Meth as a byproduct of prohibition

Good article from Radley Balko: Meth isn’t an argument for drug prohibition. It demonstrates prohibition’s failure.

Meth is often the example prohibitionists pull out when someone points to an example like Portugal. “So you’d legalize meth, too?” But as the Economist piece suggests, meth is a product of prohibition (in this case alcohol, but also restrictions on amphetamines more generally), not an argument in favor it. We have a meth problem because we have drug prohibition. Without it, meth wouldn’t go away, but it almost certainly wouldn’t be as prevalent as it is today. […]

But let’s get back to that Economist article, and what could work — loosening the restrictions on intoxicants instead of tightening them. Here’s what I suggested in that post from last year, which I think the data suggest is even more clear now than it was then:

Here’s one idea that makes too much sense for anyone to seriously consider: Legalize amphetamines for adults. Divert some of the money currently spent on enforcement toward the treatment of addicts. Save the rest. Watch the black markets dry up, and with them the itinerant crime, toxicity and smuggling. Cold and allergy sufferers get relief. Cops can concentrate on other crimes. Pharmacists can go back to being health-care workers, instead of deputized drug cops.

Everybody wins, save of course for those who can’t bear the prospect of letting adults make their own choices about what they put into their bodies.

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21 Responses to Meth as a byproduct of prohibition

  1. claygooding says:

    Comparing the street meth of today with the pharmaceutical meth of the 60’s is like comparing apples to oranges,,seems I have heard that somewhere before.

    Instead of saving people from meth prohibition turns control of manufacturing and sales over to criminals and there is so much money in providing drugs illegally and unregulated that the international drug cartels are now a force in the money markets…and prohibition ,,just like Congress making the rich richer,, keeps the money flowing,,,through the banks that are the real black market controllers,,without international banks there would be no international drug cartels..

    And all they face is a fine.

  2. Servetus says:

    “Repression can really only live off fear. But is fear enough to remove need, thirst for justice, intelligence, reason, idealism…? Relying on intimidation, the reactionaries forget that they will cause more indignation, more hatred, more thirst for martyrdom, than real fear. They only intimidate the weak; they exasperate the best forces and temper the resolution of the strongest. ” – Victor Serge, taken from What Every Radical Should Know About State Repression: A Guide for Activists, orig. 1926.

  3. Freeman says:

    Amusing link from Balko’s article:

    A Simple and Convenient Synthesis of Pseudoephedrine From

    Pseudoephedrine, active ingredient of Sudafed®, has long
    been the most popular nasal decongestant in the United States
    due to its effectiveness and relatively mild side effects [1]. In
    recent years it has become increasingly difficult to obtain
    psuedoephedine in many states because of its use as a
    precursor for the illegal drug N-methylamphetamine (also
    known under various names including crystal meth, meth, ice,

    A quick search of several neighborhoods of the United
    States revealed that while pseudoephedrine is difficult to
    obtain, N-methylamphetamine can be procured at almost any
    time on short notice and in quantities sufficient for synthesis
    of useful amounts of the desired material.

    We have demonstrated here a simple series of
    transformations which allow pseudoephedrine to be obtained
    in a more straightforward manner than is the current norm.
    We expect that the simultaneous trends of restricting
    pseudoephedrine sales while N-methylamphetamine becomes
    less expensive and of higher purity will make the methods
    presented here increasingly attractive.

  4. Francis says:

    “Doing meth isn’t normal. But on prohibition it is.”

  5. jean valjean says:

    Yesterday I mentioned the visit by UK justice secretary Michael Gove to a drug court in Texas. Last night the BBC showed the video of his visit. Both the BBC and the Daily Mail presented drug courts as a relaxation of the drug war. However at several points in the video the very long sentences handed to “addicts” by the court (35 years and 10 years) for no more than a relapse shows that this is business as usual for the drug war. The Texan Judge Francis emerges as a a clone of Joe Arpaio and believes in giving addicts a motivation to stop using alcohol and other drugs with the threat of extremely long sentences for victimless crimes. Some of his brain-washed victims refer to him as “Daddy,” and his ego is much in evidence while he patronizes his victims.
    Here’s the link to the BBC iplayer although I’m not sure if this can be accessed outside Britain.

  6. Mr_Alex says:

    I see Kevin Sabet is now feeling the heat as children’s right groups and advocates are going after him when I posted two articles to some of them based in the US which proves Kevin Sabet lied about his relationship with Betty and Melvin Sembler, Virgil Miller Newton and Jeb Bush and also information has been forwarded to the advocacy groups that expose the Troubled Teen Industry.

    Kevin Sabet hope you like whats coming down the road for you and Project SAM, hope you like angry crowds and parents who lost their children from the effects of Straight Inc really visit you, what goes around comes around to bite back

  7. Spirit Wave says:

    Drug prohibition addiction is a serious issue preventing meth legalization (e.g. recognizing the fact that Certain Drug Prohibition cannot possibly be constitutional by any rationale in the land of the free).

    Beneficiaries from the war on some drugs need to lie and effectively steal taxpayer money to get their prohibition fix.

    Society (especially the mainstream media which often reinforces general public impressions by refusing to challenge prohibition legitimacy, so they can get their tragic news fix from those beneficiaries usually on the front lines of tragic events) enables that addiction.

    We need an intervention now.

    Regulations (i.e. textured prohibitions) are every bit as ineffective (e.g. teens still getting alcohol in their black market situation) and form mass rights infringement (i.e. severe law abuse and the horrific slippery slope legal precedence grossly exacerbating the problem like a destructive flood).

    Unhealthy stress is the source of abuse (even the prohibitionist U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse firmly stated that fact back in 1995).

    Allowing society to bypass the obligatory unalienable right to liberty needed to prevent law abuse (as was nationally intended by revolutionary force) and define risk by law (to define risk is to define liberty) is illegal and foolish – yet popularly embraced like a runaway train.

    To prevent the most serious risk from abusive law, education is the only proper risk management solution in a nation with the aforementioned right.

    Healthy stress is the destination of the wise and civilized.

    Responsible flexibility required for healthy stress requires a judicially recognized unalienable right to liberty.

    That judicial recognition clearly exists in the form of amendment nine (“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”)

    That judicial recognition clearly has been disarmed illegally and devastatingly (no case can be won via amendment nine anymore, because it no longer constitutionally represents that right).

    That devastation is the basis for abusive law and the widespread and deep unhealthy stress prompting meth (etc.) abuse.

  8. Pingback: Death of Meth? | Spirit Wave Journal

  9. divadab says:

    Amphetamines, like heroin, have long-expired patents – so no pharmaceutical company can make big monopoly profits on them. The “war on (some) Drugs” is an effort to protect the profits of big pharma. There are other motivations – mostly political – Nixon and Reagan realized that younger people who were open to intoxicants other than alcohol were not exactly Republican voters – so attacking them with the full force of the government, built up into a police state, would benefit Republicans and hurt progressives.

    The war on drugs and the federal entity that built it are corrupt and run by criminals and traitors and profiteering bribe-takers.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Blah, blah, blah.

      Here, click the link, then search the document for “referenced by.” Shire LLC is the original patent holder for Adderall.

      Could you ‘splain to me why you think corporations feel compelled to enter into so many conspiracies because they’re scared that they’re going to stop making money? It’s utter horse pucky. Successful corporations/people just don’t waste their time trying to protect profits by shady, under the table methods. They understand that the pie is not finite, but ever expanding. They simply do not put resources into protecting a stale slice of pie.

  10. NorCalNative says:


    Was planning on bringing up the point about meth being a drug contrary to erections and ejaculation.

    But, jimmy’s got the SADS. A really smart guy, with a cool blog, restless ed @ “The Mindboggle” called it quits.

    I went to visit this morning and instead got a message “PROJECT CANCELED.”

    It really makes me appreciate what Pete has accomplished with his longevity.

    Ed commented here a month or three ago when we were discussing the historical roots of prohibition. He thought the American view on it was lacking in good analysis based on myths rather than facts. In other words, less Anslinger and MORE OPIUM WARS.

    Ed was linking to this site for the last few months, after he commented here. Ed, thanks for giving it a shot dude, I’ll miss your blog.

      • NorCalNative says:

        Thanks Den de Cannabist, you’re awesome.

        Someday we’ll need to settle up on all the money I’m stealing from your stock portfolio with GW. My dad and I are really sucking that stuff down.

        He was starting to view life through a time-to-die lens when his cancer pain hit him hard. Sativex has saved his ass and given him back quality-of-life.

  11. Servetus says:

    Individually packaged pseudoephedrine pills are available from candy dispensers in Amsterdam. Instant cold-relief for a few coins, which I appreciated onetime. The Dutch are famously less inclined to moralize about drugs and sex, whereas Americans will moralize about anything and everything.

    I like the idea of getting my drugs without suffering someone’s imbecilic 15th century conception of virtue. Drugs dispensed anonymously from machines using currency allow that. Also offered from a pharmacy was a cold-relief product available over the counter in Mexico and in Europe, but not in the U.S., except by prescription, a conflict in standards of drug safety and adult responsibility, but why?

    It really comes down to basic questions of freedom. Does the government own your body, or do you? I thought the 13th Amendment to the Constitution settled that question.

  12. We have the scourge known by many names: K2, spice, etc.

    There would be absolutely no need for synthetic marijuana at all, if not for the “war on drugs”.

    We can thank the Kevin Sabets of the world for the deaths and injuries that have occurred because of their ill-advised and short-sighted policies.

  13. hope says:

    He is awesome. He has been amazingly, relentlessly awesome for ages now.

    • Hope says:

      That posted nowhere near where I meant to post it. Sorry. But I was speaking of DdC to NorCalNative.

      • DdC says:

        Thanks Hope, and NCN. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives… We can all be proud of each contribution, to end the suffering and provide alternatives. Everyone who merely questions the status weird has brought us to where we stand today. It’s a lifestyle choice we all make to bring new generations a better way. It ain’t over, but the large boned lady is clearing her throat and I feel a song coming on…
        Peace, Love and Liberty or!

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