We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Wars on drugs

I remember, about a quarter of a century ago, speculating that the way things were heading, in Britain, all “drugs” would eventually be legal, except tobacco. We seem

All smoking in cars should be banned across the UK to protect people from second-hand smoke, doctors say.

The British Medical Association called for the extension of the current ban on smoking in public places after reviewing evidence of the dangers.

… to be on course for exactly this arrangement:

Ex-MI5 chief Baroness Manningham-Buller is set to call for cannabis to be decriminalised in a speech.

The crossbench peer believes that only by regulating the sale of cannabis can its psychotic effects be controlled.

She is also expected to say the “war on drugs” has been “fruitless”.

I am reluctant to urge consistency in these matters. That might mean them banning the lot, which actually seems a rather more likely outcome. And note that the Baroness favours legalisation because illegal drugs are the sort over which They have less control. So both proclamations are consistent with one another, in wanting Them to have more control.

13 comments to Wars on drugs

  • anomdebus

    One way of making the positions more consistent would be to allow both substances to be legal, but prohibit their combustion (at least anywhere anyone else would be).

  • Hmm

    The main problem with narcotics (and many other areas of modern life) is sheer overindulgence.

    The, simple, and only real, solution lies in dealing with the individuals on a basis where the ADULT individual is held as being ENTIRELY responsible for their own actions, and also for the instruction of all dependents as to responsible behaviour.

    If you overindulge in drugs etc and then cause harm or damage to person or property – then the individual responsible needs to be held fully liable.

    Consistent failure to behave responsibly, should mean that the rights of adulthood should be withdrawn and the individual remanded to relearn the self disciplines of being an adult.

    Any other laws regarding narcotics (not based on this) are complete bull because they are based on the twisted logic that the adult individual who is deemed adult to vote is deemed from there on – not adult enough to do anything else… except vote and pay taxes.

    This excludes party members and journalists … who are of course already fully adulterated :p

  • Samsung

    Apparently, if these pain-in-the-arse do-gooders have their way, it would still be illegal to smoke even if your car is open-topped and you are driving along with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Fucking Insane!

    Our useless police should concentrate on catching REAL criminals who are a genuine threat society, and not pulling people up for smoking a fag at the wheel because of some new fangled bullshit law.

    And you know what is next don’t you. If they successfully ban smoking in your private car, they will try to ban smoking in private your homes.

    I don’t smoke, and I don’t care much for the habit, but the thing I REALLY don’t like is these fucking nanny-statist zealots. They are a bigger threat to the “health and wellbeing” of society than any second hand smoke.

  • RRS

    There are two issues conflated here, but by far the most serious, at least in the U S, and growing so in Europe and the U K, is “abuse” of drugs.

    Thus “illegal” drugs (prohibited substances) are subject to the questions of “Why are they illegal and what makes them illegal?” If they can be made “legal,” or have their illegality removed, then the second question is answered, but not the first.

    IF they are illegal (as I suspect) because their use creates dangers beyond those of the users,The limitation, effective limitation, of those dangers is a proper function of a society to exercise through governments. [Any one to take that on?]

    The question becomes how to exercise that limiting function with the least restriction on personal liberty but effectively, which so far does not happen.

    We license drivers of motor vehicles, aircraft, and other activities at various levels of needed control – to limit dangers. Governments could begin to “take the money out of the trade” by establishing government monopoly over dispensaries, as some American States did with State liquor stores upon repeal. For some drugs (initially, at least) users would simply have to register, for others they would register as a user in order to buy at a government dispensary, but have to be licensed according to the type of drug to be possessed or used.

    Addicts would register and be licensed as such.

    Any one found in possession of any monopoly drug, without a receipt showing it was obtained by them (use card-type bar codes, etc.) from the government source,
    goes immediately into “custody.”

    Details will contain the devils of involvements of minors, but the government prices should be set to begin to drive the criminal elements out.

    This would require changes in controls of prescription drugs, but the present controls are simply “cost factors.”

    Your government can become your supplier, at a lower cost – to everyone – in many ways.

  • Laird

    I generally find my self more or less in agreement with RRS, but not here. Sorry, sir, but you are 180 degrees off course there. It is not the function of the state to “license” adult behaviors, or to control people’s actions merely because they might “create dangers beyond those of the users”, or to operate state-monopoly “dispensaries” of anything. (If you had ever lived in a state with state-owned liquor stores you would know just how truly bad that idea is.) Simple repeal of the anti-drug laws will drive out the criminal element, as market forces drive retail prices to a level which eliminates the “crime” profit component.

    If people cause harm to others while under the influence of drugs they should be held fully responsible for their actions, just as they would be if they caused such harm when not under the influence. Impairment is no defense. But that’s as far as I go.

  • thefrollickingmole

    In my previous job as a paramedic I had to order in stock, including morphine.
    Incredibly cheap, about $2.50 a vial.

    I also know of a medical centre in my town run by a bikies moll (with an ex?junkie chemist). While controlls are in place for the distribution of morphine and other drugs, the disposal of out of date stock is a hell of a lot looser.

    I think we should just repeal prohbition on opiates and dope, the raw product is too cheap and the profits too high to control.
    Police the users for the same problems as drink drivers etc cause and expect to have 5% of the population unemployable. No more than there is now.

    By legalising those “big 2″ I think most other chem use would decline massively.

  • Rob H

    Two points here (if I am not smited as seems my eternal fate).

    1. There has been no war on drugs. Only an almost total acceptance of their use. When a politician denounces the illegal drug trade it is a bit like when they issue cast iron promises about the EU.

    2. Ironically keeping the drug trade illegal has given the state more power/control. Not over the contents of drugs but over the general population. If drug laws were properly enforced or if they were made legal and reputable companies cast out the gangsters we would have far safer streets and no need for the PACE Act or SOCA. We would also have many unemployables out of an income generating role.

  • RRS

    Laird,

    With all due respect, I spent all of my minority (except almost 4 years of WWII) and most of my professional life in the Commonwealth of Virginia, plus about 20 years residence in Alabama. Both had “ABC Stores.”

    I quite agree on their deficiencies, but they did serve a transitional function (limitation on “bootlegging”) that was a social cost elsewhere. And, I agree with their phase out. But, someone must say start here, and in doing so, identify a here.

    Perhaps my perception of the dangers (and damages) is more like that of Mancur Olson, perhaps overbroad, but it is not limited the something comparable to drunk driving. We have the empirical evidence of corruption in our police forces, corrections systems, and elsewhere; the existence of continuing uncontroled violence and savagery that even becomes a staple of our “entertainment” venues. Perhaps it is the failure to see the social toxicity of the dangers that holds us back?

    If we do not control this violence, this set of dangers, it will control us, as it does today in parts of Mexico, and has elsewhere.

    The U S “demand” for drugs lies at the base of the issue. We can not control the demand, but we can channel and then control the supply to eliminate much of the sources of the dangers.

  • Laird

    Still wrong, RRS. Attempting (futilely, obviously) to “control the supply”, which is current policy (via prohibition) has not only created much of the demand (the “forbidden fruit syndrome”) but also created an entire criminal class and is directly responsible for nearly all of the social problems you cite in Mexico. And it is also the proximate cause of all the police corruption, etc., you cite. Changing the form of government control will not remedy any of that, but will merely alter the specific nature of the ensuing corruption. Only outright legalization will remove the root cause.

    And as to using state stores as a transitional mechanism, it’s an interesting theory which has already been tried (coming out of Prohibition) and is a demonstrable failure. There’s nothing “transitional” about them: once established they become entrenched and impossible to eliminate. We have no shortage of well-managed drug stores in the US. They would be perfectly suitable dispensaries. No government involvement is necessary or even desirable; quite the contrary, in fact.

  • RRS

    Laird,

    I realize base descriptions of objectives and possible means of seeking them are hard to simplify.

    You are quite correct that prohibition does not decrease or control demand; and in fact can adversly affect it.

    The point of the proffer is to meet the demand in a way that takes the criminal profits and incentives and social impacts out of the equation (or at least minimizes them significantly).

    There is no reason that “well-managed private pharmacies” could not be a (if not the) vehicle for channeling all controlled substances, as they are now for prescriptions (which are under government controls); pharmacies do not have dispensing discretion. States require license proof for purchase of alcohol and tobacco, as it is.

    If the dangers from driving and flying are mitigated by licensing requirements (as are other activities) why should we not consider this means of mitigation for these dangers?

    Seeking channeling and ultimate quasi-monopoly control of the supply is not the same as attempting to control the demand – though we can foresee that success might lead to such attempts.

    BTW I think some states have privatized their former state ABC stores. I am pretty sure Virginia did recently, or is process. Transitions of such social impact move slowly.

  • Thoughts on the state having monopoly control on the sale of narcotics, so long as it foregoes all forms of taxation? I.e. it funds itself entirely from the profit?

  • Laird

    RRS, your stated aim is “to meet the demand in a way that takes the criminal profits and incentives and social impacts out of the equation (or at least minimizes them significantly).” I submit that the only way to do that is through outright legalization. Keeping the government’s hand in the till doesn’t satisfy either objective. Criminal profits and incentives would still exist (there’s a thriving black market in booze and cigarettes, for example, even though both are legal, precisely because of the heavy hand of government), as would the continued corruption of police and other government agencies. And where I live, pharmacies don’t merely sell prescription drugs: they sell everything from over-the-counter medications to snack foods. Legalized recreational drugs would fall quite nicely into the former category. (And, for that matter, the need for prescriptions would disappear, too.)

    As to your licensing point, to the extent that public risk is any justification for governmental licensing of the operation of machinery such as automobiles and aircraft (I’m not aware that any such justification was ever offered when those licensing schemes were implemented, but I’ll let that pass), those activities actually do pose significant risk of harm to innocent bystanders. The same cannot be said about drug use, however, which only risks harm to the user himself. Operating machinery under the influence of drugs is no different than driving drunk, and should be dealt with in precisely the same manner. I don’t consider the possibility of incidental “harm” to the user’s family to be a valid justification for prohibition or governmental controls, however. They’re nowhere close to the same thing.

  • DMDavies

    Now, you can be prosecution for selling someone and eighth of an ounce of cannabis because the supply class B drugs is illegal.

    Soon, you will be prosected for the same transactions, not because it is an illegal drug, but because you have sold in in an imperial unit.