Thursday, 9 June 2011

More on the Legalisation of Narcotics

Thanks to 'Stranger Here Myself' who left a comment on my recent post, in which he asks some intelligent questions.

1. What do you envisage being the legal minimum age for the purchase and use of narcotics? Will it be a single minimum age for all narcotics (including heroin) or do you intend imposing different minimum ages for different drugs (i.e. one minimum age for marijuana and a different one for crack)?
In general, people use the word "narcotic" to mean any psychoactive substance taken recreationally which is currently illegal. Pot and Crack have nothing in common, except their legal status. In general, though the age of majority, 18 makes sense. Clearly some narcotics do more harm than others, but as I approach this from a libertarian viewpoint, there comes a point where society considers everyone an adult. It would be difficult to restrict legal products to anyone older. Clearly the legalisation of Heroin, which causes major social and personal problems is going to be politically harder than Marijuana, and may be available through the health care system to addicts rather than as a recreational product. This would be vastly preferable to a criminal supply chain.

2. What enforcement mechanisms do you intend to ensure your laws regarding minimum age are adhered to? What penalties do you anticipate being levelled at those violating your laws?
Similar to those covering alcohol and tobacco for narcotics. Supply to minors would be an offense, but, again, as a libertarian, I'd tend to allow supervised use in the home, like the law surrounding alcohol. Clearly with Heroin administered through the health care system would be subject to a different regime. Are you really, honestly fussed if someone smokes a spliff with their 16 year old child?
3. What do you believe the minimum levels of narcotic presence should be for driving under the influence? Currently police can test drivers for alcohol use with minimal inconvenience but the basic test for 'drug driving' is crude physical co-ordination tests. Are you comfortable with police conducting random tests as they currently do for alcohol--cars lined up as drivers wait their turn to walk up and down lines, stand on one leg, etc.? Drivers required to provide urine samples because a police officer spots a pack of '20 Hash' on the dashboard?
The only coherent argument against legalisation is one which almost never gets an airing. There is no effective roadside test for 'drug driving'. The development of one is probably necessary to allow legalisation. Work would need to be done on the level of impairment. It's unlikely that small levels of cocaine are more dangerous than fatigue, for example to a driver. Pot does impair reactions, but also tends to make people drive slower. Legalisation would encourage research into narcotic's effects with a view to safe use, rather than brute detection. How long before you're unimpared after smoking pot. Difficult to know. It would be easier were such things legal.

This is certainly a problem for proponents of legalisation, but I doubt it is beyond the wit of humankind to come up with a solution.

4. What about exporting narcotics? Are you going to prohibit that? If not, how do you think the rest of the world--Europe, the U.S., etc.--will react to your country cultivating and manufacturing narcotics and supplying it to their countries' criminals? Would you risk your libertarian utopia being deemed a pariah 'narco-state' by the international community and subject to sanctions? Your libertarian government being terminated by American, French, Russian and/or Chinese special forces to the relief of the remainder of the civilised world?

The UN convention on narcotics is probably the biggest over-reaction in history. More energy has been put into stopping people getting high than was put into ending the slave-trade or child prostitution. I suspect were a major trading nation, and member of the Security Council, Britain for example, were we to unilaterally legalise drugs, an awful lot of other countries would breath a sigh of relief and follow suit. Who really gives a shit what a totalitarian regime like China's thinks?
5. If you are going to prohibit the export of narcotics, how will you enforce that prohibition? Are you satisfied that the present effort at (unsuccessfully) stopping the import of drugs would have to remain in place--prosecuted with greater vigour, even--but now aimed at stopping the export? What penalties would you deem sufficient to deter and punish those exporting a substance that is otherwise legal to purchase, sell, cultivate and manufacture?

I would like to see a regulated trade. Like that in Alcohol.
6. Are you not perturbed at the idea of narcotics--from marijuana to heroin--being advertised in a manner similar to alcohol? That similar adverts--many amusing and clever--could be aimed at promoting the sale and use of narcotics? ('Time for a sharp exit--time for a cool, sharp crack'; 'I bet he smokes skunk', etc.) Just as one now has '3-for-2' and 'buy A and get B free' deals, are you okay with sellers endeavouring to expand their market? That we might see signs in shops offering to the effect of 'Buy one sachet of heroin and get a rock of crack cocaine absolutely free'?
Tobacco advertising is banned. Alcohol advertising is strictly regulated. Legal recreational drugs including cocaine or Marijuana need not be any different.
7. Are you content with manufacturers, just as they now expend effort to retain and expand their current markets by producing ever-better computer games, MP3-players, etc. with which people enjoy themselves, applying the same effort to create ever-better varieties of recreational pharmaceuticals?
One of the principal benefits of legalisation would be a supply chain where quality, particularly of Cocaine or MDMA, would be up to pharmaceutical standards. Mixers would be biochemically inert. Brands would be known and trusted for safety. Diageo, for example does not kill people with wood alcohol. Bootleggers during the prohibition era were not so fastidious.
8. Finally: assuming that you are serious about 'libertarianism' and would like to spread the philosophy outside of bourgeois liberal circles, do you really believe that drug-legalisation is the platform on which to do so? Do you really think those making up the majority in this country--the cleaners, bus drivers, plumbers, infantry soldiers, etc. (the ones with real jobs)--give a flying damn about legalising drugs? When they look around for someone with answers--to the daily crime, to why their country has turned its back on them--and they see you lined up next to the criminal-friendly Guardianista brigade--will they flock to your side?

I am serious about libertarianism. But I accept that it is a marginal political view point. The Guardianistas are every bit as authoritarian as their Daily Mail reading Nemesis. The legalisation of pot in particular seems to be strongest supported in Conservative circles: It's been the Daily Telegraph, Spectator and Economist view for a long time. This is a question for a politician, which I am not.

All I am doing is looking at the 'War on Drugs' and seeing the horror, murder, death, crime and ruined lives it has caused out of all proportion to the harm (which I am not denying, by the way) of widespread drug use, and saying "there must be a better way". A third of Americans in Gaol are there for crimes which ONLY involve drugs - no violence, theft or even victims, just supply or possession. Is that really the best use of scarce law-enforcement resources?

People like to get high, drunk, stoned, or otherwise alter their mental state. In final analysis, there have been 40 years of the "war on Drugs" at the end of which drugs, Pot, Cocaine and MDMA from different sources are available freely to whoever wants them. Shortages - it's apparently nigh on impossible to get LSD these days - are due to changing fashions, not success in policing. Problems caused by "drugs" are difficult to tease apart from the problems caused by ever more draconian law enforcement. Locking a person up for posession or small-time supply effectivly ends that person's life on the right side of the law. It's time to admit that Drug supply cannot, in a free society, be interdicted. So stop trying and find another, less painful way to mitigate harms, and take the most profitable business the world has ever devised out of the hands of criminals.

I hope this answers your questions.



40 comments:

Devil's Kitchen said...

"There is no effective roadside test for 'drug driving'."

Sure. But the police cannot pull you over simply for drink-driving. The police can only pull you over if your driving leads them to think that you are a danger to other road users. The legalisation of drugs does not change this.

As someone who has tried, I think, every drug other than heroin* or methamphetamine, I can say (witha fair degree of confidence) that most scare stories around drugs (especially crack) are just that—stories.

DK

* And I know a number of people who have smoked heroin, enjoyed it, and who are not addicts.

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PJH said...

"Diageo, for example does not kill people with wood alcohol. Bootleggers during the prohibition era were not so fastidious."

I do believe you misspelt the phrase "The US Government" there...

Stranger Here Myself said...

DK, the police already habitually conduct random checks for drink-driving (commonly around Christmas/New Year), and breathalyse when finding reason to stop a driver for anything--speeding, etc. Once even the most respectable can buy '20 Hash' over the counter, then we might reasonably expect drivers to be doing the funny walks once they've finished blowing into the breathalyser.

Stranger Here Myself said...

Thank you, Jackart, for devoting an entire post to answering my questions. So many offer only insult or dismissal to opposing viewpoints, so my thanks for debating instead.

Responding to your responses.
1. 18, fine; but see how libertarianism becomes only replacing one set of statutory instruments with another. However, heroin 'available through the health care system to addicts'? On what grounds do you justify HMG taking money from workers--not to provide life-saving treatment for someone, which has arguable merit--but simply to provide recreational drugs to those who have through choice made themselves a burden? Thomas Szász opines that prescribing heroin will 'strengthen the establishment which is causing the problem. ... autocratic medicalizations ... glorify the punitive state and the punitive doctor and debase the citizen for exercising his free choice.'

2. Regarding parents 'spliffing up' with their kids; I earnestly disapprove, but agree that the State need not prosecute such 'Modern Parents'.

3. Whether the roadside test for 'drug driving' is effective or not, it is the one they currently use: http://www.suffolk.police.uk/About+Us/Departments+and+Roles/Roads+Policing/Road+Safety/Drink+And+Drug+Driving/Drug+Driving+-+The+Facts.htm
I agree that humankind, or even just plain old mankind, has the wit to come up with better solutions, and if narcotics were legalised, they would be under pressure to come up with them. I just think there are more pressing priorities.

4. I fear the days when Britain led the way (e.g. in outlawing slavery) are long gone, and I doubt the 'big boys' will follow our lead here. I mention those countries for a reason: their domestic politics are irrelevant; they are countries with recent history of aggressively defending their interests (unlike us). It is not a question of whether we are interested in those countries, but are those countries interested in us.

5. More detail is needed. There once was a thriving opium trade--how can one small country unilaterally revive it? It is proposed that we be the first Western country to fully legalise narcotics; until and unless other countries follow suit, one must take care not to become a supplier to other nations' criminals.

6. Tobacco and alcohol advertising is indeed regulated and, being conservative, I am comfortable with that (to a degree--does my disagreement with the ban on tobacco advertising make me more of a libertarian than you?). But you're a libertarian, you should argue against such restrictions of free trade, not use them as a model to be emulated.

7. Do you not find it rather distasteful that firms could diligently work to produce a product with no other purpose except to get someone 'higher than a kite'? I admit this is an emotional rather than logical argument: that a once-great nation should descend to hedonism.

8. I just think it's the wrong battle (http://www.capitalismmagazine.com/politics/elections/3304-the-classic-libertarian-error.html).

And my sympathy is reserved for those who try and lead decent lives and are hung out to dry by the State for acts that would once have been applauded (e.g. Kevin Lee Williams or Munir Hussain); not those who made a conscious choice to violate the law.

Finally, pointing to the failure of the 'war on drugs' is not a good argument, because all crimes have seen huge rises over the course of the 20th and 21st Centuries--but that does not mean we should abjectly surrender; rather, we should re-assess our tactics and strategies and prosecute with greater vigour.

I am actually sympathetic to narcotic legalisation, my politics being somewhere between Mill and Burke, tempered with Hobbes; but I do not believe it practicable or desirable at this time; not before a thorough remoralisation of the British people--a restoration of the controls from within.

Thank you again for responding.

Single acts of tyranny said...

Prior to breath tests, the police could carry out sobriety tests by making people walk in a straight line with their eyes closed etc, surely something similar could work?

Stranger Here Myself said...

Thank you, Jackart, for devoting an entire post to answering my questions. So many only insult or dismiss opposing viewpoints, so my thanks for debating instead.

Responding to your responses.
1. 18, fine--but see how libertarianism ends up only replacing one set of statutory instruments with another. However, heroin 'available through the health care system to addicts'? How do you justify HMG taking money from workers--not to provide life-saving treatment for someone, which has arguable merit--but simply to provide recreational drugs to those who choose to make themselves a burden? Thomas Szasz opines that prescribing heroin will 'strengthen the establishment which is causing the problem. ... autocratic medicalizations ... glorify the punitive state and the punitive doctor and debase the citizen for exercising his free choice.'

2. Regarding parents 'spliffing up' with their kids; I earnestly disapprove, but agree that the State can survive without prosecuting such 'Modern Parents'.

3. Whether the roadside test for 'drug driving' is effective or not, it is the one they currently use (http://www.suffolk.police.uk/About+Us/Departments+and+Roles/Roads+Policing/Road+Safety/Drink+And+Drug+Driving/Drug+Driving+-+The+Facts.htm). I agree that humankind, or even mankind, has the wit to come up with better solutions, and if narcotics were legalised there would be pressure to find them. I just think there are more pressing priorities.

4. I fear the days when Britain led the way (e.g. outlawing slavery) are gone, and I doubt major nations will follow our lead here. The domestic politics of those particular countries are irrelevant; they are countries with recent history of aggressively defending their interests (unlike us). It is not a question of whether we are interested in those countries, but are those countries interested in us.

5. More detail is needed. There once was a thriving opium trade--how does one small country unilaterally revive it? It is proposed that we be the first Western country to fully legalise narcotics; until and unless other nations follow suit, one must avoid becoming a supplier to other nations' criminals.

6. Tobacco and alcohol advertising is regulated and, being conservative, I am comfortable with that (to a degree--does my disagreement with the ban on tobacco advertising make me more of a libertarian than you?). But as a libertarian, you should argue against such restriction of the free market, not use it as a model to be emulated.

7. I find it rather distasteful that firms could diligently work to produce a product with no other purpose except to get someone 'higher than a kite'; but admit this is an emotional rather than logical argument--a once-great nation descending so to hedonism.

8. I just think it's the wrong battle (http://www.capitalismmagazine.com/politics/elections/3304-the-classic-libertarian-error.html).

And my sympathy is reserved for those who try and lead decent lives but are hung out to dry by the State for acts that would once have been applauded (e.g. Kevin Lee Williams or Munir Hussain); not those who made a conscious choice to violate the law.

Finally, pointing to the failure of the 'war on drugs' is not a good argument, because all crimes have massively increased over the course of the 20th and 21st Centuries--but that does not mean we should abjectly surrender; rather, we should re-assess our tactics and strategies and prosecute with greater vigour.

I am actually sympathetic to narcotic legalisation, my politics being somewhere between Mill and Burke, tempered with Hobbes; but I do not believe it practical or desirable at this time; not before a thorough remoralisation of the British people--a restoration of the controls from within.

Thanks again for responding.

Stranger Here Myself said...

Thank you, Jackart, for devoting an entire post to answering my questions. So many only insult or dismiss opposing viewpoints, so my thanks for debating instead.

Responding to your responses.
1. 18, fine--but see how libertarianism ends up only replacing one set of statutory instruments with another. However, heroin 'available through the health care system to addicts'? How do you justify HMG taking money from workers--not to provide life-saving treatment for someone, which has arguable merit--but simply to provide recreational drugs to those who choose to make themselves a burden? Thomas Szasz opines that prescribing heroin will 'strengthen the establishment which is causing the problem. ... autocratic medicalizations ... glorify the punitive state and the punitive doctor and debase the citizen for exercising his free choice.'

2. Regarding parents 'spliffing up' with their kids; I earnestly disapprove, but agree that the State can survive without prosecuting such 'Modern Parents'.

3. Whether the roadside test for 'drug driving' is effective or not, it is the one they currently use. I agree that humankind, or even mankind, has the wit to come up with better solutions, and if narcotics were legalised there would be pressure to find them. I just think there are more pressing priorities.

4. I fear the days when Britain led the way (e.g. outlawing slavery) are gone, and I doubt major nations will follow our lead here. The domestic politics of those particular countries are irrelevant; they are countries with recent history of aggressively defending their interests (unlike us). It is not a question of whether we are interested in those countries, but are those countries interested in us.

5. More detail is needed. There once was a thriving opium trade--how does one small country unilaterally revive it? It is proposed that we be the first Western country to fully legalise narcotics; until and unless other nations follow suit, one must avoid becoming a supplier to other nations' criminals.

6. Tobacco and alcohol advertising is regulated and, being conservative, I am comfortable with that (to a degree--does my disagreement with the ban on tobacco advertising make me more of a libertarian than you?). But as a libertarian, you should argue against such restriction of the free market, not use it as a model to be emulated.

7. I find it rather distasteful that firms could diligently work to produce a product with no other purpose except to get someone 'higher than a kite'; but admit this is an emotional rather than logical argument--a once-great nation descending so to hedonism.

8. I just think it's the wrong battle.

And my sympathy is reserved for those who try and lead decent lives but are hung out to dry by the State for acts that would once have been applauded (e.g. Kevin Lee Williams or Munir Hussain); not those who made a conscious choice to violate the law.

Finally, pointing to the failure of the 'war on drugs' is not a good argument, because all crimes have massively increased over the course of the 20th and 21st Centuries--but that does not mean we should abjectly surrender; rather, we should re-assess our tactics and strategies and prosecute with greater vigour.

I am actually sympathetic to narcotic legalisation, my politics being somewhere between Mill and Burke, tempered with Hobbes; but I do not believe it practical or desirable at this time; not before a thorough remoralisation of the British people--a restoration of the controls from within.

Thanks again for responding.

andy5759 said...

DK (maybe you know me ;))
One of the problems with opiates is that since the UN single convention banning drugs the transportation of heroin is easier than opium. Opium is much less addictive than heroin. If we were to legalise some drugs I would like to see opium among them.

Stranger Here Myself said...

Dear me. blogger's commenting system is poor: I've tried responding, perhaps three times now. The post goes up, sometimes stays there for minutes, and then disappears--no error message.

It's just a glitch, of course; Censorship! Help, help, I'm being repressed! Whatever. (Jackart, should my posts become noisome, a quick 'Naff off' will do, I'm not going to whine about it.)

Not that I believe my 'message' is so important, but as you have been kind enough to respond, I might as well respond in turn. Hey--we got a debate going here! Let's see how long it lasts before the inevitable slagging each other off starts.

Stranger Here Myself said...

(Thank you, Jackart, for devoting an entire post to answering my questions.)

Responding to your responses.
1. 18, fine--but see how libertarianism ends up only replacing one set of statutory instruments with another. However, heroin 'available through the health care system to addicts'? How do you justify HMG taking money from workers--not to provide life-saving treatment for someone, which has arguable merit--but simply to provide recreational drugs to those who choose to make themselves a burden? Thomas Szasz opines that prescribing heroin will 'strengthen the establishment which is causing the problem. ... autocratic medicalizations ... glorify the punitive state and the punitive doctor and debase the citizen for exercising his free choice.'

2. Regarding parents sharing drugs with their kids; I earnestly disapprove, but agree that the State can survive without prosecuting such 'Modern Parents'.

3. Whether the roadside test for 'drug driving' is effective or not, it is the one they currently use. I agree that humankind, or even mankind, has the wit to come up with better solutions, and if narcotics were legalised there would be pressure to find them. I just think there are more pressing priorities.

4. I fear the days when Britain led the way (e.g. outlawing slavery) are gone, and I doubt major nations will follow our lead here. The domestic politics of those particular countries are irrelevant; they are countries with recent history of aggressively defending their interests (unlike us). It is not a question of whether we are interested in those countries, but are those countries interested in us.

5. More detail is needed. There once was a thriving opium trade--how does one small country unilaterally revive it? It is proposed that we be the first Western country to fully legalise narcotics; until and unless other countries follow suit, one must avoid becoming a supplier to other nations' criminals.

6. Tobacco and alcohol advertising is regulated and, being conservative, I am comfortable with that (to a degree--does my disagreement with the ban on tobacco advertising make me more of a libertarian than you?). But as a libertarian, you should argue against such restriction of the free market, not use it as a model to be emulated.

7. I find it rather distasteful that firms could diligently work to produce a product with no other purpose except to get someone 'higher than a kite'; but admit this is an emotional rather than logical argument--a once-great nation descending so to hedonism.

8. I just think it's the wrong battle (http://www.capitalismmagazine.com/politics/elections/3304-the-classic-libertarian-error.html).

And my sympathy is reserved for those who try and lead decent lives but are hung out to dry by the State for acts that would once have been applauded (e.g. Kevin Lee Williams or Munir Hussain); not those who made a conscious choice to violate the law.

Finally, pointing to the failure of the 'war on drugs' is not a good argument, because all crimes have massively increased over the course of the 20th and 21st Centuries--but that does not mean we should abjectly surrender; rather, we should re-assess our tactics and strategies and prosecute with greater vigour.

I am actually sympathetic to narcotic legalisation, my politics being somewhere between Mill and Burke, tempered with Hobbes; but I do not believe it practical or desirable at this time; not before a thorough remoralisation of the British people--a restoration of the controls from within.

StrangerHereMyself said...

(Thank you, Jackart, for devoting an entire post to answering my questions.)

Part 1 of 2

Responding to your responses.

1. 18, fine--but see how libertarianism ends up only replacing one set of statutory instruments with another. However, heroin 'available through the health care system to addicts'? How do you justify HMG taking money from workers--not to provide life-saving treatment for someone, which has arguable merit--but simply to provide recreational drugs to those who choose to make themselves a burden? Thomas Szász opines that prescribing heroin will 'strengthen the establishment which is causing the problem. ... autocratic medicalizations ... glorify the punitive state and the punitive doctor and debase the citizen for exercising his free choice.'

2. Regarding parents sharing narcotics with their kids; I earnestly disapprove, but agree that the State can survive without prosecuting such 'Modern Parents'.

3. Whether the roadside test for 'drug driving' is effective or not, it is the one they currently use. I agree that humankind, or even mankind, has the wit to come up with better solutions, and if narcotics were legalised there would be pressure to find them. I just think there are more pressing priorities.

4. I fear the days when Britain led the way (e.g. outlawing slavery) are gone, and I doubt major nations will follow our lead here. The domestic politics of those particular countries are irrelevant; they are countries with recent history of aggressively defending their interests (unlike us). It is not a question of whether we are interested in those countries, but are those countries interested in us.

StrangerHereMyself said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
StrangerHereMyself said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
StrangerHereMyself said...

(Thank you, Jackart, for devoting an entire post to answering my questions.)

Part 1 of 2

Responding to your responses.

1. 18, fine--but see how libertarianism ends up only replacing one set of statutory instruments with another. However, heroin 'available through the health care system to addicts'? How do you justify HMG taking money from workers--not to provide life-saving treatment for someone, which has arguable merit--but simply to provide recreational drugs to those who choose to make themselves a burden? Thomas Szasz opines that prescribing narcotics will 'strengthen the establishment which is causing the problem. ... autocratic medicalizations ... glorify the punitive state and the punitive doctor and debase the citizen for exercising his free choice.'

2. Regarding parents sharing narcotics with their kids; I earnestly disapprove, but agree that the State can survive without prosecuting such 'Modern Parents'.

3. Whether the roadside test for 'drug driving' is effective or not, it is the one they currently use. I agree that humankind, or even mankind, has the wit to come up with better solutions, and if narcotics were legalised there would be pressure to find them. I just think there are more pressing priorities.

4. I fear the days when Britain led the way (e.g. outlawing slavery) are gone, and I doubt major nations will follow our lead here. The domestic politics of those particular countries are irrelevant; they are countries with recent history of aggressively defending their interests (unlike us). It is not a question of whether we are interested in those countries, but are those countries interested in us.

StrangerHereMyself said...

(Right, I'll try this a step at a time.)

Firstly, thank you, Jackart, for devoting an entire post to answering my questions.

Part 1 of ?

Responding to your responses.

1. 18, fine--but see how libertarianism ends up only replacing one set of statutory instruments with another. However, narcotics 'available through the health care system to addicts'? How do you justify HMG taking money from workers--not to provide life-saving treatment for someone, which has arguable merit--but simply to provide recreational drugs to those who choose to make themselves a burden? Thomas Szasz opines that prescribing narcotics will 'strengthen the establishment which is causing the problem. ... autocratic medicalizations ... glorify the punitive state and the punitive doctor and debase the citizen for exercising his free choice.'

StrangerHereMyself said...

Part 2 of ?
2. Regarding parents sharing narcotics with their kids; I earnestly disapprove, but agree that the State can survive without prosecuting the 'Modern Parents'.

3. Whether the roadside test for 'drug driving' is effective or not, it is the one they currently use. I agree that humankind, or even mankind, has the wit to come up with better solutions, and if narcotics were legalised there would be pressure to find them. I just think there are more pressing priorities.

StrangerHereMyself said...

Part 2 of ?
2. Regarding parents sharing narcotics with their kids; I earnestly disapprove, but agree that the State can survive without prosecuting such 'Modern Parents'.

3. Whether the roadside test for 'drug driving' is effective or not, it is the one they currently use. I agree that humankind, or even mankind, has the wit to come up with better solutions, and if narcotics were legalised there would be pressure to find them. I just think there are more pressing priorities.

StrangerHereMyself said...

Part 3 of 4?
4. I fear the days when Britain led the way (e.g. outlawing slavery) are gone, and I doubt major nations will follow our lead here. The domestic politics of those particular countries are irrelevant; they are countries with recent history of aggressively defending their interests (unlike us). It is not a question of whether we are interested in those countries, but are those countries interested in us.

StrangerHereMyself said...

Part 4 of 4
5. More detail is needed. There once was a thriving opium trade--how does one small country unilaterally revive it? It is proposed that we be the first Western country to fully legalise narcotics; until and unless other countries follow suit, one must avoid becoming a supplier to other nations' criminals.

6. Tobacco and alcohol advertising is regulated and, being conservative, I am comfortable with that (to a degree--does my disagreement with the ban on tobacco advertising make me more of a libertarian than you?). But as a libertarian, you should argue against such restriction of the free market, not use it as a model to be emulated.

7. I find it rather distasteful that firms could diligently work to produce a product with no other purpose except to get someone 'higher than a kite'; but admit this is an emotional rather than logical argument--a once-great nation descending so hedonism.

8. I just think it's the wrong battle.

And my sympathy is reserved for those who try and lead decent lives but are hung out to dry by the State for acts that would once have been applauded (e.g. Kevin Lee Williams or Munir Hussain); not those who made a conscious choice to violate the law.

Finally, pointing to the failure of the 'war on drugs' is not a good argument, because all crimes have massively increased over the course of the 20th and 21st Centuries--but that does not mean we should abjectly surrender; rather, we should re-assess our tactics and strategies and prosecute with greater vigour.

I am actually sympathetic to narcotic legalisation, my politics being somewhere between Mill and Burke, tempered with Hobbes; but I do not believe it practical or desirable at this time; not before a thorough remoralisation of the British people--a restoration of the controls from within.

StrangerHereMyself said...

Blogger seems to be leaving them up... (Of course, I'm now coming across like a crazy obsessive.)

Regarding police tests for drug driving, I tried including a link but blogger seems not to like it; anyone interested can search on the phrase "The Romberg test is a test of the subject’s internal clock" and the top link is to Suffolk Constabulary.

StrangerHereMyself said...

Interestingly, Finland also attempted Prohibition, enacting it in 1919 and repealing it in 1932. It would be interesting to know if their attempt at Prohibition was accompanied by the violence notoriously accompanying the American. Whilst they did repeal it, they created a State monopoly for the production and sale of alcoholic beverages (or, rather, expanded the existing one that produced for medicinal purposes), which continues to this day. Conceivably, this could serve as a model for narcotic legalisation, however:
1. A State-owned monopoly is as far from libertarianism as one can get.
2. One must ensure the State-owned enterprise remains a monopoly, so one would have to prohibit 'bootlegging' and enforce that prohibition.
3. There is the potential of people purchasing the legal narcotics for export and resale (as is done with alcohol and tobacco being smuggled into this country), so one must enforce punitive measures against the smugglers (I have made this point already). Finland for a time had a 'booze card' to enable them to record purchases; that might be an idea.
4. It is certainly immoral, and perhaps destructive to the long term health of a society, for narcotics to be given to the idle, feckless and criminal. If someone can use narcotics whilst remaining a contributing member of Society, then good luck to him; if he wishes to destroy himself, he does it on his own shilling.
5. 'The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley'--Unintended consequences. Who knows what effects legalising narcotics could have? The costs could well prove to outweigh the benefits. Perhaps the main problem for our nation is people too often demanding to ban this, legalise that, without any thought to the wider and long-term consequences--we are governed by Brownian motion, bouncing aimlessly from one crisis to another.

StrangerHereMyself said...

Beg pardon--typo in html for Finish link; try this.

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Skimmer said...

“Finally, pointing to the failure of the 'war on drugs' is not a good argument, because all crimes have massively increased over the course of the 20th and 21st Centuries--but that does not mean we should abjectly surrender; rather, we should re-assess our tactics and strategies and prosecute with greater vigour.”

I cannot disagree with that more strongly. The BEST argument against something is that it does not, and cannot ever work.

To that end answer me this – name any time in any place in the history of the earth, that anyone anywhere anywhen successfully got rid of one of the vices – drugs, gambling, prositution?

It has never, and will never happen.

Actual enforcement of prohibition is a fake choice. Are they winning the war on drugs in the nearest maximum security prison? - Precisely what powers of enforcement are the guards missing?

Policing can never make the situation better. In Soviet Russia there was a police state. The forces of law and order could use arbitrary arrest, could direct any sentence they wished from the supine courts, and if necessary could execute anyone who got in their way. Yet even the Soviets were unable to enforce prohibition.

Why? Because all their best efforts simply increased the price, and therefore the margins .
If a concerted effort is made to interrupt the flow of drugs, quickly suitcases full of drug money wend themselves into the right hands, and as well as a drug problem, your police are utterly corrupt.

Prohibition – a guaranteed epic fail.

Question 2 – given that the vices aren’t ever going away, do you want them run by the good guys or the bad guys? Do you want gambling run by the Gambino family or Paddypower – pick one. Al Capone or Oddbins – choose.

Gambling is a mugs game, and people get have always and will always get hurt, but it is NEVER going away, and your choice is between people who pay taxes & and stay away from schools, or scumbags who enjoy hurting people.

Pablo Escobar (who was fond of car bombing innocents) or GlaxoSmithKlien. Pick one. With the experience of prohibition in the 20′s behind us, the choice is crystal clear.

We’ve been at this for 40 years. It’s time to face facts that prohibition has never and can never work, it’s just pissing in the wind and making murdering scumbags very very rich.

In Mexico alone at least 38,000 have been murdered in the last few years in an utterly failed attempt to stop billy bob getting high. You have to be insane to support that.

StrangerHereMyself said...

As noted in my earlier comment, narcotics prohibition achieved real success in China in the period 1906-16 (major ref. 'The Troublesome Legacy of Commissioner Lin: The Opium Trade and Opium Suppression in Fujian Province 1820s to 1920s' by Joyce Madancy), which only ended with the death of the Chinese leader Yuan Shikai; and again in China post-1949. You cannot blithely assert that narcotic prohibition never works when it clearly has.

Secondly, narcotic prohibition is only enforced half-heartedly: e.g. Winston Smith in his 'Generation F' and blog often finds evidence of narcotic use--repeatedly smelling 'skunk' and doing little to nothing; smelling decomposing bodies, he would have called the police PDQ but drugs earns a resigned shrug. That is not prohibition. Confronting one of the offenders, Winston only warns that continued narcotic use will see him ejected from the premises--not charged with the crime, just thrown out; and that from a State employee to someone living in State accommodation. That is not prohibition. Put the words 'drugs', 'suspended' and 'sentence' in a search engine and page after page (173,000 hits) is returned of drug dealers getting suspended sentences. That is not prohibition. As for prisons, the breakdown of discipline there is well-known.

You cannot blithely assert that narcotic prohibition is not working when it is not properly applied.

Finally, simply quitting in the face of failure... well, it's hardly Churchillian, is it? Not exactly the Bulldog Breed / Blitz Spirit that saw us win against the odds at Sluys, Crecy, Agincourt, and stand alone against Hitler. Craven submission should never form the basis of national policy.

StrangerHereMyself said...

As noted in my earlier comment, narcotics prohibition achieved real success in China in the period 1906-16 (major ref. 'The Troublesome Legacy of Commissioner Lin: The Opium Trade and Opium Suppression in Fujian Province 1820s to 1920s' by Joyce Madancy), which only ended with the death of the Chinese leader Yuan Shikai; and again in China post-1949. You cannot blithely assert that narcotic prohibition never works when it clearly has.

Secondly, narcotic prohibition is only enforced half-heartedly: e.g. Winston Smith in his 'Generation F' and blog often finds evidence of narcotic use--repeatedly smelling it and doing little to nothing; smelling decomposing bodies, he would have called the police PDQ but drugs earns a resigned shrug. That is not prohibition. Confronting one of the offenders, Winston only warns that continued narcotic use will see him ejected from the premises--not charged with the crime, just thrown out; and that from a State employee to someone living in State accommodation. That is not prohibition. Put the words 'drugs', 'suspended' and 'sentence' in a search engine and page after page (173,000 hits) is returned of drug dealers getting suspended sentences. That is not prohibition. As for prisons, the breakdown of discipline there is well-known.

You cannot blithely assert that narcotic prohibition is not working when it is not properly applied.

Finally, simply quitting in the face of failure... well, it's hardly Churchillian, is it? Not exactly the Bulldog Breed / Blitz Spirit that saw us win against the odds at Sluys, Crecy, Agincourt, and stand alone against Hitler. Craven submission should never form the basis of national policy.

StrangerHereMyself said...

As noted in my earlier comment, narcotics prohibition achieved real success in China in the period 1906-16 (major ref. 'The Troublesome Legacy of Commissioner Lin: The Opium Trade and Opium Suppression in Fujian Province 1820s to 1920s' by Joyce Madancy), which only ended with the death of the Chinese leader Yuan Shikai; and again in China post-1949. You cannot blithely assert that narcotic prohibition never works when it clearly has.

Secondly, narcotic prohibition is only enforced half-heartedly: e.g. Winston Smith in his 'Generation F' and blog often finds evidence of narcotic use--repeatedly smelling it and doing little to nothing; smelling decomposing bodies, he would have called the police PDQ but drugs earns a resigned shrug. That is not prohibition. Confronting one of the offenders, Winston only warns that continued narcotic use will see him ejected from the premises--not charged with the crime, just thrown out; and that from a State employee to someone living in State accommodation. That is not prohibition. Put the words 'drugs', 'suspended' and 'sentence' in a search engine and page after page (173,000 hits) is returned of drug dealers getting suspended sentences. That is not prohibition. As for prisons, the breakdown of discipline there is well-known.

You cannot blithely assert that narcotic prohibition is not working when it is not properly applied.

Finally, simply quitting in the face of failure... well, it's hardly Churchillian, is it? Not exactly the Bulldog Breed / Blitz Spirit that saw us win against the odds at Sluys, Crecy, Agincourt, and stand alone against Hitler. Craven submission should never form the basis of national policy.

StrangerHereMyself said...

As noted in my earlier comment, narcotics prohibition achieved real success in China in the period 1906-16 (major ref. 'The Troublesome Legacy of Commissioner Lin: The Opium Trade and Opium Suppression in Fujian Province 1820s to 1920s' by Joyce Madancy), which only ended with the death of the Chinese leader Yuan Shikai; and again in China post-1949. You cannot blithely assert that narcotic prohibition never works when it clearly has.

Secondly, narcotic prohibition is only enforced half-heartedly: e.g. Winston Smith in his 'Generation F' and blog often finds evidence of narcotic use--repeatedly smelling it and doing little to nothing; smelling decomposing bodies, he would have called the police PDQ but drugs earns a resigned shrug. That is not prohibition. Confronting one of the offenders, Winston only warns that continued narcotic use will see him ejected from the premises--not charged with the crime, just thrown out; and that from a State employee to someone living in State accommodation. That is not prohibition. Put the words 'drugs', 'suspended' and 'sentence' in a search engine and page after page (173,000 hits) is returned of drug dealers getting suspended sentences. That is not prohibition. As for prisons, the breakdown of discipline there is well-known.

You cannot blithely assert that narcotic prohibition is not working when it is not properly applied.

Finally, simply quitting in the face of failure... well, it's hardly Churchillian, is it? Not exactly the Bulldog Breed / Blitz Spirit that saw us win against the odds at Sluys, Crecy, Agincourt, and stand alone against Hitler. Craven submission should never form the basis of national policy.

Skimmer said...

OK, I’ll be the first to admit that despite having been to China, I know absolutely nothing about their attempt at opium prohibition at the start of the 20th Century.

However I find it very hard to believe that all those opium addicts gave up, or that all the relevant bureaucrats and cops were immune to the profits of breaking the ban, and selling (at a newly improved margin) to a captive market.

That’ll happen the day that politicians stop bending the truth for their own ends.

So we just need to try harder, and impose a tougher regime? Point me out a single maximum security prison on earth where that’s worked.

If you can’t keep drugs out of death row, you are out of your mind to think that they can be kept out of a globalised free society.

Pushers don’t give a rats ass about sentencing. In the States dealing drugs carries a 25% death rate http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ted.com%2Ftalks%2Fsteven_levitt_analyzes_crack_economics.html&ei=jrD4TcqALIq48gOBkICyCw&usg=AFQjCNFq1uqbKUqLJyABGLl3QczhRKmpVg and yet there is no shortage of willing participants.

Get real man, bulldog spirit will have as much impact on the laws of supply and demand, as they will on the law of gravity.

StrangerHereMyself said...

Skimmer, if you believe that failure to enforce a prohibition is sufficient reason to give up that prohibition, then we can just blow away all laws: from my first comment, 'from 1901 to 2001 (using per-population ratios ... ) homicides and attempted murders increased 138.58%; crimes of serious violence (including the latter homicides) increased 2,565.04%; rapes increased 4,653.76%; crimes of dishonesty (from robbery to fraud) increased 2,768.88%.' (Statistics derived from the Home Office.)

How much problem did British prisons of the mid-19th to mid-20th Century have with smuggling of any kind?

The liberals created Prohibition's 'failure' and they should not be allowed to then dictate the ending of that Prohibition.

StrangerHereMyself said...

Jackart, all I'm saying is, Convince me. I'm already halfway there so if you can't convince me, what chance have you of convincing someone with stronger moral qualms? Is your blog more than a vanity affair? Are you content to sing to the choir? Or do you actually entertain some hope that just occasionally you might change an opinion or two?

Well. Here I am.

Convince me. Convince me that you have researched this complex subject--that you know not just about the American experience of Prohibition in the Twenties, but the contemporary Finnish, Icelandic and Norwegian, and the modern Saudi Arabian experiences, and how all of this relates, and does not relate, to modern Britain; that you understand the historical relationship of alcohol to Western culture vis-à-vis narcotics; that you understand the ramifications of Britain being the sole nation to legalise narcotic cultivation and production--writing that 'I suspect ... other countries ...[will] follow suit' doesn't cut it. What if they don't?

I commend you to this 2005 essay by libertarian journalist Megan McArdle (then writing under the pseudonym Jane Galt). Despite its ostensible subject, it ends up as a worthy defence of conservatism: along the way she quotes Chesterton's parable of The Fence, and explores other themes such as the Welfare State.

Just show me know what you are talking about before you blast away yet another fence.

AJ said...

Stanger Here Myself
To point one you post the following reply
"However, narcotics 'available through the health care system to addicts'? How do you justify HMG taking money from workers--not to provide life-saving treatment for someone, which has arguable merit--but simply to provide recreational drugs to those who choose to make themselves a burden?"

My view would be that even narcotics that are provided via a dr would be paid for.

I am in agreement with you about the advertising, my view is that every legal producer whether that be a tobacco company, alchohol company or in the futere pharmaceutical company should be able to advertise their products in whatever way they choose and people should be free to choose whether or not they wish to purchase the product.

In regards to your point about finding it distasteful for componies to try and get people higher than a kite, surely this is the point of all private enterprise, to do it better than the next guy, whether that be quality, speed, height, looks. By being able to produce a varying range of product people would then have a choice about how high they want to get, i.e I am off work for the weekend so I can get as high as I want but come Sunday I need to run myself down so reduce the high but am still able to have a buzz.

Jackart said...

I approach this from a different point of view. It is banning stuff that needs justifying, not allowing stuff, and drug prohibition has costs in blood and treasure, which on any meaningful analysis are greater than the costs of people fucking themselves up on drugs.

Obviously, in a society that is far from free, it is possible to make narcotics hard to come by. But In a free society, the costs interdiction of narcotics just isn't worth the ending of freedom.

There WILL be victims of legalisation. That is inevitable, and they are different people to those who don't die from 1) dirty drugs of inditerminate quality on the street & 2) the people killed on both sides of the interdiction war.

And there may well be fewer people who get hooked on the really dangerous stuff because of the ending of the pyramid-selling from people dealing to fund habits.

THere's the win of the supply chain being taken out of criminal hands taking an easy source of profits from organised crime.

Exactly how a legal narcotics business, with the social stigma and political controversy it will inevitably attract, is impossible to foretell. It is likely that much of the addictive opiates will be managed through the healthcare system, but this is not what I think SHOULD happen.

I cannont see any coherent reason to keep pot illegal. THere are legitimate reasons for many other drugs to be illegal, but I think they are trumped by the disaster that has been the war on drugs.

For the same reason that I think the economy cannot be run by politicians, the exact structure of the market should be left to... well... the market, with politicians intervening to tax enough to cover externalities such as extra health-care and to prevent vulnerable people such as children screwing their lives up, where possible.

The war on drugs hasn't helped and may have caused the drug problems on sink estates. It's failed. It's time for radical changes.

Jackart said...

Oh and yes. This blog is a vanity project! I am not a political campaigner, just a voice in the ether.

StrangerHereMyself said...

Thanks for the reply, AJ; I admit that it being 'distasteful' is emotional--a nation responsible for so many technological achievements should be aiming for the stars(*).

(* We can afford it: NASA's current annual budget is $18.7billion--approx. £11.5billion; Britain's budget for benefits and pensions for 2010-11 was £202.6billion, health £104billion and education £69.2billion. So: we can put a Union Jack on the moon, or continue to pay chavs to do nothing except clog up our A&E depts., after leaving functionally illiterate from our appallingly bad schools.)

Jackart, when thousands of drug dealers receive suspended sentences, there is no 'war on drugs'. It's the Welfare State that's failed, along with the entire liberal project. If you'll accept a recommendation from me, check out James Bartholomew's 'The Welfare State We're In'--many of his articles are online; also articles and books by Charles Murray on the underclass.

Liberals have been messing up this nation since 1905 (which really was only the tipping point); and I tire of liberals producing solutions to problems the liberals have themselves created.

I do not object to the concept of narcotic legalisation; but it's the wrong battle at the wrong time. There are more urgent priorities.

StrangerHereMyself said...

The onus should be on those who wish change to provide sufficient justification for that change. In business, one can't simply replace all the Windows desktops with Linux, one requires a solid business proposal and cost-benefit analysis; such proposals are greatly improved with acknowledgements of the existing setup's advantages--and the existing setup always has advantages, and it is good practice to consider those advantages. Off the top of my head, the continued illegality of drugs provides a patina of respectability as opposed to risking becoming an international pariah--and it doesn't matter how earnestly you believe the UN's convention on narcotics an over-reaction, it's the world we live in (we could debate how many international bodies and treaties offer us advantage and how many we would benefit by withdrawing from).

Legalising cannabis on its own destroys the previous arguments claiming 'failure' for narcotic prohibition and benefits of redirecting police resources, because the prohibition of remaining narcotics continues. Also, cannabis has health risks of its own--whether those health risks justify a State prohibition leads us to debate to what degree State interference in our personal lives is justified. This then leads us to debate State healthcare and welfare--for as long as the taxpayer foots the bill for his neighbour's poor life choices, then every taxpayer has a vested interest in ensuring his neighbour leads as healthy and productive a lifestyle as possible--by coercion if necessary.

StrangerHereMyself said...

I appreciate that it's a vanity blog but you're not restricting yourself to writing about bikes or pets, but publicising political opinions. I also appreciate you've put in more effort than most others on this subject, but still find your arguments weak.

I am pleased that you realise that legalisation will unlikely see respectable pharmaceutical companies diving into that new market; it is not only their reputation they will have to consider but the laws of their various host countries--some companies (Pfizer, J&J) are headquartered in the US; a UK-based subsidiary producing recreational narcotics might make their global profits 'drug-related' and subject to forfeiture; GSK, although British-based, have operations worldwide, and might similarly see their foreign assets seized.

Given that the first international prohibition of narcotics was agreed in 1912, and that countries with little love lost between them such as Russia and China nevertheless cooperate in the suppression of the drugs trade, how do you seriously propose one small nation (disregarded even by p*sspots such as Iran or Somali pirates) going about reversing a century of international prohibition?

I am not trying to change your opinion, Jackart, just asking you to produce better arguments. Of what worth is an opinion based on a poor argument?

StrangerHereMyself said...

Drug-addicted or alcoholic thieves will escape jail from next month if they can prove their crimes are driven by their need for a fix.

Nearly 200 prisoners and former inmates forced to stop taking drugs by going "cold turkey" are to receive payments.

Not so much 'draconian law enforcement' as Pythonian. Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help! I'm being repressed!

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