Yer’ Drug War Roundup

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

• The ONDCP has been boasting for months now that they’ve “choked off” the cocaine supply in 37 major U.S. cities.  NPR did some fact-checking, and found that claim to be rather dubious.  Drug supply is much like the air in a balloon.  You can push down on one end, but it’s merely going to spring back up someplace else.  You can disrupt supply, but you’ll never end it.

•  Meanwhile, in Mexico, drug cartels are murdering pop stars, testament to the power and wealth drug prohibition confers on kingpins.  The first two stories are related, by the way.  The more we crack down on supply in the U.S., the more valuable cocaine becomes.  That makes the cartels willing to risk more to get their cocaine on American streets.  Even when we win, we’re losing.

•  More from the law of unintended drug war consequences here.

•  Common Sense for Drug Policy lays out the allegedly “devastating” effects of the Netherlands’ liberalized drug laws.  Doesn’t look all that bad, does it?  Also, often unmentioned in the drug debate is Portugal, which has some of the most liberal drug laws in the world, with almost no deleterious effects at all.

•  Jeffrey Tucker on the continuing stupidity of the anti-meth cold medicine laws.

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16 Responses to “Yer’ Drug War Roundup”

  1. #1 |  John Harrold | 

    The ONDCP has been boasting for months now that they’ve “choked off” the cocaine supply in 37 major U.S. cities. NPR did some fact-checking, and found that claim to be rather dubious. Drug supply is much like the air in a balloon. You can push down on one end, but it’s merely going to spring back up someplace else. You can disrupt supply, but you’ll never end it.

    You could call this the Bernoulli principle of drug supply and demand.

  2. #2 |  Temujin | 

    Even when we win, we’re losing.

    Pithy, yet entirely true!

  3. #3 |  Tom Bux | 

    I too say “Thank you Bush” when I hand over my ID to buy Pseudoephederine. The stuff works. The other stuff is worthless.

  4. #4 |  Sydney Carton | 

    So it should be perfectly legal for children to buy crack from a vending machine?

  5. #5 |  Les | 

    Sydney, you’re joking, right? Tell me you’re joking.

  6. #6 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Actually, it was a fair question. Why would it be a joke? De-criminalizing drugs would permit crack vending machines, right? Please let me know how far libertarians would go in that kind of endeavor. If libertarians are against that sort of thing, then there should be no problem saying that. And if you’re in favor of it, then why hide it? I hope the question didn’t seem like I was asking “when did you stop beating your wife.” I didn’t mean it that way, but I’d generally like to know the answer to the question, and the reason as well. Thanks.

  7. #7 |  Michael | 

    What you said is just another form of propaganda, used to place fear in peoples’ hearts. It was not really a “fair question” at all! Children cannot buy beer or, even, cigarettes out of a vending machine, can they?! It was a statement of pure ignorance. I think, anyone under the age of eighteen, at least, should not be putting any of these poisons into their body! “Legalization” and regulation would actually mean that the drugs would have some form of regulation. Right now , they don’t! That, in turn, would make them harder for kids to get their hands on. (But, as you know, they still get their hands on booze, as well. All they have to do is find some, low life, over 18, who does not care about getting caught and going to jail for giving it to a minor.)

    Decriminalizing drugs means strict regulation. Illegal drugs cannot be regulated. With the present system, the kids get drugs easier than alcohol, since everyone knows, dealers don’t card. Ask any of the high school kids, they can tell you! That means the kids are being handed to the dealers on a silver platter. And you can bet, if he can get them to try pot, then he can get them to take something stronger. The dealers are, likely, good businessmen, increasing demand all they can! They don’t care that it could be devastating to their customers’ lives! Someone needs to take over, so the dealers stop getting rich on peoples’ sickness. Drive themout of business!

    Your reasoning is biased, as well as, faulty. You jump to he conclusion that the people, complaining here, want kids to be able to get drugs through vending machines! There are many non-libertarians (in LEAP and other organizations) that agree with doing something about the failed “war on drugs”. That might include legalization and the ability to,finally, regulate them, like booze and cigarettes! Their prohibition is working not better than that of alcohol did in the past. It creates more problems for society. Do you have beer in your fridge? Can kids just walk into their parents’ house and carry it out? It is a worse poison than most of the “bad” drugs! But, anyone who would put those things in their bodies are just playing another form of Russian roulette! Even alcohol kills kids who binge drink!

    Telling adults what they can put into their bodies, is just filling up prisons with people that may or may not have medical drug problems. That is, while, all the time, not getting the “big guy”, instead.

  8. #8 |  Les | 

    Sydney, I apologize for sarcasm. I imagined that most people interested in the issue were aware that libertarians have consistently argued that it shouldn’t be perfectly legal for children to buy lots of things that adults buy.

    “De-criminalizing drugs would permit crack vending machines, right?”

    But that’s not a fair question because it’s a false assumption. Tobacco is legal, but tobacco vending machines are illegal in many places. Some libertarians may disagree with that, but it’s not un-libertarian to support methods of preventing children from having easy access to drugs like nicotine or alcohol, as long as they are readily available from other places to adults who wish to buy them.

    Most libertarians believe that adults should be able to put whatever they want into their own bodies (since we own our bodies and the government certainly doesn’t), but that safeguards should be in place to prevent children from doing the same. People who argue that adults need to be prevented from taking drugs so that children will be prevented from taking drugs – besides that being a demonstrably ineffective method – are simply saying that they need the government’s help (always something to be skeptical of) to raise kids who respect their wishes. It’s really a leftist’s dream to have this kind of government interference in our personal lives (it being for the good of the collective, don’t you know.)

    There are a few things I don’t want my son to do until he’s an adult. But that’s between my son and me. I don’t want the government to pretend (and that’s what it’s doing) that it’s helping my son say no to drugs by putting adults in prison for merely taking or selling drugs to other adults (and charging me, by the way, for the “protection”).

    Anyway, that’s this (small “l”) libertarian’s position on drugs. There are laws against children buying tobacco and alcohol and prescription drugs and firearms and that’s how it ought to be and if you can find any respected libertarians who believe otherwise, I’d appreciate a link.

    Check out these links with better stated arguments than mine.

    http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php

    http://reason.tv/roughcut/show/195.html

    http://www.reason.com/staff/show/128.html

  9. #9 |  Zeb | 

    It has been said above, but the point cannot be made enough (apparently). Legalization is not about making drugs freely available to everyone all the time, or even necessarily about making things available in every corner shop. Legalization will allow a legal framework to exist in the drugs market so that quality and access can be controlled in reasonable ways. Legalization is exactly the opposite of the “crack in vending machines for children” idea. It is the only effective way to limit access to dangerous drugs in any meaningful way.

    Look at tobacco as an example. Rates of underage smoking have decreased a lot over the past several years exactly because tobacco is regulated in a legal framework.

  10. #10 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Thanks for the clarification. I’m glad legalization doesn’t equate to crack in vending machines. I’m still not sure, however, how legalization is compatible with general libertarianism. It seems like really strict government regulation of private activity, so I don’t understand why a libertarian would support that. Criminalization is just another harsher aspect of such regulation, on a scale of government intervention. So all you’re doing is sliding back the scale a bit, avoiding jail perhaps (unless you sell it to children?) but still very much using the heavy hand of the state.

    So if libertarians have an exception for children when it comes to hard-core drugs, then what other things have an exception for children? Moreover, isn’t it a general complaint of libertarians that much unnecessary regulation and criminal law is made because of so-called exceptions for children? After all, I recall a big fuss when smoking vending machines were outlawed. And isn’t it ridiculous that 80 year old grandmothers are still carded when they buy cigarettes? (stores have such policies because of the litigation, I suppose, and perhaps also equal protection complaints)

    I’m not exactly sure that alcohol and cigarettes are the appropriate analogies, in any event. There are some drugs that no one should use even once (like crack). Even if smoking and drinking are bad for you, they’re only bad over the very long term or from excess. I’m all in favor of being smart about things, and that might mean lowering the drinking age to 18, decriminalizing pot, but maintaining criminalization for hard-core drugs like crack. I’m not a fan of the criminal prosecution of people who are addicted to painkillers either, and that might be re-examined. But it’s stupid to legalize crack. (and please don’t respond that crack really isn’t bad for you, because that’s just not going to work with me).

  11. #11 |  Elayne | 

    I have a large family, 5 kids with a sixth on the way. My husband is blind, so I do 99% of the shopping myself. When one person in our house gets a cold, we all get it. Under the current laws in my state, if I simply go to the pharmacy (or to multiple pharmacies, is what I’d have to do) and get enough Sudafed for all the members of my family for a week, I could be arrested. And the point of this law is???

  12. #12 |  Ochressandro | 

    Actually, Sydney, I want to see both crack and heroin in vending machines. And as for the children who might get at it? That’s what those strange and anachronistic things called parents are for.

  13. #13 |  Les | 

    Sydney, I think it’s important to remember that there is no single libertarian position. It’s kind of a sliding scale. While some libertarians don’t think there should be prohibitions on vending machines for drugs and others do (just as some libertarians look at all taxation as theft while others see the need for taxes) they all agree that government needs to be held accountable for what it does and that it usually does things badly.

    Even though legalization is a form of regulation (which not all libertarians are against), it would be an obvious improvement over the current situation, which causes more harm than it prevents.

    I don’t know of any libertarians who think that children should be allowed to purchase firearms (though I’d be surprised if there weren’t any) or that children should be able to buy drugs because children are not autonomous beings. Once a person reaches adulthood (when that begins is another conversation), that person should be able to do whatever he wants with his body.

    And it might surprise you to know that, according to the government itself, most people who use drugs like crack, heroin, cocaine, and meth (i.e. “the hard stuff”) use them just like most people use alcohol and nicotine and marijuana. That is to say, recreationally and responsibly. Simply because it’s easy to see homeless alcoholics on the streets of large cities doesn’t mean that most people who use alcohol are in any danger of becoming homeless alcoholics. The same is true for crack and meth and heroin.

    And if there really was something about these drugs that made most users destroy themselves, I would still think that’s a decision each individual should have the liberty to make for himself without interference from the government. Unless we’re free to do to our own bodies what we will, unless we’re free to destroy ourselves, if that’s what we choose, we’re not really free.

  14. #14 |  Sydney Carton | 

    “While some libertarians don’t think there should be prohibitions on vending machines for drugs and others do (just as some libertarians look at all taxation as theft while others see the need for taxes) they all agree that government needs to be held accountable for what it does and that it usually does things badly.”

    Of course government needs to be held accountable, and that it usually does things badly. But believing in that doesn’t make you a libertarian. It makes you what is otherwise known as a “likely voter.” Sheesh.

    “And if there really was something about these drugs that made most users destroy themselves, I would still think that’s a decision each individual should have the liberty to make for himself without interference from the government.”

    Yeah, the “liberty” to get addicted. Real informed choice there.

    “unless we’re free to destroy ourselves, if that’s what we choose, we’re not really free.”

    Rational people do not choose to destroy themselves over nothing. If you are making such a choice, you’re not really free to begin with. Soldiers fight and may die for a better cause, but anyone making a choice to destroy themselves by jumping off a building, or using crack, should be restrained. As the saying goes, it’s not all about YOU.

    Oh, and since there’s no “libertarian” position on whether crack should be sold in vending machines, I have to assume that it’s a possibility if any libertarian politician would assume office. So that means I’m voting against them.

  15. #15 |  Druff | 

    Sydney:

    Yes, people should have the freedom to make mistakes.

    Jumping off a bridge isn’t “all about you?” Who’s it about then?

    You obviously want to be protected from yourself, but not everyone needs a bureaucratic babysitter.

  16. #16 |  Les | 

    Of course government needs to be held accountable, and that it usually does things badly. But believing in that doesn’t make you a libertarian. It makes you what is otherwise known as a “likely voter.” Sheesh.

    “Likely voters” usually vote for Republicans and Democrats. Both parties want more government and avoid accountability. Sheesh, yourself.

    Yeah, the “liberty” to get addicted. Real informed choice there.

    So, you support the prohibition of alcohol and tobacco, since most addicts are addicted to them and because they kill more people every year than all other drugs combined? Yes? If not, why not?

    Soldiers fight and may die for a better cause, but anyone making a choice to destroy themselves by jumping off a building, or using crack, should be restrained. As the saying goes, it’s not all about YOU.

    Again, you support locking up alcoholics and smokers with emphysema? Since they are addicted and die in much greater numbers than crack addicts, it would be the only consistent position.

    And what makes you think you know the difference between a “better cause” and a people’s private choices about their own lives? If you’re stopping a person from doing something to themselves simply because you wouldn’t do it, maybe you need to realize that it’s not all about you.

    Bottom line is, it seems, you think the government (i.e. the collective) owns our bodies, and is authorized (in the interest of said collective) to control what we do to ourselves. I didn’t take you for a leftist, comrade! ;)

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