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In which I praise an article by Simon Jenkins praising the SNP

“Scottish politicians have the courage to decriminalise drugs, but Westminster is too timid to let them” – Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian.

Returning from Htrae, I have to say that the SNP’s courage was the courage of desperation. Scotland has had the highest rate of drugs death in Europe for years.

While it seems likely that the problem in many countries is worse than official figures suggest, Scotland’s drug-related death rate is by far the highest.

It is more than three and a half times that of England and Wales.

It is said that when it comes to addiction to alcohol or drugs, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can recover. I think this can be true of legislators’ attempts to find a solution for drug addition as much as for drug addiction itself. The Scottish National Party has not seen the light, it has merely run out of other options. And given that the SNP’s longstanding stance on alcohol contradicts its new position on drugs, they’ll probably make etizolam compulsory the day they raise the minimum price of alcohol to infinity.

Nonetheless, I think this is a good move on the part of the Scottish Government. I do not think it will solve Scotland’s drug problem. I do not think anything will solve Scotland’s drug problem, or humanity’s drug problem. I merely think it will work less badly than the strategy of prohibition, which Scotland and the UK as a whole has been trying for my entire lifetime without success.

32 comments to In which I praise an article by Simon Jenkins praising the SNP

  • the day they raise the minimum price of alcohol to infinity.

    Then express surprise when every offie and mini-market in Scotland shuts up shop with the only beneficiaries the newly opened Alcohol supermarkets just over the English border.

    No doubt this would lead to another chorus of “Perfidious Albion” whose ills can only be resolved by the magical realism of sudden and seamless integration as an Independent nation under the EU, which would be about as Independent as an ancient Roman province or Indian satrapy.

    Will no-one rid us of this useless Humza?

    The Scottish drug problem, like the alcohol problem and the mental health problem is not one to be honestly dealt with but a shameful secret to be subject to eternal change and lying bureaucratic statistics to attempt to hide the awfulness of it’s continuance.

    The demented porridge wogs of the SNP (including my own MP in Perth) have proven themselves both corrupt and incompetent, but while they sing the siren song of “Independence has never been closer” (despite it being neither genuine Independence nor near at hand, will keep getting elected by the denizens of the central belt + Dundee.

  • DiscoveredJoys

    I am generally in favour of decriminalising drugs but I accept that perhaps more people will die because they can get all they want, or those that still die will die because their health will continue to suffer. Perhaps some won’t die because they could have access to safer drugs.

    But whatever the numbers do (up or down) those people against decriminalisation will blame every single death on decriminalisation. Just like Remainers and Brexit.

  • Mr Ed

    One small problem is the Scotland Act 1998 which established the Scottish Parliament and reserved to the UK Parliament in Westminster under Schedule 5 the subject matter of the Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971 and other matters, so whilst this is alluded to in the article, any laws passed by the Scottish Parliament would be void and of no effect. It’s not even a State v Federal matter as we find on drugs in the US, where a State decriminalises drugs but Federal law remains in force. The UK is not a federation, there is only the one sovereignty in it, the Crown.

    Is this a ploy to stir up a ‘Constitutional crisis’ (code for ‘politicians bickering and getting excited at their own importance’)

  • Kirk

    I think a huge component of the drug “problem” is that the current system does nothing to address the essential feelings of helplessness and uselessness among the drug-prone population. The issue begins with ineffective parenting, encouraged by the state, continues on with ineffective schooling, and then the essential warehousing of many of these people in housing estates where there’s nothing productive or fulfilling for them to do.

    It’s the socialism, in other words. You’re purposeless and “kept” as a ward of the state? Why not dope yourself to the gills in order to mask the pain of a pointless existence with no challenge, no fulfillment?

    Give these people a purpose, a meaning for their lives? Watch the drug use drop like a stone. The drugs are a symptom, not a causative factor. It’s the same here in the US; the root problem is not the availability of drugs, but the fact that people taking them haven’t got anything better to do with their lives, and that the state is enabling them to use them without repercussion.

    I’d be all for a system where we provided free drugs, for the addicted. But, to get them? You sign here, saying you’re a ward of the state, submit to sterilization and give up your kids, then agree to live in an under care-and-supervision situation where you’re separated from society and kept from harming others. Being a habitual drug-user outside of those restrictions? Illegal.

    I don’t think that the half-measures we’re using today are gonna work out, over the long haul. These ass-clowns we have running things don’t seem to get that you can’t have open-air drug use cohabitating with the general public, not if you want to maintain a functioning society.

    I’ve got no issues if you want to use drugs, whatever they are. Just be willing to accept the consequences… Which really ought to include sterilization and giving up your kids, so as to prevent you from ruining the lives of others. I’d say the same thing about mental issues like pedophilia… Give ’em all the kiddie porn and fetish Real Dolls they like, just separate them from society and sterilize them.

    Simplest solution would be the one that the early Communist Chinese came up with, though… Bullet in the back of the neck. Probably kinder, too.

  • Is this a ploy to stir up a ‘Constitutional crisis’ (code for ‘politicians bickering and getting excited at their own importance’)

    With the demented porridge wogs of the SNP? Always. Every single problem has only one solution, INDEPENDENCE! (sotto voce: “within the EU”), which is of course no bloody sort of Independence at all

  • Fraser Orr

    I grew up in a time when the idea that mj would be legalized was quite simply ridiculous. Now, where I live it is not just decriminalized but in fact legal. And I think this is an important distinction. In the past the most common way for people to consume mj was by smoking it, bought from some shady dude on the corner, which has a lot of other unpleasant side effects. Now most people pop gummies or other edibles they bought at the store. This has a couple of benefits — it eliminates all those toxins from the smoke going into our lungs, and because it is manufactured and sold by legitimate business the content is well managed, and the amount of toxic crap is greatly reduced.

    Which is to say making it legal makes it much, much safer. When doses are controlled, people tend to consume a lot less too. The same was true for alcohol after prohibition. Bathtub gin made a lot of people go blind, and a lot more people really sick. But when it is manufactured by a business subject to legal penalties, reputational risk and so forth (just ask Budweiser), plus can be manufactured openly and consequently cleanly, and is sold without requiring involvement of criminals, the whole enterprise becomes much safer and healthier.

    So decriminalizing is a bit better, but not nearly enough. Legalization is the way to solve these problems, and then for people with addiction problems they can be dealt with through normal health treatments. (Though AFAIK, there is no evidence that mj is addictive at all.)

    I have been saying this literally for decades, but it is very interesting to see it coming to pass with regards to mj right here where I live. One of the few victories for freedom in the past twenty years.

    Not that it really matters, I am not at all a user of mj or any other formally illegal drugs. But I am an advocate for liberty and for getting rid of the hugely damaging war on drugs. And I always spell it mj because I can never remember how to spell the full word 😣

  • bobby b

    As a libertarian, I get the feeling that I should be fighting for our liberty-based right to carry and distribute test tubes filled with live botulism merely because doing so pleases me. Why should I let bureaucrats boss me around?

    What legalization does in a positive sense is create space for our police and court system to handle other issues, and it keeps the tweakers, heads, snowbirds, and hypes from being labeled “criminal”, with the concomitant degradation of their ability to function and thrive in society.

    What it does in a negative sense is, it allows kids and other new users to believe that it is safe and normal and “approved.” It makes it all easy to find and purchase. If your kid shoots up, the police don’t look twice.

    Sorry, I’ve seen too many good people destroyed by the crap. And, I’m no prude. Do a joint, and hiking and whitewater kayaking and mountain trail biking are a lot more fun. But I’m hedged – I have buffers that keep me in good stead, but so many users don’t, and their lives just get dark and pointless.

    Due to past jobs, I probably have seen much more druggie devastation than most, which affects my outlook. But that’s not because those sights are rare. Most people simply just don’t see them.

  • llamas

    i) As an ex-copper who has seen the terrible impacts of the ‘War on Drugs’ on civil liberties at first hand, I’m still pretty-much of the opinion that the least-worst thing to do is to legalize all of it. However, I could be persuaded that keeping some drugs (specifically, everything apart from mj) illegal, under some circumstances, might be the lesser evil IF (and only IF) I were also persuaded that there had been a complete revision of all drug laws with an emphasis on harm reduction, and that law enforcement and the criminal justice system would henceforth no longer use drug laws as a sort of blanket justification to trample all over civil rights.

    I want more sunshine, and extra puppies, also. Greyhound puppies.

    ii) With hindsight – it’s now almost 30 years since I moved in this world – I’m now more-and-more of the conviction that drug addiction, and specifically addiction to the family of opiates, is not in any way a ‘disease’, as the modern treatment-industrial complex tries to convince us, but a personal, moral weakness, which cannot be effectively ‘treated’. Unfortunately, I grasp only too well the tension between the civil-liberties issues, and the hard reality of addiction, demanding as it does the application of some very tough incentives to persuade addicts to give up their addiction.

    It’s said that Mao Tse-Tung un-addicted some 30 million Chinese opium users in a matter of less than two years, using the very-persuasive incentive of a bullet in the back of the head for those who would not give up their addiction. Whatever one may think of the method, it leaves very little doubt that the addiction is very-easily given up if the incentive is effective, and thus the addiction is not a disease, but a choice.

    I wish I had an answer. The best incentives would seem to be those that can show the addict that life without his addiction can be better than with it. Unfortunately, as we are talking about Scotland, that may be a very difficult picture to paint, and perhaps in those sorts of circumstances, making opiates cheap, safe and legal is indeed the least-worst outcome.

    Theodore Dalrymple/Anthony Daniels is very good indeed on the subject of drug addiction and legalization.



  • bobby b

    “The best incentives would seem to be those that can show the addict that life without his addiction can be better than with it.”

    This. In spades. Drugs are a very poor substitute for real life fun. But if you lack any real life, or any hope for one, drugs are a wonderful escape. Too wonderful. It’s not a disease, but it’s so pleasurable that, if you don’t have anything better to go to, few decide to stop. Why would they, when they can finally experience something so pleasurable in an otherwise gray life?

    Rampant drug usage is a strong sign that a society isn’t offering much of a life to marginal people.

  • Kirk

    bobby b said:

    Rampant drug usage is a strong sign that a society isn’t offering much of a life to marginal people.

    Pretty much what I was saying… The root problem is that society and everything else surrounding these people has failed to address their needs.

    Which then raises a question: How much “need-addressing” are you owed by society? If you’re disaffected and marginal, how much responsibility do you bear for your own state? Are you to be catered to? Or, do you need to fix yourself?

    These questions are eternal. We were just talking about how f*cked up the Irish and Scots were, compared to the English. The English got their acts together, and then went out and used that to leverage world conquest. Are the Scots and Irish any less capable? Look at what they did under English mastery… Scotland arguably built much of the modern world, through technological achievement in steam and other things. Why the hell couldn’t they manage that on their own, and why did it take English mastery to break those recalcitrant idjits to the yoke of civilization?

    It’s the same basic issue with drug users. They’ve got just as much opportunity as anyone else; why the hell can’t they take advantage of it all? Other people live under identical circumstances, and succeed just fine, without extensive and self-destructive self-medication.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby, your experience is in a world where drugs are illegal. In a world where they are legal the whole situation would be dramatically different — which I guess was my point. Here in Illinois where mj is entirely legal what has happened is that people have been less intoxicated because they have better quality product and have better control over what they ingest.

    I’ll grant you that opiates are a very challenging drug, and I think people who go there are usually very broken people indeed, except for the poor souls who end up there as a follow on from medical treatment — which is an absolute tragedy, and the accidental users who would not be in that position if opiate users were buying their drugs from Abbott rather than MS-13. Bayer doesn’t slip a little fentanyl in their aspirin, last time I checked.

    However, consider a world where all these drugs were legal and the government spent 1% of what they do on the drug war on treatment programs for addicts. The drug users would have much better and safer lives, the justification for the wholesale destruction of civil liberties would be gone and it would be treated as a medical problem rather than a criminal problem.

    We don’t have to imagine. This is what they did in Portugal and they have had remarkable success.

  • bobby b


    “How much “need-addressing” are you owed by society? If you’re disaffected and marginal, how much responsibility do you bear for your own state?”

    Problem is, my own world is affected by those people’s choices and abilities, and so it’s not a simple question of what personal consideration they themselves merit. They may be responsible in the moral sense, but it’s still the other city residents that have to deal with them, and their tent cities, and their lack of money. We feed them, walk around their waste, put up with their psychotic breaks, deal with their lack of focus when they are employed, and just generally have a poorer life when they’re around. So there’s plenty of selfish impulse in helping them/fixing them.

    @Fraser Orr: What are the marketplace effects of legalized pot?

    – It gets more expensive, due to taxes and to the costly official production/distribution channel subject to government oversight.

    – It also gets weaker, as gov puts THC limits on it.

    – It becomes far easier for minors in non-slum areas to find and purchase. (People in bad areas could always find the drugs. It’s suburban kids I speak of here.)

    Honestly, pot in illegal states is better and cheaper than pot in legalized or partially legalized states. People have been making and selling gummies for a decade or more, long before legality. They were better when illegal. Stronger. Gov just put restrictions on content.

    MJ truly is the Stupid Drug. Show me any chronic user, and I bet their IQ was 10-20 points higher before they started. That has societal implications that will affect everyone. Get a larger part of society using it regularly – legally – and all that loose talk about IQ variation between continents peters out. We’ll be the slow ones.

  • Kirk

    @Fraser Orr,

    Here in Illinois where mj is entirely legal what has happened is that people have been less intoxicated because they have better quality product and have better control over what they ingest.

    It’s entirely legal, here. What I’m seeing is a whole lot of people who’re hopelessly addicted to marijuana, who’re basically wasting their lives doing things that are no where near their potential. They’d all be a lot better off if it wasn’t there to kill their ambition. From what I can see, the element of the population that can mediate their use of it, and use it responsibly? Far, far lower than the advocates estimated when they were pushing legalization.

    Marijuana and hash were always the preferred drug for slavers to pass off to their slaves. I see why, now… Keep ’em high, they don’t care about much of anything past doing what they have to for their next purchase.

    I’ll grant you that opiates are a very challenging drug, and I think people who go there are usually very broken people indeed, except for the poor souls who end up there as a follow on from medical treatment — which is an absolute tragedy, and the accidental users who would not be in that position if opiate users were buying their drugs from Abbott rather than MS-13. Bayer doesn’t slip a little fentanyl in their aspirin, last time I checked.

    I think you need to do a little more research on just what bullshit Purdue Pharmaceutical pulled with regards to Oxycontin. They had to have known that they were setting people up for addiction, and they did a lot of sales work to doctors to convince them that Oxy simply wasn’t addictive. It was. Any opioid is–The lot of them should have been stripped of everything as reparations and jailed for the rest of their lives. They knew what they were doing, and did it still. The documentation of that fact is in the lawsuits; there is no way the executives didn’t have the facts in front of them when they made their decisions that they did.

    Your idea that people get addicted via accident, in connection with medical treatment? That ain’t the way it works, usually. I’ve watched it happen to people; the ones that get addicted to prescription drugs usually do so because of the attitude they take towards it… You can always tell them: “Oh, man… They gave you the good stuff for your wisdom teeth coming out, didn’t they… Lemme know if you don’t use it all up…”

    “Oh, I’m saving those up for when I’m on leave, gonna take ’em and get good and drunk…”

    You can spot these idiots a mile off. It ain’t “accidental” that they get addicted… They’re the ones that sit there when the docs and the medics tell them the risks and what to avoid, taking notes so they can “heighten the effect” with their later recreational use… Then, they seek out the prescriptions so they can get away with having opiates in their urine when the inevitable urinalysis comes.

    Average person taking prescription narcotics? The rational ones? They’re like me and other family members of mine; the minute that they start to feel even a twinge of “need”, they go cold-turkey and quit the narcotics. I could have left the service with a life-long prescription for pain meds, same as my sister could have had for her various horse-related injuries (which rival some of the ones my Airborne buddies had after twenty years of combat jumps from Air Force aircraft, none of which are “perfectly good”…). The reason we aren’t both pill-poppers? Rational understanding of the risks and an aversion to addiction. I’ve watched more than a few of my acquaintances become pill-poppin’ freaks, despite my warnings and attempts to prevent it. Some people are just unable to connect the pain with touching the red-hot burner…

    We don’t have to imagine. This is what they did in Portugal and they have had remarkable success.

    Remarkable success? Says who? The people who came up with the policy?

    I’ve got a couple of Portuguese friends, who say that all the policy has done is to actually encourage illicit drug use. The addicts were supposed to get treatment after diversion; what’s happened is just that the cops quit doing anything about drug use at all. The programs are supposed to be fully used; the reality is that most of the addicts do the same thing we witness in Vancouver, BC and Portland, Oregon. Same policy was tried there, with about the same actual results. Portugal is just doing a better job of covering it all up, per my Portuguese informant. Who, by the way, is also a refugee from the miasma that has overtaken Portland. Her take on the whole thing with legalization is that while she thought it was a good idea, the raw reality is that there are a whole lot of people out there who “can’t handle their sh*t…”

    I don’t know what the ideal policy would be, but I’m increasingly coming to believe that my belief that we should just legalize everything and let the cards fall where they may simply won’t work. Not unless we drastically change how we handle this crap… Hot and cold running Fentanyl in the streets with free Narcan on tap ain’t working; if you’re going to take the libertarian approach and legalize everything, then you’re going to have to also ensure that the repercussions for abusing the freedom to use drugs are harsh and swift; Narcan ought to be out of the question, unless you’re someone who was accidentally exposed as a first responder or other actual victim. If you’re dumb enough to take a lethal dose of Fentanyl or other narcotic? Well, that’s nature’s way of telling you to get out of the pool, you’re done.

    The zombies infesting Seattle and Portland right now are the actual result of decriminalization. From that, I have to acknowledge that my ideas about drug legalization were delusional. Most of the public cannot moderate their use, sadly.

  • Fraser Orr


    – You think the premium for government regulation is higher than the premium for black market? I don’t.
    – Here in Illinois when you buy you chose what strength you want, much as you might want beer one day and vodka the next.
    – Easier for minors in non slum areas? Seriously? Maybe for hard core drugs but every high school in America had easy access to mj. And kids from suburban schools had more money to buy it. Do you know any high school kids who couldn’t get a joint easily if they wanted to? I don’t.

    As to stupid — chronic users of any drug screw their brains — alcohol is surely the worst. But I know lots of people who find it disinhibiting effects help them make real breakthroughs in their mind. In fact I have one family member who probably had his life saved by using mj just for the mental clarity it gave him.

    And even so, if we accept your premise, if people want to trade a few IQ points for a happier life, who are you or I to say they can’t?

    As with all drugs most people use them responsibly (alcohol being the obvious example, but there are lots of others). Some people abuse them, but why would we want to restrict a perfectly legitimate activity to all because of the abusive behavior of a few?

  • Kirk

    @Fraser Orr,

    Visit Seattle or Portland. Tell us what you think, afterwards. Or, Vancouver.

    Sad fact is, it’s fairly obvious that most people lack what it takes to use drugs responsibly. The social effects are real, and the costs for decriminalization in terms of destruction in the commons are way too high for the supposed benefit.

    I used to think that the whole mentality behind the Harrison Act, along with Comstock may not have been as wrong-headed as I once thought. When you see what decriminalization has done to at least two major cities, I’m not sure that the inhabitants would be willing to argue that they prefer the current state to that which obtained before, no matter how many civil rights were lost.

    This can’t go on, the way it is proceeding. The results of decriminalization are as bad as though some foreign power dropped a nuke on at least two of our cities. Both Portland and Seattle will be economic basket cases within five years; the number of businesses and residents leaving those cities is mind-boggling.

    And, it’s mostly because of the open-air drug use. Homelessness is not the real issue; the majority of the people who’re wrecking it all for everyone don’t want any part of treatment or being “homed”; they live for their drugs.

  • Fraser Orr

    I live in a state where pot is entirely legal. There is a store just round the corner from me. There are no homeless camps here, no people defecating on the streets, no needles littering the elementary school playground.

    The problems in Seattle and Portland are caused by a completely different tragedy, namely the moronic people who run the city who have given up on enforcing the law. There are cities in the east of Washington and Oregon where the drug laws are the same but the law enforcement entirely different. Those cities are idyllic. I know people who live in Spokane, for example, and have been there many times. It is a lovely city.

    It used to be said that the only way to destroy a city faster than rent control was aerial bombing. I think “defund the police” sits roughly between the two.

  • bobby b

    @Fraser Orr:

    “You think the premium for government regulation is higher than the premium for black market? “

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. I can buy better, stronger pot illegally for less money than buying legally-sold pot, if that’s responsive to what you meant. (Plus, we get to support lots of poor Oaxacan farmers instead of small subsidiaries of state-election donors.)

    “Here in Illinois when you buy you chose what strength you want, much as you might want beer one day and vodka the next”

    Check your laws. Your product top strength is quite limited in Illinois. IIRC, AZ shops sell twice the THC concentration. Illegal stuff tends to be even stronger. Where someone could eat one gummie of illegal, they would need two of the Arizona products, or four of the Illinois products. Look at THC conc figures on-line.

    “Do you know any high school kids who couldn’t get a joint easily if they wanted to? I don’t”

    High school? I’m speaking of elementary school – 4th, 5th, 6th graders. No, suburban kids of that age have lots of difficulty buying pot. Not so the same-age kids in South Minneapolis, or Chicago.

    “But I know lots of people who find it disinhibiting effects help them make real breakthroughs in their mind. In fact I have one family member who probably had his life saved by using mj just for the mental clarity it gave him.”

    Some high-end, high-functioning people can probably derive some psych benefit from drug use. No doubt. But if you truly believe that pot gives any positive effect aside from a relaxation and escape from daily thought, you’ve been living in a protected world. (I don’t mean this in any insulting way. Just from our contexts here at SD, I’ll guess I’ve spent more low-class time in life than you have. 😉 ) O’Leary swore to us that LSD would expand our minds, but mostly it just made us act stupid and autistic.

    “if people want to trade a few IQ points for a happier life, who are you or I to say they can’t?”

    Everyone admitted to Galt’s Gultch gets my blessing for stoning out as they wish. But, most of humanity isn’t that wise or informed, or even able to handle psych pressure in the least, and you and I have to live in a society that will be full of them. Average IQ, once again, is 100.

    Yeah, we lucky ones can insulate – we can stay away from the masses, live our academic/professional lives surrounded and protected by our money and our sophisticated and refined social circles. Most people don’t have that ability. We can be islands only when we have the resources to enforce personal borders. The people I encounter who make the strongest-held libertarian drug arguments invariably have those resources. That’s one reason it’s better to be rich than poor. It’s not just the better coffee.

    No, the more we do – even in the name of freedom – that degrades the overall intelligence of our society affects each and every one of us in some way, makes life harder for all, and leaves a coarser and stupider world for our kids. I don’t believe that this is the costless libertarian issue of which people speak.

  • J

    Legalize drugs. Let Darwin sort them out. Hope they don’t take too many others along with them in the process.

  • Steven R

    At least part of the drug mess is that in the US, there is no such thing as effective mental health system. Between the courts saying everyone has a right to be crazy and refuse treatment and the various federal and state legislatures going back to Reagan not wanting to fund what’s left in any meaningful way, the mentally ill are on the streets and drug use for a lot of them is a form of self-medication. They know there’s something wrong, they don’t know where to go to get help (when help even exists), so they turn to the needle and the pipe. And some that leads to more crime (because those drugs aren’t free you know) and homelessness. I used to work with those people and saw it everyday.

    It isn’t simply a libertarianism versus junkies versus prohibition issue.

  • Illicit drugs are a market like anything else. What has occurred is the overdose rates and morbidity have skyrocketed. Cocaine and heroin are now rather benign and manageable addictive drugs. So the cartels have learned how to make fentanyl, the perfect product for them. It is purely synthetic so no supply problems and crops to grow. It has rapid onset and short duration of action which is why medicals use it and also why it is highly addictive. It is now added to almost anything including pills. Users cannot self regulate the dose as well as they could with pure heroin, oxycodone, or cocaine. Now there is Tranq (Xylazine) added which is a nightmare. Addiction is a brain disorder. It has a known biological pathology resulting in impaired ability to resist compulsive use despite severe negative consequences. This is backed by thousands of published studies. We now know to the cellular and neuroadaptive level a good deal of what i going on with illegal and legal drug addiction including alcohol. Addiction is treatable. Like many other diseases it is hard to treat and at this point not always successful. Then again so is nearly all serious disease to varying degrees.
    The law enforcement approach is a dismal failure and has only made the problem worse. Not only politics but social attitudes need to change if any headway is going to be made

  • Paul Marks.

    Steven R – at least one chamber of the Californian State Legislature, or both, was controlled by the Democrats when Ronald Reagan was Governor – he did not cut spending, overall, as Governor (or as President – when the Democrats controlled the House the whole eight years).

    As for mental hospitals the courts and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest” (and the rest of the propaganda campaign) did for them. The Supreme Court hit the vagrancy laws – thus making the public streets war zones and destroying small family owned business enterprises. The Supreme Court, especially in the 1960s (but later as well) had a habit of enforcing an invisible Constitution that existed only in their imagination – whilst ignoring the real Constitution which, for example, says that no State may have anything other than gold or silver as legal tender, and that the Congress may “coin” money (not print it – or set up a bank). The Constitution also says that contracts will be upheld – and all contracts, public and private, were violated by President Roosevelt in 1933 – the Supreme Court in 1935 (five to four) said it was fine to steal gold and violate contracts.

    The United States is not a safe place to have money, or to engage in business. Trouble is that I can not think of any country on Earth which is a safe place to have money or engage in business.

  • Paul Marks.

    “Decriminalise” might be the worst of both worlds.

    Cannabis would still be in the hands of criminal gangs (it would not be sold in the local chemist) – and the criminal gangs would still direct the young (and the not so young) into Crack Cocaine and-so-on, and still push young girls into prostitution, and get young men to steal and attack (and kill).

    Either legalise cannabis or enforce the law banning it – this “decriminalise” tap dance “it is illegal, but we are not going to arrest you” does not make any sense.

    Make a decision – either legalise it (so it can be bought from normal stores – not criminal gangs) or enforce the law banning it. “Decriminalise” does not make any sense – indeed it is basically the situation we have now. My own council ward is full of drugs – and the gangs there start people on cannabis, but soon move them on to other things. This is not a theoretical thing for me – it is real life.

  • Paul Marks.

    Contra J.S. Mill, freedom to buy and use is not a different principle from freedom to sell – either both are lawful, or neither is.

    “Decriminalisation” is based on a misunderstanding – either make the trade legal (sell the stuff in the shops) or enforce the laws against it, and that means targeting the users – not just the sellers.

  • jgh

    Average person taking prescription narcotics?

    After a throat operation I was on a course of opiate pain killers. I made a chart of what to take, four a day first week, three a day secnod week, etc., so that I wasn’t going from full dose to zero overnight.
    Strange thing was, I discovered that if I hadn’t made that chart, I would have forgotten to take the pills at all! As people have commented, with some people it’s down to their own personality.

    I have three remaining cans of beer from a four-pack in the fridge, I keep forgetting I have them as well. I just don’t seem to get the “hunger” for certain substances that other people get.

  • llamas

    I’m pretty-much of Kirk’s mindset, with some caveats.

    After reading San Quinones’ book ‘Dreamland’, about the epidemic of opiate use in Appalachia and the Midwest, I came to a differing conclusion about the culpability of the pharmaceutical manufacturers. After all, there was a ‘scientific’ basis for their position that users of prescribed opiates tend not to become addicted – this has been known for centuries. What they failed to grasp – being purveyors of legal medications, supplied to users through a legal framework – was just how quickly and extensively their products would be diverted into abuse.

    I saw a panel discussion about this on TV after the book came out, and I wish I could recall the physician who made the trenchant observation that ‘ a 60-day script for Vicodin or Percocet is not long enough to form a physical addiction. But it’s more-than-long enough for a person to learn to like it, and to want more.’

    I have also read that the Portuguese chickens are coming home to roost, with the development of ‘skid rows’ and drug-sodden hellscapes every bit as bad as what we see in Portland and Seattle. Portuguese readers – is this so?

    Regarding mj, it’s also pretty-much 100%-legal where I live. And indeed, the para-legal market is just as active as it ever was. There are benefits, though – at my last job, we were based for some time in an industrial park that also included several grow operations. Security was awesome, and the park was spotless – the growers spent money keeping everything nice, so as to avoid criticism.

    As bobby b. observes, steady mj use tends to make people indolent, feckless and stupid. Extensive use seems to create a tendency to bipolar disorders and psychosis – which I guess makes sense. If you’re drifting through life without a care, the sudden arrival of a serious care you can’t avoid – which comes to us all, sooner or later – may be quite disturbing.

    But even mass, legal mj use doesn’t produce the ghastly public and societal breakdowns that come with widespread opiate and meth use, even when they are actually or effectively legal. And all from a habit – let’s stop calling it an ‘addiction’, which implies a physiological dependency – which is more-or-less entirely voluntary. I don’t know how to address that. Maybe, like the crack epidemic of the 1990’s, it will eventually address itself in Darwinian fashion – but how much destruction and degradation are we willing to accept while this process goes on? And how long will millions of actual sufferers have to forgo the benefits of these medications as part of attempts (never successful) to keep them out of the hands of those who want to abuse them in these ways?

    Baffling, and I are baffled.



  • llamas

    @ Steven R. – while you are right about the state of the mental-health system in the US, you are mistaken about the supply of drug treatment ‘help’. There’s plenty of ‘help’ available, both public and private. And abusers are enthusiastic consumers of any sort of ‘help’ that enables them to continue using drugs – including methadone, a ‘treatment’ for opiate abuse every-bit as bad as the opiates themselves. What they don’t want, and won’t use, is any sort of ‘help’ that involves not taking opiates any more. No amount of ‘help’ will bring them to that point, it’s a personal, moral choice, and the decision to stop is likewise a personal, moral choice.



  • Fred Z

    J is correct.

    Drug and alcohol caused failure to reproduce, whether by death, brewer’s droop or similar, is evolution in action, improving mankind bit by bit.

  • Steven R

    Paul is right in that the lack of a mental health system in the US is not simply a Reagan invention and I didn’t mean to imply it was. Both parties in DC and state legislatures have ignored mental health for half a century now. It’s a combination of “out of sight, out of mind” (no pun intended), the mentally ill aren’t a big enough bloc to pander to, and the money is better spent elsewhere in the judgment of legislators and executives everywhere.

    llamas, when I say there isn’t much help out there I don’t mean for junkies who know how to play the system. I mean for the mentally ill on the streets, especially those who are who are self-medicating. Mostly they are handed some drugs by a psychiatrist, sent back out, and everyone hopes for the best. The problem is the outcome tends to be the medication works, the patient feels better, and because they aren’t thinking straight (because they are mentally ill) they stop taking the medication, followed by the patient knows something is wrong but doesn’t know how to fix it so they turn to street drugs. Rinse and repeat.

    There used to be state hospitals for those people that weren’t like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest but were more like small communities where the patient got the care they needed and were safe from the streets. My mother worked at one of those when she first left nursing school. And the patients knew they were getting the care they needed and were safe. And when they were cured, or at least to the point that they were capable of taking care of themselves, they were sent home. Then came the budget cuts and those state hospitals were shut down or revamped to only house mentally ill criminals or long term patients. (Note: short term in-patient units do still exist, but they are for short term stays).

    My mother told me when her facility was being revamped after the budget cuts and all those people were being kicked into the streets that one patient said “Where will I go?” and she didn’t have an answer. I’m a little “L” libertarian, but I’m good with having a mental health system for people truly incapable of living on their own because of mental illness as opposed to those who just want to live off of the taxpayer teat. We’ll put someone incapable of living on their own because of illness or physical handicap in a nursing home and Medicare or Medicaid picks up the tab if there is no other way to fund it and no one would dare think about killing those programs, simply because we don’t want people dying in the streets like we’re in Calcutta, but we turn our backs on the mentally ill because we’d rather use that money to buy votes.

  • The Pedant-General

    What Kirk said above.

    It’s not the drugs, it’s the cage

    The hard problem is how to fix the cage. In Dundee’s case, it’s not at all clear that anything other than carpet bombing is going to do the trick…

  • llamas

    @ Steven R. – fair enough, I see the distinctions that you are making.

    Only to observe that, while you may well be right to place part of the blame for the present mess on ‘budget cuts’, one cannot overlook the efforts of ‘human rights’ advocates who used advanced lawfare to ‘free’ many long-term, seriously-mentally-ill patients from psychiatric institutions. In many cases, they used relatable stories like ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ to mold public opinion to their way of thinking. As I have observed here before, that movie has a lot to answer for, and has resulted in many, many people who belong in long-term, secure care ending up either a) in jail or prison or b) dead on the streets, because ‘care in the community’ is completely, laughably inadequate to address their issues. I’ve recounted in the past my encounters with several people in the regular criminal justice system who were completely, floridly mad, a danger to themselves and others, who were simply dumped on the police to deal with.

    Of course, the Venn diagram of ‘abusers of hard drugs’ and ‘seriously mentally-ill’ has a lot of overlap.



  • bobby b

    If you look at the vast numbers of Americans who are on anti-depressive or mood-stabilizing drugs now, it’s obvious that we still have an incredibly busy, large, and prosperous mental-health service community extant.

    The industry has found it much more profitable to address upper and middle class angst than it is to work down in the trenches.

    Back when I was practicing law, it was very hard to get your typical broke dirty drugger client into any kind of treatment. Open slots were rare. States weren’t offering as much money as could be had from the insurers of normies who had a fondness for coke. Sounds like the situation is even worse now.

    Plus, as pointed out above, you can’t fix druggies who don’t really want to be fixed if you must depend on their cooperation. You need civil commitment laws and facilities. Those are pretty much gone now.

  • Kirk

    The one fact that everything breaks down on is this: You can’t fix drug abuse from the outside. You can’t fix broken families from the outside. You can’t fix any of this crap through government intervention in individual’s lives. About all government can do is get out of the way and let nature take its course, while ensuring that the damage and the consequences of that damage remains compartmentalized.

    All the do-gooders of the world can’t fix a drug addict or an alcoholic who hasn’t made the decision to fix themselves. They can help, once that decision is made, but until it is? It ain’t happening. Period.

    Anything you do that doesn’t acknowledge this fact, that it’s a damn choice made by the addicts themselves? It is doomed to failure. It isn’t a disease, it isn’t a syndrome, it’s a personal choice. Nobody is going around forcing people to take a drink or put a needle into their arms… And, that’s the sad truth.

    About all government and outsiders can do is try to reduce the causative effects that go into people making the choice to shoot up in the first place. A lot of that goes to the assholes in charge deciding to ship industry overseas, reducing opportunities for everyone not in their little clique, while enabling massive profits for themselves. Every one of those decisions made over the last fifty-plus years by this coterie of incompetent short-sighted boobs has led to this happening, and there’s no amount of “social services” that can fix it, so long as the underlying conditions influencing these people to make these decisions to drug themselves out of their state of immiseration exist.

    You didn’t see a societal-scale problem with addiction in the days when there was a frontier; you could go somewhere else, re-invent yourself, find new opportunities. Addicts existed, but they were nowhere near as prevalent as they are today. The mass of people had some hope, some ability to improve themselves. Now? all the industrial jobs that the less-than-brilliant could take and make a decent middle-class living are gone. Sent to China, and other low-wage nations, so that the multinational corporations could make more of a profit.

    You want to fix the endemic drug problems? You need to fix the things that encourage people to drug their lives away in the first place. Which, ohbytheway, includes enabling them by subsidizing their choices. You drug yourself so that you can’t make a living? Fine; suffer the consequences and starve. Too bad, so sad… And, that would serve as a wake-up call for a goodly number of the addicted.

    There are a number of interlocking “bad decisions” that we’ve made in order to cause this problem, not the least of which is the government’s enablement of these people doing these things to themselves. Most organisms will pause at the point of self-destruction and stop; when you enable them to live past the point of where their self-immolation should have occurred, you’re going to get what you have in Seattle and Portland, which represent the utter and complete failure of post-WWII social policies brought in by the delusional left.