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Book Review: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know

Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know. by Mark A.R. Kleiman, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Angela HawenNewly available: “Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know” by Mark A.R. Kleiman, Jonathan P. Caulkins, and Angel Hawken, in both paperback
and Kindle formats.

With a bold title like that, I just had to check it out.

And to be perfectly honest, the book essentially lives up to its title. Clocking in at a mere 256 pages, and written in a very easy-to-ready style, the book nonetheless contains an extraordinarily comprehensive overview of drugs and drug policy (the authors define “drugs” for the purpose of the book as “abusable psychoactive drugs.”)

Of course, that supposes that you’re willing to read it all the way through. Despite its comprehensive factual approach, clear writing, and useful information, the paternalism and bias that permeates the entire book can be quite frustrating.

The first indication of a problem in the book comes in the dedication.

This book is dedicated to the professionals who devote their careers to ameliorating drug problems and to the families and friends of those suffering with addiction. We meet an amazing variety of people in the course of our work. Naturally this includes police on the beat, teachers in the classroom, and treatment counselors in the clinic, but also clergy who open their sanctuaries to troubled youth, neuroscientists trying to invent vaccines against drug abuse, community leaders who—armed with nothing but the courage of their convictions—confront violent street dealers, and many more. They are as diverse a cross-section of society as one could imagine, yet almost to a person they share a passion and willingness to go beyond. Hats off to you all; you make the world a better place, and for that we thank you.

Diverse? No. There are many lenses through which you can view the issues related to drugs and drug policy, but while the tragedy of drug addiction is an important one, it is only one of many. Unfortunately for these authors, it appears to be the only one.

This doesn’t mean that their presentation of the facts is one-sided. Not at all — there’s a very careful effort to include everything. It’s more how the conclusions are shaded.

For example, in the midst of an exhaustive beginning discussing toxicity, addiction, dependency, disease, etc., there’s this telling little passage:

Why is drug use a problem?

Often it isn’t a problem. Most people who use abusable drugs—even most people who use them nonmedically—do so in a reasonably controlled fashion and without much harm to themselves or anyone else. Most people who smoke cigarettes have a hard-to-break habit that damages their health, but that makes cigarette smoking unusual. In this regard, most drugs resemble alcohol, with many occasional users, fewer heavy users, and fewer still who remain heavy users for years on end.

Reasonable.

If abusable psychoactives can be used safely, where does the problem come in?

That something can be done safely does not mean it always will be done safely. Five times out of six, playing Russian roulette has no bad consequences.

Wow. Comparing casual drug use to Russian roulette? That’s a ridiculous analogy intended to make casual drug use look like some extraordinarily deadly activity followed by people who are suicidal.

The authors do touch on the positive aspects of drug use, although also tellingly, that doesn’t show up until chapter 7. And even then, it’s shaded by bias.

At one point, for example, they address whether “drug taking [can] enhance the appreciation of music and the visual arts.” While they made a rather tongue-in-cheek suggestion that more research was needed in this area (something I’d agree with), their prime example had do to with how alcohol encourages singing:

What seems to be at work is that alcohol diminishes both performance capacity and critical capacity, but it diminishes critical capacity more sharply; if people had to listen to their own drunken singing while sober, they might not enjoy it quite so much.

Now, how can you possibly address drug use and the arts and use that example, while completely ignoring the powerful historical connection between cannabis and jazz?

The authors spent very little time discussing the drug policy reform movement. Someone, however, couldn’t seem to resist a bit of a dig in this rather nonsensical passage (complete with “scare quotes”) that appeared almost out of nowhere:

The “drug-policy reform” community—which may include a lower-than-average proportion of people who do serious strength training—is more insistent about the freedom to take cannabis for fun than the freedom to take anabolic steroids to build muscle mass.

Huh?

Most of the book has good information, and their critiques of bad policy are powerful and to the point. They detail the failures of D.A.R.E., and lament the politicization of drug policy science. They clearly understand, and go to great lengths to point out, that prohibition causes a host of serious problems, and that we can’t simply point to the dangers of drugs without realizing the effect of policy:

As a result, those who want to use evaluations of the risks of specific drugs—including the risk of addiction—to make policy also confront the fact that policies shape the risks. [emphasis added]

Very well stated.

So, how did they address legalization as an option? Here was one interesting passage that came after a discussion of the damage caused by drug-abuse control policies.

Then wouldn’t it be possible to have no coercive drug-abuse control policies at all?

It would be possible to create a world in which drug taking and drug selling were both freely practiced and in which the state’s only concerns with drug abuse were:

  • ensuring that drugs sold for nonmedical as well as medical purposes are properly labeled and free of adulteration
  • encouraging people to be moderate in their drug consumption
  • assisting people who wanted help in recovering from substance-abuse disorders
  • providing, under general “social safety net” provisions, income support to those impoverished by their own drug taking or by that of the family bread winners
  • making the physical and social environment safer for, and from, those under the influence

This might be called a “no coercion” drug policy.

Not bad. Let’s call it legalization. They can certainly imagine it. They just can’t accept it. Take a look at their reasoning for not going to that better place.

Wouldn’t the results of such a “no coercion” policy be an improvement on the current mess?

It might. Or, then again, it might not. And what is “better” depends on judgments about the relative importance of different kinds of harm and benefit as well as estimates of the likely results of alternative policies. The plausibility of moving to a no-coercion drug policy depends on how much drug abuse current policies actually prevent. For example, how many more cocaine abusers would there be in a world of free trade in cocaine? Alas, there’s no way of finding out except for trying a new set of policies; quantitative estimates about a hypothetical world so different from the one we can actually observe are little better than guesses. […]

…the right comparison is between the drug abuse problem as it would be under some alternative policy and the combined damage from drug abuse and the illicit markets under current policy.

OK, I’m willing to accept that as the goal. But they won’t let us use it because we can’t know for certain what the answer is without trying legalization.

If the results of legalization are uncertain, why not just try it out, and go back to the current system if legalization doesn’t work?

As Humpty Dumpty discovered the hard way, not every experiment is reversible.

So, the current system is bad, legalization may well be much better, but we can’t know for sure without trying it, and we can’t try it because we might not be able to reverse it, so we’re left with a bad system.

How pathetic! And how convenient. They even state that limited legalization efforts wouldn’t actually provide sufficient information to gauge the effects of larger legalization efforts. They define it so that no set of information will be acceptable to them, and without acceptable information, we can’t try legalization.

And when it comes to the conclusion of the book, while the authors provide three separate lists of possible “what is to be done” options (“consensus” list, “pragmatist” list and “political-bridge-too-far” list), legalization appears nowhere.

There are many places throughout the book where the authors’ fear of addiction is so powerful that it affects their ability to dispassionately view their own facts. The notion, for example, that all illicit drugs would necessarily follow the same use/abuse prevalence of currently legal drugs (ie, that cocaine use/addiction would reach the levels of alcohol use/addiction). They also show a fear of the free market (that greedy businesses would do everything they can to addict as many people as possible under any legal system), and an unwillingness to imagine alternative means of legalization.

They point out the success of heroin maintenance programs in Europe, and seem to understand that tobacco harms have been reduced without criminalization, yet can somehow only imagine a highly-advertised, malicious-intent, business-profit-driven drug market under legalization.

For another disconnect, check out this passage:

How much of the increase in consumption after legalization would reflect increased problem use rather than increased casual use?

Almost all of it. The volume of drug consumption doesn’t depend very strongly on the total number of users. What’s crucial is the number of heavy users. One ten-drink-a-day drinker (and there are such people) is more important to the alcoholic beverage industry than fifty people who have a drink a week. So increased total drug consumption is almost always the result of increased problem drug consumption.

What a ridiculous statement! They’re taking the fact that problem users normally consume the largest quantity of drugs as a way of implying that legalization would result in more problem use than casual use. Under their reasoning, if legalization results in 10 new casual users and one new problem user, but the problem user consumes 20 times as much as a single casual user, then problem use has increased by double the amount of casual use. And that’s just an intellectually dishonest statement.

It also ignores the fact that prohibition is more likely to deter the casual user than the problem user, so legalization would result in far more of an increase in casual use (a fact that has been borne out in decriminalization models).

But then, remember that the authors think that casual use is like Russian roulette.

For the authors, it boils down to a massive fear of addiction, along with a fondness for the nanny state and a strong paternalistic (if not authoritarian) political world-view.

They don’t hide their paternalistic preferences.

If people choose to harm themselves with drugs, why is that anyone else’s business?

This question reflects the central argument against any sort of paternalistic intervention in private behavior. It is subject to at least three substantive answers; how persuasive they seem will vary from case to case depending on the facts, and from reader to reader depending on differing values. First, by some reckonings, self-damage to a human being is still damage, and if it can be prevented at reasonable cost—including some restrictions on the freedom to engage in self-damaging behavior, as in Mill’s bridge example—that’s a good enough reason to interfere.

That’s right – loss of freedom is acceptable if it might mean that we can prevent someone from hurting themselves. The really sad part is that they’re willing to give away the freedom of others (those who are hurting nobody including themselves) in a futile effort to prevent self-abuse.

Again, it’s important to point out that this book contains a wealth of useful information. The authors have done their research and know their facts.

But their inability to see past their massive bias, their paternalistic view toward other citizens, their lack of interest in basic principles of liberty and human rights, and their unwillingness to seriously consider a valid alternative policy, makes the book fatally flawed.

While reading the book, I had the image of birds sitting in a cage, distressed by the rusty bars and the dirty cage lining harboring disease that has been killing some of the birds. One of the birds notes that the cage door isn’t locked, but the others say “You can’t go out there! We don’t know what’s out there.” and they continue to discuss ways to make the bars look nicer.

“Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know” Yep. It’s all there. Everything you need to know, including the fact that legalization is the only viable option. Too bad the authors can’t see the inescapable conclusion of their own book.

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64 comments to Book Review: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know

  • From this review the book appears to completely ignore the market perversion of the drugs in question- e.g Coca leaves to concentrated cocaine, and the broader perversion of banning Coca and MJ within the ‘licit’ market e.g mercantilism for ‘Tobacco’ cigarettes and alcohol.

    Instead it appears to paint a picture of ‘cocaine’ strictly within its widely known context as a concentrated drug. That it completely ignores MJ and jazz furthermore suggests its convenient disregard of the illegal substances’ overall superiority- which is why they were banned.

  • Cannabis

    Pete, did it read like a textbook? Do you think that it will be recommended reading for Prof. Kleiman’ classes at the UCLA School of Public Affairs?

    • Actually, it reads much better than most textbooks. It’s an easy read with clear writing. But I don’t doubt that it could be used as part of a class.

  • Duncan20903

    …and exactly what should we have expected from a a guy like Mark Kleiman? Seriously Pete, that’s an awful lot of words you wrote today when just the two words “mark kleiman” said the exact same thing to anyone who knows of the man. 😀

    @Cannabis people write books to sell them. How the heck else would Mr. Kleiman be able to sell more than the five copies his mom would buy, if he couldn’t coerce people to buy his tripe?

  • Steve

    Pete, this ought to be among the Amazon reviews, of which there are none yet. Good job! Great job!

    Thanks for what you do.

  • denmark

    It only took a few seconds to figure out where the book was going by your excellent interpretation.
    And of course you nailed it Pete, “throughout the book where the authors’ fear of addiction is so powerful that it affects their ability to dispassionately view their own facts. . . For the authors, it boils down to a massive fear of addiction.”

    The only thing I’m addicted to is oxygen and food. Are these smart people?, no. They fail to truly understand anything about the people they say they’re concerned about. Society at large? 2% of the population ends up having a “drug problem”. Unless that statistic has gone down.
    I am not a drug addict, I am not a threat, I will not sell to “your youth”, however, I will continue to fight against the brain-dead on the globe.
    Have I smoked any of my medicine today? No, and guess what, it’s already 4:30 p.m. here. Goodness, guess I better get with the program and be that person they know me to be.

  • dt

    Here’s my question for utilitarians like Mark Kleiman: what do they think of programs like the government’s adulteration of alcohol during prohibition? Many people died or were made seriously ill, but isn’t that acceptable as long as enough alcohol abuse was prevented? They clearly think it’s acceptable to send people to prison to deter others from using drugs. One person’s punishment is supposed to stop others from harming themselves. For Kleiman and other “public health” paternalists, the only problem with this is the unintended consequences.

    Kleiman’s view of the relationship between the individual and the state is completely against all American tradition from Thomas Jefferson to Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas. It’s also completely morally vacuous and is subject to all of the arguments against utilitarianism. My guess is that Kleiman is writing in a tradition that goes back to the temperance movement – “alcohol and drug use is like playing Russian roulette; you never know if you will ‘become an addict.’ Therefore, the state must use maximum coercive measures to protect individuals from these evil substances.”

    Despite the obvious insanity of this position, they represent a middle ground between the good guys and the hardcore prohibitionists because they acknowledge some problems with the status quo. They’re also professors who can put out books without having to worry much about sales, so they don’t have to appeal to the growing number of people who understand that the status quo is complete bullshit. The fact that their position might seem like a “reasonable middle ground” is what makes it so frustrating.

  • strayan

    The problem is Kleiman can only imagine a future where cocaine is marketed like Bud – at the the Superbowl (to people of all ages), without health warnings and available in enormous, heavily discounted quantities from COSTCO.

  • The problem is people speaking about ‘cocaine’ with zero discussion of the form- yes- Coca-Cola as God intended it with whole Coca! That failure to discuss the issue with any depth, much like the late 1970s idiocy of images of Coca Cola machines dispensing white powders, disregards the market shift towards crack and cigarettes.

  • Mark Kleiman

    Pete, I can imagine that you actually believe what you write, even if some of it seems to me obviously wrong. But you’re apparently incapable of grasping the simple idea that knowledgeable people can disagree with you without being “intellectually dishonest.” Orwell called that the mark of a fanatic.

    And no, @cannabis, when I next teach my drug policy course this won’t be the textbook. I wrote an actual scholarly book on drug policy called Against Excess. It’s available for free, here:

    http://www.spa.ucla.edu/faculty/kleiman/book/

    But for Heaven’s sake don’t read it! You might learn something that Pete Guither disagrees with, and then he’d think you, too, were “intellectually dishonest.”

    • strayan

      Where are you counterpoints Mark?

    • Mark, for most of the book, I disagreed with you and the other authors regarding your analyses and conclusions. I made that clear and did not claim “intellectual dishonesty.”

      However, the specific passage in the book that started:

      How much of the increase in consumption after legalization would reflect increased problem use rather than increased casual use? Almost all of it.

      … that was dishonest.

      It was an intentional manipulation of standard drug quantity consumption figures to imply an overwhelming increase in problems post-legalization.

      This is something that you not only do not have anything to back you up, but in fact, decriminalization models have shown this specifically not to be true (and while decriminalization models are not the same as legalization, they’re a lot more specifically accurate regarding the details of increased post-reform use than anything you’ve got).

      That specific paragraph in the book (and that’s the only part where I accused the authors of being intellectually dishonest) shows the same kind of intentional deception as the drug czar’s claim that marijuana is more dangerous because so many are in treatment.

      I know you don’t like it when I call you intellectually dishonest. And that’s good. It means that’s something you care about. It’s also why I use it when I find examples of dishonesty. Because I know it’ll hit you. And because so much of your work is good (particularly compared to prohibitionists), it really bothers me when you take those dishonest cheap shots.

      It’s too bad, though, that you appear not to be as upset by being called paternalistic or authoritarian.

      • Matthew Meyer

        I’m sure Mark’s very busy, but I’m still disappointed that he responded to Pete in such a snarky way. Tone aside, strayan’s right: where are the counterpoints to Pete’s calling BS on the post-legalization casual / problem use issue?

        It’s like the recent Keith Humphreys blog on Nixon. Mark shows up, apparently makes an error (confusing William Scranton and Raymond Shafer), but then doesn’t bother to address it when people call Hey!

        So please, Mark, if you’ve got a reply to Pete’s criticism, let’s hear it.

    • pt

      Funny you would take offense to the accusation of intellectual dishonesty, since it is about the most toothless insult one can wage. Your claim cannot be disagreed with, either most drhugs consumed will be by problem users or casual users, but there is no way to actually know. When it comes to how legalization will affect society, you have no problem noting that we can’t know. When it comes to how will most drugs be used, you state undeniably ABUSIVELLY! But then the question is itself a sham. No one actually cares what amounts of drugs who will use, what people who ask this sort of question want to know is: What percentage of new users in a legalized scheme will be problem users? You twisted the question to make all increased use look bad, even after admitting that all use isn’t bad. I wouldn’t call it intellecually dishonest, but it is certainly self serving.

      • pt

        After seeing Pete’s reply I see why he used the phrase. Strange that of all the insults that’s the one you focus on.

    • dt

      Mark, think about this: Against Excess was written back in 1993. Your basic views about the relationship between man and drugs has not changed, but the world has changed. Your paternalism no longer makes sense. The Internet puts all of mankind’s knowledge about drugs at the fingertips of each individual. Now, every one of us is empowered to make rational decisions about what to do with our own bodies and minds.

      You mentioned “Mill’s bridge example” in one of the passages Pete quoted. In that example, the paternalistic action of turning the man away from the bridge is justified only if “there were no time to warn [the man] of his danger.” Now, because of the Internet, we all have access to so much information that we all know or should know of the dangers of whatever we consume. This means that there are strict limits on when paternalism is justified.

      Your basic view – that individuals need to be protected from the dangers of drugs – is a relic of the temperance movement and is no longer relevant in the 21st century.

      • dt

        Here is Mill’s bridge example:

        “If either a public officer or any one else saw a person attempting to cross a bridge which had been ascertained to be unsafe, and there were no time to warn him of his danger, they might seize him and turn him back without any real infringement of his liberty; for liberty consists in doing what one desires, and he does not desire to fall into the river. Nevertheless, when there is not a certainty, but only a danger of mischief, no one but the person himself can judge of the sufficiency of the motive which may prompt him to incur the risk: in this case, therefore, (unless he is a child, or delirious, or in some state of excitement or absorption incompatible with the full use of the reflecting faculty,) he ought, I conceive, to be only warned of the danger; not forcibly prevented from exposing himself to it.”

        The fact that “no one but the person himself can judge of the sufficiency of the motive which may prompt him to incur the risk” is especially relevant in the drug context, because no one but the person himself can subjectively experience his own mind, and thus no one else knows what psychoactive drug use is appropriate. Each individual, not paternalist policy makers, is in the best position to determine what drug use is appropriate for himself. Under Mill’s reasoning, the combination of widely available information and the point-of-sale warnings and labeling that Kleiman envisions under the “no coercion drug policy” makes any coercive paternalism highly suspect. Mill would agree that unnecessary and arbitrary deprivations of liberty are immoral.

  • tintguy

    Smart enough to put the pieces togather but not smart enough to see past the years of brainwashing. An intelligent set of sheeple explaining the neccessity of the fence to the other sheeple does not impress.

  • Peter

    This from Kleiman’s PBS interview: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/dope/interviews/kleiman.html
    “… marijuana is the illicit drug most likely to be used by juveniles, and that it is a much more dangerous drug than many people believe. In particular, it has a higher capture rate to addiction–a higher fraction of the people who use marijuana go on to use it heavily for a long time–than people give it credit for, though marijuana addiction is not, for most people, nearly as serious as chronic alcoholism can be.
    So one point of view is why are we making this huge fuss about this relatively benign chemical? The other point of view is that eighth-graders shouldn’t be using intoxicants. Too many of them have now started to use marijuana, and General McCaffrey said the other month that the most dangerous drug in America is marijuana in the hands of a 14-year-old.”

    This is self-serving nonsense and I suspect Kleiman knows it. Cannabis is the most widely used drug by juveniles for one very simple reason; unlike alcohol it is available to them without having to show ID, thanks to prohibition. Any so called gateway effect attached to cannabis is also a consequence of prohibition; when people become used to buying cannabis from illicit suppliers, they are in a position to be curious about other, more harmful, illicit drugs. If you really want to stop eighth graders using cannabis it seems obvious to make it harder to obtain by the under-aged by regulating it in the same way as alcohol and tobacco.

  • Common Science

    When you have to utilize a number of flawed planks for the fence you build, do you intend to point them out from under the many layers of paint they are hidden?

  • darkcycle

    I must say, I dislike being accused of intellectual dishonesty as well…it seems that Mr. Kleiman’s taken offense. It does seem though, that when faced with specific criticisms one could respond to those, rather than simply puffing one’s self up with indignation.
    Mark (I suspect you’ll read this), you already know me, we’ve gone round before. You also know Pete and the people who frequent this site. That we disagree on a lot of points should be common knowledge. Nobody here will be swayed by puff and bluster, but if you wish to make a point, we are listening.
    Any assertion that we here at the Rant are lockstep behind Pete Guither is even more dishonest than anything that appears in your book. Any casual observer here in Pete’s comments section would have to agree.
    It is likely I’ll read your book, since I read everything on drug policy I can get my hands on. This has nothing to do with whether I agree with you or not, it’s a personal policy. I can tell you, that having been INSULTED by you prior to reading it, I’ll probably be reading a library copy, and NOT adding it to my extensive collection. And I definitely won’t be seeking a signed copy.
    I’m not going to begin to critique your work until I’ve had a chance to read it, but if Pete’s quick synopsis is accurate, I imagine I’ll have some issues with it.

    • Windy

      darkcycle, I’m taking advantage of your posting this to mention I hope you saw (and accept) my apology on that other thread (illegal to talk about drug legalization), you misunderstood my one word response, which I explained in full on that other thread.

      Btw, this is very good comment you made here, good on you!

      • darkcycle

        No worries, Windy. Misunderstandings happen. You’re welcome to use it anytime. I felt bad for reacting the way I did, sometimes I’m way too quick to personalize things.

  • pfroehlich2004

    Hey sorry for going off-topic but could someone please post the URL for SAMHSA state-level substance abuse treatment admissions stats?

  • Moosh

    “So please, Mark, if you’ve got a reply to Pete’s criticism, let’s hear it.”

    Going on past form, I believe that’s hardly likely.
    http://www.drugwarrant.com/2010/11/opposing-prohibition-is-not-designed-to-be-a-simple-solution-to-the-drug-problem/comment-page-1/#comments

  • TrebleBass

    “If people choose to harm themselves with drugs, why is that anyone else’s business?

    This question reflects the central argument against any sort of paternalistic intervention in private behavior. It is subject to at least three substantive answers; how persuasive they seem will vary from case to case depending on the facts, and from reader to reader depending on differing values. First, by some reckonings, self-damage to a human being is still damage, and if it can be prevented at reasonable cost—including some restrictions on the freedom to engage in self-damaging behavior, as in Mill’s bridge example—that’s a good enough reason to interfere.”

    I agree there can be interference of some sort, but is the only imaginable interference criminalization? Can there not be regulated access, like only under supervision while experimenting and taking out a licence (by passing a test on the effects of a drug) to use without supervision? Any other harm reduction idea? Are those not a more adequate form of interference than completely taking away a person’s right to use a drug?

  • TrebleBass

    “While reading the book, I had the image of birds sitting in a cage, distressed by the rusty bars and the dirty cage lining harboring disease that has been killing some of the birds. One of the birds notes that the cage door isn’t locked, but the others say “You can’t go out there! We don’t know what’s out there.” and they continue to discuss ways to make the bars look nicer.”

    Exactly! Who knows how little problem there might be, and we could finally forget about this whole drug war! For Christ’s sake, it’s been a hundred years now.

  • dt

    Part of Kleiman’s anxiety about legalization might be that drug advertising would be given some protection under the First Amendment. But commercial speech is given less protection than other forms of speech, and reasonable restrictions on drug advertising would probably be upheld. Even absent this doctrine, the notion that people are such idiots that they can’t make decisions for themselves is just offensive. The real solution to speech you don’t like is to make more speech. Rather than banning things, speak out in opposition. Despite advertising, many people were persuaded to give up tobacco by reasonable arguments against its use. But Kleiman has so little respect for his fellow human beings that he does not trust them to listen to reason.

    • I think you’re quite right on this one. He’s been very concerned about commercial pressures pushing for heavy use of newly legalized drugs. But that ignores a huge part of the equation – social pressures. It’s extremely unlikely that cocaine and heroin legalization would see the same kind of social acceptance of use that alcohol has or that tobacco had during its heyday. There will be organizations warning of overuse of cocaine and warning labels with a skull and crossbones, and public service announcements, and churches preaching against it, etc.

      • hmmm… advertising… anyone notice that the PharmaCorps (rhetorical only, of course we’ve noticed) advertise their butts off? And anyone notice that the antidrugnutz newest bugling is over the abuse of precription drugs?

        I maintain that the core values change regarding tobacco use is a prime example. Tobacco products kill some 400,000 a year yet are available 24/7. When the paradigm on tobacco changed there were restrictions on advertising and an educational program began that has reduced tobacoo consumption rates by near half from a few decade ago.

        As some here constantly point out there will be no boom in heroin and meth use… they’re not particularly appealing subtances if one is informed/educated or had a session with either. Of course the reason we have methamphetamine today is because the more modest uppers (the truckers’ friend and mother’s little helper) were suppressed back then.

        And pot will be more like the beer and wine industries – there will be markets for the consumers of schwag (Icehouse, Bud, Milwaukie’s Weakest…) and there will be the top end consumers and everything in between.

        This isn’t rocket science. It is however very much about core principles (like… oh… the Bill of Rights and the universal absolute of personal sovereignty) and the ability of today’s citizens to grasp truth (instead of pap and propaganda) when it is offered.

        And I’m assuming that the book’s snaky commentaries are aimed at gaining points wit the existent prohibition bureaucracies.

  • kaptinemo

    “First, by some reckonings, self-damage to a human being is still damage, and if it can be prevented at reasonable cost—including some restrictions on the freedom to engage in self-damaging behavior, as in Mill’s bridge example—that’s a good enough reason to interfere.”

    Spoken as if the (adult) individual in question is the property of The State, and is need of ‘husbandry’, like cattle. And wherein is ‘the rub’; people aren’t. Their ‘value’ is not solely or mainly to be of utility, to either The State or ‘private industry’. But far too many within government (and the academicians who write in support of government functionaries and their policies) have lost sight of this basic fact and craft policy to reflect that attitude.

    One of the reasons why for so long there were no national (as in Federal) laws regarding drugs was because of a traditional cultural view of the limits of the Constitution that did not see adults as superannuated and eternal children in need of supervision by that very State.

    That began to erode in the first two decades of the last century, with the rise of the ‘Progressive Era’; since too many citizens had been taken advantage of by commercial interests through ignorance (‘snake oil’ and other false advertising) they needed to be ‘guided’ by their more…‘enlightened’…neighbors. Enter the drug laws.

    So…no matter how seemingly beneficent a law in its’ propositions, one must always remember HL Mencken’s dictum considering the true nature of power applied by government against its’ citizens for ‘our own good’:

    “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it.”

  • “That began to erode in the first two decades of the last century, with the rise of the ‘Progressive Era’; since too many citizens had been taken advantage of by commercial interests through ignorance (‘snake oil’ and other false advertising) they needed to be ‘guided’ by their more…‘enlightened’…neighbors. Enter the drug laws.”

    Agreed about the so-called ‘Progressives’, but what data actually existed — aka the soldiers disease mythos — to support any claim of many citizens being taken in, by anything other then or to the degree they were with the health toll of Virginia Bright Leaf cigarettes, which had their sales spike with each of the successive 1906, 1914 and 1937 ‘drug control laws’?

  • fresh from Tom Angell and LEAP:

    http://www.politico.com/reporters/ChrisFrates.html

    Two years ago, Obama administration drug chief *Gil Kerlikowske* said he wanted to end the war on drugs. Tomorrow, the group *Law Enforcement Against Prohibition* will release a report arguing that the Obama administration has not lived up to the hype.

    “Despite President Obama’s clear — and politically popular — statement that ‘we have to think more about drugs as a public-health problem,’ *his administration’s budgets request funding for punishment at a much higher level than for treatment and prevention*,” according to a copy of the report sent to PI.

    “The Obama administration has tried to convince the public that it supports states’ rights to enact medical marijuana laws while actually undermining such efforts at nearly every turn. The Obama administration gave great fanfare to an October 2009 memo suggesting that those in compliance with state law should not be prosecuted, leaking it to the press late on a Sunday night to ensure heavy media coverage. However, the rate of raids on medical marijuana providers during the Obama administration has actually increased since the Bush administration. Tellingly, the administration has done nothing to trumpet these raids to the press,” the report says.

    In May 2009, *Kerlikowske* told The Wall Street Journal, “Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” he said. “We’re not at war with people in this country.” (http://on.wsj.com/kfldpV)

    Cops and other law enforcement officials will release the report tomorrow at the National Press Club (followed later by a tele-press conference) and will attempt to hand deliver the report to Kerlikowske.

    “We’re trying to shine a spotlight between the disconnect about how the Obama administration talks about ending the war on drugs and in reality is actually ramping it up,” LEAP’s spokesman *Tom Angell* tells PI.

  • and this seems an apropos spot to post my favorite drug war tune of all time, from the Asylum Street Spankers: We’re Winning the War On Drugs

    Why? Well… because… we just are, that’s all.

    • Daniel J

      I love this song in fact the whole spanker madness album is an excellent album to listen to from the first to the last track and the whole album pertains to drugs.

      I like: Gettin High

  • Servetus

    I think Mark Kleinman’s priorities regarding addiction are misconstrued. Before anyone alleges that marijuana is addictive, they might want to tackle the problem of those suffering from sports addictions, or addictions to religions. After all, we’re currently engaged in fighting a war against some really nasty religious addicts in this country and abroad. And sports addictions are just simply ridiculous.

    Otherwise, when anyone speaks of addiction, they need to indicate that a biomarker exists that establishes the addiction is part of an individual’s biochemistry. If a biomarker can’t be produced, such that the phenomena in question cannot be reduced to a number, then nothing is really known about it (to partially quote the late physicist Richard Feynman). So far, no such addiction biomarker has been shown to exist for marijuana, psychedelics, sports or religion.

    A new argument is spawning among anti-legalization propagandists. For example, are some of Big Pharma’s drugs more dangerous than the illegal ones? Definitely. Is Big Pharma a big threat to young, attractive white women? According to this article they are:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13735793

    “Kentucky Pharmageddon”, yeah, sure. No one busts the pharmaceutical companies or the FDA for placing drugs like Xanax or Klonopin on the market. But the feds will certainly bust cannabis dispensaries, or even terminally ill patients who use medical marijuana.

    The ONDCP uses examples such as that in the BBC link above to claim that legalizing illicit drugs is no more effective than the agency’s current inability to restrict and control legal pharmaceuticals, which begs the question: what possible good is there in keeping the ONDCP/DEA and local authorities policing this phenomena if they can’t control drugs, legal or otherwise?

    Ultimately, it’s not about addictions. My sense from Pete’s posting, while not yet having had a chance to read Professor Kleiman’s new book, is that Mark Kleiman’s work exhibits the standard symptoms of an exercise in demonology and forced exorcisms.

    The demons are those drugs declared to be so by various religious sects and corporations. The alleged angels are those drugs promoted by corporatists. Demon drugs challenge the corporatist drug empire’s profits. Demon drugs thwart organized religions in terms of providing people with an alternative source of drug benefits or side-effects; in this case, personal options and experiences that compete with religion to afford a relatively simple, expedient, and inexpensive source of joy, comfort, personal insight, peace of mind, tranquility, stress reduction, enlightenment, self-realization, as well as the ultimate bogeyman most terrifying to any radical cult leader: mind expansion. The last thing many corporatists or religious fanatics desire is that customers and believers expand their consciousness to think and provide for themselves. Self-help is out. Power mongers and paternalists, like those found in American commerce and religion, demand a dependence upon authority, not an independence from authoritarianism.

    Potentially conflicting priorities in drug use are a dime-a-dozen. In the world of cults, it’s likely Scientology rejects anti-depressants partly because SSRI drugs interfere with Scientology’s recruitment of people who suffer from depression, people in this case who are seeking a solution to a congenital neural problem caused by a smaller number of serotonin receptors in their brains—a problem for which Scientologism and all other religious solutions are absolutely worthless. The same holds true of the Scientologist’s horror of marijuana use, a drug which not only has anti-depressant effects, but a drug which can result in one’s dreaded introspection of one’s own life, another territory reserved exclusively for some religions.

    Yes indeed, buy direct and get your dose of religion right off the shelf. Three dollars per tablet.

    With prohibition, we once again are faced with the ruthless expedient of a persecution designed to eliminate all thaumaturgists save that of a recognized priesthood.

    • well done… and spot on. Here’s a piece on NIDA’s Nora Volkow in the NYT, A General in the Drug War. And the point?

      The toll from soaring rates of prescription drug abuse, including both psychiatric medications and drugs for pain, has begun to dwarf that of the usual illegal culprits. Hospitalizations related to prescription drugs are up fivefold in the last decade, and overdose deaths up fourfold. More high school seniors report recreational use of tranquilizers or prescription narcotics, like OxyContin and Vicodin, than heroin and cocaine combined.

      The numbers have alarmed drug policy experts, their foreboding heightened by the realization that the usual regulatory tools may be relatively unhelpful in this new crisis.

      Well heck, a new crisis!

      Do you think the PharmaCorps would whine much if they were banned from advertising in the same manner tobacco is? And what if we kicked their lobbyists out of DC and removed their payola schemes w/ doctors?

      I suppose there is a reason as well for all these new lawyer commercials along the lines of “if your child suffered birth defects after you were prescribed anti-depressants, call Schmuck, Weiner and Dilbert toll-free today!”

      Anyway, the Volkow piece is interesting…

    • darkcycle

      Scientologists are specifically opposed to SSRI’s because the Great L. Ron Hubbard (all hail St. Ron) wrote that stress and depression, and indeed, all psychiatric problems are due to “unclear en-grams” and a residue of our conditioning. Basically, they’re the result of personal weakness, personal weakness that Scientology claims to be the only cure for.
      It not only interferes with their recruitment, it punches huge hole in their very credibility.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    This just can’t be anything other than a sick practical joke on humanity:

    http://www.butwhataboutthechildren.org/

    Christ on a crutch, the argumentum ad liberi has it’s own website. Beam me up Scotty, there’s no intelligent life on this planet.

    • darkcycle

      OOOHH! Thank you Duncan! I really like shooting flightless ducks! These people are sooo much fun to rip! and they’re (at least temporarily) allowing posts! It’s like a carnival of fat-n-slow-n-stoopid! I particularly enjoy the entry about how marijuana kills people! I couldn’t resist…it’s like the ‘Weekly World News’ of prohibitionists!

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .
        Wasn’t that Dean Wormer line “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son”? That line vitally needs the visual impact of a stooge to be really funny.

        I guess I should have stayed longer but that nasty smell, something really foul that seemed consistent with farts generated by the decomposition of mammals chased me back out the door. But the fact is that I was completely unaware that I might suffer that smell and so taken by surprise. I think as long as I know what’s coming and make sure to wear a respirator that I could deal with exploring that website for a couple of hours.
        ———————————————————–

        In the “this guy doesn’t have a clue in just what low regard most cannabis growers have for his company’s products” file:

        Scotts Miracle-Gro Company has long sold weed killer. Now, it’s hoping to help people grow killer weed.

        “In an unlikely move for the head of a major company, Scotts Chief Executive Jim Hagedorn said he is exploring targeting medical marijuana as well as other niches to help boost sales at his lawn and garden company.

        “I want to target the pot market,” Mr. Hagedorn said in an interview. “There’s no good reason we haven’t.”
        http://tinyurl.com/grass-is-grass

  • vickyvampire

    Love everyone”s comments has usual, right on Servetus The FDA will bust Cannabis dispensaries but do not give a rat’s ass about the on going detrimental current and problems with Legal Pharmaceuticals, Oh on occasion they will fine a company and spank them a bit, for problems with Diet Pills ,Vioxx etc taken off market,but there is no real demonetization of them.

    When it comes to any Drug or natural substance like Raw Milk or Pot that threatens pharmaceutical company and dirty henchmen then hysterics are so applied that it looks like a fire and brimstone sermon, sadly some people go along thinking they will be safe and the delusional thought that there kids will be safer.

    Of course most religions has you Servetus do not want to compete with anything drugs etc that will keep those contributions going towards something other than there church, They want there flocks spirit filled and too busy to question too much.
    Drugs for some offer such a beautiful spiritual experience that there no need for religion that scares they fake to death

    Many folks just meditate, commune with nature,and do some acid or pot ecstasy and find great enlightenment that is lacking from organized religion that’s there religious experience no need for church or religion and legalizing drugs scares and outrages them.
    I think Millions have quietly realized this for years in USA,but our Paternal Nanny state will fight it, cracks have begun to stop some of it. Yeah its still any ongoing crazy battle.

    I wonder will this Kleiman book be at Library.

  • … hmmm…I vunder… does Kleiman discuss Prohibition abuse? Does he discuss Peter McWilliams, Donal Scott, any of the drug war dead? Does he discuss the buried and ignored studies? etc, etc etc…

  • Mark Kleiman

    No, Pete, I’m not going to play silly word-games with you and your playmates. Anyone who wants to know what I think can read the book. If someone comes up with an actual criticism of what I actually said, I’ll respond. (And no, I actually didn’t see that someone noticed that I’d said “Scranton” when I meant “Schaefer;” I’ll fix that error – obviously inadvertent and not relevant to the argument – now.)

    Pete – chronically incapable of the decencies of controversy – called me intellectually dishonest, which I deeply resent, based on a misunderstanding (actual or pretended) of my argument. So here it is, laid out again (not that it wasn’t laid out clearly in the book):

    Basic economics tells you that the huge drop in prices resulting from a change from illegal to illegal markets will create a huge increase in the quantity consumed. (That’s the basis, for example, for the claims of huge potential revenues from cannabis legalization.)

    That leaves the question of how much of that increase is harmless controlled use and how much is feeding addiction. The answer is that the vast bulk of the increased volume – like the vast bulk of the current volume – represents addiction. This effect is not restricted to illicit drugs; people with diagnosable alcohol abuse disorders consume somewhere between 50% and 80% of the alcohol used in the U.S., and about 45% of all the drinks consumed are part of drinking binges.

    Now, Pete wants to focus on the number of new users, rather than the quantity consumed. He’s at liberty to do so. But he’s not entitled to call me a liar because he disagrees with me.

    • Malcolm Kyle

      Mark, you state that it’s not possible to find out how much drug abuse current policies actually prevent. But that’s simply not true; we have expert eye-witness accounts from our last failed experiment with alcohol prohibition that usage rates not only exploded but people started drinking much younger and much harder after Prohibition was implemented. If, as you claim, you are an expert in the field of substance use/abuse/addiction, then why are you not familiar with the Senate Hearings of 1926?

      Here is part of the testimony of Judge Alfred J Talley,

      “For the first time in our history, full faith and confidence in and respect for the hitherto sacred Constitution of the United States has been weakened and impaired because this terrifying invasion of natural rights has been engrafted upon the fundamental law of our land, and experience has shown that it is being wantonly and derisively violated in every State, city, and hamlet in the country.”

      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. It has brought into our midst the intemperate woman, the most fearsome and menacing thing for the future of our national life.”

      “It has brought the sickening slime of corruption, dishonor, and disgrace into every group of employees and officials in city, State, and Federal departments that have been charged with the enforcement of this odious law.”

      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.”

      “I unhesitatingly contend that those who recognize existing evils and sincerely endeavor to correct them are contributing more toward temperance than those who stubbornly refuse to admit the facts.”

      “The opposition always proceeds on the theory that give them time and they will stop the habit of indulging in intoxicating beverages. This can not be accomplished. We should recognize our problem is not to persist in the impossible, but to recognize a situation and bring about common-sense temperance through reason.”

      “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.

      “we will produce additional evidence on this point, that it is not appropriate legislation to enforce the eighteenth amendment; that it has done incredible harm instead of good; that as a temperance measure 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”

      “We believe that the time has come for definite action, but it is impossible to lay before Congress any one bill which, while clearly within the provisions of the Constitution, will be a panacea for the evils that the Volstead Act has caused. We must not be vain enough to believe, as the prohibitionists do, that the age-old question of the regulation of alcohol can be settled forever by the passage of a single law. With the experience of the Volstead law as a warning, it behooves us to proceed with caution, one step at a time, to climb out of the legislative well into which we have been pushed.”

      “If you gentlemen are satisfied, after hearing the evidence supplemented by the broad general knowledge which each of you already possesses, that the remedy that will tend most quickly to correct the wretched social conditions that now exist, to promote temperance, find to allay the discontent and unrest that the Volstead Act has caused, is to be found in the passage of one of the proposed bills legalizing the production of beer of an alcoholic content of 4 per cent or less. We do not claim that it will do away with all the evils produced by attempted prohibition, but it would be a step in the right direction.”

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

      It sure would be nice if you gave us an honest answer on this, Mark.
      http://www.samefacts.com/2011/06/drug-policy/what-does-a-drug-peace-look-like-2/#comment-70479

    • dt

      An assertion is intellectually dishonest if it uses statistics to cast policy options in a false light. Your assertion uses consumption statistics in a counter-intuitive way in order to cast a false positive light on a deeply immoral status quo and a false negative light on a reasonable alternative. Thus, Pete is correct that your assertion is intellectually dishonest.

    • Basic economics tells you that the huge drop in prices resulting from a change from illegal to illegal [sic] markets will create a huge increase in the quantity consumed.

      the problem though, is that the most harmful drugs will not become popular simply because they are made legal — thus there will be no huge increase in their use. the only drug for which we can rightfully claim exponential increase in use will be marijuana — which isn’t actually all that “harmful” at all.

      decades worth of drug use data indicate quite clearly that unpopular drugs are unpopular even among those citizens who enjoy using recreational drugs: http://www.briancbennett.com/charts/nsduh/popularity/drug-popularity.htm

      indeed, if you compare the ratios of use of various drugs against the use of marijuana and alcohol (which arguably will remain the most popular drugs) indicate quite well that personal preference is the major determinant of which drugs are actually used: http://www.briancbennett.com/charts/big-pic/index.htm

      thus, there is really no legitimacy to the hand-wringing of the paternalists who fear that legal drugs will mean millions of people dropping dead in the street with needles in their arms.

      also, given that the vast majority of the “harms” associated with drug use are the product of drug prohibition, there is no reason in the world to give credence to the idea that “problem” drug use will expand exponentially — even in the face of increased consumption (which again, will only apply to the “safer” forms of currently illicit drugs).

    • strayan

      Basic economics?

      Basic common sense tells you that if you control the drug market you control the price of drugs. Here’s an example relating to tobacco control:

      Lower prices would lead to higher consumption, which would defeat the object of the exercise and actually increase smoking rates among young people.

      But if there were an outbreak of price competition in response to plain packaging, the government could fix the problem easily by increasing its tobacco excise and forcing the retail price back up to where it was.

      http://www.theage.com.au/business/under-fire-big-tobacco-rolls-out-the-poor-little-stupid-nation-argument-20110529-1fb12.html

      DRUGS WILL BE CHEAPER OH MY GOD is an utterly redundant argument.

      Basic economics?

    • TrebleBass

      “Basic economics tells you that the huge drop in prices resulting from a change from illegal to illegal markets will create a huge increase in the quantity consumed. (That’s the basis, for example, for the claims of huge potential revenues from cannabis legalization.)”

      The basis for huge revenues from marijuana legalization (depending on what you mean by huge) don’t necessitate an increase in use. Just have a moderate tax and stop spending money on marijuana law enforcement, and with the same amount of use there would be substantial revenue.

      As to basic economics saying that a huge drop in price would mean a huge increase in use is not necessarily true. There’s only so much ultimate demand out there and no matter how cheap drugs get there’s a limit to how many people would use them (or even how much use there would be). How high that limit is no one knows, but consider this: there’s only so much heroin a person can use before they die. They can’t just increase their use dramatically because the price went down dramatically. Similarly for other drugs there’s a ceiling to how much people can use. How far are we from that ceiling for each drug in the present I don’t know. Also, there’s probably a ceiling to how many people would use each drug. Marijuana, for example, in my opinion, will never be as widely used as alcohol is now (I might be wrong). Atropa Belladonna, for example, is completely legal and unregulated and is extremely cheap, yet most people have never even heard of it.

    • Basic economics tells you that the huge drop in prices resulting from a change from illegal to illegal markets will create a huge increase in the quantity consumed.

      A too simple economic model of supply and demand on a much more complex issue will lead to very wrong conclusions.

      There are complicating matters when it comes to any drug use, because a person does not have an infinite capacity for consumption, nor an actual desire to be intoxicated at all times.

      Any person must already today choose an optimal mix of intoxicated hours over sober hours. Take alcohol for example: any person from the middle class and up could easily afford being drunk every waking (and most sleeping) hours of the day.

      Yet most people do not make that rather crazy choice because they have lovely, competing goals that are best served by being sober. Sure, it’s fun to be drunk, high, flying with LSD or rolling on Ecstasy, but it’s also wonderful to be sober and do all sorts of great activities at work, with family, friends or lovers. This is substitution at work where the marginal benefit of being intoxicated drops rapidly after some point and causes the user to prefer the now marginally more profitable sober hours.

      This indicates quite clearly that one shouldn’t expect the linear Forecast of Doom that the simplistic model predicts. Or stated in economic terms: the elasticity of demand is certainly quite different that the linear one stated in your “basic economic model”.

      Once the quantity that attains the optimal mix of intoxicated/sober hours is reached any further drop in price will not lead to an increase in consumption. In economic terms: the elasticity of demand will be a big, fat zero at this point and the curve would be vertical and perpendicular to the x-axis.

      This economic law is readily observable with the legal drug alcohol and there are no good reasons to conclude this would be any different if the drug was something else.

      This conclusion is also supported by a Zogby poll like this: http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy/2007/dec/05/poll_99_percent_wouldnt_use_hard

      Simply: if all those people don’t want to consume those drugs (have a 0:1 hard-drug-intoxicated to sober ratio prices do not influence their buying behavior).

      Because the basic economic model doesn’t explain nor predict very well the patterns of behavior we can readily observe in reality it is therefore unreasonable to rely on it.

      Finally I would add that using a way too simplistic economic model to explain and predict complex behavior such as drug use is such a reductionistic, insulting way to think about people. And I’m an economist 🙂

  • It’s a nice defense. The same kind of defense that the drug czar uses.

    The drug czar says, “Marijuana is more dangerous than we thought; look at all the people in treatment for marijuana.” If called on it, he can respond that it’s completely true that there are lots of people in treatment for marijuana. Of course, he knows that it’s almost entirely due to criminal justice referrals and nothing to do with the dangers of marijuana. So he falls back on the technical defense, despite the fact that he has been intentionally deceiving people.

    In the context of the particular passage in the book, there is also a sense of telling the truth (as the authors imagine it, of course, since they’ve already said we can’t know what’ll happen post-legalization), but that truth is presented in a way that seems clearly to be an intent to make an entirely different point.

    Remember that this is in the context of an easy-reading layman question-and-answer format, and the question posed is:

    How much of the increase in consumption after legalization would reflect increased problem use rather than increased casual use?

    Now at this point, the reader is looking at clear language meaning. It appears to the casual reader that this will be an attempt to show to what degree things might be worse post-legalization. The question is in the context of whether Portugal and other places have seen more or less problems with changes in policy.

    So it’s reasonable to assume that the reader is not thinking in terms of the breakdown of gram usage, but rather the larger picture.

    Someone who was interested in actually discussing the subject honestly might answer that question something like this:

    If we were to use current alcohol consumption as a guide, 80 percent of the new users would likely be casual users, while 20 percent would be problem users in some way. Now that 20 percent that are problem users would actually represent 80 percent of the actual quantity of additional drugs consumed.

    And then they could get into their points about consumption patterns.

    But the book instead completely (and dishonestly in my view) hijacks the discussion in an attempt to paint the picture as legalization being overwhelmingly negative with almost no casual use.

    How much of the increase in consumption after legalization would reflect increased problem use rather than increased casual use?

    Almost all of it. […] So increased total drug consumption is almost always the result of increased problem drug consumption.

    This is the kind of deceit that I watch for closely in drug policy because it goes on all the time, and there’s a tendency for some to think “well, he’s not really lying — he’s just putting the facts out there in a creative way.” Yes, but if it’s an attempt to deceive, it’s dishonest. Like when the drug czar says that 16% of weekend drivers test positive for drugs. Yes, it’s true, but in the context of his speeches, he’s implying that all those drivers are impaired, and that’s intentional deceit.

    I can’t imagine any reason to put that paragraph in that book in that location in that way, unless the authors were trying to infer that legalization will result in mostly problems and not casual use.

    I have to believe that the authors are smart enough to figure out what they’re doing there, and thus I believe that it’s intentional deception and not just random placement.

    This doesn’t even get into a host of other problems with that section in the authors’ assumption that a post-legalization model must follow the same consumption patterns as the alcohol model, or currently illicit drug models. A cursory reading of Transform’s simple Blueprint for post-legalization regulation models demonstrates clearly that different models can exist where a dramatically different outcome regarding problematic usage would likely happen.

    By dismissing all other forms of legalization models except their own (which they then say would be disastrous), the authors are conveniently free to claim certainty of post-legalization consumption patterns.

    When the notion of some other kind of legalization idea comes up, they say:

    But taxes and regulations also require enforcement, which is exactly what we were trying to get away from with legalization.

    No. What we were trying to get away from with legalization is criminalizing responsible adult drug use.

  • By the way, a note on “intellectual dishonesty” for those following this discussion.

    Intellectual dishonesty is dishonesty in performing intellectual activities like thought or communication. Examples include:

    • the advocacy of a position which the advocate knows or believes to be false or misleading
    • the conscious omission of aspects of the truth known or believed to be relevant in the particular context.

    I would never call the drug czar intellectually dishonest. I don’t think of him performing intellectual activities. I’d call him a liar.

    I reserve the term for academics whose overall work I respect (even if I disagree vehemently with their worldview), but whom I believe have chosen to intentionally (or subconsciously) mislead or omit in order to bolster their position (or to show false balance).

  • Matthew Meyer

    This is turning into a good discussion.

    Since we’re tripping the light fantastic talking about hypotheticals, what about this:

    Some have already mentioned social pressures.

    A more positive way to look at this is in terms of Zinberg’s informal social controls. I think Zinberg’s work supports the idea that legalization will allow users to develop their own, more effective ways to minimize negative consequences of drug use.

    When you make people hide to use drugs, it makes a difference in how they use them, and what the outcomes are like.

    • TrebleBass

      “When you make people hide to use drugs, it makes a difference in how they use them, and what the outcomes are like.”

      This is an important point. It might be debatable and partially subjective, but I still think it’s important and true. Freud said that culture is the therapy of the massess (i don’t know exactly what he said, but it was something like that). Prohibition is an attempt to destroy drug cultures by isolating users (by making them use in secret). Destroying drug cultures is destroying the natural therapy that users would create for themselves to deal with their own selves and their own drug use. There’s a reason why, in psychology, when people have group therapy, they have it so that all the people in the group have the same psychological condition or situation. You don’t just have a bunch of random people in a room all dealing with different things. The reason is obvious; they’re there to support each other and to create a culture amongst themselves of how to deal with a specific psychological condition or situation. If drug cultures were allowed to form freely, they would become a natural social therapy for users of each individual drug.

  • “That leaves the question of how much of that increase is harmless controlled use and how much is feeding addiction. The answer is that the vast bulk of the increased volume – like the vast bulk of the current volume – represents addiction. This effect is not restricted to illicit drugs; people with diagnosable alcohol abuse disorders consume somewhere between 50% and 80% of the alcohol used in the U.S., and about 45% of all the drinks consumed are part of drinking binges.”

    This completely ignore qualitative measures, e.g. the greater volume also representing bulkier more dilute substances, such as Coca products versus concentrated cocaine.

    Of course that remains virtually taboo as fear of “drugs” serves to protect those currently protected by the prohibition laws, most notably alcohol and Tobacco, with academia continually bending to this mercantilist reality.

  • Stomped On

    Here’s another book to review, “Eternal Battle Against Evil: A Comprehensive Strategy to Fight Terrorists, Drug Cartels, Pirates, Gangs, and Organized Crime.”

    By Paul Chabot, who claims to be a “Military Intelligence Officer, White House Drug Czar Advisor, and Law Enforcement Veteran.”

    http://www.BattleEvil.com/

    It’s been called “honest” by John Walters. “A factual masterpiece” by Calvina Fay. “Courageous” by Ron Allen. And more! Sounds like a must read!

    • yeah… we kicked that around awhile, I think we tore the cover and used some of the pages to roll a BIG spliff…

      • Stomped On

        I see now. Actually I was trying to recall Fay’s name so I searched for evil, drug free, etc… and ironically that book’s site was the first hit! 🙂 I was instantly intrigued, as someone who likes unified theories. Later I went back to Google and saw a link to DrugWarRant.

        I have to admit I’m really interested in reading it but don’t want to spend one cent to do so. Well, perhaps I’m interested in a synopsis, I have a feeling reading it will be torture.

        The guy pretends to be religious, but he needs to spend a bit more time reading his scriptures to learn that they explicitly state the “battle against evil” is NOT eternal. So he lost me at the title. But I am a sucker for trying to pay attention to other’s grand theories of it all; the problems happen, usually, when we start asking questions, the wizard behind the curtain gets offended at all the holes we begin to point out.