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Does legalization mean an explosion in drug harm? Understanding the basics.

Megan McArdle has a piece in the Atlantic: The Goals and Means of Meth Control. It looks at the ravages of drug abuse and also continues the discussion started by Keith Humphreys in his simplistic endorsement of making pseudoephedrine-based products prescription-only and Mark Kleiman’s follow-up.

Megan’s article is a good one to read, in that she gets some things right and opens the door to an important discussion in areas where she makes some important flawed assumptions.

First, the good stuff.

So with meth, we made it illegal, and then it turned out you could make the stuff from cold medicine in a very dangerous and dirty home production process, so we made it hard to get cold medicine, so they switched to an even more dangerous process, so now we’re going to make it even harder to get cold medicine . . .

At every step, we don’t consider the whole cost of functionally prohibiting cold medicine; we consider only the marginal cost of the new prohibition. And we compare that marginal cost to the whole cost of drug addiction, nasty amateur meth labs, etc. This policy ratchet means we can easily end up in a situation where the sum of our drug laws are worse than the disease of drug addiction, even though no one particular prohibition is.

This is an excellent point that is too often ignored. And it’s an important response to the kind of ridiculous emotionally-charged “policy” discussions that Humphreys employs:

If people get less cold relief but fewer children end up in the burn unit, I will vote for that trade.

It isn’t our desire to have cold medicine available when we actually have a cold that leads to children in the burn unit, it is prohibition that leads to children in the burn unit, and the notion that what we need is a distraction from addressing the real problem by adding another ancillary harm to the existing harmful regime — well, that’s just offensive.

Again, when it comes to understanding marginal cost, Megan gets is.

However, in her conclusion, McArdle gets caught up in the same fallacious fears that catch so many people in discussions of prohibition.

Against all this, you have to weigh the fate of people like Julie. Legal drugs undoubtedly mean more addicts. Maybe not a lot more–I don’t think we know how many people would get hooked on blow or crystal meth if it were legal. Personally, I haven’t tried the stuff not because it’s illegal, but because I am fabulously addictive to stimulants, and it seems sensible of me not to try anything that I might like well enough to sacrifice family, friends and career on its altar. I suspect that most people are like me. But it’s hard to say without running a big, scary natural experiment.

Personally, when I throw in the crime these black markets create, and the personal liberty costs of prohibition, I favor legalizing all of them. But I recognize the cost is more lives blighted like Julie’s. My only answer is that this would also be a world where fewer black kids lose their parents–or themselves–to the prison system, and fewer babies are badly burned when Daddy’s meth lab explodes. There are no real happy answers here–only damage control.

First of all, I suspect that Megan’s self-awareness is probably enough to insure that even if she did try the stuff, she wouldn’t end up sacrificing “family, friends and career on its altar.” But she rightly points out one of the reasons why it’s wrong to assume that the natural experiment should be so scary. However, there are plenty more.

There is absolutely no reason to assume, as Megan does (and so many others do), that there is a certainty of “more lives blighted like Julie’s.”

Let’s look at this a step at a time.

First, how will legalization affect use? It does seem likely that legalization of a formerly illicit drug will involve some increase in use. Of course, every bit of data that we have (various decriminalization moments in U.S. states as well as places such as Portugal and the Netherlands) indicates that, if properly managed, such increases are likely to be minimal and/or temporary (including a perfectly logical temporary spike due to curiosity).

And those increases and spikes will also be strongly influenced by the perception of harm and by social approbation. We have dramatically decreased the interest in trying/starting cigarette smoking due to conveying a perception of harm and through social disapprobation.

This means that individual drugs will see temporary spikes/increases in inverse relationship to the perception of harm and social disapproval.

Marijuana is likely to see a much larger increase in use than meth. Despite government efforts, most people don’t see a huge downside to marijuana use as opposed to a very real perception of danger regarding meth use. Also, in most social settings, the notion of breaking out a joint if legalized would be much more acceptable than breaking out a meth pipe.

The idea that legal cocaine would see as much use as alcohol (as is often claimed by Mark Kleiman and others) is patently ridiculous for these reasons. Alcohol has a far greater social acceptance and a much lower perception of harm.

Now the problem is that to this point, all we’ve been talking about is use. Unless you’re a sado-moralist who just wants to punish people for doing things they don’t like, then increases in use are generally irrelevant.

Yes, I said that “increases in use are generally irrelevant.”

If what you are really concerned about are the people like Julie, then all that matters is increased levels of abuse. I’m drinking scotch right now, and am not hurting myself or others, so nobody gives a damn about my use, nor should they.

One place people get it wrong is thinking that an increase in use will result in a corresponding increase in abuse.

Imagine a fictional drug called melange. It’s prohibited, and let’s pick some simple numbers for our calculations. 100,000 people use melange under prohibition. 10,000 of those abuse it. Under legalization, an additional 20,000 will use it.

There are a couple of way-too common mistakes made at this point. One is to assume that 10% of the new 20,000 users will be abusers (I’m not even including the morons who think we need to worry about all 20,000). Another is to assume that there will be no impact on those who are already abusing. Here’s what the incorrect assumptions look like.

Melange under prohibition Totals Melange under legalization Initial group Added group Totals
Users 100,000 Users 100,000 20,000 120,000
Abusers 10,000 Abusers 10,000 2,000 12,000

Under this simplistic projection with bad assumptions, there are an additional 2,000 people (2,000 Julies, if you will) that we need to worry about. These are the poor souls that Megan McArdle and others are trying to balance with the damages of prohibition.

But that’s wrong.

  1. There’s no reason to assume that 10% of the additional users will become abusers. There’s not some magical law of nature that dictates a percentage of users to be abusers. No, the fact is that some people are more likely to be predisposed to be abusers of certain kinds of drugs (something that Megan alluded to in her personal concern re: stimulants), and merely increasing the number of casual or curious users does not increase the number of those predisposed.

    And prohibition, despite all its oppression, provides no real barrier to obtaining drugs for those who are prone to abuse. For those predisposed, they’ve already either become abusers (of this, or other drugs) or, like Megan, decided not to take that chance. Either way, legalization doesn’t make them start abusing.

    Sure, there may be a few additional new abusers, but there really is no strong reason to assume any remarkable increase.

  2. Legalization will also provide a net positive impact on those who were already abusing during prohibition, through: the increased ease in getting help (due to a change of stigma); the increased safety of dose and purity; the ability to have a more stable life situation without having to constantly find money for your next fix; etc. Some of these factors will actually help abusers quit, while others will reduce the drug harm to existing abusers. The net effect will be the equivalent of a significant reduction in abusers.

These two factors are huge and argue strongly against concerns for some mythical large group of new Julies under legalization.

Let’s try a very conservative set of numbers with our fictional drug given these corrected assumptions. Say that there’s fewer, but still a significant increase in abusers under legalization (1,000 new abusers) as well as a reduction of abusers/drug harm equivalent of 10% of the current abusers.

Now check out our chart:

Melange under prohibition Totals Melange under legalization Initial group Added group Totals
Users 100,000 Users 100,000 20,000 120,000
Abusers 10,000 Abusers 9,000 1,000 10,000

No net increase in total number of abusers. No increase in drug harm. Yes, this is just one potential outcome, and there’s no way of knowing exactly how it would turn out given all the variables. It’s possible, though unlikely, that we could end up with some small increase in abusers. But the argument can just as easily (if not more easily) be made, given the points mentioned above, that there would actually be a net decrease in drug harm.

Either way, factor in the documented and pervasive destruction caused by prohibition and there’s no question that legalization is the preferred approach.

There’s no scary experiment involved here. It’s a big experiment, sure, but the only scary thing is not doing it.

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95 comments to Does legalization mean an explosion in drug harm? Understanding the basics.

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  • Sick........!

    Whats scary is a government that thinks their cure is better than the disease..(and I doublt they believe this).

    This as with everything government does is about control.

    I would love to force feed our drug czar the stats of the cost of prohibition compared to the cost of no prohibition, the then demand to know what secert op they are funneling the money.

    The numbers just dont seem to add up when it comes to gdp and money spend…..so whats new with a corrupt government. Time is approaching , the bill will be due. Will they print more or admit it all a lie. I think they just keep printing..just keep adding to the lie. It will be painful in the end.

  • Matthew Meyer

    The problem with legalizing melange is that it will encourage more people to interact with the giant sand worms in hopes of harvesting some, thus leading to more harm.

    • pt

      You think in this day and age people are gonna want to travel all the way to Arrakis, a dark, desolate, cold planet to get it for themselves? Ok I would go just to live out my boyhood fantasy of riding a worm. 🙂

  • kaptinemo

    But, but, but…”He who controls the spice, controls the Universe!” There’s one hell of a lot of Solaris in that stuff!

    And the Navigators; won’t somebody think of the Navigators?

  • BigJohn

    I live in the South in an area where meth is big. I was working as a public defender when we passed our laws putting pseudoephedrine behind pharmacy counters. We were getting new meth lab cases all the time prior to the law passing, but after the law went into effect the number of meth lab and possession of paraphernalia with intent to manufacture meth cases dropped to the point that we barely got any of those cases and the people who were making it were only doing batches every once in a while.

    It didn’t stop the meth trade, not by a long shot. The fact is that most of these little kitchen labs were producing batches of 10 grams or less, and the longer these guys cooked their dope the more people they had hanging around to help them get pills, scrape the red phosphorous off matchbook stikepads, etc. These guys would end up doing most all the dope and very little was being sold. What was out on the streets was mostly all being brought in by the Mexicans who cook up 10 kilo batches in “superlabs” out west and in Mexico. These little kitchen meth labs with people going from this store to that store buying/stealing cold meds never supplied much of the meth demand. The cartels buy their pseudoephedrine in bulk, tons at a time, from China or India or other places.

    These laws did do some good though. Aside from aleviating ou caseloads, getting rid of a lot of cases that had to be tried and a lot of cases where people were going to prison on really long sentences, it also did cut down a good bit of the serious problem meth use. These guys cooking dope were doing ridiculous amounts of the stuff because they could. They weren’t selling much. They were shooting up or smoking most of what they made, wired all the time, often up for days and days and days and often loosing their damned minds. We’d get so many cases involving crazy conduct by tweakers who had been up for days. Often they were kind of funny cases where these guys would get paranoid, think people are chasing them and they would do crazy things like jump in the back of a cop car and tell the cops aliens were spawning at their house and killing everyone. That was one of my cases. The cops dropped that guy off at the jail and went to check out the house, found a working meth lab, and a lady “absconded on a donkey.” There was a lot of crazy conduct, some not so funny at all, kids being neglected, people dying. It was bad and a lot less of that is happening now that we don’t have so many meth labs and these idiots actually have to buy their dope.

    Also I suspect fewer people are becoming addicted. You have to understand that it takes a lot of people to gather all the pills and do all the work involved in a meth lab, and these are in people homes so family members are getting caught up in it too. Kids are acting as lookouts and selling a little. People who might not have ever been offered meth are around it all the time, increasing the temptation. People who would have only done it a few times before they grew out of that stage in their lives are doing it all the time because it’s there, doing it enough to become addicted.

    I don’t know. I don’t hate the laws making it harder to get pseudoephedrine. Having little meth labs operating all over the place in your area is not a good thing at all.

    I disagree with the assertion that we’d see a much bigger increase in the use of marijuana than in the use of a drug like meth if they were all legal. It is true that most people won’t mess with the really bad stuff because most people have better sense than that. But, if a particular drug isn’t prevalent in your area, but then they start selling it at stores, clean and pure and cheap, a lot more people are going to it. Most won’t, but if say 1% or less are doing it now, it wouldn’t take that many more people doing it before you had several times as many addicts causing you all sorts of problems.

    But things are different with marijuana. It’s everywhere. It is already super easliy available everywhere, and it’s already something that isn’t generally adulterated. The penalties for possession are usually pretty minor. The chance of getting caught is pretty slim unless you do stupid things like smoke it in your car. Personally, I don’t think the laws against it are stopping many people from doing it. Already according to SAMHSA’s numbers more than half of all American adults under 65 have tried it. Would 75% try it if legal? Maybe. We don’t see that in the Netherlands. Some people love marijuana, but for most it isn’t that appealing.

    Regardless of the laws, there is nowhere where most everyone smokes weed, despite how it might seem if you are a stoner and everyone you know is too. If you quit smoking weed and quit hanging around other stoners so much you would see that the vast majority of us do not smoke pot, even in areas where pot is more popular than usual. But, more than half of all adults who grew up since pot became popular in this country have already smoked it. The percentage who try it can’t double because you can’t have 110% of people trying it. 🙂 Legalize heroin in a place like where I live where that stuff is almost nonexistant and we could easily have several times as many trying it and several times as many people becoming addicted. Legalize pot and yes probably a more people would try it and more would be regular smokers, but I bet after a honeymoon period use levels off and goes up and down like it always has just like in the Netherlands.

    As for the percentage of problem users staying the same if a drug becomes legal, I’m with you on that. Most of the screw ups who want to do drugs are already doing them. Take marijuana for instance. I don’t think there are that many people out there waiting for it to finally become legal so they can smoke it, but there are a few who won’t smoke it just because it’s illegal. Those aren’t the types likely to turn into total potheads and let it affect their lives in a negative way. These are mostly straight laced people who don’t like to break the rules and who have a fair amount of will power or they’d already be smoking weed. I think the same thing applies to a lesser extent with other drugs. If the other drugs are incredibly addictive, like meth or heroin, whether people are responsible or not if they use these drugs a certain percentage will end up becoming addicted. But, a big percentage of the really screwed up people who are going to do these drugs for the most part are already doing these drugs. I’m talking about the hardcore criminal types and those with mental and emotional problems they self medicate with intoxicants. Most of those guys are already doing drugs and they’re more likely to experience screw up their lives and cause us all a lot of problems with them. But super addictive drugs like meth can sink their hooks into anyone who uses them and even good productive people, good parents, good neighbors and friends can turn into pretty awful people when addicted to these substances.

    I’m all for legalizing pot and regulating it similar to alcohol, but I hope and pray we never do the same with drugs like meth and heroin or even cocaine. We do need to change our laws and treat it more as a health problem, maybe decriminalize and do something like what they are doing in Portugal where they try to identify and treat/manage addicts, but if we start selling pure cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. for ten bucks a gram at stores all over town, we’re going to have a lot more people addicted to these drugs and thes addicts will cause us an awful lot of problems. That’s just the nature of the beast.

    It won’t happen though. We will never legalize a drug like meth because there will never be enough support to do that. We’re getting there with marijuana, approaching 50% support for it nationwide. But how many want the same thing for drugs like meth, 6 or 7%? It’s not going to happen. Those who oppose the legalization of marijuana love to say that those of us who want it legal want all drugs legalized though. You guys who push for full legalization only make it harder for us to get marijuana legalized, and the biggest part of the drug war and all the problems that come from prohibitoin comes from the fact that marijuana is illegal. That’s the most common illegal drug. It’s the one Aericans consume thousands of tons of a year compared to hundreds of tons of all other illegal drugs combined. It’s the backbone of the illegal drugs trade. It’s the one with the massive distribution networks all the other drugs tend to go through. When we legalize it, most of the prohibitoin problems will be gone. Then we can tweak the laws on other drugs, do some “harm reduction” on the laws, and we’ll be in much better shape.

    • strayan

      Because you’re new here, I’ll quickly explain my position. Firstly, I’m anti-drugs. I don’t use alcohol, tobacco or anything other drug unless it’s for therapeutic reasons. In short, I don’t partake in any recreational substance use. I do however, more than anything in the world, think that all drugs (heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine etc) should be legalised so we can tax and regulate them. However under no circumstances should we model our regulatory framework on alcohol – that would be a disaster. Use would skyrocket. Look to tobacco control for the answer (advertising bans, plain packets, health warnings, high taxes).

      And yes, drug labs are dangerous. There was a massive explosion at a winery here in Australia last year that killed a number of people. Alcohol labs would be even more dangerous if we drove the majority of production underground. Since alcohol is not illegal to produce, we can apply OH&S laws that prevent most of these kind of accidents occuring.

    • That is interesting and good to hear, unfortunately we are seeing the exact opposite here. I live in South Florida and work at a drug rehabilitation facility and we have seen a boom in Meth Labs and users since the passing of the psuedoephedrine restriction laws. The DEA released a report, recently, pointing out that since the passage of these laws in various states, those states have seen the emergence of a new illegal drug market for pseudoephedrine. Which has lead to more people using the drug. After retrieving the pills for a producer to make the drug, most producers give them money and a cut of the product in the hopes to get them hooked and only need to give them product later, much more cost effective that way and works like a charm as we have seen. This has also lead to a new form of meth production (The Single Vessel Method) that is faster, has a higher yield, and has overwhelmingly been taking place in moving cars which has made it much harder for police to actually know the number of labs or stop them. I am glad to hear that in your area of the south you are seeing a decrease but it seems to me that the balloon effect almost always comes into play when a prohibition is enacted or expanded such as with psuedoephedrine. That is what we are seeing here.

      I would like to say one thing about the legalization of drugs like meth or heroin. Many people forget that prior to the 1930’s many hard drugs were legal but only with a prescription. A lot of people hear legal and think “I could buy it at 7/11! NEVER!” A legal system could be one run and operated by doctors as a form of harm reduction that incorporates therapy and treatment as a requirement for use. Similar to when they used to prescribe drugs to addicts for their addiction, at that time there was almost no crime or violence related to the drug because it was easily accessible through a doctor and the doctor would act in a manor he believed would be best to help you, or more correctly put to reduce the harms to you and the rest of society. Or how we legally administer Methadone but require on going treatment as part of the legal use of the drug here in Florida. Legal merely means regulated by the government instead of not regulated at all. There are many documents that have been written by highly educated individuals regarding these sort of systems and they are all free and easily accessible at The Drug Policy Alliances website. I would recommend taking a look at a few of them because they give some very good ideas of how to legalize in a manor that does not encourage use but actually encourages treatment and recovery while simultaneously reducing crime, violence, and illegal markets. We know people are going to abuse drugs, approximately 10% of the human population as research has shown us, so why not ensure control from the moment they start and guide them in the direction of health and recovery from the first second? It is hard to accept the idea because we think abstinence is the key but we have seen that education is far more effective then ignorance and “Just Say No!”

      • BigJohn

        Jules, don’t believe the DEA’s nonsense. You want to know why they find meth labs in cars and motel rooms? It’s not because it’s a good idea to cook meth in these places, it’s because these people are drug addicts with nowhere else to cook their dope. These are people without a pot to pee in who sleep on other people’s couches at night, because they’re drug addicts who can’t hold their lives together. Cops love to paint them out as sophisticated criminals with their “mobile meth labs” because it makes law enforcement sound more important and helps them get funding and pass more laws making their jobs even easier.

        Also, take a look at the statistics on meth use. It’s going down, not up. I’m sure there are areas where use is on the rise, but in most of the country it’s on the decline and has been for several years. Yes, there is still smurfing going on, where groups of people are hitting pharmacies everywhere buying up pseudoephedrine, but that was going on in a big way before the pseudo got put behind pharmacy counters. Now that people can buy less at a time and from fewer places, it’s harder to get enough pseudo to keep the batches going that way, and having a whole lot of tweakers involved in a meth cook is a sure fire way to get caught, especially now that they are get their names registered when they buy pseudoephedrine. Desperate drug addicts will do it, and then prosecuting them is so much easier because the cops will produce the logs from all the pharmacies these idiots hit.

        Most meth labs that get busted are labs that produce 10 grams or less per batch. These are small time operations with a cook and a lot of helpers who do most of that dope. There are bigger meth labs, sometimes bigger labs that use smurfers to get their pseudoephidrine, but they don’t tend to last long because too many tweakers are involved and tweakers are screw ups who are always getting busted and rolling over on their suppliers.

        The vast majority of all meth on the market in your area is probably not being produced at meth labs in your area. The vast majority of all the meth consumed in this country is produced by Mexican organized crime, mostly in Mexico but also in California and other western states and they are spreading out. They hit a big Mexican operation in Georgia a few years ago. These guys buy pseudoephidrine by the ton. They don’t mess with boxes of cold pills. Their labs don’t produce a few grams at a time. They have “superlabs” that produce several pounds per batch. Their precursors do not come from pharmacies. If they use the “Red P” method they aren’t scraping their red phosphorous off of matchbook strikepads. They have ways of buying the pure stuff in large bulk purchases, just like they get their pseudoephedrine.

        Anyway, I have to get back to work. I have read just about everything on the Drug Policy Alliance’s website, by the way. And I am not opposed at all to treating addiction as a medical problem, including drug maintenance programs administered by medical professionals.

  • darkcycle

    BigJohn. Legalizing these drugs does not mean selling them like Alcohol or cold medicine. Harm reduction is the name of the game. Once these drugs are regulated you can make them as hard or as easy to get as you see fit, because you have some control over the market. Right now that reduction in the number of home Meth labs is a desirable thing, and making cold medication harder to get has to some extent achieved this. But there would be no need for home labs AT ALL if we had a regulated market.
    Nobody decides that they will go out and throw away their lives for a drug. Addiction has it’s start in more mundane ways. An accident, and a subsequent introduction to pain meds, having a brother with ADHD and stealing his medicine occasionally. If we could prevent addiction by making these things illegal I’d be all for it. But people’s addictions aren’t that simple. Likewise a simple solution like prohibiting this substance and it’s precursors isn’t likely to work very well.
    It is in society’s interest to deal with serious addictions, whether they are to Alcohol (which, I don’t care where you live, causes more death and destruction than Meth) or Heroine or Meth. Addiction is a part of the human condition, and until we can deal with it out of a criminal justice framework, it’s just the revolving door of Prisons, permanent records and unemployment, with no meaningful change and no end to the cycle.

  • Duncan20903

    You mean that Spice isn’t melange? I really thought we were going to see some people folding space after that got popular.
    ————————————————————————————————————————-

    Pete you’re falling into a common trap, and giving a free pass to drinking alcohol as well. It’s a good thing to worry about the overall rate of degenerate addiction, but simply is not a good thing or even valid to worry about the rate of degenerate methamphetamine addiction to the general population in a vacuum.

    Presuming true the assertion of an increase in use in a particular substance after a scheme of limited re-legalization is instituted one must ask, “where did the increase in users come from?” Were they sitting on a bar stool, three sheets to the wind drunk? If so, what difference does it really make? I can easily argue that a raging methamphetamine addict is overall a net benefit to society. There’s a reason that you don’t see meth addicts with 20 years of history addicted to the drug. 20 year drunks are a dime a dozen. Like the fact that smokers have lower overall lifetime health care costs than non-smokers, lifetime costs of meth addicts will be lower than that of drunks. (you don’t need to believe me about smoking costs, just ask the New England Journal of Medicine:
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199710093371506 )

    The choice is hardly a binary either/or choice, either keep extreme draconian punishments or allow the sales reps from the heroin factory to set up displays in the lobby of the local elementary school to cultivate future customers by handing out free samples.

    Either extreme is as absurd and undesirable as the other, and both are straw man distractions in the debate on this subject. Re-legalization in today’s environment affords us the luxury of writing reasonable regulations. It’s tabula rasa, we can write our own ticket withj no worry about the rights of grandfathers. No commercial advertising for example. Perhaps heroin distributed to junkies for free by the government like the Swiss do today after they voted by a margin of more than 2-1 in 2008 to keep heroin legal and free for their junkies.

    It is the epitome of stupidity to insist on clinging to a broken public policy that is a failure proven by decades of continued failure for no other reason that “good intentions”.

    The war on (some) drugs is an unmitigated and epic failure of public policy. It is time to discard the absurd notion that it’s extremist basis can be made to “work” and to move the national discussion to figuring out something that works. If not for ourselves, then for our children.

    • Duncan,

      Care to tell me what the trap is that I fell into? I’m not getting it from your post.

      Also, I did not give a free pass to alcohol. My discussion was about currently illegal drugs.

      • Duncan20903

        Okeydoke, the trap I meant was giving alcohol a free pass which is done by dividing drugs into legal and illegal, which is simply irrelevant pharmacologically.

        My entire point was that degenerate addicts are degenerate addicts, and I don’t really think it important which substance that they prefer for expressing their disease. It’s the disease that’s dangerous.

        BTW, drinking alcohol really is correctly classified with heroin and cocaine pharmacologically. Probably meth as I understand it’s pretty close to cocaine chemically, but that one I haven’t got much experience with.

        I don’t know Pete, I’m really getting the message that I bug you. This is your dog & pony show, so if you want me gone just say the word.

      • No I don’t want you gone, Duncan. I just didn’t see that there was a trap I had fallen into. I didn’t mention alcohol because I was specifically talking about the transition from illegal to legal. In order to include alcohol in that discussion, I suppose I could have mentioned alcohol by going back to alcohol prohibition, but that would have made an already long blog post significantly longer and distracted from the core message I was trying to address.

    • tintguy

      I hate to shoot down your theory D but I was 21 years addicted to meth before I finally broke free. It is rare though. (Sorry, I gotta pat myself on the back in public once in a while.)

  • vicky vampire

    So sad, Its all about control and a police state, a insane pathology to save to save everyone from everything.
    I am seriously in fear for this country.

  • Duncan20903

    So BigJohn, can you tell us what happened to the people who were engaged in raging meth addiction because they could produce it at home? Are they curently sober as the proverbial judge, singing in the church choir on Sunday and Wednesday and helping elderly women negotiate busy traffic intersection in their spare time? Me experiences in assorted 12 step programs and Mr. Ockham tell me that isn’t bloody likely. If you’ve actually talked them into becoming law abiding citizens they’re likely getting high on drinking alcohol or from sniffing model airplane glue.

    What do you get when you use the death penalty to cut down on (some) drugs usage?

    Shanghai is swimming with drunk drivers

    http://shanghaiist.com/2009/08/25/shanghai_is_swimming_with_drunk_dri.php

    Don’t you ever get tired of playing Whac-A-Mole?

  • undrgrndgirl

    alcohol creates far more “julies” than all other drugs combined…

  • malcolm kyle

    Living here in The Netherlands has made it obvious to me that legalized regulation in no way increases consumption. I am surrounded by coffee shops and there’s also a heroin maintenance project 400 yards from my front door. Most of the people I associate with do not even smoke tobacco and I hardly ever see junkies, especially not with the frequency I see them when I visit the UK. I live in the center of The Hague. I often walk two blocks to a convenience store at close to midnight knowing that nothing untoward will happen to me. I know of only one person who has ever had his home burgled and only one other acquaintance who was mugged (at 3:30 AM while wandering around drunk).

    I believe that consumption and addiction of at-present prohibited substances will actually drop, especially in the countries with the strictest prohibition laws. We saw this happen when alcohol prohibition was lifted so I fail to see why this wouldn’t be repeated with heroin, coke and meth. A very large percentage of those addicted to these substances are forced, because of the way prohibition inflates prices, to become dealers themselves. This pyramidal effect means that there are far more dealers desperately trying to push their wares than there would otherwise be under a regime of legalized regulation.

    Here is part of the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley, given before the Senate Hearings of 1926:

    “It has made potential drunkards of the youth of the land, not because intoxicating liquor appeals to their taste or disposition, but because it is a forbidden thing, and because it is forbidden makes an irresistible appeal to the unformed and immature.

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/judgetalley.htm

    And the following paragraphs are from WALTER E. EDGE’s testimony, a Senator from New Jersey:

    “Any law that brings in its wake such wide corruption in the public service, increased alcoholic insanity, and deaths, increased arrests for drunkenness, home barrooms, and development among young boys and young women of the use of the flask never heard of before prohibition can not be successfully defended.”

    “This is not a campaign to bring back intoxicating liquor, as is so often claimed by the fanatical dry. Intoxicating liquor is with us to-day and practically as accessible as it ever was. The difference mainly because of its illegality, is its greater destructive power, as evidenced on every hand. The sincere advocates of prohibition welcome efforts for real temperance rather than a continuation of the present bluff.”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/walteredge.htm

    And here is Julien Codman’s testimony, who was a member of the Massachusetts bar.

    ” ..it has been a pitiable failure; that it as failed to prevent drinking; that it has failed to decrease crime; that, as a matter of fact, it has increased both; that it has promoted bootlegging and smuggling to an extent never known before”

    http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/HISTORY/e1920/senj1926/codman.htm

  • BigJohn

    Duncan, you asked what happened to the raging meth addicts who were cooking dope at home. No, they aren’t all sober. Most probably still do meth, but they aren’t doing a gram a day or more like many were before, now that they actually have to pay for it. Most don’t have access to all the meth they can do like they did before.

    You know, doing a little meth doesn’t make people crazy. It amps them up. It’s like super coffee. People who do a little just speed up some. If they do a lot in one day they speed up a lot but generally aren’t going to be causing people problems because of that.

    Where we really start seeing problems is when people do a lot of meth everyday. They don’t sleep. If you don’t sleep in about 72 hours you are likely to start hallucinating. It really affects your mind. People do tend to go crazy. You get people hallicinating, thinking bugs are crawling under their skin and people are out to get them, and then they’re just doing more and more dope, so they’re in this condition where they’re pretty much losing their minds and they’re amped up. It’s a bad combination, and that’s the state most all of them are in when they do the crazy things you sometimes hear about meth addicts doing. People get hurt or killed. Kids are horribly abused and/or neglected. These people do crazy things, because they are crazy. That’s what being amped up on meth after not sleeping or only sleeping a little bit for days and days on end will do to a person.

    So, no, most of them aren’t sober, but they’re not as big a problem for us because they have to pay for their dope so most aren’t doing nearly as much. And, we don’t have all these “helpers” doing lots of dope too, so probably fewer people are doing it often enough to become addicted, and we have fewer going to prison on long sentnces for cooking dope.

    I think we have way too many laws and that often they do more harm than good, but the laws putting pseudoephedrine behind pharmacy counters actually did do quite a lot of good. I am not at all opposed decriminalizing drugs like meth, coming up with programs that treat it more as a health issue. I’m not opposed to drug maintenance programs for hardcore addicts who aren’t likely to be “cured.” I don’t know if that works as well for speed as it does for heroin, but it’s worth looking into. I think it’s absolutely crazy to give out felony convictions for personal use amounts of any drug, just because people party with an unapproved party substance. I just don’t want drugs like meth being regulated like alcohol and sold cheap to any adult who wants them. I think that would be a big mistake and we’d end up with a lot more addicts who would cause us an awful lot of problems.

    We’re always going to have some prohibition and prohibition related problems. Even if we have something like heroin maintenance programs there would still be a black market for heroin, because only genuine addicts are allowed to participate in these programs. In Siwtzerland I believe they are only letting a small percentage of heroin users in their program, repeat offenders who have not responded well to treatment. They’re still busting people for heroin possession there and still going after the illegal trade in that drug. It’s definitely not “legalized” there, just because they provide it to a limited number of addicts.

    We aren’t on a completely different page here. It just may seem that way.

    • @BigJohn
      “We’re always going to have some prohibition and prohibition related problems.”

      I’m not on that page at all. Prohibition is was and will be a quantifiable evil. It is a cure for addiction far worse for individuals and society that the actual addiction.

      I don’t claim to speak for Duncan or anybody else.

    • tintguy

      I’ve known a few people who would end up in the attic with an AK after one little line but most of us would stay up for a week playing poker a dealing. I’m not saying you can’t consume enough to make you crazy just it’s more dependant on the individual.

  • denmark

    Legal meth was handed out in the 50’s and 60’s by doctor’s across America. It was the mind-set of the women at the time. They really believed they had to have more energy because they had to be the perfect wife and mother. The incredible Multi Tasker …
    On top of the free-flowing legal speed, vanity was an issue. It was the craze then to be slim, attractive and popular by fitting in to the current image of what a modern woman was like. It was mandatory in my mother’s head.

    Meth was something that was in my life for two years many moons ago.
    I ended up not liking it, weed was good enough.

  • BigJohn

    Darkcycle, I mostly agree with you. For instance, I can partially agree with you about prohibiting precursers. People tend to find a way around it. Putting pseudoephedrine behind pharmacy counters did drastically cut down on the number of little kitchen meth labs though. The bulk of what was on the market was never coming from those piddly little labs, but they were a big problem nonetheless and I’m glad we have far fewer of them now though.

    On legalization not necessariy meaning selling these drugs like we sell alcohol, maybe being something like heroin maintenance programs in Switzerland, please refer to my last post to Duncan, the last couple of paragraphs. What they have in Switzerland is not really legalization. When I think of legalization I think of regulating a drug similar to the way we regulate alcohol or even tobacco, or even having less regulation. If you’re only allowing a small fraction of hardcore addicts legal access to a drug like they do with heroin in Switzerland, that’s not really legalization in my book.

    i do agree that alcohol causes a lot more problems than meth, but of course that’s because hardly anyone does meth and most people drink. What would happen if meth was legal like alcohol and sold at stores to adults for ten bucks a gram or whatever? I think most people wouldn’t touch it, but according to government statistics less than 2% of Americans use meth. It wouldn’t take that many more using it to triple or quadruple the number of addicts causing us problems.

    What about meth maintenance programs kind of like heroin maintenance programs in Switzerland? I don’t know how well that would work, but I’m not at all opposed to trying that. At a minimum you take core customers away from organized crime, and you have far fewer addicts selling dope or stealing to support their habits. Couple that with legalizing marijuana to take away the “bread and butter,” the “center of gravity” for organized crime as John Walters called it, and we’ve really done a number on these Mexican drug cartels destabilizing our southern neighbor and causing us a lot of problems here.

    Marijuana is the backbone of the illegal drugs trade. I’ve handled an awful lot of drug mule cases. All the drugs are coming from the same place. I realize that in some parts of the country people don’t consume much Mexican pot, but in many parts of the country it completely dominates the market, and even where Mexican brick is more rare there is a lot of weed being grown in our national forests by these organizations and they are starting to get into the indoor game, the same organizations responsible for bringing in and distributing most of the meth, heroin and cocaine consumed in this country. They just piggy back all that stuff in on top of their pot and run it through the distribution channels they’ve established for pot. They recruit smugglers who’ve proven themselves with pot to smuggle in the cocaine and other drugs. They recruit drug mule organizations and individuals who’ve proven themselves with pot. They use middlemen who have proven themselves with pot to distribute the cocaine and meth and heroin, and those middlemen do the same with retail sellers. Take pot from them and they’ll really be hurting. They’ll lose a huge portion of their income and the infrastructure they have to move these drugs and it will become harder and harder for them to keep recruiting competent people and organizations to get their products in the country, distributed all around the country and finally to the end consumers.

    • darkcycle

      BigJohn. Re-read my post. I agree that putting Pseudoephedrine behind counters reduces the number of home meth labs. It worked pretty well here, as well as in your area, I’m sure. I don’t take issue with this.
      Harm reduction is not strictly “legalization” if unrestricted sales are what you mean by legalization. Switzerland’s system (I’m not specifically aquaited with that system)regardless is not strict prohibition as we have here. Maintenance programs are available for addicts that don’t involve sitting in a prison somewhere. The idea expressed in my post is that addiction, regardless of it’s genesis or the drug involved, will be better handled outside of a criminal justice framework.
      Without getting into an extensive explanation as to what Meth addiction is and it’s treatment (I’m a psychologist, and have had experience with Amphetamine Psychosis, which is also related to the effects of the drug on the brain, and not simply sleep dep) shoud be, I’d like to point out that with meth, the addiction comes with exposure. The purer the meth, and the more prolonged the exposure, the more profound the craving it leaves in the user. When meth is less pure, addiction rates drop. The ideal situation would be to deal with meth users by manipulating the quality of the meth provided to them. Users will quit by themselves when the meth is dirty enough. You could treat it like a taper situation.
      We need to keep in mind that addiction is part of the human condition. There is no way to keep people from becoming addicts, if that’s what they’re pre-disposed to. Why is it we have to treat this as a criminal issue?, it’s NOT. WE MAKE IT a criminal issue by making this behavior criminal. Simple. It’s a public health problem. We don’t use SWAT teams and attack dogs on people with Cancer, do we?
      I see where you’re coming from, and moreover I AGREE with you, but you haven’t quite made the final connection in the sequence.

    • darkcycle

      Oh yeah, good to see you back here BigJohn, we need more lawyers here, and I like your take on this stuff.

  • BigJohn

    Fixitman, okay, you have the right to believe what you want to believe. Do you think we’ll ever completely legalize all drugs though? I bet marijuana is legalized within 10 years, 15 tops. Support for legalizing pot has risen to over 45% and it continues to grow. The old voters and legislators most opposed to it are dying off or becoming too old to vote or legislate. It’s only a matter of time before we legalize it and regulate it like alcohol.

    What do the polls say about support for legalizing drugs like meth? Support hovers somewhere around 6% or so. It’s just not something likely to happen in our lifetimes or our children’s. Pot isn’t that bad. It is for the most part less harmful to users and innocent people than alcohol. Over half of all American adults under 65 have smoked it. I think it would already be legal if so many weren’t afraid that would open the door to legalization of all other drugs. I don’t think it would, because support for legalizing them is so low and not likely to ever be as high as support for legalizing marijuana. Most activists really only care about marijuana. When pot is legal there will be very few people left complaining so much about prohibition because most don’t want drugs like meth to be legal.

    You are welcome to believe what you want to believe and fight for what you want to fight for. You’ll die a frustarated man though if you fight for legalization of all drugs. Maybe it would be better to fight for legalization of marijuana and just more sensible laws with respect to the other stuff, laws that treat it more like a health issue, laws that keep so many from having crminal records and going to prison, that sort of thing. You’d stand a much better chance of actually accomplishing some good if you focused not on complete legalization but on changing the laws so they cause us fewer problems, so prohibition of the really hard stuff causes us fewer problems.

    • You too may believe what you want to believe. I may indeed die a frustrated man.
      You seem to think re-legalizing cannabis a legitimate pursuit but not the end of prohibition entirely because it seems that you may have majority support for it.
      That sort of “go along to get along” attitude seems particularly disturbing coming from some one who professes to be a public defender. I should think that you must recognize that the unfortunate people that you see from that perspective are very rarely impacted in a positive way by the legal system.
      Yes we should and probably will be able to re-legalize cannabis. Just because you, the DEA, Gill, and all the others sucking on the teet of prohibition don’t see the massive damage of prohibition to individuals and society (including but not limited to: allowing police the ability to break down my door and shoot me and/or my dog; Then steal my money and property even though I’ve never been convicted of any crime,) doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
      Perhaps I am tilting at windmills…but I can’t in good conscience pretend that Prohibition is good in any way.

      • BigJohn

        Public defenders “sucking on the teet of prohibition?” That’s funny. You do realize that most public defenders are paid a very small salary and not by the case, don’t you? Most aren’t big fans of the drug war at all. Public defenders work ridiculously large caseloads to begin with and all the stupid drug cases only add to the workload and make it even more difficult to find the time to adequately represent your clients. I was making $46,000 a year when I left the public defender office. I hated drug cases not just because they added to my caseload, but because i hated seeing all these people ending up with bad criminal records and/or going to prison on long sentences over piddly little drug crimes when I’d see real criminals getting much shorter sentences. I hated the way our drug task force was always pushing people to be confidential informants and go out and set several people up for these gram or less powder drug sales. I think a lot of the people being busted weren’t even real drug dealers, just fellow drug users thinking they were helping out a friend. It’s an ugly business. I hate it.

        I haven’t been a public defender in years. I still hate the drug war even though I do get paid to represent people in drug crimes. Most criminal defense lawyers hate the drug war, and very few make most of their money from drug crimes. You only see that in big cities really. In smaller towns you rarely see people who only handle criminal cases because there just isn’t enough business. In my area the public defender gets a good 75 to 80% of all criminal cases. And unless you’re representing organized crime, drug cases don’t generally pay that well because your clients tend to either be young and have no money or they’re miserable drug addicts with no money, or drug mules who are usually poor people who are not professional criminals who couldn’t resist the temptation to make a couple of grand just driving a preloaded vehicle across the country.

        Criminal defense attorneys in general in most cases oppose the war on drugs and do quite bit of lobbying to change the laws. Go to some meetings for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers or the state branches of this organization and you’ll see what I mean.

        I can’t in good conscience fight for the legalization of all drugs because I’ve dealt with far too many drug addicts over the years as an attorney and I’ve seen drugs like meth and cocaine destroy too many lives and end up causing a lot of harm to innocent people in my personal life in my 46 years on this planet. I don’t want drugs like heroin, cocaine and meth for sale cheap at local stores to any adult who wants to buy them. I believe that would be a recipe for disaster. I do think we need to change the way we deal with the problem of these highly addictive drugs. I would like to see us treat them much more like a health issue and a nuisance issue and much less of a major criminal issue. I do see that prohibition causes a lot of harm to society, but I think that we could minimize that harm considerably without fully legalizing these drugs.

        And I could care less if I ever get another drug case. Most of the time there is not much I can do for these people except get them the best deal I can get them because most of the time they are either caught with the drug or they are caught on tape selling the drugs. These are hand in the cookie jar cases. You read about people getting off on “technicalities” sometimes but in reality that is very rare. The vast majority will get convicted, and here in the Bible Belt where people still are still on that holy crusade against drugs and everyone involved in them people tend to get really harsh sentences for drug crimes, especially when it comes to drug sales cases, no matter how small the amount.

    • tintguy

      Please tell me what laws could be implemented- whithin a prohibition structure- that would have prevented a future me (as a 21 year old trying to survive a resession in the early 80’s) from veiwing a prohibited but very popular substance (that I also happened to enjoy recreating with) as a way to keep a roof over my head. That’s how I and countless others ended up addicted.
      Whenever somthing is prohibited it becomes too valuable to control.

      • BigJohn

        What laws could be implemented that would keep someone from breaking the laws? So this was an attractive nuisance you just couldn’t resist? You know at some point you have to take responsibility for your own mistakes and stop blaming them on everyone else or you will continue to do stupid things. You didn’t have to sell this drug you became addicted to. That was your decision. If you play you pay. Recession or not most people are able to get jobs and work for a living, even if it might not be a great living and the work might suck.

        It is true though that all the money to be made is a huge temptation and some people aren’t going to be able to resist that temptation whether it’s just greed at work or they’re in tough spots in life and the opportunity to make easy money that they desperately need presents itself. We saw the same thing happen during alcohol prohibition. A lot of people who weren’t normally law breakers got caught up in the booze supplying game, producing it, smuggling it in on fishing boats, bootlegging, selling, etc. etc. That is going to be a problem any time you have have an illegal substance for which there is high demand.

        I don’t see a fix for that short of legalization, but legalizing marijuana and having some drug maintenance programs would take an awful lot of money out of the equation and reduce the temptation a good bit.

      • tintguy

        BigJohn
        February 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm

        What laws could be implemented that would keep someone from breaking the laws? So this was an attractive nuisance you just couldn’t resist? You know at some point you have to take responsibility for your own mistakes and stop blaming them on everyone else or you will continue to do stupid things……….

        Wow John. How do ya really feel? You sound like the typical kind of person who has no clue of what it means to be truly poor and young with no where to turn. I didn’t have a mommy and daddy to fall back on or give me proper guidence as a teen. Some orphans are lucky enough to be adopted by responsible families but that was not the case for my brother and I.

        I’m not casting blame. I know my mistakes were my responsibility; just holding my life up as a real world example of the results of our drug laws. Thank you for assuming me to be what you think to be the typical addict but I’m going to try not to return the favor.

        I can see that your mindset is firmly in the position that an addict/dealer is a criminal but guess what? I never in my life ever broke any law other than drugs and traffic laws. Never stole to support my habit or buy a diaper. Never put my habit before the well being of my kids or wife. Never inflicted violence on anyone. My kids have grown up to be drug free even though (or maybe because) they grew up watching their father battling his addiction and I’m still married to a straight after 24 years.

        I’ve been meth free for nearly 9 years now and should be (according to conventional logic) the last person to want to see easier access to drugs but the truth is that our laws are counter productive and no shade of prohibition will ever accomplish the results you would like to see.

      • tintguy

        “stop blaming them on everyone else…”
        You assume that my pionting out that prohibition contributed to my addiction that I am somehow shifting blame to other people? How does that work? I wasn’t aware that laws are living entities.

        And as much as I have tried to restrain myself….. How dare you…. oh fuck it

      • Duncan20903

        Better an addict/dealer than an addict/thief.

        Perhaps a better point is how many people become drunks vs the general population because they were dealing that drug. No, the number isn’t 0, there are plenty of retired bartenders going to AA meetings today.

      • BigJohn

        tintguy, like I said, the money to be made can be a huge temptation for people in tough spots in life. I’m not really judging you. I am saying though that ultimately people are responsible for their own actions and if you deal meth you’re likely to suffer some negative repercussions. It does sound like you’re saying that but for the prohibition of meth you would not have become addicted, and I think that’s kind of a stretch. You said you liked it. What if it was really cheap and you could buy at a store down the street? Seems to me that if people liked it and they could get it really cheap they’d do more of it and would be more likely to become addicted. I could have seen that happening with me with cocaine.

        one of the things that worries me about legalization where we allow sales to anynoe is that these drugs not only become more easily available and much less scary to buy because you are dealing with a nice clean shop instead of some of the shady people you are likely to have to deal with now to get it, is that the drugs would probably have to become pretty cheap. Cocaine, meth and heroin are all really cheap to make now in large batches. The markup is unbelievably high. If we sell these drugs at current street prices, there is actually plenty of room for illicit suppliers to cut prices and sell these drugs much cheaper on the street. Also, one of the problems with the expense of these drugs is that it does make it such that addicts are often compelled to steal or deal to support their habits and themselves, so a lot of people argue that people need access to these drugs and they need to be very cheap. Do we end up with them being very cheap at the store or are they expensive and there are so many hurdles put in front of people that it drives them to black market sources anyway?

        I don’t think there is an easy fix. As long as there is an illicit market for these drugs there will be a temptation for people to sell them. That money is tempting.

        I want to be clear though, I am not saying you’re a bad guy. I am saying that what lead you to becaome addicted was your decisons, and yes, stupid decisions. We all make some really stupid decisions in our lives. I’ve made plenty. And I’ve done meth too, man, many times and cocaine and LSD and ecstacy and mushrooms and all manner of pills and I even snorted heroin one time. And to be quite honest, if I were to say that I never engaged in conduct that was enough for a conviction on a delivery of a controlled substance charge, I’d be damned liar.

        I’m not saying you’re a criminal or a horrible person or anything like that. I’m just saying that ultimately you are responsible for getting addicted to meth. Your environment, money problems, a genetic predisposition, the temptation of the money you could make that kept you in free dope, bad luck, etc., may also share some of the blame for it, but in the end it’s all about the choices we make.

      • tintguy

        Jonh:
        “It does sound like you’re saying that but for the prohibition of meth you would not have become addicted”
        I’m saying without prohibition in general meth wouldn’t be so popular.

        “What if it was really cheap and you could buy at a store down the street?” It was really cheap at my buddies dope store around the corner and I didn’t have a problem until after I’d been selling it for several months. I enjoyed cross tops and beauties too but never ran afoul of those either even though they were quite accessible in my neighborhood. I love beer but I’m not a drunk even though I can buy it anywhere and both my biological parents were drunks.

        “I’m not saying you’re a criminal or a horrible person”
        Really? What am I to think of “take responsibility for your own mistakes and stop blaming them on everyone else or you will continue to do stupid things” other than that you are implying I’m your idea of a cookie-cutter tweeker?

        Ya know what? Don’t tell me how easy it is for me to make better choices in life when you obviously have no idea what it’s like to be in the situations I have.

  • DdC

    Our country runs on, and was built on a meth mindset. Sleep is for lazy people. Up at the “crack” of dawn. Are you shy and quiet? Pop some bennies. Can’t make that all night run delivering produce, pop some black beauties, too fat, swallow some diet pills. Or moma’s lil pick me ups. Give them soldiers dexies and the flyboys go go pills. Don’t want to get drunk, snort some coke. Children acting up with ADHD, kiddie speed will do the trick. Coffee and soda are filled with caffeine. Workers smoking crystal boats for overtime, the second shift to pay the rent. Or the future leaders sitting in class, cramming midterms popping white crosses. Just don’t mellow out with Ganja. Oh but let’s make it all illegal, that will solve the problem. Let’s make personal responsibility for your actions legal. Or we could focus on actual crime with real victims. Remember what the hippies said. Speed Kills!

    Ice: The new menace and horror to society

    Driven the backroads so I wouldn’t get weighed
    And if you give me weed, whites and wine
    And you show me a sign
    And I’ll be willin’ to keep on movin’

    Air Force ‘Go-Pill’ Deemed Hazardous
    Speed and downers are commonly issued to American forces,
    according to the Toronto Star (Sept 14th, 2002). An investigation report into an incident earlier this year when a US Air Force pilot in Afghanistan attacked friendly forces, revealed that Major Harry Schmidt had been issued “go pills” shortly before dropping a laser guided bomb on a company of Canadian Light Infantry, killing four soldiers and wounding another eight.

    Meth Farce

    Three million children receiving stimulant drugs for ADHD

  • Anonymous

    One argument I also use against the argument that legalization will dramatically increase use/abuse is that legalization also allows for enforcement of age limits. Sure, that may be more applicable to marijuana considering it’s a substance associated with youth, but it’s equally true for every other drug out there.

    My point usually is: Yes, some adults will choose to consume once it’s legal, but some minors (hopefully the majority of them) will no longer be able to get their hands on the substance. And yeah, many of them will still get it regardless, but that’s better than a situation where ALL kids can get it regardless of age. In prohibition, all kids can get drugs; in legalization, some kids an get drugs. This, I think, accounts for a small decrease in drug use/abuse.

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing 2000 additional adult abusers of methamphetamine (provided they have available treatment options), if it went hand in hand with 1000 less underage users.

    Just my two cents.

  • vicky vampire

    Yes Malcolm,I totally believe you,that legalized regulation of pot in Netherlands has made it in no way increased consumption,but there being certain conservatives,and prohibs,and health folks,, and relgious do gooders, will absolutely tell that in good old USA all bets are off cause are appetites here are out of control and were are not the same has smaller countries BLAH BLAH.Its difficult to convince them.
    Yeah Ddc I had forgotten that Air-force Go Pill Story,thanks for reminding everyone again,that is a speed farce,Legal Meth for Air Force, good one.

  • vicky vampire

    Yeah you can call me,crazy put pseudophedrine behind counter,but I will never agree it being prescription,yes I’ve heard the arguments above,what most do not comprehend some these folks in authority do not really give a crap about Drug abuse its Fraking control I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist.
    Look there are some in government who would if they could make all Vitamins supplements prescription only and ban some completely these folks are insane and dangerous. Think about it WTF is not being regulated to extreme in this country lately.

  • There are many reasons for legalization. Far too many people are unjustly targeted by aggressive police for modest, recreational use of marijuana, often with dire consequences. For a dramatic and page-turning look at this issue, check out the novel STASH published by Random House at http://www.bydavidklein.com.

  • vicky vampire

    Thanks David Klein I love to read will put Stash on near future book to purchase.
    Yes its a scary premise in book.

  • Paul

    I was very interested to read BigJohn’s comments, because he has a lot of first hand experience in seeing what meth can do to a person when things really run off the rails.

    I can certainly see why a pure legalization strategy would be scary to people like him and Megan McArdle, even though they both recognize the harms caused by prohibition. While there are a few people who would like a pure legalization approach, that’s probably not going to happen. Instead, we may be able to achieve a regulatory approach that achieves the aims of ending prohibition harms and restricting access enough to prevent a rise in use and addiction.

    I don’t like the Portugal approach because it is so vague and hazy, but it is still much better than our lock ’em up approach. Personally, I would like to see the hard drugs available behind the counter at pharmacies, where at least someone could give you a lecture about your health. This would prevent kids from getting the drugs directly. Alternatively, the drugs could be available prescription only, but that may not work as people would do illegal things to get around the prescription hassle.

    All here, including Big John, seem to believe prohibition is very harmful. We’re pretty much on the same side, so rather than tear into each other over the purity of our ideology, we should be aiming to find a common ground we can all accept.

    What do you think, BigJohn? Would you be willing to get behind a regulatory scheme like that? The benefits in ending prohibition are enormous, while the cost in extra addiction may be small if we can get the balance right.

    • BigJohn

      Would I be willing to get behind a regulatory scheme that allows over the counter sale of drugs like meth and heroin and cocaine at pharmacies? No, I wouldn’t. If it was by prescription only to addicts not likely to kick their habits anytime soon, I might be okay with that.

      Look, I’ve done plenty of drugs. I’ve smoked piles and piles of pot and I’ve played around a little with just about every other drug. I have to admit, I kind of liked cocaine. I didn’t do it very much because it was so expensive and you just never knew what you were going to get. It was always cut and sometimes you were buying mostly baby laxative. I grew out of that stage in my life and never became addicted to anything (except cigarettes and coffee).

      Looking back, I’m really glad I couldn’t buy cocaine for ten bucks a gram at the convenience store where I bought my beer. It could easily be that cheap. You can still get it for a good bit less than that in Colombia right now. Last I heard people I know paid like $4 a gram there. Mass produced in a legal environment it could be super cheap here. I think people would be really tempted by that. It makes you feel all pumped and energized, kind of like the high you might be on after your ball team wins the big game. If you don’t overdo it it’s great for a night of partying. It can wake you up better than coffee in the morning too, and maybe pick you up throughout the day at work after a long night of partying. I think a lot of people could involved innocently thinking they’d only do a little and be responsible about it, but it’s so cheap and easy to get that they buy some for a rough day after a long night. Friends are offering them a few lines all the time (which doesn’t happen nearly as much now because it’s so expensive). They’re quickly doing it more often than they meant to and before long they are completely into it. I think we’d see a lot more people getting addicted to cocaine than we do now.

      And heroin, that’s a drug that is virtually nonexistent in my area. The only time I’ve ever seen it was while in the army in Germany. I’ve handled literally thousands of pounds worth of drug cases and in all my years have only had one heroin case and it was one where a couple of guys driving on the interstate headed for an eastern state were caught with a few pounds of it. I’ve never had a heroin possession case. We see meth, cocaine, marijuana and other drug cases all the time but we rarely ever have heroin possession cases running through courts in my area. We have lots of drug addicts, but not heroin addicts. Why would we want heroin sold at stores here? Even pharmacies? Hell, back in the days where I wanted to try it all I would have walked into a pharmacy and bought some heroin. I was invincible. Addiction was something that only happened to weak or stupid people and I was neither (I know better now).

      You can buy beer at Walgreens, and cigarettes. I don’t really think it would be a good idea to allow them to sell cocaine and meth and heroin over the counter too.

      I don’t think everyone would use these drugs if they were completely legal, but so few use them now that it really wouldn’t be a big stretch for us to have several times as many drug addicts as we do now. Look at the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Now, I know that there is a lot of underreporting on this thing and that they only go to homes and aren’t going to find a lot of drug addicts living on the streets, but the percentage of people using these drugs is still going to be very low. According to the 2009 NSDUH .1 of Americans 12 and older were past month users of heroin, .7% were past month users of cocaine, and .2% were past month users of methamphetamine. Less than one percent of Americans use any of these drugs. Significantly less than one percent use heroin or meth. If just a few pore people out of every hundred started using these drugs it would be an absolute explosion in the number of users and we could quite easily end up with several times as many addicts.

      Having spent an awful lot of time dealing with people addicted to the hard stuff over the years I know we don’t want to have several times as many people in the same miserable condition. It’s awful for them and the people thay are responsible for and those that love them and often innocent people who would rather have nothing to do with them who get caught up in their messes unwillingly. Hard drug addicts are generally burdens on society, often in a big way. We really don’t need a whole lot more of them.

      I really think that legalizing marijuana will end up reducing the use of other drugs in the long run and hopefully we can work on the system to cut out huge part of the harm that prohibiting these other drugs causes. I think legalizing marijuana will reduce use of other drugs because it’s going to take millions of people out of the black market for illegal drugs where they end up being exposed to these hard drugs because they’re often sold by the same people selling the marijuana. I think it’s going to make it a lot harder for organized crime groups who supply these drugs to get them out to end consumers. There is an enormous amount of turnover in the drug business. People quit dealing in drugs often as they get older. People die. People go to prison. There has to be a constant supply of fresh recruits and they’re mostly coming from the marijuana business and quite often it’s marijuana customers who end up being offered these drugs because so often the same suppliers up the line are supplying the pot and the other drugs. Marijuana is by far the most popular illegal drug. The amount of pot sold and consumed absolutely dwarfs the amount of all other illegal drugs combined. The infrastructure, the distribution networks, for marijuana are vast and make a perfect conduit through which to move all the other stuff. When we start running pot through legal channels from production to the point it reaches end consumers, the big guys up the line supplying cocaine and other drugs are going to have a harder time getting them to end consumers.

      If I were king I’d legalize the production and sales of marijuana today and regulate it similar to alcohol. I’d decriminalize simple possession of all other drugs and set up a system kind of like they have in Portugal where our main focus is identifying addicts and getting them treatment. I would try drug maintenance programs especially in large cities where doses are administered on site so that people can’t get these drugs free or really cheap and turn around and sell them on the street. I would change the way we go about punishing small time dealers. In my area most delivery cases involve one gram or less of powder drugs and these people face up to life in prison for selling any amount, which is crazy. Almost all of them will plead guilty and they’ll get much longer sentences on average than career burglars. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a drug user sell drugs to another drug user than come into my house and steal my stuff. I’d much rather see people getting into drug court programs or other supervised programs where they have a way to keep their records clean, especially first offenders.

      When we get marijuana legalized the black market for drugs will shrink to a tiny fraction of it’s current size because 80% of illegal drug users are marijuana users. The problem will be much smaller and much easier to manage. It’s not going to go away. It’s just a nuisance we have to manage and I believe that can be done much more effectively for less money than we spend now and in a way where prohibition causes far less harm and our system is much more humane. And maybe I am advocating for a little less prohibition because I do believe drug maintenance programs are worth trying for known addicts that aren’t responding well to treatment yet.

  • strayan

    In Sweden, ‘snus’ (a form smokeless tobacco) use is on the rise, yet tobacco related harms are declining because cigarettes use has fallen dramatically. Smokers in Sweden are switching to snus – a less harmful tobacco product (by orders of magnitude). At this point I want to present you with two important facts. Firstly, majority of smokers, when surveyed, indicate a desire to quit smoking (unsurpringly few people want to be cigarettes abusers) Secondly, in Sweden, research indicates that smokers are using snus as a way to quit smoking. Great – they’re doing it by themselves!

    No sane person would believe that Julie aspired to becoming an ‘ice freak’ or wanted the life she lived. I can bloody well guarantee that, like the majority of tobacco smokers, the majority of problem meth addicts want to quit. But is a safer alternative to IV or smokable forms of meth more or less accessible to meth addicts like snus is to nicotine addicts in Sweden? It isn’t. What’s the safer alternative?

    This: http://www.lundbeckinc.com/usa/products/cns/desoxyn/default.asp

    Only methamphetamine tablets aren’t approved as a substitution therapy. In Sydney, Australia we give meth users struggling to quit, dexamphetamine tablets (we let the rest quit all by themselves; the majority of all addicts do). Still though, it’s easier to buy street meth or ‘ice’ than it is to acquire a script for dexamphetamine. It shouldn’t be.

    Anyway, back to tobacco. We have much higher rates of tobacco related harms here in Australia than Sweden does, because we prohibited the kind of smokeless tobacco that’s available and highly accessible over the counter in Sweden. We, made a safer tobacco MORE DIFFICULT for addicts to get than cigarettes. That, my friends, is insanity.

  • daksya

    One thing that legalization can allow is R&D into developing drugs that will help manage drug offset and pharmacological tolerance, so that users don’t go on a 4-day binge in order to stave off the crash.

  • malcolm kyle

    BigJohn, transform’s outstanding book titled, After the War on Drugs: Blueprints for Regulation, provides specific proposals for how drugs could be regulated in the real world. The book is available for free online. If you would like to read it then here it is: http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blueprint%20download.htm

    And here’s some info on Swiss Heroin-assisted treatment (HAT)

    http://www.bag.admin.ch/themen/drogen/00042/00629/00798/01191/index.html?lang=en

    At the end of 2009, 1356 patients were undergoing HAT at 21 outpatient centres and in 2 prisons.

    HAT is now being carried out at centres in Basle, Bern, Biel, Brugg, Burgdorf, Chur, Geneva, Horgen, Lucerne, Olten, Reinach, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thun, Winterthur, Wetzikon, Zug, Zürich and in two prisons Oberschöngrün (canton Solthurn) and Realtà (canton Graubünden).

    Results

    In many cases, patients’ physical and mental health has improved, their housing situation has become considerably more stable, and they have gradually managed to find employment. Numerous participants have managed to reduce their debts. In most cases, contacts with addicts and the drug scene have decreased. Consumption of non-prescribed substances declined significantly in the course of treatment.

    Dramatic changes have been seen in the situation regarding crime. While the proportion of patients who obtained their income from illegal or borderline activities at the time of enrolment was 70%, the figure after 18 months of HAT was only 10%.

    Each year, between 180 and 200 patients discontinue HAT. Of these patients, 35-45% are transferred to methadone maintenance, and 23-27% to abstinence-based treatment.

    The average costs per patient-day at outpatient treatment centres in 1998 came to CHF 51. The overall economic benefit – based on savings in criminal investigations and prison terms and on improvements in health – was calculated to be CHF 96. After deduction of costs, the net benefit is CHF 45 per patient-day.

  • Shap

    A public defender who is not only in favor of the incarceration of his clients for non-violent conduct but is also in favor of maintaining the violent black market for “hard drugs.” I personally know state attorneys that are more logical and in favor of freedom from the nanny state. Shameful.

    • BigJohn

      If that was directed toward me, I am not a public defender anymore and I am not in favor of incarceration of my drug clients and I would love to shrink the black market for drugs down considerably. I’m just not for having drugs like meth, heroin and cocaine sold cheap at convenience stores.

      Drugs like heroin and meth are going to be a problem no matter what laws we have. If we allow them to be sold like alcohol we’re quite likely going to have several times as many addicts causing us a lot of problems. Prohibition like we have now causes us a lot of problems. I am not for the status quo at all, but I’m not onboard with those who want full legalization either.

      But hey, if you want to attack me, I salute you with my middle finger.

      • strayan

        Who is proposing meth be sold at convenience stores or like alcohol?

        We want people to stop using meth.

        Meanwhile, is tobacco use going up or down? Remember it’s sold at convenience stores across the nation.

      • BigJohn

        strayan, I’ve seen many people here advocate for legalizing all drugs and taxing and regulating them similar to the way we do with alcohol. Others advocate prescription only sales or over the counter at pharmacy sales. Prescription sales are different, but over the counter sales to any adult who wants them is just about like selling them at convenience stores or stores similar to liquor stores.

        As for cigarette use going down, I see that, but compare how many people who smoke cigarettes today to the percentage of people who use meth. That argument might hold water when it comes to marijuana. We have more teens in some age group reporting marijuana use than cigarette use. We already have high percentages of people using marijuana. A good bit less than one out of a hundred use meth. Almost no one in my area uses heroin because you can’t find the stuff and if you want meth you have to deal with scary tweakers, unsavory people most people don’t want anything to do with. I believe that if we started selling these drugs in nice clean stores like we sell alcohol moist people would not touch them but some would and since so few use them now it wouldn’t take but a few people out of a hundred more to make it such that we have several times as many users as we have now.

        Now, if you want to talk about drug maintenance programs for hardcore addicts treatment isn’t helping, that’s different. I’m not opposed to that. It would be cheaper than keeping them locked up or wasting money sending them through treatment program after treatment program and it would probably stop a lot of small time dealing and thefts.

    • BigJohn

      And another thing, with your logic if a public defender believes anything ought to be illegal it’s shameful, because then in your mind he’s in favor of incarceration of his clients. And I’ll tell you, attorneys do sometimes believe their clients belong in prison and there is not a thing wrong with that. If I have a career thief as a client charged with several new burglaries and he’s obviously guilty and telling me the only thing he did wrong this time was trust the wrong people, guess where I think the S.O.B. belongs? We’re all a lot better off if he’s locked up as long as possible because he’s going to continue to steal and victimize hundreds more people over the years. I’m still going to do the best work I can for him because that’s my job, but hell yeah I think the guy belongs in prison. I have walked away from many cases like that when it was all over thinking that in a fair world that made sense my client would have gone down for a long time and my low level drug offender clients should have gotten drug court or something rather than the years and years they got in prison.

      It’s frustrating as hell to see how the system works from the inside sometimes. I hate the way we handle drugs possession and delivery cases in our system and I do everything I can for the people I represent in these cases, but usually they were caught red handed and they’re at the mercy of the prosecutor or a jury packed with silver haired fundamentalists crusading in the war on drugs and they’re going to hammer my client and in most cases will recommend a sentence much worse than we can get in a plea agreement. Juries around here have given people life for selling a half a gram of meth, twenty or thirty years is not uncommon even for such a small amount.

      Do you think I like that? Lock up a career thief for ten years and no one will commit the thefts he was going to commit for him. Lock up a guy caught selling a half a gram of meth for the same amount of time and anyone who would have bought from him will just buy from someone else. What we’re doing makes no sense whatsoever.

      Just because I don’t think it’s a good idea to sell meth at the 7 Eleven doesn’t mean I am for the crazy laws we have today. But I’m shameful because I have a different opinion than you on how we should handle drug issues? Okay. Whatever.

      • tintguy

        Here is what you don’t seem to understand:
        Meth wouldn’t be such a problem if prohibition weren’t in place. The same types of folks who could get a pill that wasn’t as addictive or as personally destructive as meth no longer have that option due to the war on drugs.

  • Shap

    Ha, my point was about a PD wanting his client to go to jail for a NONVIOLENT “crime.” Huge difference between a defense attorney wanting his client to go to prison over harming others or being a person who habitually harms others, and a defense attorney who is in favor of law enforcement as a solution to drug addiction. My attack wasn’t necessarily personal to you but was more against the intellectually dishonest argument that marijuana prohibition is a failure and should end but we should continue to solve the problem of “hard drug” addiction with police. Another issue is that where there has been decriminalization of all drugs including meth and heroin, there has not been this apocalyptic scenario of skyrocketing or even moderately upward trending addiction. Mostly I just find it disappointing that someone who has seen more of the destructive impact of our drug crminalization than most as a result of experience in a PD office still isn’t in favor of ending the war on drugs (stated differently, legalizing, regulating, and taxing all drugs).

    • BigJohn

      You haven’t really read any of my posts, have you? I don’t have a problem with decriminalizing possession of drugs. I’ve said in a couple of posts that I think that we ought to do something like what they do in Portugal.

      But since you bring up Portugal I’d like to know if you have any idea what is going on there. Drugs are decriminalized, but they are still not completely legal and drug sales are still very much against the law, and police are still involved in simple possession cases. They take drugs they find and send people to a committee that decides what sort of treatment the people need, if any. And guess what happens to people who don’t do what the committee says? Oh, and just for factual accuracy, there has actually been a slight increase in drug use in Portugal recently I believe. I don’t see that as a big deal at all though because drug use goes up and down everywhere regardless of the laws and they are saving a lot of money with their system. It’s more humane. They’re doing away with a lot of the harms associated with modern drug criminalization and overall it’s been a good thing for them.

      Also I don’t see any intellectual dishonesty in being for legalizing and regulating marijuana but not drugs like meth. First off, marijuana is nothing like drugs like meth or cocaine or heroin. It’s not particulalry addictive. Most use is casual and infrequent and causes no harm to anyone. It’s less harmful than alcohol to users and society for the most part.

      There are other reasons why I think it makes sense to legalize marijuana but not drugs like meth. This one will be controversial with you and others here, but while I know that prohibition never works very well, it does seem to work better for some drugs than others. If a drug is hardly used by anyone and we prohibit sales, we actually are making it harder for people to obtain. As I talked about in another post, heroin is virtually nonexistent in my area. We almost never see heroin cases coming through our courts and usually when we do it’s someone passing through who was caught with it. Hell, I looked for heroin when I was young and dumb and wanting to try it all and I couldn’t find any here. What happens if we start selling at a few stores here tomorrow? Most who haven’t tried it won’t, but some people will and pretty soon we’d have a bunch of heroin addicts when we had none before.

      That’s an extreme example. Drugs like meth and cocaine are far more easily available here, but still they are far less available than alcohol or even marijuana. It would be hard to go through life here and never have chances to smoke pot. Odds are you’ll have multiple opportunities. Unless you run in certain circles though you may very well never see meth or cocaine because far fewer people use these drugs. If you’re being offered these drugs all the time it’s a lot more likely that you’d try them than if you’re never offered them and the only way you could get them is to seek them out and deal with people yould rather avoid like the plague.

      Also, higher prices caused by prohibition do limit availibility of these drugs. cocaine is an expensive drug. It’s cheaper than when I was young and dumb but it’s still pricey. If you’re young and at a party it’s not that uncommon for people to break out some weed and pass it around, but the guys doing coke are hiding in the bathroom because they don’t want to share their expensive stash. You’re a lot less likely to be offered a drug like cocaine not only because so few use it or sell it compared to marijuana, but also because it’s very expensive.

      Pot is really dirt cheap on a buzz for buzz basis. Even the expensive stuff is generally pretty cheap because generally it’s really potent and most people hardly need to smoke any of it to get high. Unless you’re getting ripped off or you’re someone who just doesn’t get high easy, you get a buzz from pot for pennies, maybe a couple of bucks. It’s extremely prevalent. It’s everywhere and if you’re young you’re going to know all sorts of people that smoke it and you’ll probably be offered pot many times, free. That joint/pipe will get passed your way. And if you want to buy it it’s not hard at all to find several sources and really not so expensive buy.

      So, pot is not particularly addictive or prone to causing problems for users or society, unlike these other drugs. It’s a popular drug that’s already cheap and easily available everywhere, so banning sales doesn’t do a lick of good. And there’s more. As I discussed in other posts I believe that pot is really the back bone of the current illegal drug market. The vast majority of the cocaine, meth and heroin consumed in this country is coming from Mexican organized crime groups. They also prouce a huge amount of the marijuana consumed here. They produce Mexican brick that they smuggle in and distribute all over the country. They also produce huge amounts of “mids” that they grow in our national forests and they are increasingly getting in on the indoor game. Marijuana is by far the most popular illegal drug. About 80% of all illegal drug users smoke pot and for most that’s the only illegal drug they use. Americans consume thousands of tons of marijuana every year compared to only hundreds of tons of all other illegal drugs combined.

      Remember our old drug czar, John Walters. He said marijuana is the “bread and butter,” the “center of gravity” for Mexican cartels. He was absultely right in that one instance. Estimates vary, but when he was in office the ONDCP said that around 60% of Mexican cartel income is from marijuana sold in this country. I don’t know exactly what percentage of their income comes from pot, but I know it’s a huge amount and that the bulk of all smuggling and drug transactions is marijuana smuggling and marijuane transactions.

      If we want to hit these guys hard we’ll take marijuana from them. They’ll lose a huge portion of their income and the entire landscape of the illegal drug markets will change. As it is successful pot smuggleers are tapped to smuggle drugs like cocaine and successful pot mules or mule organizations are tapped to transport these other higher profit margin drugs around the country. Successful mid level drug pot dealers are offered drugs like cocaine to pass onto their customer who in trun pass them on to retail pot dealers. A huge portion of these drugs gop through the same channels as pot to pot consumer customers who are perfect targets because they already like to party and aren’t opposed to using illegal drugs or likely to report someone who offers them other drugs to the authorities.

      If we legalize pot, not only do we deprive cartels of a huge portion of their income, but we take away the massive distribution networks for pot that make perfect conduits through which to move all these other drugs and get them out to consumers who like to party and aren’t likely to go to the cops. I really believe this will make it much harder for the cartels to sell their other drugs and will result in a reduction of use of these other drugs.

      So is it intellectually dishonest to say that it’s a good idea to legalize and regulate marijuana but not drugs like meth or cocaine or heroin? I don’t think so. And the fact is that the vast majority of people who believe marijuana should be legal are like me opposed to legalizing these other drugs. Look at the poll numbers yourself. Dig around and you’ll see that while 45% or better want marijuana legalized, significantly less than 10%, usually only around 6 or 7% want these other drugs to be legal. It ain’t gonna happen, not full legalization with regulation like we see with alcohol and will see with pot in a few years.

      And nonviolent crimes are often crimes that hurt others, like theft, by the way. Most crimes committed are nonviolent crimes. Do I think nonviolent offenders ought to be locked up? In many cases yes I do think that’s appropriate, particularly these thieves with long histories of thefts we often see in the system. If it was up to me we’d be locking them up a lot longer than we do on average because most of them will go do their few months in and parole out and go right back to what they were doing, victimizing countless innocent people. Prison is a good place for them because it keeps them off the streets and keeps them from stealing our stuff. Drug treatment is fine if they are stealing to support drug habits, but if that doesn’t work the best place for them is prison.

      • @BigJohn
        Intellectual dishonesty may be a bit harsh…I was going to say lack of imagination or cognitive dissonance. I appreciate your age and experience. I (speaking only for me) have no ill will toward you. I haven’t had a front row seat at the justice system. I don’t have faces to put with the individual harms that happen everyday when nonviolent drug offenders go to court. The statistics frighten and shame me. It is with regularity now, that we see police violence associated with apprehension of suspected drug violators. People of color have been disproportionately harmed by the current system of Prohibition.
        My experience with the ravages of drug addiction is limited to the loss of a cousin to meth, the untimely death of both parents of said cousin to lung cancer (both lifetime smokers), and some acquaintances recovering from alcoholism. I can understand your aversion to “drugs like meth.” You have professed a belief that meth and heroin will always be a problem and that problem would be better dealt with by the heath care system than the legal system. What I can’t understand is your inability to imagine a system where the mechanisms of Prohibition, that you find socially destructive, are replaced by something other than cheap meth and heroin at the corner store.
        My cousin wasn’t protected from meth by Prohibition. People with problems related to chemical dependancy will never receive the treatment they need from the legal system are far better served by the health care system than the legal system. The billions of dollars spent by the DEA and the ONDCP would be MUCH better spent on health care for the millions of uninsured children in the US.
        Yes, we as a nation have (or will soon will, as you point out) the political will to re-legalize marijuana and we will but, I am not willing to leave in place the horribly destructive Prohibition machine even if you and the majority of citizens find it appealing. If I must choose between the status quo and “meth, heroin and cocaine sold cheap at convenience stores,” I choose the latter with the hope that at least some of the huge profits will go to help the people who have problems with chemical dependancy.
        The war on (some) drugs is a failed policy. It has done far more harm than good. We, as a nation, must change it now before it’s harm is irreversible.

      • BigJohn

        Well said.

  • Shap

    Oops, forgot to put the place where all drugs have been decriminalized: Portugal.

  • malcolm kyle

    I’m just not for having drugs like meth, heroin and cocaine sold cheap at convenience stores.

    That’s a raging strawman BigJohn!

    You know full well that nobody here is advocating this. So what’s your game?

    Here’s the link again for Transform’s Blueprint for Regulation. http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blueprint%20download.htm

    Kindly read it and then get back to us, but without some of the intellectual dishonesty you’ve exhibited so far!

    • BigJohn

      I’ve read it, or much of it. And maybe most people aren’t advocating sales at convenience stores, but a lot are advocating sales to any adult who wants them. Of the five models discussed in the link you gave me, three basically allow that, licensed sales, unlicensed sales and licensed premises sales, and then they also talk about pharmacy sales which could be prescription or over the counter sales. Over the counter sales are really not much different than convenience store sales. There’s a Walgreens fine minutes from my house that sells beer and cigarettes. It’s convenient and they sell everything convenience stores sell (except gas) and more and at better prices.

      How am I being intellectually dishonest? You may disagree with my opinions on this subject, but I really take offense to being called dishonest. What’s my game? Game? You get the one finger salute too, buddy.

  • Shap

    Honestly, I really don’t care about harm with regard to drug use. I look at drug use like I look at every other thing that someone does that harms only them-self. Meaning, I don’t care what a mature adult puts into his or her own body and neither should the government. The main problem that I have with this relative harm argument that weed-only legalizers put forth is that all forms of prohibition, especially drug prohibition, creates an extremely violent black market. You, as in BigJohn, argue that marijuana is the bread and butter of Mexican cartels meaning that I assume you believe that if marijuana were made legal, Mexican cartels would be a whole lot less violent. But that viewpoint is not comprehensive enough. Baltimore, where I’m from, as well as so many other cities have a violent drug trade regardless of what goes on in Mexico. This violence would not exist in a legal, regulated market. But, it’s people like you that believe that a few people addicted to a drug that they themselves decide to put into their arm/nose/mouth are more important than the people who live in drug war torn neighborhoods and those that get killed by drug war spawned gangs and cartels. I care about violence and death of innocent people, not what a mature adult decides to ingest. I guess what I’m curious about is do you really believe that a few extra people addicted to a newly legal drug (which is speculative because there is no evidence to support the notion that there would be a spike in addictions) is worth not saving those wholly innocent lives that are ended by the violence created by drug prohibition?

    • BigJohn

      Okay, drug addiction harms more than the addicts. If it was only about harm to users I wouldn’t care either. But addicts have kids that shouldn’t be neglected or abused and that need a roof over their heads and food in their bellies and hopefully a decent parent to help them grow up right. Addicts often have spouses. They have other family members. Addicts lives tend to fall apart and they don’t pay their bills. Addicts are often reduced to stealing or dealing to support themselves and their habits. In some cases intoxication or things like meth induced psychosis result in innocent people being harmed. If hadn’t seen so many examples of all of this I wouldn’t be against legalizing drugs like meth. I used to be for legalizing all drugs until I dealt with hundreds of drug addicts and all sorts of criminal and juvenile and family law cases where addicts where causing problems not only for themselves but for others as well. It’s not about the harm to people who use drugs. It’s about the harms and the risk of harm to innocent people.

      As for legalizing drugs not increasing drug use, look I don’t really see any proof that it wouldn’t increase drug use either, and common sense dictates that use of drugs that are not easily available now would increase.

      I don’t like the violence associated with the drug trade. I do think that a lot of it would be alleviated of we took marijuana out of the equation, but not all of it by any means, especially in inner city areas where violent gangs control the trade in drugs like cocaine and heroin. Legalizing pot won’t do much to stop that. Those are the areas where I would want to setup drug maintenance programs, big cities where there are a lot of addicts that could be handled in these centers and could be provided drugs cheap or maybe even free which would take a lot of the core business from these gangs. Take away a big chunk of their income and they fight over what’s left but shrink in the end because there just isn’t enough profit left in the game to support such big organizations. Taking their pot business and hardcore drug addict business would probably hurt these organizations a lot.

      • Duncan20903

        So do drunks. You need to get it through your head that pharmacologically drinking alcohol is rightfully classified alongside of coke & heroin, probably meth too as well. But like I said above I don’t have much meth insight as we’ve never actually crossed paths with one another.

        I can tell you that when crack was so popular and destined to cause yet another ‘lost’ generation, the rhetoric was the same as it is for meth today. The “crack” babies grew up fine, almost all of the crack heads of my day got tired and quit.

        We heard the same “instant, lifelong” addiction warnings about heroin when it was popular circa 1970. The only part of the rhetoric that changed was the name of the drug (___fill in the blank___) There’s 3.5 million people that have tried meth in the US but less than 500,000 that have sought its comforts in the last 30 days. Where is the support for the “lifelong” addiction that you just cant avoid if you try? If it’s so bad, why does the FDA approve of giving it to school children?

        Drug war propaganda = hysterical rhetoric followed by an anti-climax.

      • BigJohn

        Duncan, I never said that everyone who tries meth becomes addicted. I did it several times and I didn’t become addicted, snorted and smoked it. A lot of people will become addicted though and man do they seem to have a hard time leaving that stuff alone. People go to prison over and over for it, which is not a good thing, but it wouldn’t be happening if it was easy to quit.

        It’s a good thing that so few people actually do meth because those who become addicted do end up causing a lot of problems. I can’t disagree with you about the problems alcohol causes. I hope we never have a whole lot more meth addicts than we have today because that would only add to the problems we have.

  • Shap

    I think common sense dictated that Portugal was going to spiral into a nightmare scenario of drug tourism and their country falling apart if penalties for drug use were removed. I think a lot of things about prohibition are counterintuitive. Mainly I believe that while drug use can be disgusting and horrible, the effects of drug prohibition are worse. I guess my other question to a former PD is how can you support drug prohibition with regard to “hard drugs” when it is almost exclusively responsible for the destruction of the Fourth Amendment? This shredding of the fourth amendment would continue regardless of whether marijuana was made legal…

    • BigJohn

      Well, if we could decriminalize drugs and reduce the penalties considerably for small time dealing and try to route these people through drug treatment and drug maintenance programs I think it would take away a lot of the incentive for law enforcement to continue to encroach on our 4th Amendment rights. I’d also make asset forfeitures a lot harder get and make it such that law enforcement agencies and prosecutors offices don’t get to eat what they kill when it comes to asset forfeiture because that encourages abuse. There is a county next to me where prosecutors regularly hit me up for asset forfeiture money, not money they seize in connection with crimes. These guys want my clients to come up with a bunch of asset forfeiture money to buy a better deal, and these guys have plush offices, IPhones and all sorts of cool gadgets, “company cars.” they get sweet continuing legal education trips out of this money. It pays some bonuses and pays for their own staff officer and computer guy. They’ve bought building with this money. The head judge has his own personal break room furnished with furniture “on loan: from the prosecutor’s office. It is a damned racket and something needs to be done about it but nobody cares.

      You know, I think things are going to get better. The drug war is becoming increasingly unpopular. I don’t see us fully legalizing drugs like meth, but we’ll end up legalizing pot and hopefully will revamp our other drug laws to make them less harmful and we’ll take away a lot of the incentives for abuses in the system and appoint better judges who aren’t just prosecutors in black robes ignore the Constitution if it helps us fight our holy war against drugs. I think the tide is truning on that and we’ll continue to see that in the future because the old folks who grew up before drug use took off are dying out and being replaced by people less gung ho in the war on drugs, less likely to think we’re going to arrest our way out of our problems with drugs and so on.

      That, and we’re going broke. Everyday now 10,000 baby boomers hits retirement age. This is going to continue for 18 more years. We won’t be able to pay Social Security or Medicare obligations. We’re about to be in a world of hurt and people are going to be looking a lot closer at how we spend our money and what programs don’t make sense financially. Much of the drug war machine will end up on the chopping block and as that happens we’re going to be talking about a lot of the problems the drug war has caused and hopefully we’ll see a lot of shifts in the way we do things including the way new appellate court justices handle 4th Amendment issues on appeal.

      We’ll see. That is a good question though. All we can do is fight to reverse some of the damage done. You also have to know though that a lot of the 4th Amendment protections we have lost were pretty recently added. The 4th has been interpreted differently at different times in our history. What I mean is that the government has been allowed to do a lot of things in the past that wouldn’t stand today and definetely wouldn’t stand in times when we had much more civil rights minded Supreme Court Justices on the bench. We went through long period where the Supreme Court was ruling that a lot of government actions were illegal and all of the sudden new loopholes that did not exist before were created. This went on for quite some time and then because of the drug war and a general conservative shift in mindset against the excesses of the Sixties and and early Seventies the pendulum swung in the other direction. It is time for it to swing the other way again and I am hoping that we see that and suspect that we will as the drug war continues to lose popular support.

    • Duncan20903

      Heroin, meth and coke users travel to get high ‘legally’? Why do I find that farfetched? Could it be the price of the ticket? Don’t mind me too much I never have been able to figure out what the hell this “common sense” that people talk about. I find it more common that people are senseless than sensible.

  • DdC

    I’m just not for having drugs like meth, heroin and cocaine sold cheap at convenience stores.

    I am. The government is not in the job of babysitting. Too many codependents need to get a life and stop trying to fix everybody. Being born poor can be more of a hindrance than a rich person on drugs. So where all all the rehabs for poor people? Being homeless is harder on the body than a couple hits of meth. Where are the codependents getting legally medicated seniors off the roads? How about teenagers driving a lethal weapon without the maturity to handle it? Food poisoning kills more than drugs, still can’t get the USDA to ban raw meat that can kill kids. Sell it on sale at 7-11 and those who can’t stop will probably die. We have almost 7 billion people and not enough resources as it is. Now instead of paving the potholes and repairing the overpasses we spend taxes on jails and court ordered rehabs that amount to nothing unless the person is willing and ready to quit. It’s a rough world out there.

    Drugs or Guns, it’s the people using them that cause the harm or joy. Stupid is as stupid does. Millions use drugs safely and we never hear about it. I don’t think thats by accident. I was against flat out legalizing so called “hard” drugs because of the kids shoplifting. But, now I think it’s past time parents were held responsible for their kids. Too many push them off for society to deal with. Let the teachers or cops deal with them instead of confronting the parent. If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime also goes for having kids. Can’t supervise, then don’t have them. Take all the money used to “saved” the kids not smart enough to avoid the pitfalls of drugs, and give it to a poor child to level their playing field. A kid can legally buy rat poison and legally shoot people in combat before this dysfunction junction permits them to drink a beer.

    Ganja is by far less dangerous than skateboards or doing back flips on dirt bikes. Oh but the tikes will see heroin on the shelf and have to go overdose because it’s beyond their control? Paleeeze, give humans some credit. We’ve lasted this long, and we have a stockpile of nukes. I think Chernobyl was way more hazardous than heroin. Hell, car exhaust fumes are more hazardous than heroin and we let babies travel in cars on the same polluted roads. We let people and their kids live in neighborhoods right next to factories spewing hazardous waste out of their smoke stacks. Fast Fud or chemical clothing or prolonged exposure to Faux news are all more harmful than Ganja…

    BigJohn

    If I have a career thief as a client charged with several new burglaries and he’s obviously guilty and telling me the only thing he did wrong this time was trust the wrong people, guess where I think the S.O.B. belongs? We’re all a lot better off if he’s locked up as long as possible because he’s going to continue to steal and victimize hundreds more people over the years.

    Oh here we go, judge jury and executioner/public defender? Your crystal ball gives you the power to foresee the future and completely disregard your oath as a public defender to get your client the best defense possible? You think the cops don’t lie and that if this guys innocent of this particular charge, then what the hell, he’s probably guilty of something, right? Or got away with it in the past?

    Your argument that people will still steal and mug innocents to get their dope money is a Hilary if I ever heard one. In reality the street drugs are sometimes garbage and expensive. In reality the drug labs could make them higher quality and the potency as ordered. Maintenance would be best and when the patient decides to quit, then it’s their choice. Not some scam to get paid “rehabilitating” someone by court order.

    • BigJohn

      It may surprise you to learn that most people accused of crimes are actually guilty at least of part of what they are accused of doing. It may further surprise you to learn that most of my clients will admit that they are guilty and just ask me to get them the best deal I can get them because they know good and well what is likely to happen to them if they go to trial. I was actually refering to a real client I represented just last year who had spent 20 out of the last 25 years in prison, mostly on burglary charges and there was irrefutable proof that he had committed 38 new burglaries and to I knew from the evidnece and his own admissions that they only had him on a small percentage of the burglaries he and his team had committed in at least three states. He though he was a criminal mastermind. He and the other ring leader were actually college aducated and he was from a good family (who paid me by the way because he didn’t have any money).

      Now if you read my post you will see that I said I did the best job I could for him. I did. I always do. Does that mean I’m supposed to like all of my clients and approve of their conduct? Am I supposed to think they’re innocent when they admit to me that they’re guilty? I mean come on. Nothing in my oath says I’m supposed to do that.

      One of the things I like about being a private attorney is that I can pick and choose my clients. Some cases I just won’t tale anymore. My last jury trial as a public defender was on a child sex case. My client got a not guilty verdict and I still don’t know if he did it. I don’t know if I helped an innocent man walk away or if I just heaped more trauma on a young girl and helped a pedophile walk the streets to victimize more people. He had been accused of sex crimes before but not convicted and he did have multiple felony convictions for thefts and violent crimes, but we were able to keep all of that out at trial. I’ve turned down several child molestation cases since and I doubt I ever take another. I don’t want them and I don’t need to take them. Plenty of other lawyers will but my experience has been that almost all of these guys will deny it even if there is irrefutable proof and I have to defend too many of them at trial and it’s just hard for me being a father to two daughters that I love very much.

      As for the rest of your post, what? My argument that people will still steal and mug to get their drugs? Still steal to get their drugs under what circumstances? I do think that even if legal addicts would steal to get drugs if they didn’t have the money to buy them. Price would have an effect on how much they steal, but people steal cigarettes all the time. Why do you think stores have moved them away from where they’re easily accessible? Addicts lives tend to fall apart. Often they lose their jobs and have nothing and you bet a good number of them will steal to supply their habits and to survive. I don’t think that would change just because drugs are legal. That’s one of the reasons I worry about us having several times as many addicts.

      Again, for the umteenth time I am not opposed to drug maintenance programs. I do think that would reduce thefts even. Some people are just criminals though and they’re going to commit crimes no matter what, because they get a rush out of it, because they think of themselves as outlaws.

      • DdC

        It may further surprise you to learn that most of my clients will admit that they are guilty and just ask me to get them the best deal I can get them because they know good and well what is likely to happen to them if they go to trial.

        That is the job of pubic defender. But you’re not accurate saying most of your clients are guilty… before they have a trial. It doesn’t matter what you think or if they committed an alleged crime in front of the pope, they are still innocent until proven guilty. Please bargains deny justice in drug cases or any vice with no victim.

        Your example is another straw man. Very few people steal for the love of stealing. Most do it out of necessity. Not that it should be necessary but if they steal to buy drugs then its because of prohibition, not kleptomania. You can’t punish someone for getting wet if its raining and they have no alternative. Provide cheap access and they don’t have to steal.

        Any junkie desperate for funds will think they can’t get caught or think they’re masterminds. Reasoning isn’t a part of their world, desperation is. You’re stating realities that don’t apply. Combat zones are not the same as everyday American street life. Combat zones have special circumstances. You want to keep the combat zones and treat the people like its normal. Stealing for drugs is not normal. Plus everyone who does drugs doesn’t steal for them. Prohibition once again is the blame.

        Now if you read my post you will see that I said I did the best job I could for him. I did. I always do.

        Ok then don’t say he’s guilty. Even if he says he’s guilty, he’s not a lawyer. If you did the best job you could then that was what you were supposed to do, not judge his guilt or innocence. Thats what juries and judges are for.

        Does that mean I’m supposed to like all of my clients and approve of their conduct?

        It doesn’t matter what you feel personally. Your position as officer of the court has criteria that doesn’t permit your thoughts or feelings. The law is not supposed to separate according to popularity or wealth. As far as you’re concerned they’re all innocent until the trial is over. Same with putting the blindfold back on the judge.

        Am I supposed to think they’re innocent when they admit to me that they’re guilty?

        You’re not supposed to “think” anything. You defend them with the evidence you have. It doesn’t matter if they are guilty in your opinion, they are innocent in the US until the trial is over. Not trial by media. If you can’t separate your feelings then maybe you should find other work. Or maybe that’s why you quit. In such a decrepit dysfunctional filthy rotten system I’d be in it strictly for the money. Bleeding hearts only get broken in a crooked game. So many lopsided special rules against drug users it’s impossible to get a fair trial and that’s why please bargains are so popular. Cops without snitches amount to about 20% of the cases. They don’t even know a crime has been committed unless some junkie tells them or sets someone up. 404 gag rules, mandatory minimum jury trial deterrents, 3 strikes remove undesirables at will. Prison rape deterrents. It’s a rigged system.

        I mean come on. Nothing in my oath says I’m supposed to do that.

        I think it says you are to defend the client to the best of your ability and not lie, steal or cheat. I also think the same rules apply to the cops and especially in drug cases, they lie, steal evidence and cheat. So if you are honest and play by the rules then that is all anyone can ask. I don’t think the rules say you should plead your client guilty just because of your feelings or even the evidence. You can recuse yourself if you can’t handle it. But I’ve never heard of a defender giving up because they think the guy is scum. Not that most aren’t and I’d commend anyone for serving justice under such conditions, defending such lowlifes. But that is the job. Most criminals knowing the system is stacked against them would cop a plea for lesser time, and that’s not justice. It only serves to perpetuate the rotten system.

        helped an innocent man walk away or if I just heaped more trauma on a young girl and helped a pedophile walk the streets to victimize more people.

        Was there a sale on strawmen? Pedophiles are easy marks for courts to just burn the Constitution. You need to remember that you didn’t get anyone off to go back to molesting children. The jury and the DA and the legislature did. You do your job and if they can’t convict them on evidence then they were lax or the evidence wasn’t there. You only pervert the courts when you assume the position of the DA as a defender. Private lawyers should be banned for they only serve money, not justice. My preference would be to draw from a hat, the defender and prosecutor for each case. No specialty lawyers to tweak good laws into profit for some. Teach new lawyers both sides of the trial and the rich get the same hat pick as the poor. Thats justice.

        Why do you think stores have moved them away from where they’re easily accessible?

        Kids. Cigarette prohibition is already a billion dollar market. Chemicals added to cigarettes cause the damage. Nothing said about that, and nothing banned. Thousands of years of smoking tobacco and Ganja by hundreds of cultures and no one got sick until they started adulterating the tobacco. Still, no one is dealing with the problem, just raising the prices to promote the black market and to have the poor buy generic brands with even more poisons added. So no one steals cigarettes except when politicians try to curtail them for the safety of the public. Or raise funds on tax and fines for smoking in the wrong outdoor park.

        Addicts lives tend to fall apart.

        You can’t make a statement during prohibition and claim the same results as under a free market. Addicts are only doing what diabetics do. If you outlaw insulin you would have diabetics stealing it and a black market willing to sell it. Then you would have the same side effects as you claim for junkies. Its not the dope its the prohibition. As for drugs making people crazy, have you ever watched Fox News or Glen Beck? That’s crazy.

        Often they lose their jobs and have nothing and you bet a good number of them will steal to supply their habits and to survive.

        That can be said about anyone feeding their family because of outsourcing their jobs. It’s not a mandate of drug doing. Most alcoholics will preform better after a drink than sober inexperienced drivers. Maintaining an addiction means bringing them back to neutral, not intoxication. Their normal base line is lowered. That is the game and how to play it as safe as possible would be to give the junkies their dope and eliminate most of the problem.

        Some people are just criminals though and they’re going to commit crimes no matter what, because they get a rush out of it, because they think of themselves as outlaws.

        Dude I’m having a hard time believing you’re a lawyer. Some people? Like you people? Come on, they’re playing bad guys out of pleasure? like kids playing cowboys and indians? A rush? Maybe 8 year olds until they get caught, then it ain’t fun or rarely repeated. Selling pot to sick people isn’t a crime either. Just stealing for pleasure isn’t something a junkie is going to do. As for treating junkies like patients in maintenance, ok. But you’re not dealing with the irresponsible kids and until the parents do. There will be a potential for a black market and therefore sos.

        It’s like Free Speech. If someone has to grant it to you, then you don’t have it. If its free it can have no holds bar it. If you want to let junkies be Americans, then you can’t treat them like prisoners or assume they are going to do harm. I can almost certainly predict that every single kid on a skateboard will get road rash at some point but I don’t advocate banning them. I give patients morphine that an 18 year old delivery boy brought from the Pharmacy that required a triplicate from the doctor. So much for regulations. Now the DEA tries to prevent pain meds for patients if its over an arbitrary number. Not that any decent caregiver or nurse won’t compensate with personal stash. But by law they try. We don’t require a prescription to use the ONDCP, though we should. They are by far the most addictive abusive and most costly substance ever to hit the streets of the USA.

      • BigJohn

        DdC, I’m really getting worn out with this thread and I don’t even know where to start with your post. You think that a defendant is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty to his lawyer for Christ’s sake. He’s innocent until proven guilty to the court, to the triar of fact, not his lawyer. If the guy tells me up front that he did it I’m probably going to think he did it. I’m not going to presume that he’s innocent until the case is over. I’m going to do what’s in his best interests under the circumstances, or I’m going to advise to do what’s in his best interests. More often than not, what’s going to be in his best interests is to get something worked out and avoid a trial under those circumstances, and we’re going to have to lay a factual basis where sufficient facts are admitted to support a conviction, which I couldn’t possibly do if I presumed the guy was innocent.

        Plea bargains deny justice? Okay, take your drug case where you’re caught on tape selling meth to trial in front of a jury full of silver haired Baptists in my area and get all the justice you want. I saw a decorated Vietnam vet with a clean record get 30 years for selling a half a gram a couple of years back. He should have listened to his lawyer and taken his 10 year offer.

        Did you know that nationwide only about 2 and a half percent of all felony cases make it to jury trial. Almost all the others are resolved with plea bargains. Why do so many plead? Well, most people charged with crimes are guilty and they’d get convicted if they take their cases to trial and they know that. They work their cases out because they get a “plea discount.” They negotiate for a deal that they think would be better, hopefully much better, than what they’d get if they go to trial. In my state juries do the sentencing, or they recommend the sentences and judges almost always go along with those recommendations and can only veer from them in limited ways for limited reasons. The jurors don’t look at no stinkin’ sentencing guidelines. We aren’t even allowed to talk about those at a jury trial. If the maximum sentence is life then they can give the guy life, and sales of any amount of any Schedule I or Schedule II drug in my state is a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

        And as for my comment about some people just being criminals, well, it’s true. Believe it or not, there are some bad news people that we see in our courts, people that break the law over and over again. Some are thieves and they steal because they are thieves right down to the core. They get a real kick out of it. Sometimes people will steal out of necessity, but not the guys who get caught over and over again. Some steal to support gambling or drug habits. I don’t have a problem with giving people drug treatment or putting them into drug maintenance programs, but knowing what kind of people are out there I can assure you that even if we give some of these people all the drugs they want they’ll still steal like crazy, because that is just who they are. They never learned when they got caught when they were 8. They just kept trying to figure out how to do it and not get caught.

        Go to law school, spend a several years working as a public defender. You’ll see what I mean.

        I’m not even going to address all your other points, like the comment about how all private attorneys are just in it for the money and shouldn’t be allowed to represent people in criminal cases.

        You have a good night.

      • DdC

        http://www.drugwarrant.com/2011/02/does-legalization-mean-an-explosion-in-drug-harm-understanding-the-basics/comment-page-1/?replytocom=70219#respond

        DdC, I’m really getting worn out with this thread and I don’t even know where to start with your post. You think that a defendant is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty to his lawyer for Christ’s sake. He’s innocent until proven guilty to the court, to the triar of fact, not his lawyer.

        I said as a defender you are supposed to treat them as innocent. I also said it was a crooked system and most repeat offenders know the only “deal” they can get is to cop. So you fill out the papers basically.

        You said, It may surprise you to learn that most people accused of crimes are actually guilty at least of part of what they are accused of doing. It may further surprise you to learn that most of my clients will admit that they are guilty and just ask me to get them the best deal I can get them because they know good and well what is likely to happen to them if they go to trial.

        Your job isn’t to put in your 8 hrs and go home. if it was a just system. Since it isn’t I see where you get the client the best deal and it doesn’t matter if the law is wrong or if the system leans to the prosecutor. The DA has more power controlling MM’s than the judge. The other bogus special circumstances simply because its drugs. You can defend yourself many ways against murder, even killing your spouse. But you can’t mention Ganja as a doctor prescribed medicine. Charlie Lynch is serving a year because he rolled the dice with a jury trial. That gamble was stacked against him and that is not Justice. You serve obediently or you get disbarred. Both sides perpetuating the Ganjawar. Both sides obedient to the BAR, not truth, not anything but a “deal”. Fox news in robes and suits. Racketeering. You manufacture bogus laws and collect on rule breakers. No victims or even evidence required. Warrant-less searches, forfeitures and confiscations, any kick back on that? Not to mention hick swat cops with tanks for keyrist sake.

        Now is it a surprise you want to continue making “deals”, especially for the day when the offspring of a Pablo Escobar might get ya rich. No different than the rehabs “treating” court appointed “marihuana addicts”. Or the “reform” movement all making salaries, most lawyers. Cops and their bosses in the DA serving the Politicians and Prison Industrial Complex. Plus with Ganja and Hemp hundreds of Lobbies with vested interest maintaining dysfunction. From selling orange flip flops to constructing brand new cages. Your entire profession is out of order. Better to let 50 guilty free than put 1 innocent behind bars? Or something? I know, your doing the best you can. Education with censored school books leaves the credentialled ignorant as “experts”. Making policy the same as Political appointments heading Science departments. Cheap labor, and war perpetuation selling war toys. The roots of the tree are poison and yet you still sell the poison fruit? As do many educated idiot doctors and politicians.

        Seems you also donate prohibition negatives to inanimate objects, like white powders. Thus keeping the circle unbroken kumbya. People like Sam Stone do drugs and society jerks their flags while they kick them into the gutter and guys like you cop a plea and they serve time or somehow get “punished” for their vice. The one thats soooo fucking harmful we must harm them more, or less.

        If the guy tells me up front that he did it I’m probably going to think he did it.

        Duh. Your diverting. You have special soothsaying abilities to “know” they’re guilty and I only pointed out they were innocent until proven guilty. Now you say “when” they tell you they’re guilty. Klintoon really didn’t have “sexual relations” with that woman either. Really. The blue laws state blowjobs are abominations, not sexual relations. So in your world he didn’t lie. I say he lied his ass off.

        I’m not going to presume that he’s innocent until the case is over.

        I think presumptions are pretty much assumptions and you know what that makes. You should defend the Constitution… he he he gotchya. only kidding.

        I’m going to do what’s in his best interests under the circumstances, or I’m going to advise to do what’s in his best interests.

        No, in the courts and drug worriers best interest since its a bad law. In the drug possessor victim clients lesser evil. You’re fine with “treating” the sickness even if you have to pretend you don’t see the cure or prevention. The war creates the victims, it creates the abuse and adulterations, not the drugs. The same drugs are prescribed legally and only harm those not following instructions, but seldom Quality Assurance. The streets provide the harm and conditions for side effect harm like arrest and OD’s. Not the drugs.

        More often than not, what’s going to be in his best interests is to get something worked out and avoid a trial under those circumstances, and we’re going to have to lay a factual basis where sufficient facts are admitted to support a conviction, which I couldn’t possibly do if I presumed the guy was innocent.

        These are combat situations not the drugs. You as a PD have to follow orders and do what you do as you stated. But as a citizen you want to lay the shit of the drug war onto some future society and the drugs. Drugs guns cars or planes are good or bad depending on how they are used. Only drugs have a war against some of them while others are hawked on TV every 20-minutes, 24/7/365. So whatever hat you wear is fine, just one thing, you can only wear one at a time.

        Plea bargains deny justice?

        True justice, not drug war bargaining for dollars. Pleas are survival for those caught. Justice is an unalienable right most busted for drugs never see with gag rules or MM threats against jury trials. Its a joke. The Justice system gets the respect of a clumsy thief at best. No better than the Election process. Just Us vs Them. Cop a plea and sell some pee or mandatory prison profits from taxes. Where’s Palin?

        Okay, take your drug case where you’re caught on tape selling meth to trial in front of a jury full of silver haired Baptists in my area and get all the justice you want.

        I spent several years working in Central Florida. Good ole boys weren’t quit sure what to do with longhairs in the early 70’s. Had me wait in the black section a few month’s. But dude, crank is done by piecemeal workers picking fruit. Factory workers and those caught up in the moneysluts machine. Mo money mo mo. So I’d say that is the priority over herding them into expensive prisons or pseudo rehabilitation. You want it to continue and coincidentally make money on the process. Same as the growers and etc etc. Not justice in any stretch of the imagination.

        I saw a decorated Vietnam vet with a clean record get 30 years for selling a half a gram a couple of years back. He should have listened to his lawyer and taken his 10 year offer.

        What about all those Jews getting on the wrong trains at Auschwitz? 30 years for selling a half a gram and surely this quack court jester is behind bars for such anti-American activities? I’m sure you protested. I think that was his fool cousin tried to swim across the river after stealing a 20′ logging chain. How can you as part of a profession not see the injustice across the board? Except for the money blinds all I reckon.

        Did you know that nationwide only about 2 and a half percent of all felony cases make it to jury trial. Almost all the others are resolved with plea bargains. Why do so many plead? Well, most people charged with crimes are guilty and they’d get convicted if they take their cases to trial and they know that.

        Buzz False. 95% cop a plea because, like Eddy Lepp and Charlie Lynch and Brian Epis. If they waste the courts time asking for a jury trial they jeopardize themselves with mandatory minimum sentences. Plus the 404 gag rules not allowing a medical defense. It also provides statistics for “treatment” with court ordered rehabs and piss tastes. Now looky at all those marijuana addicts on that skunk bud from Canada. Like shake and bake, you halped!

        They work their cases out because they get a “plea discount.” They negotiate for a deal that they think would be better, hopefully much better, than what they’d get if they go to trial.

        Yes dear. Thats the filthy rotten system you think is OK by advocating for prohibition or diet prohibition.

        In my state juries do the sentencing, or they recommend the sentences and judges almost always go along with those recommendations and can only veer from them in limited ways for limited reasons.

        Yes, that’s part of the scam and many of your counties cash in on ditchweed eradications. Fed cases are as bias and the juries are not informed and most don’t even know about nullification.

        The jurors don’t look at no stinkin’ sentencing guidelines. We aren’t even allowed to talk about those at a jury trial. If the maximum sentence is life then they can give the guy life, and sales of any amount of any Schedule I or Schedule II drug in my state is a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

        Yup, as I said nothing to do with Justice. You play the game as you’re told and people suffer and it continues and it will continue until it is stopped Federally by overturning the CSA. The same juries will nullify if they think someone is getting cheated, especially by a bully such as the Feds. Truth shall set you free and its your job as a private citizen with truth, to tell it. But you have a career and in a state that probably isn’t interested in American values. So again, I see where you’re coming from and again its not the drugs, its the system you keep going on about but leave out to blame the substance.

        And as for my comment about some people just being criminals, well, it’s true. Believe it or not, there are some bad news people that we see in our courts, people that break the law over and over again.

        There are no bad seeds. Every criminal became one over time, the same as every racist was taught racism. The same as cops against the drug war, shit happens. When farmers see the crops they could be saving their farms with forbidden because of lies. I’ve seen them drive their tractors into the reflecting pool when they’re pissed. You on the inside have an opportunity to shake the timbers and demand truth. Then get run out on a rail probably. But thats not American Justice either, is it?

        Some are thieves and they steal because they are thieves right down to the core.

        Dueling banjos? OK but that way of life was taught over years of neglect and abuse. Your community teaches this behavior and then cage your own citizens for granting your wishes and acting like the animals they’ve been treated as. Your church perpetuates this war as much as the Madison Ave PDFA propagandists or Copshops. If you can’t distinguish that this war on some drugs is evil and those caught in it are victims. Then this is the system we will keep.

        They get a real kick out of it.

        This is more mentally disabled than criminal. You punish them for their disease. 50 million in poverty while the rich sit on tax shelters. Education and Health care are first to get hit and then you wonder why people steal. Generations existing on what should disgust every American. Not the people but the system that created them. The one you want to perpetuate. To save them?

        Sometimes people will steal out of necessity, but not the guys who get caught over and over again. Some steal to support gambling or drug habits. I don’t have a problem with giving people drug treatment or putting them into drug maintenance programs, but knowing what kind of people are out there I can assure you that even if we give some of these people all the drugs they want they’ll still steal like crazy, because that is just who they are. They never learned when they got caught when they were 8. They just kept trying to figure out how to do it and not get caught.

        Like I said, psychological not criminal. They steal for money to buy drugs. Not if drugs were available. They steal to pay rent because they can’t get work do to piss tastes that have nothing to so with their jobs. If they are inebriated you won’t need a piss sample to tell and if they aren’t then there is no problem. After work is their business. But this is do to prohibition. Not white trash. Thats still a hangover from the drunks after the civil war. Many left the deep south for central florida in the 30’s orange business. Most are hard workers and even born agains and klans members treat their families and even co-workers with respect. Even pothead hippies as long as they do their jobs. You deal with the gutter and to me that is enough incentive to see the drugs prohibition is the drug problem.

        Go to law school, spend a several years working as a public defender. You’ll see what I mean.

        I think Shakespeare had a good idea.
        What do ya get when… parumpum!

        I’m not even going to address all your other points, like the comment about how all private attorneys are just in it for the money and shouldn’t be allowed to represent people in criminal cases.

        For a lawyer you’re a lousy transcriber. I made a philosophical point about Justice being blind and money has corrupted it and there would be no private attorneys in a just world. Just public defenders and prosicuters and they would be interchangable for each cases hat draw.

        You have a good night.

        OK, you too.

        Cover-Ups, Prevarications, Subversions & Sabotage

  • darkcycle

    Good on ya Big John. I’m not (and never will) going to advocate for selling H and Meth over the counter. Ever. Never have. We can agree that putting people in jail and giving them second class citizenship won’t help matters either. The sensible approach would be to deal with those drugs by prescription, wouldn’t it? In order for that to happen, there needs to be fundamental change in our system. Use of these drugs cannot be criminalized, so we don’t lock people up for being sick. The DEA has to get off doctor’s backs when it comes to prescribing maintenance drugs to truly addicted people. Right now they can’t, and pain Doctors are not free to prescribe to people with chronic conditions, either. (Damn DEA spends more time in my pain doctor’s office than HE does. Ya know, by and large, most older addicts got that way because of chronic pain, and being cut off from pain meds that in some cases allowed a basic level of functioning where there previously was none). The system of scheduling medications based on arbitrary criteria needs to be ditched or significantly changed to reflect reality, not an idealized drug warrior picture of it.
    Penalties would obviously remain in place for illegal trafficking, but the idea here is to take these guy’s JOBS away, not necessarily their freedom, so a war with excessive penal codes wouldn’t help to do that.
    The way the laws are currently enforced, I would be more likely to be hit by lightning than spend a day in jail for drug violations. Why? Well, I’m white, middle aged, upper middle class, drive a nice car, belong to my local PTA and give to charity. My son, on the other hand, is African American, Male, and will be a teenager too soon for my tastes. In this here country, my son is a HELL of a lot more likely to wind up in prison for doing something I would walk away from with a slap on the wrist. Because this is personal, I take it very seriously. There is a better way to do this. There are a HUNDRED better ways of doing this. If you think that there’s some monster out there, waiting to be unleashed on society if we loosen up the laws on these substances, you’re dead wrong. The monster of our nightmares is walking among us right now, taking lives and freedoms at will. That monster has a name: prohibition, and we can take away it’s power with a tiny bit of sanity.

  • Duncan20903

    Big John, Why should we believe that things under a taxed and regulate re-legalization scheme would be significantly worse that when it was legal and sold OTC and by mail order?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bayer_Heroin_bottle.jpg

    Your ‘sell it OTC at Walgreens’ is fast degenerating into a straw man argument. There’s no way in hell that’s going to happen, even if it were the best idea which you can’t even get me to agree is true.

    BTW Big John, from mid 1984 to May 1989 I was married to a crack pipe so I really think I’ve got some valuable insight into the problem that you non-addicts will never be able to grok without actually finding people like me to tell you about the actual reality. So far those on the outside refuse to listen, and cite the words of other clueless outsiders that their position is correct. More accurately a case of the blind leading the blind. Most people who enjoy moderate recreational use of whatever also don’t understand what the inside of my world looks like. It is my contention that addicts are born, not made. If you aren’t a degenerate addict today you’re just not likely to become one. But that theory means that addicts and their loved ones have to admit that it wasn’t the drugs that turned them into addicts.

    It wouldn’t matter a bit to me if they started handing out free cocaine on the corner. I quit that shit because I was tired. The guys over at the AA meetings have to deal with liquor on every corner.

    I hope you will stick around here. You’re very polite and probably have some valuable insights to offer. If I may direct you to the Rat Park study from 1974:

    “Alexander’s hypothesis was that drugs do not cause addiction, and that the apparent addiction to opiate drugs commonly observed in laboratory rats exposed to it is attributable to their living conditions, and not to any addictive property of the drug itself.”

    http://the-mouse-trap.blogspot.com/2008/02/rat-park-addiction-and-environmental.html

    Oh my gawd. Someone made Rat Park into a claymation video. This is ‘must see’ TV (3 minutes):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3swVNAaoDgw

    • BigJohn

      Thanks, Duncan. You asked a very good question about why legal drugs today would be more of a problem than when drugs were legal in the past. The problem for me with this is that times are a lot different and we really don’t know how bad the problem was in the past because there just isn’t a lot of data, only guesses about what percentage of the population was having problems with drugs like opium and cocaine. It was significant enough that there was a major push to ban sales of these drugs, and there were in fact mini prohibitions administered by states and municipalities going way back into our history.

      This country is much different place than it was more than a hundred years ago. Social constraints don’t hold people back anymore. The cat is out of the bag with drugs. Drugs became popular in the Sixties, cool even and use shot through the roof. Its more of a free spirited time. We have a lot of drugs we didn’t have back then and stronger versions of the drugs that were easily available then. We also have cars on the road now and we have to worry about intoxicated drivers. A biggie is how government now has become the safety net for people. If there is a big explosion in drug addicts, whose going to take care of all these people? We aren’t going to let them starve to death. They’ll all be on SSI and welfare and foodstamps and all these other handout programs that did not exist back in the time when all drugs were legal in most parts of the country.

      My fear is not that everyone will start doing drugs. It’s that a small minority who don’t use drugs today would start doing drugs and that would still equate to several times as many users and addicts than we have today. How would we pay for all these people? How would we deal with the problems they cause in our already overburdened system?

      Really only a very tiny percentage of our population is addicted to hard drugs. Only a very small percentage of our population are current users of the hard stuff. Do you not think the laws prevent some people from using these substances? Do you not think the lack of easy availability prevents some people from using these substances? Possession of meth, cocaine or heroin is a felony in my state and a lot of people are really afraid of having a felony on their record. That, and these drugs aren’t exactly easily available for most people. You’d be able to find meth or cocaine in my town but it might take you several days and you’d probably have to go through some very shady people to find it. You’d be hard pressed to find heroin no matter how many scary people you asked. These hurdles I’m sure are things that keep some people from trying these drugs and keep others from using them very much. If these drugs were legal and easily available from nice clean shops more people would try them and more people who do try them would continue to use them.

      I did about every drug out there when I was younger. A few things kept me from doing more and led to me quitting. I was afraid of getting busted and ruining my life. I hated blowing so much money in a night that I could have used for so many more useful things. I was afraid of getting addicted, and I really didn’t like dealing with a lot of the people I was having to deal with because they were shady people who were just trouble in my book and I knew I needed to get out of that scene. Would I have quit fooling with these drugs if all I was worried about was addiction? I doubt it. Like most young and dumb drug users I thought addiction was something that happened to somebody else, weak people, stupid people. Now I know that it can happen to just about anyone and to tell you the truth when I deal with drug addicts today I often think, “But for the grace of God go I.”

  • BigJohn

    I’m not opposed to loosening up laws. I think we need to change the way we’re doing things, I’m just not for outright legalization of all drugs where we regulate them like we regulate alcohol, although I am 100% for doing that with marijuana.

    As for prescriptions for addicts, maybe so if it was limited to people who are addicted and we took measures to see that they wouldn’t just be selling their prescriptions. We don’t want hopelessly addicted people dealing and stealing to get drugs. I’d rather they get their drugs, cheap even and maybe even free in some cases, then have them out there dealing and/or stealing.

    On the problem of prescription drug abuse though, I see both sides of that issue. It’s bad that doctors are afraid to prescribe pain meds because the DEA might come after them, but we have a lot of pain management doctors out there who are just licensed drug dealers making a killing writing scripts for Oxycontin, hydrocodone, and other pain meds plus muscle relaxers and benzodiazepines for all that anxiety people have over this nonexistent pain. I saw a lot of that as a public defender. I’m in a state that is always in the top five for prescription drug abuse. I had so many clients addicted to these drugs and most all of them were going to the same doctors because these doctors were known to work with people to get them drugs. Some are maybe gullible pushovers but some of these guys know good and well that they are prescribing all these drugs to people who don’t need them. These addicts cause us lots of problems too, stealing to buy drugs, faking prescriptions, selling the drugs they are prescribed (often by multiple doctors), driving while they are wasted out of their minds on these drugs and just generally being drunken nuisances whacked out of their minds all the time.

    If we’re going to prescribe these drugs, we’d need a whole new category of prescriptions for the express purpose of maintaining addicts on a dose that keeps them from having to steal or deal to get drugs. I’d think that would probably be best handled by some sort of addiction centers where people are under the care of medical professionals for their addictions and those who do not respond to treatment and are at most risk for being the types that will deal or steal are prescribed these drugs so they don’t have to do that. Then maybe they should have to come in daily to get their doses.

    I don’t know exactly how something like that would be best administered but I am not opposed to coming up with a way to let bona fide drug addicts get drugs within a controlled program that offers every opportunity for these people to switch drugs and even get into treatment to get them off of drugs, kind of like the heroin maintenance pilot programs in Switzerland.

  • Duncan20903

    strayan said:
    “Anyway, back to tobacco. We have much higher rates of tobacco related harms here in Australia than Sweden does, because we prohibited the kind of smokeless tobacco that’s available and highly accessible over the counter in Sweden. We, made a safer tobacco MORE DIFFICULT for addicts to get than cigarettes. That, my friends, is insanity”.

    I think it may be a progressive insanity. Now they want to ban the e-cigarette. God knows we need to keep our nicotine addicts dying horrid deaths from lung cancer and emphysema or how the heck could we get people to stop taking nicotine?

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-01-25-electronic-cigarettes_N.htm

    Things like this make me understand why some people employ bell towers in their swan song. Banning e-cigs is nucking futz.

    I’ve got to find me one of those things, I’ve heard people are using them to enjoy hash oil.

    • strayan

      God damn it. What is wrong with people.

      It reminds me of the controversy over nictoine patches, gum, lozenges etc. They started off prescription only and you weren’t allowed add any sweetener. Meanwhile, you could walk into a store and buy artificially flavoured cigarettes. As soon as it was clear how blatantly idiotic this was, that there was no incentive for smokers to buy the safer product, the regulations were changed.

      Banning e-cigs. Good lord.

  • TrebleBass

    BigJohn: what about having a program like the swiss have but for everyone who wants heroin (or meth), instead of just for hard core addicts? A person wants to try heroin for the first time? Well, it’s completely legal, just go to a heroin store/maintenance program building/safe injection site (although you don’t have to inject it)/counseling/education center for heroin and meth (they’d sell books as well as give conferences). It would be all those things in the same building (you wouldn’t be able to try it the first several times unsupervised, but after you prove you know enough about the drug and harm reduction, you’d be allowed to take it home, and perhaps buy larger amounts for storage at home). BTW, they’d also sell naloxone (opiate overdose antidote) for as cheap as possible or even give it away for free.

    As for cocaine, too many people do that drug so it probably wouldn’t work because it would be too difficult to administer that many people, but at least for heroin I think it could work. Meth maybe too, in terms of the amount of people who use it, but that’s obviously not as well proven because we don’t have anywhere like switzerland that has tried something like that for meth. But still, at least for heroin.

    I just don’t see why we necessarily have to prohibit it for anyone who’s not an addict when we know it creates a violent black market.

    • BigJohn

      That would be better than just selling it at the 7 Eleven, but not by much. I would be opposed to that. Why would I want one of those places in my town? We have no heroin problem now, but we would before long after that place opened up.

      And if people were taking it home, you know they’d be sharing it with people if not selling it to people who don’t want to go through the hassle of going to the injection site and getting lectured and being forced to read a bunch of pamphlets just to try something once.

      Personally, I’d only be okay with a very limited program for bona fide drug addicts.

      • TrebleBass

        It doesn’t necessarily have to be in your town if you don’t have any heroin, and meth places don’t have to be in towns that have no meth. But plenty of us do have heroin all over our towns and it creates many murders, so that’s why I would want it in my town.

        Secondly, there wouldn’t necessarily be a need for people to read pamphlets the first time; they would be told how much to take and not allowed to take any more. They could leave after taking the dose and doctors see that they didn’t overdose. They can enjoy most of the high somewhere else. And in an environment like that, they’d be bound to learn plenty about heroin and about harm reduction fairly quickly, and even decide if they want to keep using it in the most informed way possible (including having met plenty of long time addicts who would share their stories). I think you underestimate people’s ability to make good decisions given the necessary knowledge.

      • strayan

        BigJohn. Where is your evidence that there are loads of people desperately itching to become Heroin addicts who aren’t already using the stuff?

        See here’s the thing, the majority of people will stay clear of Heroin for exactly the same reasons as the majority of people stay clear of cigarettes. They don’t want to get hooked. It’s expensive, could potentially kill you and may alienate you from your friends.

        And that’s overlooking the fact that pharmaceutical grade diamorphine (Heroin) is safe enough to give to 3 year old children: http://www.bmj.com/content/322/7281/261.full

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    Can’t (almost) everyone agree that absolute prohibition and unfettered re-legalization are one as equally flawed as the other and don’t belong anywhere in this discussion? Can’t we get a national conversation going on how to find the middle ground that’s in the better interests of our society as a whole? Can’t we all just get along?

    Just for the record Big John, you are aware that meth is legal by prescription, and is almost certainly in stock at the pharmacy you frequent, correct? Are you aware that it’s FDA approved for schoolchildren older than age 6? Here’s an advertisement for Desoxyn, which is the brand name. Take a look at the picture of that little girl. Isn’t she just cute as a button? http://www.rxlist.com/desoxyn-drug.htm So help me out here, I can’t make up my mind. Do you think she’s actually a medical meth patient or is she just an actress hired to promote the use of methamphetamine by the less cute school children?

    You also have to forgive us mid-Atlantic and Northeasterners because for some reason we just don’t have much call for meth around here. I could direct you to the open air markets where you can purchase heroin and cocaine any time of the day or night and you’d be high in less than an hour were I so inclined. It isn’t because I went looking for them but the yo boys standing on various street corners on well traveled city streets make themselves and their product in stock well known, even to bespectacled 50 year old men driving 1989 Toyota Corollas. But I’ve no clue where you would go to buy meth.

    There were only 148 people in “treatment” for “amphetamines” in my State in 2009, which I’m presuming is the classification that SAMHSA uses for meth. New York State had 805. California had 49,239 and it was their worst category. We just don’t have a taste for it I guess.

    Well looky there, Mississippi had only 425 people in “treatment” for meth in 2009. Almost 3 million residents. What a horror show if that number tripled. Yeah right, it’s a friggin’ pandemic. How much money did Mississippi spend to get all those people into “treatment” since they cared so darn much? Look at that opioid split. MS really likes that hillbilly heroin a lot better than the imported stuff.

    http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/quicklink/ms09.htm

    Take a look where that link says “ms09”. You can get the in “treatment” stats for any State at least as far back as 1996 by simply changing that using the same ssyy format. e.g. “ny96” will give you 1996 New York statistics. You gotta know the postal code for the various States.

    Did you know that opioid addiction has fallen by 47+% in California since the CUA decriminalized medical cannabis in 1996? Look it up!

    PS I confess. I put the word “treatment” in quotes when used in reference to drug “abuse” “treatment” as an intentional denigration of the joke that’s known as drugs “treatment” in the US. Sitting around in a circle with 11 other people and 1 paid bully berating you for breaking the law is hardly any kind of treatment. A better word for it would be what the Russian commies used to call it, “forced re-education.” So do I start goose stepping and sieg heiling now or later? Whenever my masters snap their fingers, right? I never can keep that stuff straight.

  • darkcycle

    Yes, and Oxymorphone is Heroin. And there’s even a time release version.

  • Stupid is as stupid does

    Yup , the cold med laws has created a black market for it. Meth makers will pay good for it.

    Prohibition doesnt work. just ruins lives and wastes money.

    Why is this so hard to see when its right in front of our eyes?

  • malcolm kyle

    “I’m really getting worn out with this thread”

    BigJohn, what other meaning are we to read into this except “You guys are wearing me down”

    Kindly allow me to illustrate to you what WE are “having to put up with”
    Here are some of your statements:

    .
    “… but if we start selling pure cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. for ten bucks a gram at stores all over town, we’re going to have a lot more people addicted to these drugs ..”
    Are we to hope that your omission of additional options is not just a deliberate deception?

    .
    ” ..We’re always going to have some prohibition and prohibition related problems. Even if we have something like heroin maintenance programs there would still be a black market for heroin, because only genuine addicts are allowed to participate in these programs.”

    Well yes, we’ll obviously still have “prohibition related problems” because, as your next statement illustrates, you refuse to see legalized regulation of the most dangerous “at present” illegal substances as an option.

    .
    “I just don’t want drugs like meth being regulated like alcohol and sold cheap to any adult who wants them.”

    May I remind you that Alcohol is a factor in the following:

    * 73% of all felonies * 73% of child beating cases * 41% of rape cases * 80% of wife battering cases * 72% of stabbings * 83% of homicides.
    So why don’t you reject how we now regulate alcohol?

    .
    .
    “You’d stand a much better chance of actually accomplishing some good if you focused not on complete legalization but on changing the laws so they cause us fewer problems, so prohibition of the really hard stuff causes us fewer problems.”

    .
    As for cigarette use going down, I see that, but compare how many people who smoke cigarettes today to the percentage of people who use meth.

    Even in context, It does not appear possible to make any sense of those last two statements!
    .
    .
    .
    “I do see that prohibition causes a lot of harm to society, but I think that we could minimize that harm considerably without fully legalizing these drugs.”

    .
    “I am not for the status quo at all, but I’m not onboard with those who want full legalization either.”

    BigJohn, “full legalization” in the land devoid of false dilemmas, actually means “full legalized regulation” How could a sane person reject such a sensible alternative to what we have now?

    “The terms Legalization and Prohibition are sometimes used as ways to create ‘straw men’ arguments, by essentially claiming that your opponents are for something else entirely.” — Pete Guither

    BTW, I hope you won’t mind if I decline to return your one fingered salute.

    • strayan

      As for cigarette use going down, I see that, but compare how many people who smoke cigarettes today to the percentage of people who use meth.

      I think he means that there are more people smoking tobacco than using meth.

      He conveniently overlooks the entire commercial history of cigarettes, the several decades of mass marketing and the fact they used to be fucking given away (for free) [exhibit A] to get people hooked. Oh wait, I forget to mention they were recommended by doctors too [exhibit B ].

      Anyone with half a brain can work out why more people use tobacco than methamphetamine.

      The bottom line is, the best way to discourage people from using drugs (any drug including alcohol and tobacco), is to tax the shit out of it, affix ugly as fuck health warnings, give junkies free gear, and ban all forms of product promotion.

      Tobacco use in California has fallen over 40% god damn percent since Proposition 99 was passed in 1988.

    • tintguy

      Malkolm you truly the best.

  • Stupid is as stupid does

    “I am not for the status quo at all, but I’m not onboard with those who want full legalization either.” means:

    Im not willing to do anything, im gonna stand here and let the house burn down around me.

    The bottom line is, the best way to discourage people from using drugs (any drug including alcohol and tobacco), is to tax the shit out of it, affix ugly as fuck health warnings, give junkies free gear, and ban all forms of product promotion.

    Promotion..lol ya. All forms of promotion should stop. It is profiting from death and detruction. Oh but progress must go on! That means profits! profits of big corporations that “donate” to society and good causes. Ya right.

    Hard drugs would have to be made non profit. Big Pharma reasearch should be done to the BENEFIT of SOCIETY , not the benefit corporation ,with the billions of wasted tax dollar, you know the ones spent on wars or the ponzi schemes created by government and big international banks that bleed society dry.

  • Duncan20903

    ….and let’s not forget what the perceived “problem” with legal cocaine and heroin when “they” made the push to criminalize.

    From the friggin’ New York Times 2/8/1914:

    ……….. NEGRO COCAINE “FIENDS” ARE A NEW SOUTHERN MENACE ………..

    Murder and Insanity Increasing Among Lower Class Blacks Because They Have Taken to “Sniffing” Since Deprived of Whisky by Prohibition.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9901E5D61F3BE633A2575BC0A9649C946596D6CF

  • That reflected the concentration of fear over ‘cocaine’ aka coca, from the southeastern U.S. where Tobacco was King, and the concern expressed by the USDA against ‘cocaine’ was the promotion and use of coca as a tobacco habit cure:

    http://freedomofmedicineanddiet.blogspot.com/2008/03/it-was-criminal-mercantilism-to-protect.html

    http://freedomofmedicineanddiet.blogspot.com/2010/07/it-is-criminal-mercantilism-to-protect.html

    As we all know, this perverted coca’s main international use to that of concentrated forms of cocaine taking.

    http://freedomofmedicineanddiet.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-narcs-created-crack-richard-cowan.html

    Failing to recognize the drug war as agrilcultural mercantilism just masks the extent of the status quo disaster.

    http://freedomofmedicineanddiet.blogspot.com/2011/01/drug-statutes-infinitely-worse-than.html