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The Great Marijuana Debate: Heads vs. Feds

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Because prohibitionists are usually rather averse to participating in any sort of debate in which the untenability of the drug war — a.k.a. Prohibition II, the sequel with a much bigger budget, a lot more hype, and a far higher body count — might be exposed, I thought I was onto something interesting when I ran across an Orlando Sentinel article entitled, "Should Marijuana be Legalized?" The September 8, 2006 report heralded the news of "The Great Debate: Heads vs. Feds," in which Steven Hager, editor-in-chief of High Times magazine, and Bob Stutman, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent, discuss both sides of the issue of whether marijuana should be "legalized."

I was soon disappointed, however, when I learned that this "Great Debate" is not really a debate at all. High Times has some exclusive video highlights of "Heads vs. Feds" and, if they are an example of what transpires at these events, then they are not truly debates, but rather exhibition matches between two gentlemen who have been, for a number of years, performing a very popular routine before standing-room-only crowds.

It’s a road show, an intellectual “concert” tour that can be booked through a company called Wolfman Productions, which has in its roster a wide variety of speakers and debaters who are available to perform discussions of numerous topics.

Now, entertainment is all well and fine, and fun is a Good Thing, but it does not truly raise awareness about just how deadly and destructive our prohibitionist drug policy really is, no matter how many thoughts this "Heads vs. Feds" production might promote in the minds of its audiences.

Of course, the "Heads vs. Feds" show would likely not be nearly as entertaining if it was presented as an honest debate about the principles of prohibition, instead of as a tiresome litany of the same questionable science and skewed statistics of which drug war propaganda has consisted for decades, being "refuted" with anachronistic "hippie" rhetoric and an impassioned defense of the "counterculture."

Clearly, this "Great Debate" is not intended to produce a "winner" as that would likely diminish its amusement value as a thought-provoking spectacle for its largely "pro-legalization" audiences – not to mention that Mr. Stutman might not care to play his "Fed" role opposite a "Head" who exposes the preposterousness of the boondoggle known as the "war on drugs," instead of pulling punches and leveling the playing field with weak and uninspired arguments that are even more feckless today than they were back in the 1970s.

Mr. Hager’s best one-sentence arguments for “legalizing” marijuana are:

  • "It's good medicine"
  • "Hemp is good for the environment"
  • "We need to stop expanding and privatizing prisons"
  • "We need to stop funding corruption with prohibition prices"
  • "It's the sacrament of my culture"

The medical marijuana and industrial hemp issues are important and they are related to the larger goals of drug policy reform, but they should be left out of a debate about the merits of interdicting certain human behaviors and habits as they cloud the issue with facts and ideas that distract listeners from the core argument against drug prohibition, which is that it is, in fact, the "drug problem," and it has been masquerading as a solution to itself for almost a century.

I believe it is a given that adults have the right to ingest whatever substances they may find relaxing and/or enjoyable, so long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. But this assertion does not win friends or influence people, it is proselytization that is usually aimed, as a rallying cry, toward the already converted.

Nobody who has been taught by decades of drug war propaganda to fear the potential consequences of drug policy reform really cares that potheads feel oppressed because they might go to jail for breaking laws that are currently on the books in all 50 states.

Marijuana laws might not pass the old "laugh test" for those of us who know better, but most people don't know better and their attitudes toward those dark and frightening things of which they wish to remain ignorant are deeply ingrained. Plus, they don't want to touch anything called "counterculture" with one of those proverbial ten-foot poles, let alone make an effort to understand it, or to attempt to cultivate some sort of grudging respect for it.

Indeed, we should stop expanding and privatizing prisons. We should also stop funding corruption with the artificial inflation and price supports that prohibitionist policies unintentionally provide to the criminal element.

These are the issues with which reformers should go on the offensive because the only way to be perceived as winning a debate is to put your opponents on the defensive and keep them there for the duration.

Harsh on the drug warriors! Don't let them back you into a corner, in which you become obliged to defend recreational drug use, the counterculture, and all manner of scary crime and overdose statistics that are laid squarely at the feet of your opposing viewpoint as the consequence of your failure to conform to the fears, uncertainties, and doubts of teeming masses of brainwashed asses!

Make the drug prohibitionists defend drug prohibition!

A few choice harshing points for the thoughtful reformer's arsenal:

  • If you support the war on drugs, you are in favor of our children having easy access (black market dealers do not ask for I.D.) to drugs that have gotten steadily purer, cheaper and more plentiful since the 1970s.
  • If you support the war on drugs, you also support the cartels, kingpins, mobsters and gangs. Politics making for strange bedfellows, those whose livelihoods depend upon the protections and benefits of prohibitionist policies, are among the staunchest prohibitionists.
  • If you support the war on drugs, you must want yet another generation of our inner city youth to grow up fast and die young in an atmosphere of crime, degradation and fear, for the benefits of the long-established retail drug trade far outweigh any possible risks to those who are born into circumstances of limited opportunity.
  • If you support the war on drugs, you also support organized crime and all the violence of gangsterism, which prohibition has enabled to become a highly diversified, multicultural enterprise.

Don't let drug warriors get away with that "soft on crime" routine that frightens so many of our politicians. Prohibition is not just soft on crime, it creates it and it's helpful to it because the "war on drugs" is the ultimate de-regulation policy.

To the proprietors of an underground economy that is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, interdiction is nothing but a small line item in their loss columns, part of the cost of doing business, which barely affects their huge, tax-free, bottom lines.

Don't fall into the "alcohol trap" in which the prohibitionist agrees that perfectly legal alcohol is, by far, the most widely abused drug whose irresponsible use causes much death and destruction, but then follows up with rhetoric about how this is the best example of "why we don't need another legal drug," as if millions of people are not already using the illegal drug, and as if the drug laws are all that stand between a sober, productive society and a nation of "stoned-out zombies."

Don’t be intimidated by the alcohol death statistics, for not only do they include a wide array of alcohol-related illnesses, accidents, and crimes, they are not representative of the vast majority of alcohol users who enjoy alcohol responsibly and moderately, and without incident. It’s the two-percenters who get all the attention, especially when they die of alcohol poisoning, which is a euphemism for an overdose.

(While we’re on the subject of overdoses, this seems a fit place to mention that, during the course of over 5000 years of recorded history, there has never been a single overdose death attributed to marijuana alone – and that is most decidedly not due to the lack of an honest effort.)

Comparisons of the modern drug war with Prohibition (1920-1933) can be a drug warrior’s worst nightmare because, when they are effectively and accurately applied, they become very convincing arguments that render any and all possible defenses of modern drug prohibition baseless and vulnerable.

Never mind whether or not Prohibition reduced alcohol use, there is no way to tell anyway because, just like it is with the modern "drug war," nobody knew who was selling what to whom, or for how much. The Prohibition era statistic that matters most is the murder rate, which began to climb steadily with the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1920, and did not begin to fall again until several years after the ratification of the 21st Amendment in 1933.

Ask a drug warrior to describe the difference between Al Capone and Pablo Escobar and see how he or she changes the subject, dismisses the question as irrelevant, or tries to dance around the obvious similarities with arbitrary rhetoric about "nowadays."

Try to avoid using the words "legalize" and "decriminalize" as not only have these terms become propagandized, they never really made any logical sense at all because the solution is not to "legalize" illegal drugs, but rather to regulate unregulated drugs.

Advocates of drug policy reform — whom prohibitionists sometimes refer to as "drug legalizers" — understand the true intent behind those words, but the larger society has been well-trained to equate them with chaos and anarchy.

A large, but shrinking, majority still believes that drug prohibition acts as a deterrent to the black market. In order to dispel this drug war myth that is so deeply ingrained into the public sentiment, reformers will need to clearly demonstrate how drug prohibition created and continues to enable the black market.

Simply demonizing the black market is not enough; prohibitionists already do that when they defend the drug war as "the solution" to it when the fact of the matter is that the black market in unregulated drugs became a low-risk, high profit business because of — not in spite of — the "war on drugs."

Drug prohibition prevents the regulation of the drug business, but not the manufacture, sale and use of drugs. No authority or agency really knows who is selling what to whom, where they are selling it, or for how much.

Prohibitionist policies have never produced results that justify their cost to taxpayers, but they did create and continue to support a wealthy class of tax-exempt black market profiteers.

  • The black market drug business thrives without taxes, regulations or restrictions.
  • The black market considers interdiction mere "spillage," which can be easily minimized by producing and moving more product. (And so what if quality and purity might suffer in the process? It is not as if any recalls would be imposed.)
  • The black market does not have to comply with any labeling or packaging requirements. Unregulated drugs usually come packaged in plain plastic bags, but millions of people buy them anyway.
  • The black market is not subject to zoning restrictions or licensing or regulatory inspections.
  • Black market businesses do not collect sales taxes or pay income or property taxes.
  • Black market drug dealers sell drugs to anyone, regardless of age, making it easier for kids to buy drugs.

The black market drug business has no consumer advocacy agencies or fair business practice and pricing associations. Black market drug dealers, growers, manufacturers, and consumers who have grievances cannot go to a court of law to settle their differences or turn to law enforcement in the event of theft or fraud, so they settle their disputes with violence, which is the primary reason why we must regulate these currently unregulated drugs.

In a contest of "Heads vs. Feds," the "Heads" should always win, not so much because we are entitled as citizens of the land of the free and the home of the brave, but because history and pragmatism are on our side.

References:

"Heads vs. Feds: Drug War Another Regulatory Failure," by Ralph Shnelvar, May 1, 2003, The Colorado Freedom Report.

"Heads vs. Feds Misses the Point," by Brian Schwartz, May 1, 2003, The Colorado Freedom Report.

"Board Finds Success with Heads vs. Feds Debate," by Shawn Rice, November 19, 2004, LOQUITUR, The Weekly Student Newspaper of Cabrini College, Pennsylvania.

"The Greatest Debate: Heads vs. Feds," posted by CN Staff (source: BG News), December 11, 2002, Cannabis News.

"Wednesday 'Heads vs. Feds' Debate at MCC," submitted by jmw, April 2, 2005, Rochester Cannabis Coalition (NORML).

"Marijuana Debated by Speakers," by Lena Acheson, April 1, 2005, The Online Rocket, Slippery Rock University.

"Pot Talk: Student (sic) Flock to 'Smoking' Debate," by Matt Perkins, March 28, 2006, The New Hampshire, The Student Publication of the University of New Hampshire.

Bureau of Justice Statistics, Homicide Rate, 1900-2002. Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics.

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About Margaret Romao Toigo

  • Bliffle

    Pot laws ought to be the same as beer laws.

  • J – The Son of Liberty

    Very well written and thought out article my friend. I will surely use a ton of this material when I talk about the regulation of drugs and the destruction of the black market.

    Nice to see someone take it deeper than either “drugs are bad mkay” or “Just make it all legal dude”

    J

  • http://www.palmspringsbum.com palmspringsbum

    Absolutely excellent!

    Thank you.

  • http://www.mapinc.org allan

    Thank you Margaret. I’ve felt so alone for so long on this “debate”… and you say it so well!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    as always..a wonderful Read….

    thanks again Margaret…

    /golfclap

    Excelsior?

  • Peter J

    Great read,
    I was expecting another “besides, hemp makes really strong rope” article. What I got was an argument which would be impossible to attack intelligently and successfully. I doubt that you would find a prohibitionist who would be willing to stand in a judged debate against you.

    I often wonder, in light of the failed alcohol prohibition, how such a critical situation has been ignored for some fourty odd years by a so-called intelligent society. Our society is suffering a loss of lives, a loss of freedom, not to mention the many more problems inluding taxpayers footing the bill for the millions who are and have been incarcerated or the lives of the people who are jailed on a non-violent crime of possession only to re-enter society as a hardened criminal who will have a very difficult time re-acclimating without falling back into a life of crime. The number of books written on the benefits of regulating attest to the validity of the call for regulation.

    The problem as I see it is that the people who actually provide marijuana are also the extremely well to do, people who make extremely large donations to political interests who make sure that no de-regulation acts make it to court.
    I don’t think that the “brother” on the corner is laying down a hundred million dollars for a cargo hold full of reefer. There could be no other reason for the lack of interest on the court level for regulation as there is rarely a legitimate moral cause against any problem in society, rather morality is a diversion from the political aspects.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Nice Article… But,I do have one question, When does legalizing ANY drug make it easy to handle the problems they cause? I guess the next step would be to legalize Heroin, right? Oh, but wait… Your answer to that would be the same as the alcohol supporters!

    “It’s the two-percenters who get all the attention”

    Two percent of how many? We should just have that approach with all drugs because you think the government is gonna have any more control over Marijuana? You think it’s alright that 2% of the population is a “Good enough for you” casualty?

    I firmly agree that turning our heads and using the addage that “Drugs are bad” is a poor solution to such a huge problem but when we still and probably always have people in this country that are just concerned with themselves and how they can get high or drunk to deal with their lives, then how is keeping or making anything legal a true solution? We won’t have to foot the bill for prisons? I guess we could foot the bill for drug education…

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Nice Article… But,I do have one question, When does legalizing ANY drug make it easy to handle the problems they cause?

    Because users can go to get help without exposing themselves to criminal prosecution, which means that more will seek help with their addiction and medical treatment for related problems like HIV infection and Hepatitis. Legalization also shuts down the organized crime which currently operates drug distribution, as well as allowing the government to regulate and tax the drugs.

    I guess the next step would be to legalize Heroin, right?

    Absolutely. Legalizing heroin is even more important from a public health standpoint. We should seriously consider legalizing all user-possession of drugs. Drug use is a victimless crime and there’s no moral justification for prohibition.

    Dave

  • http://bacalar.blogspot.com Howard Dratch

    Excellent, truthful and well-organized!

    You and Dave are right that legalization implies some control and opens the way for more effective solutions to real problems – like AIDS. It includes legalizing syringes (what level of un-civilization forces people into using dirty needles?) and would allow research on and use of medical marijuana.

    It would also keep DEA cops out of medical professionals’ practices. Cops have no business in the doctor-patient relationship.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “Because users can go to get help without exposing themselves to criminal prosecution..”

    Hmmm… I thought Marijuana usage wasn’t addictive?Or that it has such great withdrawals!! If, the medical & enviromental advantages outweigh the risks than why would moderate users need medical attention? I mean it’s only the “Two Percenters” who would have this issue…right?

    As for Heroin, when did the cops bust people at Methadone(?) Clinics?

    Honestly Dave, it still comes down to personal responsibility and it’s a sad day when people think the government is responsible to shut down organized crime. That leads me to another point… If it’s just the Two Percenter’s that cause the problems than that doesn’t point towards the Black Market, now does it?

    “for the benefits of the long-established retail drug trade far outweigh any possible risks to those who are born into circumstances of limited opportunity.”

    Really? Are you running for office? That statement is way too generic!! What does this imply? That people who have low income couldn’t possibly get hooked because it now has a surgeon general’s warning…LOL!!

    OR Perhaps you mean that breaking the law is limited to those who have low income and that legalizing drugs would propose a society that would be use to buying them in the stores?
    Maybe you should tell that to the Pharmacies that get robbed of Oxy Contin!!

    I understand your point that legalizing drugs would take away the incentive to make mad cash but how would you continue the process? Include the people who have been doing it for such a long time? Do you think that they would lower their prices for services rendered because now it’s allowed to be bought in CVS?? Wait… Legalizing it would mean that now the shady bars get even shadier because people would be shootin up and blowin smoke in my face while I sip on a pint?!? While were at it… Why not get rid of the ban on smoking in public places, because we all know it’s all about what you want to do with your own body!!

  • JR

    Brian aka Guppusmaximus: it still comes down to personal responsibility and it’s a sad day when people think the government is responsible to shut down organized crime.

    As opposed to thinking the government is responsible for controlling individuals’ personal habits? I’m not sure you understand the concept of “personal responsibility”.

    And yes, I damn well do think the government should be responsible for shutting down organized crime. Are you joking?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Why not get rid of the ban on smoking in public places, because we all know it’s all about what you want to do with your own body!!

    Because unlike Heroin which doesn’t go floating around the room, when you smoke others in the area are involuntarily exposed to it.

    Dave

  • methodman

    Brian, I don’t give half a rat’s ass about society, your kids, anyone’s kids, homeless people, losers or anyone else.

    “Leave my money alone, do all the heroin you want.. good luck with that.” – Tim Wilson

    “Other people’s problems are not my problems..I don’t have the time.” – David Byrne

    We’re here, we’re high – GET USED TO IT.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Brian aka Guppusmaximus asks, “When does legalizing ANY drug make it easy to handle the problems they cause?”

    Bringing problems out of the shadows and into the light almost always makes them easier to handle.

    If you give me a specific problem (addiction, gangsterism, tainted products, AIDS, minors getting access, environmental hazards, etc.) I will be happy to explain how that dynamic applies to it.

    Brian aka Guppusmaximus asks, “Two percent of how many? We should just have that approach with all drugs because you think the government is gonna have any more control over Marijuana? You think it’s alright that 2% of the population is a “Good enough for you” casualty? You think it’s alright that 2% of the population is a “Good enough for you” casualty?”

    Two-percent of alcohol users are immoderate, and the same holds true, give or take a percentage point or two, for just about every other human weakness or vice.

    Legality is irrelevant to weaknesses and vices. What is relevant is how those sorts of products are manufactured, marketed, and sold.

    If you think a drug-free, vice-free, or even a merely addiction-free society is possible under any type of drug policy, I want a sample of what you’ve been smoking.

    Brian aka Guppusmaximus asks, “I understand your point that legalizing drugs would take away the incentive to make mad cash but how would you continue the process?”

    Regulations will allow the consumers to do that because the free market protects and defends the rights of consumers.

    Gangsters who depend upon the artificial price supports and tax exemptions of prohibition to maintain the anarchy of their underground economy protect and defend only their own turf.

    A regulated market, unlike an underground market, offers consistent choices, allowing consumers to set pricing and quality standards using their wallets, just as they do for any other legal and regulated business.

    Now, I’ve answered some of your questions, will you please answer mine?

    Can you explain to me how drug prohibition deters gangsterism and the violent crime associated with it?

    Can you demonstrate how drug prohibition has reduced drug addiction/abuse?

    Can you show how drug prohibition prevents our children from buying and using prohibited drugs?

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “Brian, I don’t give half a rat’s ass about society, your kids, anyone’s kids, homeless people, losers or anyone else.”

    Well that’s very evident considering you’ve chosen to comment under the nickname taken from a shitty, wannabe musi..ur,um..Rap Star whose contribution to music is less than that of a 10 year old who just picked up the trumpet. Not caring doesn’t prove that your more intelligent, it actually shows that you are immature…

    Peace Out…YO!!

  • Peter J

    Forget all about the legalization issue, the fact that when you arrest a person who breaks no other law except for using a drug that you are taking a harmless person out of society and locking them up with a mostly violent criminal element. You are removing a father or mother from their family, removing a student from a upwardly mobile track, breaking up families and segragating them from society. It may even be a close member of your own family since most people using drugs are otherwise positive contributers to family and society, someone who smokes marijuana casually as you would have a drink or a beer, someone who has become addicted to narcotics and has reached a stage where they barely get high because, very much like alcohol, they have built a tolerence and use just so they don’t go into DT’s. Oh, I’m sorry, that’s an alcoholic term, I meant withdrawal. But you know what I mean, like when they need some “hair of the dog”. Dammit, I did it again, I meant a “fix”. I keep sliding off course. My apologies.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that these people are only lawbreakers in the respect that they use drugs, nothing else. I know, they have to steal to support their habit. That’s because the drugs are in such high demand and it’s dangerous to transfer drugs, causing a ridiculously high price on the black market which would be alleviated with controls as with alcohol. You know, like what happened with Prohibition.Damn, I’m sorry, I’ve gone and strayed again.

    The fact is that most marijuana users are discreet and use it at home, realize the dangers of driving while intoxicated and lead completely normal lives, just like your business man who has a “few” martinis at lunch and then goes back to work. Damn, bad analogy. A responsible pot user would never smoke at lunch and go back to work with a buzz on.

    As for Heroin and other narcotics, I’ve known many people who use and got to that point where you didn’t really ever get “high” anymore (known as “chasing the Dragon”, but went on a much less costlt methadone program and hold down regular jobs without fear of arrest or being “ripped off” by dealers. You may have people at work doing just that and you would never know it.

    Anyway, my point is,,,uh,,my point,,dammit,,, I went and took a couple of hits and I forget my point.

    And if you’re sitting there right now saying “see, they can’t remember anything” then your just one silly little closed minded person who never hears the other side of any argument because you’re already sure your so mother fukkin right you just refuse to listen.

  • Benji The Ninja

    I find marijuana very interesting and fun to use!

    :D

  • Thibaut

    Great article, thanks.

  • Burnt

    LOL at that brian aka guppusmaximus, just got completely shut down by the author.

  • http://www.aim.com logan

    bannanna phone

  • Quim Teck

    Marijuana saves lives and its a great activity to do when hiking, watching 3-D movies, going to art museums, and attending the zoo. If you actively use marijuana, please do these things because it makes the experiences so much more interesting.

  • Jack

    I don’t know who wrote this but they aren’t as fucking smart as they think they are. I hate this writing style talking down to the counter culture. He says that there are laws in all fifty states making the substance illegal. False. California as a state allows for legal marijuana use. The federal government does not agree and busts dispensaries that are legitimate businesses with business licenses.

  • pablo

    There is a fundamental difference between legalizing marijuana for medical reasons as opposed to recreational use. I for one am a recreational user, and have been for some 40 years. The issue is freedom, as in legalizing freedom. As I have never in those past 40 years used heroin, I reject out of hand the lame argument that marijuana is a gateway drug. Coffee is far more of one, as you will find a higher number of heroin addicts that started with coffee than pot.

    I do not know why freedom is such a hard concept for most americans (land of the free, and all that shit)to grasp. My freedom ends where your nose begins, and even then there can be debate, such as if the offending person is wearing an odious perfume.

    I have the god given right to put into MY body what I want, as well as to alter the my state of mind, up to the point where it in a concrete and tangible way endangers others; driving under the influence of alcohol comes to mind.

    My body, my mind, and my thoughts are sovereign, as are yours. You can do what you want with your hand or fist, up until the point it makes contact with my sovereignty and vice versa. It really is a very simple concept folks. Sure there are nuances, but the fundamental right to engage in free behaviour should be encouraged by all.

    For those of you that have never had a good buzz off of some high quality pot, you just might wanna try it sometime. It is not for everybody, in fact in makes some folks very self concious.

    The issue has never been medical or recreational, or even pot for that matter, the issue is freedom, which after all is supposedly what binds us together as a nation, as in freedom and liberty, however they have thanks to people like George W Bush become empty hypocritical words in an ever increasingly orwellian world.

  • Margaret Romao Toigo

    I wrote it, Jack — back in September of 2006!

    I have no biases either for, or against, the counterculture. I simply pointed out that counterculture-style arguments against drug prohibition are really, really lame.

    pablo, our freedom to put whatever we please into our bodies, as long as we do not violate the rights of others while doing so, is a given, but it’s preaching to the already converted, and does nothing to quell the fears, uncertainties, and doubts of those who realize that the so-called “drug war” has failed, but are not yet ready to accept and commit to the reformation of our nations’ drug policy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Good point. Margaret. But there’ll always be naysayers to every new law and progressive legislation. Sometimes you just have to ignore them and carry on regardless.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    I pretty much agree with Pablo, and think that the Government should stay out of people’s lives to the greatest extent possible.

    However, there are unfortunately social costs involved in the use of what are now illegal drugs. Some of those costs are due to the notion that the society must provide medical care and other assistance to those who abuse drugs and to their victims. Other social costs involve drug interdiction and related enforcement activities.

    In a comment on another thread, I agreed with the thesis that drug prohibition, like the failed experiment with alcohol prohibition, is counterproductive and suggested that the Federal Government should get out of the game. The individual States should be allowed to permit (and tax) or prohibit whatever drugs they choose. Those which elect to legalize and tax drugs could use some of the additional tax revenues to provide any necessary and related social services; more tax revenues would probably result than needed for those social services. Funds now spent on enforcement of drug laws would also become available. Those States declining to follow this route would continue to be saddled with the existing social costs, and have no additional revenues to meet them.

    Although I have no way of knowing what would happen, I suspect that the financial incentive to State legalization of drugs would be a powerful one, and that many would yield to it; not immediately, perhaps, but eventually.

    One might wonder whether the Federal Government could simply legalize drugs and prevent the States from enforcing their own drug laws. Doing so would raise substantial Constitutional questions, and it seems likely that a State which continued to enforce its drug laws would win on the Constitutional issue. I think it would be better to avoid the Constitutional issue, and simply to allow the States to do as they please. It seems likely that those States which decide to continue to prohibit the sale and use of drugs would look with sufficient envy on the increased revenues and diminished expenses enjoyed by States which legalize and tax that the movement would spread rather quickly.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I agree with Pablo and yourself, Dan, and think your forecast is also probably right. The tide is turning and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if marijuana were fully legalized in most of the ‘Western’ world in my lifetime. As regards the other currently prohibited drugs, though, I’m not holding my breath.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That sounds like a very appealing resolution, especially that every state and municipality is faced with diminishing revenues. And those states that do legalize certain drugs would indeed set an example to those who had not. One could see the domino effect. The Feds should stay out of it and let the states decide.

  • pablo

    Dan Miller 126:

    “However, there are unfortunately social costs involved in the use of what are now illegal drugs. Some of those costs are due to the notion that the society must provide medical care and other assistance to those who abuse drugs and to their victims. Other social costs involve drug interdiction and related enforcement activities.”

    This statement that you made is the best reason not to embrace socialism. That is that society must pick up the tab on those that abuse themselves. The more socialistic a country gets the more that this argument comes into play, ie that individual rights must be subservient to the collective, as the socialist country must pay for individuals that go astray. Taken to the extreme (which I suspect will happen in this country soon) the state has the same right to control the diet of the people. A case in point is someone that becomes too obese from a bad diet that needs to be hospitalized, and the state having to pay for it.

    I prefer expanding freedom, and should a person not be able because of their actions to recover, such is life. I do not want to live in a nanny state, and I do not want to be dictated on how to conduct my own personal sphere, ie my body, my mind, or my thoughts. For they are mine and I never surrendered them to the state.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Pablo, # 29 — I agree.

    Unfortunately, whether it’s called socialism, the welfare state, the mommy state, or by any other name, that’s where the United States seem to be headed, regardless of whether that’s what you or I want. Much of it is well intentioned, but the frequently unintended consequences are often quite undesirable. I don’t see any likelihood that the march in that direction will be slowed, much less halted; however much I wish that it could be and however much I may complain.

    That’s why in Comment #26, and in my earlier linked comment, I assumed that the trend toward socialism (etc.) would continue, and argued for something which I think might be beneficial even on that basis. I think it’s worth experimenting with on a State by State level, and seeing what happens. If bad things result, it is easier to change course on a State than on a Federal level.

    Dan(Miller)

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