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It is good not to be surprised to see articles like this in the Times

But it would be even better not to have to still see articles like this in the Times:

Cannabis failures show why we need to legalise all drugs

Ian Birrell writes,

Carly Barton is a former university lecturer who suffered a stroke at the age of 24. It left her feeling as if her bones had been “replaced by red-hot pokers”. Doctors prescribed opiates of increasing strength but they left her feeling “zombied” and still in severe pain.

In desperation she smoked a joint and discovered that cannabis dulled the pain, enabling her to live a productive life. But she did not want to be a criminal and could not afford to spend thousands of pounds on private prescriptions. So she came up with a simple idea: a “cannabis card” to show police officers that she used the drug for health rather than recreational purposes.

It is thought that another million Britons who endure conditions such as arthritis, cancer and multiple sclerosis self-medicate with this drug. This is why Barton’s concept has been backed by police officers fed up with wasting their time. “I did not join the police to arrest people who are unwell and trying to manage their symptoms,” Simon Kempton, a Police Federation board member, has said.

This is a significant step forward. But why does progress on drug reform depend on ordinary citizens pushed to the limit and police officers infuriated about squandering time and resources? The reason, sadly, is that politicians privately accept their war on drugs has failed yet lack the nerve to sort out the mess they created even as it fuels gang violence and inflames racial tensions.

He goes on to describe how the police in some areas are effectively giving up on enforcing the prohibition of other drugs as well. It will not be a surprise to you that I think the outcome is good, but I feel more than a twinge of disquiet about the law effectively being changed by the will of the police. Selective enforcement can as easily be a tool of the oppressor as of the liberator. To see what I mean, amuse yourselves by making a quick list of those who are and are not subject to the Covid-19 restrictions in your area.

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  • 29 comments to It is good not to be surprised to see articles like this in the Times

    • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

      We had a case in Victoria years ago, where a man dying from some disease found that marijuana helped him to feel better. The Victorian government preferred that he die quietly in agony. I wish that we had possessed the brains to set up something like the club I saw in a movie. Was it ‘The Dallas Buyers Club’? It was based on a true story, where members could get all the drugs they wanted, for free! Membership costs were high, and that was the catch, but it circumvented the law about selling drugs! Any chance of such a system working in ‘Great’ Britain?

    • ragingnick

      All the talk of ‘medical cannabis’ and the like is a cover for the true aim of the cultural elites: the legalization of all drugs.

      legalization is a vector for Cultural Marxism.
      Marijuana use impairs and degrades the organ that enables you to act freely and rationally, so it is nonsensical to invoke liberty to justify drug legalization.

      the left agitates for the normalization of drug use for a very simple reason: a drugged populace, deprived of its rational faculties and capacity for self determination, is a populace that is ripe for coercion and control.

    • Natalie Solent (Essex)

      ragingnick writes, “Marijuana use impairs and degrades the organ that enables you to act freely and rationally, so it is nonsensical to invoke liberty to justify drug legalization.”

      Your first and second clauses have no logical connection with each other. I am perfectly well aware that taking drugs involves risks. I have seen people I know seriously harmed by so-called soft drugs. (For one guy it was like watching someone in his mid-thirties get senile dementia.) I invoke liberty to justify drug legalisation because, to quote Brian Micklethwait,

      For me, the case for legalisation does not depend on any claim about riskiness or lack of it, but rather on the idea that individuals should be allowed to decide for themselves about the risks they take

    • legalization is a vector for Cultural Marxism

      Ok, I have seen the daftest notion I am going to see to day, the rest of this Thursday can only get better 😆

    • Ferox

      Marijuana use impairs and degrades the organ that enables you to act freely and rationally, so it is nonsensical to invoke liberty to justify drug legalization.

      Now do refined sugar, tobacco, alcohol, chocolate, essential oils, sex, video games, and religion.

      Or better yet, how about you worry about your own noggin and I will worry about mine, k?

    • Schrodinger's Dog

      I find it curious that, while the authorities in an increasing number of countries are tacitly giving up on the war on drugs, the war on tobacco is becoming increasingly hysterical. After years of progressively tougher restrictions on its advertising and use, the Scottish government has talked of Scotland being tobacco-free by 2034. In New Zealand, the government has set a target date of 2040 for that country and no doubt governments elsewhere are thinking along similar lines.

      Perhaps it’s because drug taking is generally associated with the left, who do seem to get what they want. Were it perceived as a right-wing thing, I can’t help feeling governments everywhere would be imposing draconian penalties instead, in an effort to stamp it out once and for all.

    • Stonyground

      Would legalising recreational drugs lead to an increase in people using them? Those who are advocating against legalisation by citing the harm that recreational drugs cause need first to make the case that legalisation would lead to more drug use. Only then can they claim to have a case. Speaking only for myself, I would have no more interest in taking drugs if they were legal than I do now. I’m happy with a few beers.

    • Fraser Orr

      So she came up with a simple idea: a “cannabis card” to show police officers that she used the drug for health rather than recreational purposes.

      I came up with a different idea: how about the idea of a “cannabis card” to show to police officers that she used the drug for health OR recreational purposes and it is none of the police’s bloody business which?

      (Until she gets behind the wheel of an automobile, or course.)

      I have a great slogan for it: pro-choice. Or “my body my choice”. Oh, wait, that domain name is already taken for some reason…..

    • Fraser Orr

      @Schrodinger’s Dog
      Perhaps it’s because drug taking is generally associated with the left, who do seem to get what they want. Were it perceived as a right-wing thing, I can’t help feeling governments everywhere would be imposing draconian penalties instead, in an effort to stamp it out once and for all.

      Exactly how much more draconian do you think they could be?

    • Agammamon

      ragingnick
      September 10, 2020 at 9:25 am

      Marijuana use impairs and degrades the organ that enables you to act freely and rationally, so it is nonsensical to invoke liberty to justify drug legalization.

      You are saying, literally, that liberty is impossible because we need to be oppressed for our own good lest we make bad decisions – or at least decisions you do not approve of.

    • bobby b

      Is it acceptable to be completely in favor of legalization of drug use, but to fervently wish that libertarians would find other issues to discuss?

      At least in the US, the liber . . . sorry, the Libertarians always fasten on this one issue as the way to explain libertarianism, to the point where they’ve killed the brand with the majority of folks.

      “Oh, yeah, them, the druggie party!”

      Once you’ve won the meth-head vote, it’s time to move on and discuss other reasons why liberty is nice.

    • Elon Musk smokes marijuana. Just saying.

    • Ferox

      Is it acceptable to be completely in favor of legalization of drug use, but to fervently wish that libertarians would find other issues to discuss?

      In the part of the US I am in, it’s the one issue libertarians score on with ordinary folks.

      Free trade – baffles people, whose commonsense notions on trade amount to a sort of dollar mercantilism. Freedom of association – means you support the Klan, doesn’t it? Smaller government – sure, as long as my monthly check doesn’t get reduced. Free speech – sure, ok, but not hate speech. Etc etc.

      But legalization of drugs? Pretty much everyone in this part of the world can get on board with that one.

      Which makes it a great issue to get a foot in the door.

    • Agammamon

      bobby b
      September 10, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      Is it acceptable to be completely in favor of legalization of drug use, but to fervently wish that libertarians would find other issues to discuss?

      At least in the US, the liber . . . sorry, the Libertarians always fasten on this one issue as the way to explain libertarianism, to the point where they’ve killed the brand with the majority of folks.

      “Oh, yeah, them, the druggie party!”

      Once you’ve won the meth-head vote, it’s time to move on and discuss other reasons why liberty is nice.

      No we don’t. But this is the one issue Republicans, Democrats, people in favor of state control in general, like to bring up to dismiss us.

      Our stances on occupational regulation, ‘food law’, freedom of association, costs of discrimination, human rights, tariffs, military adventurism, etc – that all gets pushed aside for a smirking ‘you know libertarians are just Republicans that want to smoke pot’.

    • Nullius in Verba

      “Is it acceptable to be completely in favor of legalization of drug use, but to fervently wish that libertarians would find other issues to discuss?”

      Sure. There are plenty of topics that, while I support people’s right to believe in and talk about, I fervently wish they wouldn’t.

      But this is the core difficulty with being a libertarian – it is of no value to defend only the right to do things the majority of society supports. Those are allowed anyway. The freedoms that are threatened first are the unpopular ones, the ones society disapproves of.

      Most people are mild authoritarians. They want the freedom to do their own thing, but they also want to stamp down on other people doing things they disapprove of. They each have their own set of norms they want to impose on society, and they fight for the power to enforce them. Inevitably, this means that lots of people have some issue on which they’re in the minority and getting stamped on. So you can sell ‘libertarianism’ to them by offering the freedom to do their particular thing. ‘Foot in the door’, sure. But that’s only half the journey. Then you have to somehow sell them the other half – that this means they have to give up on enforcing their own norms, and allow other people to do things they think are dangerous, immoral, disgusting, sinful, etc.

      That’s a much harder sell. But it’s not real libertarianism if you don’t try.

    • Fraser Orr

      @bobby b
      Is it acceptable to be completely in favor of legalization of drug use, but to fervently wish that libertarians would find other issues to discuss?

      I agree to some extent. The problem is that the war on drugs is about a lot more than drugs. I don’t do drugs with the exception of my morning coffee and an occasional wee dram o’ whisky. However, the war on drugs does impact me in terms of the mass of enforcement that takes place. Stupid things like I can’t withdraw a bunch of cash without having my bank call the cops (it used to be $10k, but now SARs are sent for a few thousand dollars too.) And with all that is going on with regards to the police it is an opportunity to talk about these things. After all, we libertarians have objected to police tactics, the militarization of the police and so forth for thirty years.

      To put it another way, Breonna Taylor was killed by the war on drugs. That is surely an opportunity to talk about the relationship of government with people, and their massive over-reach. One of the few positives to come out of the recent events is that it gives us an opportunity to talk about government over-reach, to paint the government as the aggressors, as the enemies of the people, as the oppressors. And to be able to talk to people on the left, to ask them why, with all this danger from the government, they advocate more government, is a rare opportunity for libertarians to talk about liberty to those on the left.

      However, I do understand your lament.

    • bobby b

      1. Elon M is in good company. But remember, last time he got really wasted on TV, he decided to dig huge tunnels under Los Vegas. (Just sayin . . . 😛 )

      2. “No we don’t.” Go to LP.org , the Libertarian Party’s main page. There are four link boxes – two dealing with party scheduling issues, one leading to a roundup of USSC cases, and one and only one issue-oriented box – legalizing pot.

      3. “In the part of the US I am in, it’s the one issue libertarians score on with ordinary folks.” But we’ve already got the people for whom that’s a big issue – and the Libertarian vote isn’t impressive. What was it in 2016 – 3%? I’d submit that it isn’t the winner that you think it is.

      4. “So you can sell ‘libertarianism’ to them by offering the freedom to do their particular thing. ‘Foot in the door’, sure.” Realize that I’m not opposing drug legalization. I’m making a marketing point. Libertarianism has already attracted that small subset for whom this is a driving issue. But the concentration on it has made the L Party into somewhat of a one-issue joke. Those other issues – yes, they’re harder sells – but it’s time to start selling them. We do no favors to anyone when we emulate the two major parties, who hold most of the citizenry in the mild contempt of “they’d never really understand that, so let’s go with “simple” issues.”

    • bobby b

      “To put it another way, Breonna Taylor was killed by the war on drugs. That is surely an opportunity to talk about the relationship of government with people, and their massive over-reach.”

      Then let’s use the opportunity! But we don’t – the argument isn’t presented as “this is a huge stick government holds over us and beats us with daily!” – the argument is presented by the L Party as “Wheee! Toke up!” It presents itself as the Libertine Party – there’s no underlying liberty-centric message.

    • Fraser Orr

      @bobby b
      the argument is presented by the L Party as “Wheee! Toke up!” It presents itself as the Libertine Party – there’s no underlying liberty-centric message.

      You might be right. I haven’t had much to do with the actual LP since Jacob Hornberger turned in Harry Browne their Presidential candidate to the FEC because he (Browne) was trying to take a principled stand against federal election laws by deliberately violating them so transforming a principled stand into a seemingly grubby dishonesty. However, Harry Browne is one of my heroes. I learned more about politics from reading his “retail politics” books than any other author I know. And, to your point, he talked about a huge swath of libertarian issues, definitely including the war on drugs, but was never about what you describe. His slogan for his presidential campaign was “Would you give up your favorite government program if you never had to pay taxes again?” Which was a great slogan, back in 2000 anyway. Of course now that half the population doesn’t pay taxes it probably isn’t all that great a slogan. He was a man who worked extremely hard to market libertarianism and all he got from his party was sniping for his lack of purity.

      I reread his book “Why Government Doesn’t Work” from 1995 recently, and I made all my kids read it. And although understandably a bit outdated on the issues of today, it is still, IMHO, the best primer on libertarianism I have ever read. And his book “How I found freedom in an unfree world” completely changed my personal life.

      I suspect he would be more to your liking Bobby.

    • Snorri Godhi

      Perry:

      Ok, I have seen the daftest notion I am going to see to day,

      At 10:29 am? You are wildly optimistic, Perry.

      (But it’s good to hear again from General Jack D. Ripper.)

    • Snorri Godhi

      Ferox:

      Now do refined sugar, tobacco, alcohol, chocolate, essential oils, sex, video games, and religion.

      That’s quite a mixed bag.

      No doubt, life is better without refined sugar and tobacco.

      However, human life would not continue for long without sex.

      The other items require a more nuanced analysis than i am prepared to give.

      I want to note, though, that there are 2 toxic items missing in your list:
      seed oils and cereal grains.

    • Paul Marks

      Of one thing I am certain, it is NOT by the action of the state that the moral condition of the people will be improved.

      This observation by the great Liberal (and great Conservative – for truly he was both) Prime Minister Gladstone may seem self evident to people around here, but it is very contested within the Western tradition.

      Aristotle rejected a lot of the false political doctrines of his teacher Plato, but TRAGICALLY, Aristotle kept the idea that the purpose of law is just punish attacks on the body or goods of others, but is also to make people “just and GOOD” (my emphasis)

      “Moral Legislation” state regulations with the intent of making people more moral (not commit adultery, not use drugs, and so on) are an ancient ideas – for example in some of the Ten Commandments

      There was a serious effort by some legal thinkers n Ancient Greece to make a distinction between sins and crimes – between not being a wonderful person and committing an aggression against others, an injustice against others by violating their body or goods.

      However the most famous philosophers that we now remember (“Socrates” as far a we know never have written anything – and different writers giving us contradictory views of his opinions), Plato and Aristotle, UNDERMINING the effort to define what “law” is.

      Aristotle was careful to distinguish between the virtue of JUSTICE (respecting to each-their-own – not the totalitarian alternative to each their own, that Plato presents in “Te Republic” and “The Laws”) as one virtue – NOT all virtues. Other virtues such as compassion, exist.

      It would seem obvious to define law as the enforcement of justice, the enforcement of non violation of the bodies and goods of others, but that is a step that Aristotle does not take (although many of the Stoic and Epicurean thinkers did – or came closer to it), as to do so Aristotle would have to have rejected the idea that the law is there to make people better people, to form the human personality and general moral education and conduct.

      Roman Law came closer to this – but “moral legislation” kept cropping up (as it had in Greek City States).

      Common Law emerges from disputes “he attacked me” or “he stole my stuff” – it was historically less vulnerable to the false idea that law is about the moral improvement of the population.

      However, the brutal truth is that the Common Law tradition in this land is essentially dead – the dominant view of law is NOT what Thomas Hobbes called (with polite HATRED) the view of a “student of the common law of England” but rather the view of “the philosopher”, Thomas Hobbes himself – that “law” is a COMMAND of a ruler or rulers for any purpose that ruler or rulers think good

      Ironically Thomas Hobbes argues that such a view of law (as the commands of an unlimited ruler or rulers) is the best way of preserving the lives and goods of the public – such a view is so utterly absurd it is hard to see how anyone (including Mr Hobbes) could have taken it seriously – but it is the dominant view now. Unlimited and arbitrary power, tyranny, presented as good government. The Hobbesian view of “law” would have no problem with “lockdowns” or any other whim of the ruler or rulers.

      Even in the 19th century, when Gladstone was alive, the radical wing of the Liberals admired Thomas Hobbes – the very thinker the “Old Whigs” (Chief Justice Sir John Holt and so on) regarded as the enemy of everything they believed in. I suspect they admired Mr Hobbes for the very reason that both Whigs and decent Tories had despised him – his Determinism, his denial that humans were persons – his definition of liberty as just lack of restraint (like water after a dam has been blown up) NOT moral choice. Such a definition of freedom robs it of all moral importance – who cares about the “freedom” of soulless flesh robots, tyranny is nothing to be opposed if humans are not beings, are not persons.

      “Ah but booze and drugs rob humans of their humanity – reduce them to mindless beasts”.

      That is a counter argument – but ignores that forcing people to get drunk or used drugs is against the law-as-justice non aggression principle of law.

      Let us say, for the sake of argument, that drink and drugs DO destroy moral personhood, so does SUICIDE.

      Suicide was once a “crime” (by an intrusion of Church Law into Common Law) should it be a crime?

      Gladstone’s position, which was also the view of Edmund Burke and other Old Whigs, that it is not the business of the state to seek to morally improve the people, that the use of force and fear (state power) actually CORRUPTS the people (PREVENTS their moral improvement, which can only come from their own voluntary efforts), I believe to be the correct position.

    • Paul Marks

      By “decent Tories” I mean someone like Dr Johnson – whose politics was different from that of his friend Edmund Burke, but whose moral starting point (the human person) was the same.

      The foundational principles of what humans are (beings – persons) are, and what law is (the virtue of justice – NOT all virtues) were common to Whigs and Tories – and they understood that people such as Mr Hobbes and (under his disguise) Mr Hume, rejected these basic, foundational, principles.

    • Teresa

      I believe Ragingnik has a point. While I’m sure many people can smoke regularly with no INITIAL damage to themselves (notice the hypocrisy of marijuana vs. tobacco smoke), for some, it leads to full blown psychosis, and this does affect other people, whether we like it or not. Now if we can only change the laws to prevent involuntary tax confiscation in treatment help for drug users, we will have achieved something.

    • Ferox

      No doubt, life is better without refined sugar and tobacco.

      Subjective. Life might be longer without those. There are many things whose absence might make life longer (or seem longer), but most people do not wish to be kept like hothouse tomatoes, out of the wind and rain.

    • Flubber

      “I believe Ragingnik has a point. While I’m sure many people can smoke regularly with no INITIAL damage to themselves (notice the hypocrisy of marijuana vs. tobacco smoke), for some, it leads to full blown psychosis, and this does affect other people, whether we like it or not.”

      I’ve always believed that there are some people with “cracks” in their psyche, and that Marijuana can stick a crowbar into this to seriously negative effects. Thing is so can alcohol and other drugs.

      Also, I’m surprised we’ve got his far into this debate of the vices without mentioning porn. Now there’s something that is doing gargantuan harm, that we are almost oblivious to at this point.

      On a personal note, I’ve enjoyed the odd smoke for 35 years. No ill effects. All things in moderation and all that.

      Given a choice, I would go with the freedom option and legalise.

    • Agammamon

      So she came up with a simple idea: a “cannabis card” to show police officers that she used the drug for health rather than recreational purposes.

      So, I’m sure the officers arresting her and the prosecutors that will prosecute her for her offense will appreciate the key bit of evidence she so considerately gathered up and handed to them to make it easy for them to get away with locking her in a cage for a few years.

    • bob sykes

      Ironically, in the US public health agencies are conducting campaigns to make illegal tobacco products and alcohol. Some months ago they successfully conducted a scare campaign to restrict vaping.

      This is not to deny that alcohol and tobacco have serious deleterious health effects, so so does marijuana. It just happens to be the drug of choice for the Ruling Class.

    • Paul Marks

      bob sykes – I am sure that Mr Michael Bloomberg and other totalitarians have a long list of things they want to ban, and a long list of things and activities they want to make compulsory.

      As for conservatives, real ones such as PETER HITCHENS, I have something to present.

      You rightly admire the Victorian Age and the early decades of 20th century Britain. And I agree with you – for I am conservative as well (unlike those despicable creatures in “Central Office” whom we all despise). But there is a problem….

      In the period of British history which we both admire drugs were legal – and in the period of British history we despise (the modern period) drugs are illegal, they were made illegal copying the American PROGRESSIVE movement.

      So when Britain was a conservative country (society) drugs were legal, and now that Britain is a very ANTI conservative country (society) drugs are illegal.

      This should, I would argue, make someone pause and think.

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