DHodges wrote:I didn't really expect to have to argue the point, as I thought it was well understood and accepted that the war on drugs has been an abysmal failure. I'll just make a few points, and if you want to discuss it further, it should probably get its own thread.
No need for another thread, at least IMO. I have pretty much given my reasoning already.
No one is arguing that you are not qualified to decide what you should or should not consume. It can be argued, however, that not everyone is as intelligent as you are, or as rational.
Having used both alcohol and heroin, I can tell you that the effects are different and the potential for addiction is different. You cannot say that because society withstands legal alcohol usage, it would withstand legal heroin usage.
Ill give you my own history as an example. For most of my life, I used alcohol responsibly. I even took advantage of the relaxation of pertinent laws to make my own beer for a while as a hobby. At one point, though, perhaps due to circumstances (sudden loss of a great job), perhaps due to genes, my use turned to abuse. I became physically addicted to alcohol. Rehab and constant effort on my part have cleansed my of that addiction. I know I wouldn't become addicted again if I had a beer - the addiction threshold for alcohol is much higher than for other drugs. It can be used in a safe - and even wholesome - manner.
In my case, I simply choose total sobriety just to be safe and because the memories of the physical addiction are nightmarish.
Heroin is another drug altogether. The only way I have used it is by snorting. The effects are entirely different from those of alcohol, although they mix nicely if you're willing to risk puking.
I cannot conceive of a societally safe way to do heroin. Snorting is the least addictive method of consumption because it does not lead to the "needle rush."
I never became addicted to heroin, because I did not shoot it up and I did it only a few times. In other words, I dodged a bullet.
My point is simple - that all drugs are not the same. Cocaine and heroin are much, much more addictive than alcohol. If you legalized cocaine, you legalize crack. Like you said, purity would be more consistent if it were legal. Therefore, you make it easy and cheap to make freebase, which is what crack is. Crack is instantly addictive. Quitting crack and quitting smoking cigarettes are both very difficult, and some people die trying.
Second, legalizing hard drugs would likely not lead to a huge increase in usage. I believe this has been shown in other countries that are less enthusiastic about drug enforcement, but is also shown by the failure of the "War on Drugs" to significantly reduce drug usage.
Do you think the damage opium did to China in the nineteenth Century would not be replicated in the USA today? If narcotics were suddenly legalized, the supply-siders would have a field day. What other countries are you referring to? If heroin and cocaine were legal in the US, those who supply the drugs now would muscle in and take every advantage of their new legitimacy.
Let me venture to say that, as a nation, we would be healthier if people did not smoke cigarettes. The resources spent on treating tobacco's effects could be saved. Cigarettes are minimally psychoactive; their use, consequently, has little social value. The net effect of cigarette usage in the US is negative. In fact, cigarette smoking is something that even most smokers wish would simply go away.
But it won't. Because it is legal,
and the tobacco industry is too much a part of the American economy.
So before you legalize heroin and cocaine, which would certainly not lead to their having a more of a beneficial
impact on the American family than they already do, you might want to think twice. Because outlawing them again would be next to impossible, once they gained a foothold in the US.
Marijuana would be a different case, because it is a different substance. It could be legalized, and should be, because it is not addictive.