damnum absque injuria

October 16, 2009

Drugs Are Bad

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 2:34 pm

Professor Louisa Degenhardt of the University of New South Wales has conducted a study determining that Australia, New Zealand and North America are the countries that consume the most pot. The study does not, however, say how much pot one must consume to think North America is a country.

February 6, 2009

This Is Your Brain On Drugs. This Is Your Brain On Anti-Drug Hysteria. Any Questions?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:41 pm

I had originally planned a full-blown meta-fisking of JRM’s uncommonly silly fisking of Radley Balko’s recent Reason/Culture11 article on the war on drugs, but I see Radley himself has beat me to the punch and made most of the points I would have made (and some that I did make, namely that the mere fact of overall police shootings being down since 1996 is congruent with the overall drop in crime being down for the same period, not evidence for or against Radley’s premise). And Radley doesn’t need me to defend him; after all, he’s got the traffic while I’m just some dim-witted, quick-tempered, angry douchebag that nobody reads.

So rather than defending Radley (though he’s clearly got the better argument here) I’ll just say this: drugs have become a religion on both sides. On the one hand, drug prohibitionists have an annoying tendency to ignore the fact that prohibiting a substance causes the price to skyrocket, thereby creating the motive underlying most “drug-related” crime. On the other, legalization and decriminalization advocates have an equally annoying tendency to ignore the fact that repealing the prohibition (or reducing enforcement efforts) on that same substance would cause the price to plummet, thereby causing recreational use (and, inevitably, abuse) to increase. It seems as though one side of the debate can’t wrap its head around the law of supply and demand, while the other fails to grasp the law of … errrr … supply and demand. For those who do understand that raising the price of anything is bound to deter someone from doing it, it seems to me there are only three defensible positions on the legalization or prohibition of any particular drug, to wit:

  1. Drug X [a variable, not a nickname for Ecstasy or any other particular drug] is so bad that it is worth reducing our civil liberties and accepting more violent crime in return for fewer people using it.
  2. Drug X is bad, sure, but most people who don’t use X now have the good sense to stay away from it even if it were legal and as cheap as aspirin, so saving 3 addicts a year is NOT worth reducing our civil liberties and accepting all that crime associated with the black market.
  3. Drug X is very bad, and banning it almost certainly benefits society on balance by any objective measure, but dammit, this is still supposed to be a free country, and if people want to muck up their own lives without hurting others, that’s nobody’s business but their own. [See this comment for a mirror image of this argument.]

Note that I deliberately set this up on a drug-by-drug basis, to reflect that some drugs are far worse than others. A rational person could, for example, take the view that all currently illicit drugs are bad for you, but marijuana isn’t bad enough to be worth the costs of prohibition, while cocaine probably is and PCP almost certainly is. But I don’t think there are any other rational options as to any particular drug. Do you?


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