Our Failed War on Drugs

Great post by Jeralyn at Talk Left on the complete failure of the drug war.

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86 replies
  1. 1
    red dog says:

    Nice to know we Californians are solving two problems at once; prison overcrowding and anxiety.

  2. 2
    The Dangerman says:

    I happened to be at a Gas Station in NorCal (roughly, edge of the Redwoods) several days ago when this 4×4 pulled up and filled as many gas cans as his truck could carry; I thought about following him to see where he was taking all this gas, presumably for generators, but I wasn’t interested in getting shot. Point being, it’s fucking out in the open practically, so might as well legalize it and tax the shit out of it.

  3. 3
    cathyx says:

    Legalize marijuana and treat it like alcohol. It’s that simple.

  4. 4
    👽 Martin says:

    @cathyx: Legalize hemp, dump corn ethanol and just save corn for food, and eliminate our need for wood pulp for paper.

    Lots of problems apart from the drug war get solved.

    And yeah, the drug war has been an abject failure. Time to stop digging.

  5. 5
    PurpleGirl says:

    American law enforcement has become addicted to asset seizure and playing at being swat teams. Swat teams have equipment that is more fun to use than what police normally have. Asset seizure gives them money to play with that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Police forces have become militarized and that isn’t good for the rest of us.

  6. 6
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    Whether the WoD failed or not depends on what you think its goals were. I’m not sure that doing away with use of mood altering substances was the primary purpose.

  7. 7
    cathyx says:

    @👽 Martin: Yes, I understand that hemp is way better(more efficient) to use for ethanol than corn.

  8. 8
    eldorado says:

    yea, what ross said. feature, not a bug

  9. 9
    Mary G says:

    Obama needs to evolve faster. We should get Uncle Joe to say something; that seems to move things along.

  10. 10
    Emerald says:

    The private prison industry will see to it that we continue the WoD for decades to come.

    At least until we eliminate the private prison industry. Good luck with that.

  11. 11
    The Dangerman says:

    OT, Go Army and Coach Ellerson!

    ETA: Fuck! Moderation! If I’m going to be in Mod Hell, I might as well earn it! Casino! Poker! Viagra!

  12. 12
    lahru says:

    The use of pot is a solvable issue as far as amounts that are illegal.

    The use of US made synthetic heroin is another problem altogether and US drug companies make a lot of money on it.

    Two separate problems all under the heading of “drugs”, one is a plant and the other a manufactured life destroyer.

    Oh, almost forgot about the drugs $$ used for withdrawl from synthetic heroin too.

  13. 13
    WereBear says:

    I am so sick of ALL the things this nation does because a bunch of paranoid nutters with unexamined issues and deeply ingrained hatreds demand that we do so.

  14. 14
    srv says:

    I thought this as funny:

    http://uppercasing.com/2012/12.....-news.html

    Al Cranston’s chldhood home turns into grow factory.

  15. 15
    gene108 says:

    Simple solution to Lord Branson’s rant: Build more prisons.

    Solve our need to build more infrastructure, put people to work in construction and ease prison overcrowding

  16. 16
    Flying Squirrel Girl says:

    Private prisons, agribusiness, big pharma, alcohol and tobacco have all profited handsomely from the prohibition of marijuana. Any others that I missed?

  17. 17
    sb says:

    @gene108: Oh, a ‘rant’ was it?

    Jeez, haters gonna hate no matter what.

  18. 18
    srv says:

    @gene108: Would make a great Apple factory.

  19. 19
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    It amuses me that we’re trying to legalize marijuana at the same time we’re trying to put a stake into the tobacco industry.

    New Camel Reefer(tm) from RJR Nabisco: Grown from the finest herbs at Senor Zeta’s plantation! Half the price of your local grower for twice the flavor and addiction-creating chemicals that we’ll tell no one outside of a Congressional inquiry about!

  20. 20
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    OT, but I just hate the NYT’s blog comments system. There is zero dialogue. A Krugman post goes up and I write a comment. It goes into mod limbo. The same 20 privileged commenters who respond to every PK post get their say, then 10 hours later when the whole subject has grown as cold as the ashes where Cheney’s heart once dwelt, 75 more comments are mod-dumped all in a heap. And my comment still isn’t there. No back and forth at all. It’s worthless.

  21. 21
    JGabriel says:

    John Cole @ Top:

    … the complete failure of the drug war.

    One thing I hate about the drug war is how it invites selective enforcement and prosecution. There’s no way to catch, arrest, or imprison everyone who’s done drugs. With half the country, or more, having toked marijuana at some point in their lives, laws against pot just serve as an excuse for some cops to harass and arrest anyone they don’t like or who pisses them off.

    OTOH, if your goal is to build an authoritarian state, then the drug war has been a strategic, and wildly successful, tool for implementing intrusive searches and random imprisonment.

    .

  22. 22
    General Stuck says:

    I say we legalize marywanna, empty the prisons, then fill up the space with handgun luving idiots. Hopefully, before they accidentally kill us all.

    MERCER, Pa. (AP) – A man’s handgun went off while he was holding it as he got into his truck in the parking lot of a western Pennsylvania gun store Saturday and the shot killed his 7-year-old son, authorities said.

    “This happens all too often where people think the gun was empty,” Lt. Eric Hermick told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    No, it happens when you let idiots carry guns around all day. Especially in some burg where wanton jaywalking is considered a crime wave.

    Investigators said Loughrey told them he didn’t realize there was a bullet still in the chamber.

    No shit sherlock.

  23. 23
    General Stuck says:

    I say we legalize marywanna, empty the prisons, then fill up the space with handgun luving idiots. Hopefully, before they accidentally kill us all.

    MERCER, Pa. (AP) – A man’s handgun went off while he was holding it as he got into his truck in the parking lot of a western Pennsylvania gun store Saturday and the shot killed his 7-year-old son, authorities said.

    “This happens all too often where people think the gun was empty,” Lt. Eric Hermick told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    No, it happens when you let idiots carry guns around all day. Especially in some burg where wanton jaywalking is considered a crime wave.

    Investigators said Loughrey told them he didn’t realize there was a bullet still in the chamber.

    No shit sherlock.

  24. 24
    piratedan says:

    @Flying Squirrel Girl: I would say the “anti-terror” weapons shops have been doing great business selling to appropriate law enforcement agencies… and those folks that protect their illicit manufacturies as well

  25. 25
    piratedan says:

    @Flying Squirrel Girl: I would say the “anti-terror” weapons shops have been doing great business selling to appropriate law enforcement agencies… and those folks that protect their illicit manufacturies as well

  26. 26
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    @JGabriel:

    One thing I hate about the drug war is how it invites selective enforcement and prosecution.

    I’d go further and say it requires selective prosecution. Toking is like speeding. Too many people do it for the police to tackle them all so they have to make judgement calls. Whether you’re OK with this or not depends on how much you trust the cops’ judgement.

  27. 27
    different-church-lady says:

    Funny how every time we see an article about the drug war everyone focuses on innocent ol’ cannabis and acts like we only imprison people for dime bags.

    The oversimplification of everything, using thousands of words to do it. Pay no attention to the genuine problems of addiction, it’s just all a plot by the prison industrial complex to take away our herb.

    Drug war sucks. Drug addiction sucks. Fuck the left for acting like it’s easy.

  28. 28
    WereBear says:

    @different-church-lady: It would help to put all those addicts into rehab programs. But we don’t, because we spend most of the money locking them up.

  29. 29
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Good point. The more effort goes into rounding up college kids selling loose joints the less goes into managing the problem of the really dangerous stuff and helping people whose lives are being ruined by it.

  30. 30
    David Koch says:

    Silver Lining: drug war produces great features like “Breaking Bad” and “The Wire”

  31. 31
    different-church-lady says:

    Just to be clear about where I’m coming from: the right wing law and order types act like everyone who’s ever had a couple of ounces belong behind bars, and the left wing blog warriors act like there’s never been such a thing as a boat full of kilo bricks or teenagers getting killed while trafficking their neighborhoods, and the wheels on this stupid bus never stop going round and round.

  32. 32
    mclaren says:

    And what difference does any of this talk make?

    Barack Obama campaigned against the war on drugs — then he escalated the DEA’s insane assault on terminal cancer patients in wheelchairs who buy marijuana at state dispensaries.

    The war on drugs will never end. It will only escalate. A short while ago, Four Loko was criminalized. Soon, more harmless substances will be felonized: jimson weed, high-caffeine sodas, eventually mild stimulants like green tea. The war on drugs will endlessly expand in order to provide limitlessly increasing employment for muggers with badges.

    In case you haven’t realized it, folks, Shithole America has thrown away its manufacturing base and offshored its brainpower. There’s nothing left of American industry now but the military-police-surveillance-prison-torture complex. The war on drugs is a huge part of that complex: the war on drugs provides a steady and ever-increasing flow of non-violent felons into prisons that then hire out their labor while paying ’em 5 cents an hour. The war on drugs is how America plans to compete with low-wage labor in Haiti and Bangladesh — arrest every American citizen for some trivial blue-law non-crime, throw ’em in prison, then use ’em for slave labor.

    The only growth industries left in America are prisons and police and jarheads weapons manufacturing and surveillance device manufacturing. The war on drugs won’t end — on the contrary, it will only get more savage, more pointless, more cruelly counterproductive, and more expensive.

  33. 33
    different-church-lady says:

    @mclaren: Jesus fuck, you’re a cartoon character.

  34. 34
    Yutsano says:

    @The Dangerman: GO NAVY!!

    (so sayeth the son of a sailor/Dawghound)

  35. 35
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    @mclaren:

    Your post raises an interesting question: how do you manage to compose grammatically correct sentences with all of that shit between your ears?

  36. 36
    Yutsano says:

    @different-church-lady: @RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist: Please don’t encourage her. It will only result in more incoherent babbling as the day goes on.

  37. 37
    General Stuck says:

    @different-church-lady:

    @mclaren: Jesus fuck, you’re a cartoon character.

    Bugs Bunny with hemorrhoids

  38. 38
    gene108 says:

    @srv:

    The Apple Factory, I “heard” was going to be 100% automated. There’d be nothing for the prisoners to do (or any Americans hoping for a job) :-(

    @RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist:

    Whether the WoD failed or not depends on what you think its goals were.

    It’s actually been a great success. The Negroes got too uppity for their own good.

    @sb:

    Oh, a ‘rant’ was it?

    Yeah, I don’t need no stinking British Lord or Knight or whatever he is telling us how to run our country.

    The Brits can save their sage advice for the Canadians, who wholeheartedly accepted their subjugation to the Crown.

    ***********************************

    On a side note, I think prison expansion maybe one of the few infrastructure spending projects we can actually get off the ground.

    It’d put construction workers, devastated by the housing down housing market, back to work.

    Building railroads and trains is too European socialist.

    Maintaining and expanding our highways infringes on states rights or will get the bond vigilantes out of hiding or something like that.

    Expanding nuclear plants is off the table again.

    New prison construction and expansion maybe the only hope for jump starting infrastructure spending.

  39. 39
    different-church-lady says:

    @Yutsano:

    It will only result in more incoherent babbling as the day goes on.

    The tide comes in, the tide goes out… you can’t explain that.

  40. 40
    Yutsano says:

    @gene108: Now you just need to solve the NIMBY issue. Not to mention prison guard jobs are teh ebil unionised.

  41. 41
    General Stuck says:

    @different-church-lady:

    you can’t explain that.

    I can. It’s not the size of the wave, but the motion of the ocean.

    Pete’s Pool Hall. Sex ed, the year of our lard nineteen and seventy one.

  42. 42
    sb says:

    @gene108:

    Yeah, I don’t need no stinking British Lord or Knight or whatever he is telling us how to run our country. The Brits can save their sage advice for the Canadians, who wholeheartedly accepted their subjugation to the Crown.

    Okay, that was funny. Kudos and good afternoon to you, sir.

  43. 43
    cmorenc says:

    In the end, there isn’t shit the US Justice Department can do about Colorado or Washington decriminalizing possession of marijuana, at least insofar as it removes state agencies and police from any further enforcement efforts. Do the feds have enough personnel they can concentrate in these states to effectively enforce federal laws? I seriously doubt it, especially in these times of tight government budgets at every level. It would be hard for the feds to effectively put enough pressure on state police to put more than token priority (if even that) on enforcing purely federal laws on a matter which state law has quite deliberately completely de-prioritized.

    Now federal law *might* indeed put a crimp on any attempts by states to organize and regulate legalized markets within their states. But they can’t do shit about simply removing any state law prohibitions against possession.

  44. 44
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    For some people, the War on Drugs is not a failure.

    The police.

    The for profit prisons and their cronies, like Jan Brewer of Arizona…and her partner in crime, the vile racist Arpaio.

    These people think it’s just fine.

    It may be utter failure as public policy, but fuck that shit. I’ve got mine. Fuck the rest of you.

  45. 45
    Chris says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Militarized, heck. Asset seizure = essentially the same practice as scorched earth warlords who live off their enemies’ land.

  46. 46
    General Stuck says:

    @cmorenc:

    What the feds are doing, more than anything else, is defending the basic power and authority structure of the constitution. That is federal primacy over state law. And i suspect it is of sufficient import to the nation as a whole, in their minds, to win such a confrontation, whatever it takes.

    Drug use law is second to that concern, but a fairly close second, in the eyes of many in the law enforcement field. These states are forcing a showdown as to their cause, that I agree with, btw, for courts of public opinion to render a verdict overall about pot laws. It is not a tactic for the squeamish however, and people will get hurt, but then they already are with an intransigent system, based on long knocked in the head puritan ethic in this country.

  47. 47
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    But VDE, these people are businessmen. That makes them job creators. What’s good for them is good for us, and if we’re really, really good, we’ll get a little slice of their pie.

  48. 48
    gene108 says:

    @Yutsano:

    Now you just need to solve the NIMBY issue.

    Canada. They barely use most of their land anyway.

    Not to mention prison guard jobs are teh ebil unionised.

    Not in a lot of Southern right-to-work states. Unionized prison guards really depends on what state your in.

  49. 49
    General Stuck says:

    @General Stuck:

    I do think in the end, the forces of reason will win out over failed dogma elimination of a part of human life that started when cave men squished and fermented the first grapes. It doesn’t mean the state does not have an interest when drug use intersects with public safety, but does force the powers to be to actually think about where that intersection is and how to best deal with it. Just throwing folks in jail, makes good law and order posturing for pol candidates, but has made worse, when other crimes are not involved

    The other reason I think these states will win, is the fact that for law enforcement, there are many more at the local street level that deal with illegal drug use, that are tired of chasing potheads, taking up time for pursuing other more victim producing crimes.

    The feds are in the ivory tower, and are mostly after big producers, but do promote the callous and failed strategy of simply locking up the consuming source that fuels the international drug trade. But Unless you are willing to give everyone who smokes dope a life sentence, the sloppy thinking of this method is obvious.

  50. 50
    JPL says:

    @RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist: I have to disagree. There is no back and forth but you can reply to comments and the replies post faster. The reason I like it is the loons are not allowed to take over such as happens at the Post. The NYTimes comments tend to be well reasoned and I often learn from them. Just my opinion.

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Pay no attention to the genuine problems of addiction, it’s just all a plot by the prison industrial complex to take away our herb.

    Thank you! We’ve known for, what, at least 40 years now that addiction has a biological basis and yet we’re no closer to effectively treating it than telling schoolkids, “Just say no”?

    I’ve started thinking that the person who is able to come up with an accurate screening protocol for addictive tendencies that can be given to patients before they’re prescribed powerful opiates should be given a Nobel Prize on the spot, but I’m not sure how much research is going into identifying people who are potential addicts before they become addicted rather than trying to solve the problem when it’s already too late.

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, for the tokers — yes, marijuana addiction exists. There’s nothing magical about marijuana that prevents people with addictive tendencies from becoming addicted to it. The fact that you yourself are not an addict doesn’t mean marijuana addiction doesn’t exist any more than the fact that you can drink one or two beers and stop means that alcoholism doesn’t exist.

  53. 53
    ruemara says:

    I don’t know. I know many casual users, which I am not one, and I know they are not hooked on hard drugs. But the effects of criminalized drugs are real on the community. Addiction is real too, but you can be addicted to food, drink, shopping, exercising-and those are not criminal pursuits. Some people cannot use and must watch themselves, some can.

    Add in the narco-police industry and you have a near ungovernable issue. I do support decriminalizing personal use amounts, including for addicts, and support medical mj for those who need it. As I am now researching whether or not it would help me, it’s now opening up a whole new can of worms on how I would work and live. We’ll see how America handles this one.

  54. 54
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @ruemara:

    I know many casual users, which I am not one, and I know they are not hooked on hard drugs.

    From my experiences as both a casual smoker and recovering alcoholic: Bars are the gateway to harder drugs.

  55. 55
    JPL says:

    I tried pot in the late sixties or early seventies and didn’t care for it. My father and I spoke about it since he was a Navy man and had used it himself in his youth. Heroin, cocaine and meth are far more dangerous and money would be better spent focusing on those drugs.

  56. 56
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @General Stuck: “I say we legalize marywanna, empty the prisons, then fill up the space with handgun luving idiots.”

    I saw this post by John and my first thought was that Jeralyn must be bored waiting for Zimmerman to come to trial and be found innocent of murdering Treyvon Martin. I’m not interested in what that PUMA shithead has to say.

    Not one bit.

  57. 57
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Also, for the tokers—yes, marijuana addiction exists.

    Sure it does. Any action that triggers an endorphin rush can become addicting, and there are metric fuck-tons of actions that can trigger an endorphin rush. Welcome to the monkey house.

  58. 58
    D. Mason says:

    I met a grown, successful man the other day who was in tears because his mother was having to buy illegal drugs for her dying (of cancer) husband, this mans father. I could tell this man was stricken with shock underneath the despair but for me it was simply disgust at a system which would jail that woman were she to be found out.

  59. 59
    dead existentialist says:

    Well, I’m going to do my part for the War on Drugs by destroying some weed in my pipe.

  60. 60
    cmorenc says:

    @General Stuck:

    What the feds are doing, more than anything else, is defending the basic power and authority structure of the constitution. That is federal primacy over state law.

    But the states of Colorado and Washington do *not* purport to declare federal law against possession of marijuana to be null and void. Instead, they have simply created a void in state criminal and civil law where laws parallel or similar to federal law on the subject once stood. They have ceded any enforcement against marijuana to federal authorities under federal law, rather than making any sort of law purporting to prohibit federal enforcement of federal laws against marijuana possession.

    True, the logistics involved for the feds to continue to attempt effectively enforcing federal laws against marijuana possession become far more difficult, forbiddingly so in most instances, when states have withdrawn their enforcement personnel from the field on the matter. There’s also the political matter that the withdrawal in both instances was by vote of the state’s electorate in a relatively high-turnout election, rather than some ideosyncratic bill a small determined faction maneuvered through the state legislature when not many folks were paying sufficient attention.

  61. 61
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Also, for the tokers—yes, marijuana addiction exists. There’s nothing magical about marijuana that prevents people with addictive tendencies from becoming addicted to it.

    Yes, marijuana has just about the same potential to cause addiction as chocolate and video games. This is a very important point that we must not forget. Though I’m not sure how this fact can possibly justify locking up hundreds of thousands of otherwise innocent people every year.

  62. 62
    General Stuck says:

    @cmorenc:

    True, the logistics involved for the feds to continue to attempt effectively enforcing federal laws against marijuana possession become far more difficult, forbiddingly so in most instances, when states have withdrawn their enforcement personnel from the field on the matter

    Technically, as a legal matter, your argument may make sense, as that is into the legal weeds for me. My guess is every state has a complex matrix of legalities and funding stuff to where in practical effect, the state has legalized pot by dismissing their former obligations for local policing of drug laws.. Which at a minimum gives the perception of the states thumbing their nose at what was, and still is federal law.

    Like I was saying, I think this is civil disobedience at the state level, challenging notions of federalism in this country. Forcing a public showdown over zealous drug laws. We will wait to see if the feds do what they usually do when states forfeit their primacy to enforce national law they deem important at the local level.

    Which is to take up that primacy for themselves, and create a federal policing system at the state and local level. That could well call for additional federal law to be passed and funded. Or they don’t, and retreat back inside the green zone. I hope for the latter, although I no longer partake the herb.

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Baron Jrod of Keeblershire:

    Yes, marijuana has just about the same potential to cause addiction as chocolate and video games.

    Yes, when my nephew had to go to a psychiatric facility because he would play video games literally until he passed out, refusing to shower, eat, or go to school, our whole family laughed and laughed because, really, how serious a problem was it if he was addicted to video games? All he needed to do was straighten out and fly right, amirite?

    Nice to see you take addiction seriously. You’re not the guy who was slipping alcohol into the food he served his alcoholic family members because they were just being whiny when they said they couldn’t have alcohol, are you?

  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    Some people cannot use and must watch themselves, some can.

    The problem, though, is that there’s no way for us to know ahead of time if someone needs to be cautious. We can kinda sorta guess based on family history, but otherwise the only way to find out if you have an addictive personality type is to develop a serious addiction and then try to kick it.

    What we need is a way to figure out how to identify people with that personality type (or gene sequence?) before they develop a serious addiction. It’s a very serious public health problem, and it needs to be treated like one.

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    Any action that triggers an endorphin rush can become addicting, and there are metric fuck-tons of actions that can trigger an endorphin rush.

    It can for people who have the right biology. There are drugs like opiates that are physically addictive and can cause problems for anyone, but it does seem to be a specific type of personality (or possibly genetic type) that will seek that endorphin rush from things that aren’t necessarily physically addictive and will ruin their lives with things like compulsive gambling that technically aren’t “addictive.”

    Addiction is not the normal human condition.

  65. 65
    Peter says:

    @Mnemosyne: Marijuana can be addictive in the same way that any pleasurable, stress-relieving activity can be. However, THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) does not cause chemical dependency like alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, morphine, etc. do. You are just as likely to become addicted to video games as you are to marijuana.

  66. 66
    Yutsano says:

    @Peter: There are two main types of addiction: physical and psychological. You are correct in that THC does not cause physical addiction (in fact our brain has receptors wired to receive it) but it can cause psychological addictions that act in very similar fashion. Especially when used in a manner to escape rather than enjoy, which really is how most addictions get started.

  67. 67
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yes, when my nephew had to go to a psychiatric facility because he would play video games literally until he passed out, refusing to shower, eat, or go to school, our whole family laughed and laughed because, really, how serious a problem was it if he was addicted to video games? All he needed to do was straighten out and fly right, amirite?

    There’s a difference between ‘compulsion’ and ‘addiction’, but who cares about stuff like that when the point of a thread is to make categorical statements about how inevitably stupid government policy is.

    I mean, jeez, it’s almost as if you’re interested in actually understanding something instead of stating fervent-but-half-informed opinions.

  68. 68
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Please define “the normal human condition” in scientific terms.

    ETA: In non-subjective scientific terms, that is.

  69. 69
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Peter:

    You are just as likely to become addicted to video games as you are to marijuana.

    Yes, that’s my point — people who have a genetic tendency towards psychological addiction will become addicted to lots of things, including marijuana or video games. My nephew who went into psychiatric care has a very strong family history of addiction on his father’s side — all three of his father’s brothers died from drug overdoses, and the only reason his father is still alive is that he keeps being sent to jail where it’s hard for him to get hold of drugs. My family made sure my nephew didn’t have access to much of anything (though he did test positive for THC when he got to the facility) and yet his biology led him to find something, anything that would get him the endorphin rush he craved.

    That’s why I’m saying blanket prohibitions are useless — they don’t help us identify the people who are going to have problems with any endorphin-producing action. But apparently Americans are still Puritanical enough that they look at addiction as a personal failing and we can’t talk about the disease model or figuring out a reliable way to screen people for addictive tendencies.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    Please define “the normal human condition” in scientific terms.

    Sorry, I can only explain it in subjective terms:

    I have a friend who is a (very successful) recovering alcoholic. She tells me stories of her drinking days where she would drink a fifth of vodka while watching TV because once she started, she was unable to stop until the bottle was empty.

    She is always astounded to hear of me drinking half a bottle of hard cider and not finishing it, or throwing away a really nasty pre-mixed margarita after three sips, because she literally cannot conceive not feeling compelled to finish it.

    different-church-lady may be right that I’m not using the right word. Anyone can become physically addicted to an opiate, but not everyone will feel the compulsion to continue using it even in the face of bad consequences. That compulsion is where the genetic tendency comes in, and that’s what we really need to be able to detect as a public health issue.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m pretty sure everyone here is already aware that they have identified the alcoholism gene, but I’m linking just in case.

  72. 72
    Lojasmo says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    Well, Marijuana is largely harmless, and tobacco is deadly to both users and non users.

  73. 73
    Peter says:

    @Mnemosyne: And what I’m saying is that that fact makes calling marijuana ‘addictive’ is completely meaningless. It it technically true but not noteworthy since for those with the right psychological makeup literally anything can be an addiction. TLC has a terrible hoarders-esque show dedicated to nothing but this fact.

  74. 74
    Lojasmo says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Legalization would end both the boatload of kilo bricks, and the kids getting killed peddling in the neighborhoods.

  75. 75
    Lojasmo says:

    @mclaren:

    Yo dipshit. Obama isn’t prosecuting cancer patients. The DEA is busting dispensaries that operate outside established state law.

  76. 76
    different-church-lady says:

    @Lojasmo: Legal cocaine and heroin. Got it.

  77. 77
    befuggled says:

    @different-church-lady: I personally wouldn’t have a problem with it. They’re already illegal, but does anyone have trouble getting a hold of them? Put the emphasis on treatment instead. Have safe injection sites. Cut out organized crime.

    I speak as someone whose brother died recently of a heroin overdose.

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Peter:

    And what I’m saying is that that fact makes calling marijuana ‘addictive’ is completely meaningless. It it technically true but not noteworthy since for those with the right psychological makeup literally anything can be an addiction.

    So, hey, why do anything about it, right? Those people made their choice to be born with bad genes, so there’s no need to have any kind of public health effort to identify them and try to prevent future addicts. If it’s on teevee it can’t be that bad.

  79. 79
    Mnemosyne says:

    @befuggled:

    Except that you have the problem with opiates of them being physically addictive — your body becomes so accustomed to them that trying to withdraw can potentially kill you.

    All the evidence I’ve seen so far is that marijuana is far less physically addictive than either cigarettes or alcohol so I don’t have a huge problem with legalizing it (though I do think it’s a good opportunity for us to talk about the fact that it’s specific people who can become addicted to it, not anyone who tokes up).

    The fact that opiates can physically addict someone who doesn’t have a pre-existing biological compulsion to over-use would make me very, very wary of making it widely available. There are a lot of common-sense harm reduction things we can do for people who are already addicted (like safe injection sites or making methadone counseling more available), but creating new addicts seems like a really bad idea.

    My condolences on your brother.

  80. 80
    Maude says:

    @befuggled:
    I am so sorry. A woman who lives in the area had a son who was addicted to drugs. After he died, she said that at least she knew where he was. Heartbreaking.

  81. 81
    General Stuck says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’ve had many discussions over the years with a variety of people either addicts or those that treat them, and there is wide disparity of what different terms mean for different drugs and different effects on the body and on psychology.

    For those drugs that do not produce the classic withdrawal syndrome we think of as chemical addiction, I usually go with dependency, and that for persons with addiction disease, which I believe in, there is much science does not know about the interplay of mind altering drugs like pot, that can produce in some people a quasi physical/mental addiction response, that is not easily fit into withdrawal syndromes of alcohol and opiates, or the worst, benzodiazepines, and nicotine. But is real nonetheless. Nor does cocaine produce the classic opiate type withdrawal. But the bottom line is, for some people, a particular mind altering drug like pot, normally not addictive, can produce some pretty profound physical problems when suddenly stopped.. I was lucky, as one of those that could quit it, after a period of heavy use, and be okay. Though there were other substances that did cause problems.

  82. 82
    befuggled says:

    @Maude: Thank you. We had a different sort of relationship, in that I usually knew where he was–when he needed money.

  83. 83
    moderateindy says:

    I often wonder if we would be better off just making everything legal coke heroin LSD Shrooms etc and just tax the hell out of it and then use a portion of the extra funds to set up treatment centers that are both free and easily accessible from the extra addicts that we’d make.
    I also wonder how many more addicts we’d actually get.
    I feel fortunate that I don’t seem to have an addictive personality when it comes to drugs. Having done more than my share of coke, pot, Acid, X, Qualudes, I was always able to keep it recreational, and never felt the urge to get into heroin or Meth, or crack. I wonder if I have just been real fortunate, or if I am in the majority of people that can use and not get addicted. Of course, I think one of the main reasons I have not gotten in too much trouble is that my use of such substances has been severely curtailed by the fact that I refuse to drive when impaired by anything. I always limit myself to a drink or two at most if I’m out at a bar or a party, and don’t use other mind altering substances at all. I haven’t driven impaired since my mid-twenties, so that severely limits my consumption of addictive drugs.

  84. 84
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m sure it would have been a great boon to your nephew if the cops had hauled him off to spend some time in jail after catching him with a contraband Game Boy, giving him a permanent criminal record and removing his ability to get subsidized student loans.

    Oh wait, no, that would be stupid and evil. Just as the drug war is stupid and evil.

    The fact that marijuana is illegal does almost nothing to prevent anyone who wants to smoke weed from doing so, so any appeal to “but marijuana is bad, mmmkay,” is senseless. The laws help nobody except those who make a profit off of them.

  85. 85
    Steve Finlay says:

    @different-church-lady: The point is that the teenagers killing each other over drugs is caused NOT by the drugs, but by the prohibition of the drugs. It really is that simple. Budweiser and Coors do not shoot each other, because the legal system applies to their business, and that is how disputes are settled. During prohibition, their predecessors were the Al Capones of the world, and they did shoot each other. The only way to stop the shooting is to legalize.

    This is not a left wing position either. It is straight old fashioned free market economics.

  86. 86
    Steve Finlay says:

    @Baron Jrod of Keeblershire: Yes, you’ve identified another really important point: It’s true that some drugs really ARE addictive and can cause a compulsion (subject to genetic factors, as others pointed out). These drugs include heroin, alcohol, tobacco, and others.

    But your point is the key: Prohibition and incarceration do NOT treat, nor even prevent, addiction. Note that the only addictive drug for which North American usage has significantly declined in the past few decades is tobacco. This was achieved using policy tools which were available ONLY because the drug was legal. If it had been illegal, none of the age restrictions, advertising restrictions, etc. could have been implemented.

    Trying to use prohibition to reduce addiction is like trying to paint your house with a chain saw: It makes a lot of noise and may look quite spectacular, but the job doesn’t get done. And people easily get hurt.

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