Being part of the problem

TalkLeft notes that Edwards Calls for Crackdown on Meth Labs.

Edwards said he and presidential nominee John Kerry would propose legislation to limit consumers to two standard packages per day of cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used in Sudafed and other drugs. Bulk sales of cold medicines would be more closely monitored to track suspicious sales.

They also would propose spending $30 million annually for 10 years to fund law enforcement efforts and help farmers buy better locks to secure ammonia tanks where drug dealers steal the ammonia they need to make meth.

After a few commenters at TalkLeft said that they appreciated Edwards’ comments, since Meth labs are a growing scourge in the midwest, I had to speak up. My response was essentially:

Sure, talking about criminalizing cold medicine is going to resonate with some people, but it’s false pandering and is not going to result in positive long term effects.
It’s not that drug reformers don’t care. We care, and we want people to stop using meth and creating dangerous meth labs. It’s that prohibition and enforcement aren’t the answers.
You say “People shouldn’t use meth.” Great. I agree. Is a law going to do that? No. We’ve had drug laws for decades and yet 46% of the country has used illegal drugs.
There’s a very complex equation that revolves around the drug war. When enforcement against one drug increases, people who use drugs look to other options. Is it a coincidence that meth appeared during one of the harshest crackdowns in illegal drugs in our history (including crackdowns on safer, pharmaceutical amphetamines)?
Alcohol prohibition resulted in an increase in dangerous backyard stills, which sometimes poisoned their customers (one brewing method involved car radiators), and often blew up or caused fires. Entire towns were destroyed.
Sound familiar?
The answers lie in harm reduction, regulation, and oversight, not in increasing the profits to black market criminals through prohibition.
If you support prohibition, you are part of the drug problem.

One person claimed that my last line was “Glib and memorable, but purposely divisive and thereby tragically counter productive…”
Interesting. Glib and memorable, true. But is such an approach counterproductive? Or is it possible that such a memorable statement could actually wake some people up?
For too long, drug policy reformers have been hampered by fighting two forces.

  1. Drug Warriors and their self-interest and propaganda
  2. Masses of people who are open to the idea of reform, but don’t consider it to be a critical issue (after all, it’s just about some hippies who want to smoke pot, it’s not like it’s life or death, right?)

This second group has been let off the hook, and therefore have let others get away with murder. Didn’t reform the Rockefeller laws this session? Oh, well, there’s other important stuff for the legislature to do.
Even tacit and passive support of prohibition means that drug policy reform has a much harder time countering the drug warriors, so more people die of drug overdoses who could have lived; violence from black market economies increases; and on and on.
So what do you think? Glib and counterproductive? Glib and memorable? Should it be permanently added to the banner of Drug WarRant?

If you support prohibition, you are part of the drug problem.

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