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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Drug Market Approach: Legalize as Many Illegal Drugs As Possible



 Please read this quote. Think about it. Then, ask yourself if anything you just read is false:

"A violent organization that includes recruits with Western passports uses terrorist tactics—beheading journalists, for example—as it seizes swaths of territory. That describes ISIS, a radical Sunni militia operating in Iraq and Syria. 

"But it also describes the transnational drug cartels operating in Mexico and Central and South America. Those organizations have killed many times more Americans than ISIS. They regularly tunnel into the United States to facilitate smuggling. What's more, their existence is a direct result of American public policy. But for America's decades-long War on Drugs, the drug cartels would not exist.

"That context is almost always missing from America's domestic debate about drug laws. Almost no one acknowledges that a succession of U.S. presidents, from drug warriors Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to former recreational drug users Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, helped to create and sustain transnational criminal organizations that slaughter and even behead innocents abroad, or that current U.S. policy predictably and inevitably fills their coffers with cash."

(Conor Friedersdorf. "Elder Statesmen Declare a War on the 'War on Drugs.'"  

Well? If you are like me, you can find no justification to argue with Friedersdorf's logic.

In the article, he reports that a coalition of political figures from around the world, including Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, and several former European and Latin presidents is urging governments to decriminalize a variety of illegal drugs and set up regulated drug markets within their own countries.

Here is the amazing, perhaps shocking, recommendation:

"The proposal by the group, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, goes beyond its previous call to abandon the nearly half-century-old American-led war on drugs. The group reaches much further than its 2011 recommendation to legalize cannabis. The former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a member of the commission, said the group was calling for the legal regulation of 'as many of the drugs that are currently illegal as possible, with the understanding that some drugs may remain too dangerous to decriminalize.'”

Friedersdorf calls this strategy "declaring a war on the War on Drugs." At the core, this method affronts everything I believe about dangerous drug abuse -- legalization would intensify drug addiction and overdose deaths. Wouldn't it?

Yet, the report does make sense when it reads ...

"Powerful and established drug control bureaucracies, both national and international, staunchly defend status quo policies. They seldom question whether their involvement and tactics in enforcing drug policy are doing more harm than good. Meanwhile, there is often a tendency to sensationalize each new 'drug scare' in the media. And politicians regularly subscribe to the appealing rhetoric of 'zero tolerance' and creating 'drug free' societies rather than pursuing an informed approach based on evidence of what works. Popular associations of illicit drugs with ethnic and racial minorities stir fear and inspire harsh legislation. And enlightened reform advocates are routinely attacked as 'soft on crime' or even 'pro-drug.'"

And, it peaks my interest as it continues ...

"Politicians regularly subscribe to the appealing rhetoric of 'zero tolerance' and creating 'drug free' societies rather than pursuing an informed approach based on evidence of what works. Popular associations of illicit drugs with ethnic and racial minorities stir fear and inspire harsh legislation. And enlightened reform advocates are routinely attacked as 'soft on crime' or even 'pro-drug.'"

And, finally it concludes with an important truth ...

"If use does increase with moves toward regulation—and the possibility cannot be discounted—it is worth recalling that the totality of associated social and health problems is still likely to decrease. The use of legally produced products in regulated environments will be intrinsically safer, the harm linked to both the illegal trade and punitive enforcement will be reduced, and obstacles to more effective health and social interventions removed."


OMG

So, are we heading to a Brave New World of Huxleyian proportions in which "thousands of pharmacologists and bio-chemists are subsidized to produce commercially the perfect drugs"?

As Huxley wrote in his fictional novel Brave New World in 1932 of the reliance on a society's soma, an opioid-like pain killer and hallucinogen that replicates religious experiences, eliminating God and the need for religion:
a hallucinogenic that replicates religious experiences, eliminating God and the need for religion. - See more at: http://www.henrymakow.com/brave_new_world.html#sthash.VKxguuyt.dpuf

"Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant. All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects. Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology. Stability is practically assured."

Or, are we already living in that world even though we criminalize many drugs? It does seem we have lost the war on substance abuse.

One fellow blogger puts the present state of affairs like this:

"Forget the sad, emaciated, usually young heroin addicts or stumbling, brain-damaged alcoholics. Instead, picture your neighbor, your child's school teacher, your mother, or more likely, your grandmother. These addicts score regularly, but legally, across their local pharmacy counter and most have no idea they have a drug problem."


In a culture where drugs, not money, buys happiness, there is already a great reliance on prescriptions for legal drugs. And, in the meantime, isn't policing and incarceration of a vast population on drugs incurring excessive costs to the society while simultaneously draining the pool of available workers and taxpayers?

In fact, medicare coverage of prescriptions for seniors pushes us closer to achieving Huxley's prophecy -- utopia in a socialist state? Voters (and taxpayers) demand happiness, and their socialistic State delivers. Soma, soma, soma. Hello, Brave New World ...

"And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there's always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there's always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears-that's what soma is." 
 (Aldous Huxley. Brave New World. 1932)

I really fear legalization. It goes against my initial considerations about a solution. I have serious questions about an America given more opportunity through distribution and decreased enforcement to abuse. It seems irresponsible and immoral to contribute to vice by making the illicit legal. 

Still, no one can doubt the way we presently fight the War on Drugs is futile.

We are smack dab in the middle of a new world, a world getting worse, not better. I just read where now 5 Ohioans a day die due to drug overdose (as opposed to figures of 4 a day sever or eight years ago). I'm not great with math but that's 1,825 people dead in one year.

We can prove these drug overdoses are associated with numerous high direct and indirect costs. Unintentional fatal drug overdoses cost Ohioans $2.0 billion in 2012 in medical and work loss costs; while non-fatal, hospital-admitted drug poisonings cost an additional $39.1 million. The total cost equaled an average of $5.4 million each day in medical and work loss costs in Ohio.

I'm willing to consider the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Maybe some better compromise can be achieved. It is time to try a different solution to the epidemic of drug addiction. I must stand with Conor Friedersdorf when he asks these questions:

"So what do you say, President Obama? Are you "genuinely committed to safeguarding the safety, health, and human rights" of Americans? If so, why has your administration done so little to end the War on Drugs, despite your own history of drug use and the 'overwhelming evidence that it has not only failed to achieve its own objectives, but has also generated serious social and health problems'? What about you, Republicans? Even National Review, a magazine that aspires to stand athwart history yelling stop, declared the War on Drugs lost in 1996."


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