From: steve (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Feb 13 2002 - 07:45:16 MST
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Lorrey" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2002 5:08 PM
Subject: Re: Bye-Bye to the >H Right Wing
> <Mike's original post and Amara's response>
> Mike's response to Amara
> Note that I did not once advocate throwing drug users in jail, did I?
> Nor did I say that an individual shouldn't be free to drug themselves as
> they see fit, or even suicide. I am fully in support of the individuals
> right to choose such activities, SO LONG as those activities do not harm
> HOWEVER: From my experience in working with drug addicts, and my
> understanding of the physiology of addiction, it is my opinion that a
> person who becomes addicted to a drug is no longer fully in posession
> their ability to freely make choices or decisions. At some point, it is
> no longer the person making the decisions, the drug is (or rather, how
> the drug has warped their minds physiologically and psychologically).
> Drug addicts commit acts that they know are wrong, that they claim they
> don't want to do, but are compelled to do so in order to get high again.
> Such individuals are no longer freely acting adult citizens.
> Furthermore, their acts in pursuit of the next high generally involve
> causing harm or damage or death to other people and their property:
> children and spouses, business associates, creditors, neighbors, etc..
> For this reason, the claims that drug use is a 'victimless crime' is not
> as black and white, slam dunk as many legalization proponents would like
> to claim. Having been in the trenches of dealing with addicts, the
> damage they do ALWAYS extends beyond themselves as individuals, as is to
> be expected when an individual abdicates responsibility for themselves
> to an inanimate substance.
> Nor did I say that civil forfeiture worked particularly well at what its
> intended purpose is. It actually works rather badly, doing more to
> enrich police departments and their officers than helping the real
> victims of drug addiction.
I have much more sympathy for this than I did a few years ago (although I am
still uneasy about the sub-Kantian idea that your "higher self" is disabled
by the habit), particularly in the light of the research Brian (I think it
was) mentioned about the sector of any population which has a genetic
sensitivity to specific substances. So simply saying "everyone do what they
want and let the chips fall where they may" shouldn't be an option. The hard
question is what is the best thing to do? As you say civil forfeiture and
other aspects of the drug war are not helping (and make things worse in many
ways). They are also creating desperately dangerous precedents and
incentives for law enforcers. Perhaps we can learn from the way alcohol
abuse was reduced in Britain, from being a widespread, very severe problem
in the 1840s and earlier to being a relatively minor problem by the 1890s,
through things like education, social pressure, regulation and the use of
fiscal policy. I think you have to accept you can't get rid of the problem
entirely, it's a matter of getting it to an "acceptable" level. The key
calculation must be a cost/benefit analysis where you trade off the costs of
drug use (the externalities you describe) against the costs of prohibition
(such as loss of liberty, corruption of the criminal justice system, growth
of organised crime). Steve Davies
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