From: Anders Sandberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 9:53 AM
Subject: Re: Drugs - what makes them do it?
>What was the reasons for the bans? I think (here the historians might
>help) that concerns about public health was the major official
>reason. Before this time, public health was a problem that was too
>hard to deal with, but at this time it appeared more and more possible
>that it could be fixed by a benevolent state and hence that it should
>be fixed; hence the anti-drug stance previously taken mainly by
>smaller organisations could now be implemented nationwide.
There's an idea that the reasons for the bans were racially motivated. I'm
not fully endorsing this viewpoint, but it's something to consider, and I
don't doubt that it was at least a factor, even if its influence is
exagerated. The idea is that opium was the moral scapegoat when there was a
large influx of Chinese immigrants, because it was perceived as their drug
of choice. Similarly for marijuana when there was a large influx of Mexican
immigrants. Cocaine was associated with blacks, and I have seen prints of
old newspaper stories about "cocaine-crazed negroes raping white women" to
back this up. I think all these drugs were banned in a single swoop called
The Harrison Act (which, as I recall, left heroin legal out of neglect).
As for public health.. research what happened right after drug prohibition
was implemented, when many, many doctors were actually imprisoned for
treating it as a public health issue (by administering morphine to opium
addicts suffering from withdrawal).
Regardless of the origins of drug prohibition, I don't think that the race
issue remains a powerful factor today in continuing it. Part of continuing
it is the fear of what would happen if it were discontinued - ask a man on
the street his opinion of drug legalization - this is less true today, but
as of a few years ago, I think the typical reaction someone would give you
supports the idea that the general public thinks that as soon as drugs were
legalized, everyone and their grandmother would immediately start shooting
heroin and smoking crack, sell their remaining supply to 3 year olds, and go
on murderous rampages afterwards.
The reason for this fear is the moral panic about drug use.. which is left
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