About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

December 16, 2014

Pot is in the news

From the LA Times:
Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy.

The bill's passage over the weekend marks the first time Congress has approved nationally significant legislation backed by legalization advocates. It brings almost to a close two decades of tension between the states and Washington over medical use of marijuana.
Also, I think more significant, as as reported by USA Today:
Marijuana use among teens declined this year even as two states, Colorado and Washington, legalized the drug for recreational use, a national survey released Tuesday found.
Of course we can't be certain till we try it, but all evidence (seen in the US, Portugal, and the Netherlands) seems to show that ending prohibition does not increase drug use. This is a big deal because the effect of prohibition versus regulation (ie: legalization) on drug use really is the core issue related to people's support of the drug war.

If ending the drug war lowered drug use -- and it's a big "if" but it's certainly a possibility -- would you still support the war on drugs. Is the war on drugs worth fighting for it's own sake simply because drugs are wrong? Even if that same drug war causes more people to take and be harmed by drugs?

If you can't conceive of how ending the drug war could reduce drug use, consider these factors, in no particular order:
1) Kids love doing what they're not supposed to do.
2) Peer pressure is stronger when you're doing something illegal. To protect yourself, there's greater pressure to implicate everybody.
3) Drugs can be dangerous. Honest education is better at reducing harms than "just say no" and cracked eggs on a frying pan.
4) I've yet to meet anybody who says they would love to try heroin, if only it were legal and regulated. People do or don't take drugs for many reasons, the law seems pretty low on the list. 
5) Prohibition doesn't actually work. Drugs are not hard to get.


Noumenon said...

I guess I'm unusually ineffectual, but I would totally do drugs if I could just buy them. I have too much risk aversion so drug tests and getting busted seem like too-large risks to me. I feel like in our atomized society there must be many people without the social connections to safely get drugs, which is a neat way of making drugs accessible to rich voters while keeping them away from the lower class.

oldfatherwilliam said...

wishing police everywhere shared yr attitudes. the drug war is and has been entirely political, and the DEA has become an abomination roughly equivalent to the CIA. employers should have means to be sure that the help shares a consensus reality, and it seems that they do. police should have means to determine driving impairment, and it seems that they do. my personal perspective comes from having used pot socially and medically since 1951, with no related problems xcept for occasionally being mistaken for Willie Nelson.

campbell said...

but I would totally do drugs if I could just buy them

My anecdotal and professional advice would be to avoid heroin, crack and crystal meth. Ecstasy, shrooms, weed, and maybe powdered coke are the way to go for partying without your life going down the toilet. Although weed doesn't always play nice with people who have genetics that predispose them to certain mental illnesses. Some people really seem to enjoy ketamine without a lot of ill effects. And you still have to keep an eye on the powdered coke, it snags some people. Don't try spice, there's loads of cannabinoid substances being churned out by Chinese labs to get around the banned substance list but their effects are largely unknown because cannabinoid is a structural term and there's a lot of people getting a nasty surprise with that stuff thinking cannabinoid = THC.

which is a neat way of making drugs accessible to rich voters while keeping them away from the lower class.

This might be true of high end weed. But in general drugs are definitely not being kept from the lower class.

Moskos said...

The drug advice of Campbell!

Though honestly I could not agree more. Some drugs are lot more (or less) dangerous than others. It's important to call those out. Honest education, kids.

I also have to confess that my own drug consumption would probably increase if drugs were legal. Given my professional standing and drug-legalization advocacy, I really don't want to be arrested for illegal drug use!

But legal or not, I would still stay away from heroin, crystal meth, and crack.

Mordanicus said...

The externalities of the "war on drug" - such as innocent people being killed during intergang conflicts - are much more severe than the problems caused by the use of drugs. It's time to call the "war on drugs" a crime against humanity.