. at 6:22 PM on June 4, 2004

You're gonna fry for that comment about alcoholics, geoff.

Anyway, you gotta read Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country. That'll help solidify your conviction that drug laws are a bad idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:08 PM on June 4, 2004

great link!

more on heroin from the guardian <--good.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 7:37 PM on June 4, 2004

Sex is my favorite addiction - and now it's legal, thanks to the Supreme Court of the US!
posted by PigAlien at 7:42 PM on June 4, 2004

Does that mean there are functioning alcoholics we as a society are shielded to and learn to deal with their addiction?

Yes there are alcoholics, functioning or not, in the middle and upper classes that society rarely gets a glimpse at.

Does being alcoholic make one poor or does being poor predispose one to alcoholism.

Possibly, and possibly.

While deserving of a nail, I'm not feeling like a hammer tonight.
posted by futureproof at 7:51 PM on June 4, 2004

Sorry if I offended anyone with the alcoholics comment, but I think you guys got what I was going at.
posted by geoff. at 8:05 PM on June 4, 2004

NR did two issues many years back that advocated legalizing drugs. This is not a position most conservatives support, but nevertheless, this magazine took that stand. I applaud their openmindedness. However, most politicians are too afraid of the ignorant public and narrowminded DEA, FBI, etc, to ever propose this.
posted by 4midori at 9:13 PM on June 4, 2004

Actually, if you are truly a small-government conservative, then drug legalization is right up your alley. Why is the government telling consenting adults what they should and should not put in their bodies? Why not let the markets decide?
posted by botono9 at 9:54 PM on June 4, 2004

even rohipnol?

I'm for legalization of almost all drugs, but lets not get carried away. I think recreational drugs should still be regulated by the FDA.
posted by delmoi at 9:59 PM on June 4, 2004

Recreational drugs should be regulated just like over-the-counter painkillers. The manufacturers should have to meet certain quality standards and print the contents of their substances clearly on the box, along with the common side-effects. Beyond that: consumer's choice.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:11 PM on June 4, 2004

Is Rohipnol really a "recreational drug", delmoi? That seems to me like Rush Limbaugh's comparison of fraternity hazing to Iraqi torture: in one case, the person *chose* to be there; in the other, they did not.
posted by interrobang at 10:29 PM on June 4, 2004

Legalizing a drug is one thing, but by regulating it, you bring it within the law. If there is a situation where, say, Rohypnol or anabolic steroids are what's needed for some scenario (maybe not, say, in a bar, but -- I'm sure there's a plausible setup I'm too tired to come up with right now), if these drugs are regulated by law, then they can be used for that purpose.

But. If they're outside the scope of the law (like, say, ecstasy or peyote is), then they're classified in a completely different way. Ultimately, they get used just as much, but not necessarily by people who may need them. And of course, they cost everyone more money, from the end user up the chain through all the middlemen who take an unregulated cut of the action, right back to the extra cost of enforcement and punishment.

No one is saying to sell this stuff to kids. Cigarettes are closely regulated, as are alcohol, television, Twinkies and chewing gum. Why can't we do that with all drugs? Between the billions in extra tax revenue, the jobs created in the pharmaceutical industry for legal and safe research & development on these drugs, and the billions that'd be saved on enforcement, we could wipe the deficit back out and we can go invade some more countries.

See? Everybody wins.
posted by chicobangs at 10:49 PM on June 4, 2004

Interrobang, I know that ravers here in Melbourne, back in the day, used Rohypnol after ecstasy to extend the e or smooth the comedown, something like that.

There's actually a big police corruption scandal erupting right now in my home state of Victoria. It is almost certainly a result of the illicit drug trade with stories of various officers consorting with local drug kingpins, and numerous police up on drug trafficking charges. There was a nice concise letter to the editor in this morning's Age newspaper concerning the nexus between illegal drugs and police corruption:

Steve Bracks flails about like a fish out of water in his attempt to kill the corruption of our police. As long as my occasional habit of lighting a joint, the pill-popping of ravers and clubbers, or the sad junkie grovelling for the last hit from his dealer are considered criminal acts, there will be corruption. The money to be made from marijuana - it is nearly as expensive as gold per ounce - has sustained Australia's second-largest cash crop for more than 30 years.

The lure of immense wealth generates corruption among a police force that knows its drug-fighting activities are no more than a publicity stunt to appease silly politicians who make silly laws. People will always take drugs of one kind or another. Chop corruption off at the knees and establish sensible drug laws in Victoria, Mr Bracks.

posted by Onanist at 11:15 PM on June 4, 2004

Afghani opium production 2001 : about 700 tons.
2003 : 3,600 tons.

Sequitur or non-? You decide.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:28 PM on June 4, 2004

Much of the "War on Drugs" is based on the disease notion of addiction and alcoholism. The disease theory of addiction grew out of the temperance movement of the late 1800's, and has been further promulgated by Alcoholics Anonymous into being the dominant view in America (less so in Europe and other parts of the world).

Many modern researchers have recently put forth persuasive arguments and scientific evidence that addiction is not a disease at all, but rather a coping mechanism that people, more often than not, grow out of, without any form of treatment, support or medical attention at all.

Stanton Peele, one of the foremost of these anti-disease arguers, says:

"addiction...[is] a general pattern of behavior that nearly everyone experiences in varying degrees at one time or another...It is not essentially a medical problem, but a problem of life. It is frequently encountered and very often overcome in people's lives - the failure to overcome addictions is the exception. It occurs for people who learn drug use or other destructive patterns as a way of gaining satisfaction in the absence of more functional ways of dealing with the world. Therefore, maturity, improved coping skills, and better self-management and self-regard all contribute to overcoming and preventing addiction.

"Addiction is a way of coping with life, of artificially attaining feelings and rewards people feel they cannot achieve in any other way. As such, it is no more a treatable medical problem than is unemployment, lack of coping skills, or degraded communities and despairing lives. The only remedy for addiction is for more people to have the resources, values and environments necessary for living productive lives. More treatment will not win our badly misguided war on drugs. It will only distract our attention from the real issues in addiction."

From this standpoint, it's no wonder that people "in ghettos" may have higher rates of drug abuse -- they often don't have the options for obtaining satisfaction in their lives that middle and upper-class people may have.

For more information, check out:

1) Stanton Peele's Addiction website
2) SMART Recovery, an alternative to AA

3) "Addiction is A Choice," book by Jeffrey Schaler ,argues that addiction is a consensual act
4) "Heavy Drinking: the Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease" by Herbert Fingarette, the first book to argue cogently that alcoholism is not a disease

5) "The Diseasing of America: How We Allowed Recovery Zealots and the Treatment Industry to Convince Us We Are Out of Control" by Stanton Peele , Stanton shows how the disease-model of addiction has spiralled out of control in America. Also check out "The Truth about Addiction and Recovery."

(I realize that this is more of a background than directly related to the post, but if we can understand what addiction is, and what causes it, then we can understand why the war on drugs is futile).
posted by F4B2 at 11:38 PM on June 4, 2004

Because if all drugs were legal, how would the government prop up the pharmaceutical companies who make billions off of the suffering of people while gouging them at the pharmacy counter?

Drug laws are also a form of corporate welfare, benefiting drug manufacturers who wish people to take their 'legal' drugs, and not those other, 'illegal', natural drugs.

For example, let's say you have bad headache. You could take some polysolycolytetragodknowswhat, which was manufactured in a laboratory, and may or may not have side effects which include nausea, cramping, diarrhea, and spontaneous conception. Or you could smoke a joint, who's major side effect is a killer case of the munchies. Same goal accomplished, but because one grows, well, everywhere, it would be dirt cheap (if government regulations are removed, of course).

We could be reasonable about drug laws, but then were would people get their profit?
posted by benjh at 4:21 AM on June 5, 2004

Doesn't Buckley realize, Drugs will make you ill?
posted by drezdn at 10:08 AM on June 5, 2004

Just a thought: the largest union in California is now the Prison Guards.

Come to think of it, if the US legalized marijuana, then drafted the excess prison guards...
posted by kablam at 11:35 AM on June 5, 2004

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