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The biggest ignored issue...

by fafalone
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fafalone
#19
Nov25-04, 10:05 AM
P: 23
The media doesn't want to hear about treating addicts, they want to hear about locking them up longer. Extreme negative emotions have been tied so deeply to drugs by years of propaganda, terrible education programs that are proven ineffective beyond 1 year after completion but still funding, that politicians can't even suggest a non-punitive approach... that's why changing public attitude has to precede trying to change the laws... it's working well with pot since it's cheaper, used by half of americans at some point, and doesn't have as a bad a worse-case-scenario for someone dependent on it. "Hard" drugs, which cause far more deaths when they're illegal because of ODs, criminal distro, and addiction potential vs. price of addiction... have been villified alot more. There's damn solid scientific and logical evidence that not only does heroin not cause permanent damage in a pure form, but ultimately if it were legal society would be far better off... try getting someone who's never used any drug they'll admit to to even consider that. The image of the junkie living only to stick a needle in his arm again is very powerful, and very deeply ingrained.
I have some luck with this after explaining it for a few hours, but that's because I'm academically successful and have a very good reputation, and really know a huge volume of facts on the issue... if you don't really understand why, you won't convince anyone... so the message gets spready very slowly.
With closed-minded people with a lesser degree of intelligence, you'll get nowhere. I actually had someone kick me out of his house because I called him an idiot for refusing to believe a research paper I pulled up from PubMed. Can't get discouraged tho, some people will always stick to a belief no matter how thoroughly it's disproven... al la Bush :)
fafalone
#20
Nov25-04, 10:33 AM
P: 23
Quote Quote by plover
Yeah, it's annoying that you can't talk about this stuff without people assuming that you're just out to justify your own predilections.

Not really... people you don't know won't assume you do it if you don't fit the fashion style and hairdo of someone they would associate.

And someone you know... if you've acheived alot and really have your life together and on track to big things... it actually helps because the common belief is anyone who does drugs could never get A's and finish college.

The disclaimer is more for site liability purposes (and my personal liability)... recommending people, particularly the minors hear something they like from someone they see as an adult expert, break the law opens the door for lawsuits if they OD/hurt themselves/die/get arrested and their parents found out they read professional advice it was safe/legal, and like I said in a previous post, when parent B loses a child to drugs, they're out for blood and punishment, and could care less about educating kids how they should stay away from drugs, but if they choose to experiment here's how to do it safely, because of all the irrational villification of "illegal" drugs. While I do consider myself an expert in the area qualified to give professional level advice, I'll wait till SCOTUS decides Raich v. Ashcroft to determine whether it's legal to suggest people break the law for a medical problem. (stands a good chance of working out good, since their defense it through interstate commerce clause, when there absolutely no good argument another state is involved)

It was also interesting when we spent an entire day in my into to philosophy class using many different ethical analysis and morality analysis methods to show drug use cannot be held as universally immoral or unethical, and that it really wasn't against any major religion, even though drug use existed at every point and place in history... yet is never mentioned as inherently unacceptable.
Showing how recreational use can't be considered immoral led alot of people to start thinking about why they believed people who use them belonged in jail. (Obviously use to win a competition can be wrong, and also when analyzing yourself, but for fun is fine)

Many many educated, respected, and powerful people use drugs, and I think its important they stop hiding and come out and say that moderate use for fun won't take over and ruin their life. I'm sure there's people who think I shouldn't be allowed to post it because it might encourage use, but musicians are probably the biggest influence on kids and their drug ABUSE (not use in most interesting enough to get attention) is certainly no secret from even teh very young, and I will defend my philosophy that harm reduction should be taught from the very first drug talk, people have to get over their preaching and threats of lives being ruined and realize that punitive threats and pushing worst case scenarios of ruined lives and addiction DO NOT WORK and actually make things worse... because when kids find out they don't turn into mindless deadbeats when they smoke pot, they're less likely to believe real dangers like lung cancer. Less kids will try things if they're not "forbidden fruits" and are far less likely to get addicted if they do try something. These aren't opinions, these are backed up by studies and established principles of child and adolescent psychology.
In Amsterdam, where pot is legal, they have a LOWER PERCENTAGE (not raw numbers) of teens who use it. Is human nature so varied that it compensates for less even with completely acceptance of personal use? No, it's because over there, it's not a big deal. It's something they grow up around and always have. It's not a big deal, and is therefore less of a problem. Same thing with alcohol the world over, no where else has a drinking age set so high, and no where else has so many deaths and binge drinkers.
Don't look for any sense in the way people feel... hell it still baffles me how the religious right, who are most against legalization, support Bush with his DUI arrest and likely cocaine arrest and refusing to answer when asked if he'd tried it... he got a "second chance" and then advocated a policy denying such a chance to people in the same situation... I guess being "born again" makes you a brand new person to the religious...

I've found the most effective approach is to ask them a series of questions they already know, or accept without doubt, the answer to, that leads them to a realization of a particularly ridiculous drug policy, they'll understand it better. Example: Are Cocaine-HCl and Cocaine are the exact same thing in what they do? So, is it fair that under the law 5g Cocaine carries the same mandatory minimum of 500g cocaine, particularly when it's no secret cocaine is far more popular with African-Americans and Cocaine-HCl dominates white users? Why did Congress delcine to take up a bill to correct such a racist unbalance?
The most extreme and nonsensical laws like that get people interested enough to listen seriously to more points.

The hardest part is when you deal with someone who lost a loved one to a drug... they're instantly appaled at any mention of legalization, and when you confront them that freedom to ask and ability to get treatment without fear means their loved one would be alive today... you're in for a hell of a tearfull tirade just using extreme emotive reasons for prohibition... classic application of a defense mechanism.
fafalone
#21
Nov25-04, 11:20 AM
P: 23
Please someone post something advocating probition over legalization and regulation (no sales to minors with GREATLY increased penalties, inc. jailtime on 1st offense, for helping them get it, particularly for reinforcing drugs like stimulants/nicotine, quality control, etc)... of ANY substance... yes I'll present a length rebuttal, but I'll do it respectfully no matter how illogical it is to me. If anyone can rationally present such an argument, I will thoroughly discuss it calmy and open to valid points (there are many, but I see the ultimate goal as saving the most people from death and enslavement, but some believe not condoning a great immoral act as a major component).

And of course anyone who has/wants advise on the original topics of this thread, bringing this issue to the level of public discussion it deserves, speak up as well.

I'm very interested in the positions and ideas from those who are technical/scientific thinkers like me who undoubtedly encounter this topic in school, and the few who probably have stayed up all night coding and/or doing physics and other work, using something not enjoying the same legal status, but more effective, as the standard caffeine.
BobG
#22
Nov25-04, 11:32 AM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters
For another Vietnam parallel, the reason we are "losing" is we aren't willing to do what is necessary to decisively win: go after the supply.
Going after the supply is a little complicated.

Just taking Columbia, if you destroy growers' fields, you lower an already weak economy. You also turn more people towards the right-wing paramilitary groups in the North or the FARC in the South, weakening the official Columbian government's hold even further. Peace in Columbia would threaten the drug industry more than destroying fields would, which is a big reason revolutionary groups in Columbia are so well funded by the drug industry.

If you do succeed in destroying Columbian growers' fields, then you next have to move across the border to Peru or other countries, since their farmers will gladly pick up the slack. Opium and cocaine are more profitable than the other products they could raise. If you wipe out the growers in all of South America, then you have to look next at Southeast Asian growers - they would appreciate the elimination of a competitor that has a geographic advantage, so you have to go after them next.

It winds up being a pretty ambitious project. A truly committed effort to eliminate all suppliers wouldn't be very palatable to the US public or the rest of the world - it would look almost as if we'd declared war on the world.

Trying to break the supply lines into the US is still the best option. At least those efforts can be combined into our efforts to prevent the entry of terrorists and weapons. This option is also at least 'technically' feasible. The problem is, it takes so many resources to do effectively that we'd need to divert the military from their more traditional missions.
fafalone
#23
Nov25-04, 11:46 AM
P: 23
Say you wipe out all the worlds opium plants. Forget the complete lack of a chance of it ever happening. There's still a demand for pain killers... so suddenly everyone is robbing pharmaceutical companies and if the supply as short enough, doing armed raids of manufacturing facilities, and making fentanyl analogs... extremely dangerous compounds thousands of times stronger than natural opiates, they can kill in invisible amounts, and are made from chemicals that have no restrictions on their sale at all. Now your streets are filled with something that will cause more accidently ODs, is even more addictive, and because of how little it takes to work, extremely easy to smuggle in... 1mg of carfentil is about as strong as 600g of heroin. And because of the short supply, more addicts who can't get help with their problem are having their lives ruined by the elevated price. More violence occurs as groups compete for suppliers.
It cannot be stopped on the supply side without total military state invasion of privacy. To reduce the problem there's many ways to reduce demand, but some demand is here to stay, so you have to do what you can to reduce harm, and supply shortages make things much worse. It's always going to be a part of society, because you'll never convince every adult that they shouldn't be allowed to put whatever they want in their own bodies in their own homes. It's not morally correct to begin with.
fafalone
#24
Nov25-04, 12:08 PM
P: 23
Summary for the lazy: Where demand exists even at 10000% markups, supply will find a way no matter what, even if it was the military's #1 focus and even if EVERY boat and person entering the US was searched, which is ludicrous in itself. So, the only way to put the black market out of business is offer a better product at a lower price, or eliminate demand. The latter, being around for as long as history is known, is unlikely to go away any time soon, especially in an era where gathering food and surviving no longer occupy our day, and nature has given us wonderful thing of boredom, and plants that make things whose only known purpose is to stimulate our brains pleasure centers.



Quote Quote by BobG
Going after the supply is a little complicated.

Just taking Columbia, if you destroy growers' fields, you lower an already weak economy. You also turn more people towards the right-wing paramilitary groups in the North or the FARC in the South, weakening the official Columbian government's hold even further. Peace in Columbia would threaten the drug industry more than destroying fields would, which is a big reason revolutionary groups in Columbia are so well funded by the drug industry.

If you do succeed in destroying Columbian growers' fields, then you next have to move across the border to Peru or other countries, since their farmers will gladly pick up the slack. Opium and cocaine are more profitable than the other products they could raise. If you wipe out the growers in all of South America, then you have to look next at Southeast Asian growers - they would appreciate the elimination of a competitor that has a geographic advantage, so you have to go after them next.

It winds up being a pretty ambitious project. A truly committed effort to eliminate all suppliers wouldn't be very palatable to the US public or the rest of the world - it would look almost as if we'd declared war on the world.

Trying to break the supply lines into the US is still the best option. At least those efforts can be combined into our efforts to prevent the entry of terrorists and weapons. This option is also at least 'technically' feasible. The problem is, it takes so many resources to do effectively that we'd need to divert the military from their more traditional missions.

Afghanistan is still the world's largest supplier of illicit opium, and we had enough bombers to take care of that. At some level the government knows it'll cause more harm than good.

Eliminating incoming drugs is exceedingly not feasable. With the kind of money cartels have, they have technology every bit as good as ours, and they make that money when we already intercept HALF of incoming drugs in some major hubs. The money required to stop and completely search every incoming vessel and person would cause catastrophic delays and the cost would be measured in the trillions with having to monitor every bit of coastline for boats and private subs. And even if you did that, where there's demand and money, supply will find a way... with that many people who sit around watching for boats all the time, lots would willing accept bribes.

$6 billion dollars of cocaine (thousands of tons), was recently intercepted in a single weeks time... largest seizure ever... it had virtually no impact on availability to the end user, not even price or purity were effected, even right in its destination city. The profit margins are so outrageous for the cartels, billions in coke is expendable and no big deal. When you have profits and fortunes like that, there will always be protection from the government or military, and commonly paramilitary forces the official military can't take out; and the US obviously can only interfere so much.

When you have unlimited money, you can develop new techniques of making your shipments undetectable... such as reverseable reactions that make things into other chemicals that don't look, smell, or taste like coke. And with no red tape or budget worries, their methods exceed our time to discover them. This is not confined to the movies, it's well established info.

The top cartels resemble Fortune 500 companies... only they have extremely cheap labor, way more money, and no regulations. Don't get many insiders because life is cheap, and there's no judge giving fines and light jail time. With limitless resources and funds in a extremely sophisticated organization, 'taking is down' simply isn't happening. For every field you destroyed, they planted 2 new ones yesterday.

The only way to eliminate violent criminals from getting rich from being the sole sellers is to have it legal, because they cannot compete with those prices. It's simply ignorant and arrogant to even suggest stopping the supply will happen by punitive force.

It's an immutable law of economics, where demand exists, there is money to be made so a supplier will find a way, and the only people willing to do it... not successful businessmen in suits who settle conflicts with words. When the demand is so great the product can be easily sold at hundreds of times cost of production... only people who don't care much about the law will step into supply, and the non-violent ones who act like legit salesmen, will be forced out by violent criminals who organize.

Funding for interdiction and assisting other countries with eradication increases every year, yet the only trend in supply is an increase in purity and a decrease in price. Stopping supply is both impossible and extremely bad for society, accenuating the worst parts of black market business.

As long white suburbanites are venturing into ghettos and asking random blacks if they know where to get drugs, fearing being robbed or shot, and then forking over $200/gm for "good" coke... with production cost of maybe a nickel a gram... with numbers like that someone WILL decide that even with 100% entry coverage, they'll bring machine guns and fight their way through. Then civilian boaters start getting confused for the thousands of customs search ships and get fired on....

I think by now it's quite clear stopping supply by intercepting it and destroying crops would cost way more than it would be worth when you're only increasing violence.
fafalone
#25
Nov25-04, 01:37 PM
P: 23
I'd like to make an additional comment on a common for- argument... if both approaches have the goal of ending drug use, why allow any action against that goal be acceptable? This comes from the notion that any drug abuse is immoral and should therefore be illegal. But in a Utopian society where all drug use is eliminated, but demand as a fundamental result and human curiosity, is not, many every day OTC products would have to be restricted so they couldn't be abused. Pain patients would have to only get one pill at a time, since if they took 2 they'd be abusing it and getting high, and the pills would have to be tracked right up until they're digested to make sure they're not sold to others. Can any society that does those things be judged perfect by any standard?
And in a practical real society, when the evidence strongly supports that society would be better off as a whole, and less would die, if prohibition ended? This being the case, how does trying to force consenting adults to adhere to your morals knowing it's not how to save the most lives, continue to be judges as moral? How is preventing this activity so fundamentally wrong that accepting some people want to do it violates a value set with the knowledge more lives would be saved if some use was acceptable?
What I'm asking is, how can you even justify the cost in lives and hardships using an value set derived even with religion?
The religious right always argues its wrong for a person to do drugs, and therefore it's ok to let more people die because they're doing something wrong and shouldn't be saved because it's a fundamental affront to values? How's that work with faith?
Needle exchange programs could eliminate tens of thousands of HIV transmissions, yet the government refuses to fund it based on popular opinion that it's somehow promoting use... when the CDC, NIH, and former surgeon general have concluded it does not increase use. Chemically altering your mind with an injection is so morally reprehensible that people who do it DESERVE at 70% higher chance of getting HIV? How is this even civilized, let alone avoided by all politicians in congress. Strong support from the 'compassionate conservative group"? It baffles me how such absurdity is never even challenged.
Hurkyl
#26
Nov25-04, 02:00 PM
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Speaking purely philosophically at the moment:

One thing to remember is that not everybody holds the end result as the ultimate judge of morality. The action itself is judged against the standards of right and wrong, or of good and evil -- the end result doesn't play into it.



Another thing to consider is the abstract form of your argument, so that your principles may be compared to other situations for consistency. You are arguing that we make concessions to appease a group of people that would otherwise commit violence.

There are plenty of examples where this strategy has not been effective (e.g. the preamble to WWII), and where the opposing strategy has been effective (e.g. holding airplanes hostage).

There's a catch-22: making concessions to reduce violence encourages more violence to exact further concessions, and I think the prevalent opinion on this conundrum these days is a strong refusal to give into fear.
fafalone
#27
Nov25-04, 10:11 PM
P: 23
I generally don't see those comparisons as valid, because they involve directly inflicted harm by one individual, on a non-consenting individual, or the imminent threat thereof. I've heard claims simple users contribute to the whole violent scene... but remember that the vast majority of violence would disappear if legit companies did distro.

"Refusal to give into fear" is involved, as is not admitting mistakes and defeat, but these are the fundamental popular outlooks that are short-sighted, unrealistic, inaccurate, even outright inhumane. Working to change the misconception that admitting we're losing and can never win a war on drugs is not letting evil win, but acknowledging it's simply not the best thing for society. People need to realize that their own friends and family are often the enemy, and winning a war against them is a loss.
Hurkyl
#28
Nov25-04, 10:38 PM
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I generally don't see those comparisons as valid, because they involve directly inflicted harm by one individual, on a non-consenting individual, or the imminent threat thereof.
Is not one of the major reasons put forth by those arguing against prohibition the reduction in drug related violent crimes, particularly that of addicts trying to get the money to fuel their habit?
Hurkyl
#29
Nov25-04, 10:51 PM
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On another note, you keep talking about how ineffective the war on drugs is... but when I've looked at the numbers, they show a huge drop in hard drug use (in the 80s, I think), and the numbers stayed down.
fafalone
#30
Nov25-04, 10:55 PM
P: 23
Around 85% of drug-related violence is turf wars and other conflicts in the black market distibution system where violent criminals compete with eachother.

And addicts trying to get money... well if it was legal supporting the addiction would cost no more than a cigarette or alcohol addiction, and instead of thinking only of how to score again, they could actually get help and lead relatively normal lives even while addicted. The junkie who lies around all day just being high is certainly not an accurate vision of most addicts, particularly ones who can afford it. Walk around a large office building, see if you can spot the heroin addicts. They're there, but no different than everyone else.
Addicts whose lives become enslaved need help. Sending them to prison (where their habit continues because it's even easier to get IN jail) does not help them kick their habit, and further condemns them to a horrible life by taking away most good job opportunities. It would be nice if they could get help before rock bottom, but police harassment, unreasonable policies, ineffective treatment, and lack of funding and availability result in only 14% of those who even seek treatment to be able to get it.
It's a medical problem, and treating it as a criminal problem only makes it worse. Use enforcement money to provide treatment that works and is available to everyone who wants it.
fafalone
#31
Nov25-04, 11:09 PM
P: 23
Quote Quote by Hurkyl
On another note, you keep talking about how ineffective the war on drugs is... but when I've looked at the numbers, they show a huge drop in hard drug use (in the 80s, I think), and the numbers stayed down.
More and more money is thrown at it every year, not getting it down further is failing to achieve the goal.

Beyond just use, prices continue to drop as purity goes up, it's easier to get than ever, little kids can get pot easier then alcohol... combined with the ever escalating cost and ever increasing non-violent offenders in jail...

It's pretty safe to say it's a failure, unless you measure success by the number of non-violent drug offenders in jail, or the number of people living in pain to make sure nobody gets ahold of pain pills.
fafalone
#32
Nov26-04, 01:54 AM
P: 23
I'd just like to make one important point about reform: decriminalization is a mistake. With decriminalization, you get the expected small increase in personal use, but the biggest toll on society are the criminal organizations which get even bigger; and their products get no safer. When people see this happening, they will think relaxing laws is hurting society, and move back to prohibition. This doesn't really apply to marijuana since it's not too dangerous and grown extensively within our borders, but the same steps can't be taken with other substances.

It must be so nice to be content with drugs being evil things that will turn you into a destitute junkie and therefore must be banned at any cost. Anyone saying otherwise is an addict trying to justify their own habit. Forget all this complexity.



Another question on morality: Supporting the current policy means supporting that an adult putting a particular chemical in their own body in their own home, is so bad that they should get a longer sentence than muderers, rapists, and plane hijackers. This isn't comparing a max to a min, it's comparing averages. How do you believe this is American justice, let alone reconcile it with a value set.
Hurkyl
#33
Nov26-04, 07:12 AM
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I've finally put my finger on some of the problems I've had with your posts... things that make them feel more like propaganda than reasoned arguments.


Beyond just use, prices continue to drop as purity goes up,
You say this a lot, but what does it really mean? It's certainly nonobvious that this is a bad thing, nor that it's an indicator that the war on drugs is failing.


$6 billion dollars of cocaine (thousands of tons), was recently intercepted in a single weeks time... largest seizure ever... it had virtually no impact on availability to the end user, not even price or purity were effected, even right in its destination city.
And you make juxtapositions like this as if it meant something. Even if improving purity and decreasing price is shown to be a bad thing, you've made absolutely no effort to show that things would not have been worse had this seizure not taken place.

(p.s. I think you'll find that availability was precisely $6 billion worth less than it would have otherwise been without this seizure)


More and more money is thrown at it every year, not getting it down further is failing to achieve the goal.
It would be silly to expect 100% victory, but your criticisms of the war on drugs seem to be based primarily on the fact that 100% victory hasn't been accomplished. The war on drugs is successful if drug usage is less than if there was no war on drugs, which you admit is the case:

"That speaks towards the argument legalization would increase use, which is completely unacceptable. Yes, drug use will increase for hard drugs (marijuana is so uniquitous legalization would likely have no impact)."



Furthermore, you use selective sampling as if it's representative:

Walk around a large office building, see if you can spot the heroin addicts. They're there, but no different than everyone else.
You are obviously trying to imply that this is your "typical" drug user.

However, you've given no reason to think that these people aren't simply the exceptional cases that are better able than to keep their habit from spilling over into other parts of their life... and that might not even be permament.

And you haven't even attempted to say that the druggies are as productive and successful as the others.


And, you've said some outright mistruths:

To your first point, absolutely. Most of the people deterred who wouldn't be if it were illegal are going to be concerned with health and safety, which logically extends to them only using alcohol recreationally in due moderation, and would follow the same pattern with any other drug; and that social use pattern virtually never leads to addiction without actively choosing to change the pattern to include misuse.
(a) It is already known that social use and addiction are not mutually exclusive, at least with alcohol.
(b) Since one can become addicted to some drugs from a single use, moderation won't prevent addiction.
cragwolf
#34
Nov26-04, 10:44 AM
P: 210
Quote Quote by Hurkyl
The war on drugs is successful if drug usage is less than if there was no war on drugs...
You're kidding, right? What about the costs of the war on drugs? Do they matter to you? There's the financial cost of enforcing these laws and incarcerating the users and sellers of illegal drugs. There's the human cost of sending non-violent people to jail. There's the cultural cost to the black community which is unequally punished by these laws. The war on drugs, like any policy in the real world, is successful if it passes a cost/benefit test.
Burnsys
#35
Nov26-04, 11:19 AM
P: 655
War on drugs... More drugs.
War on Terrorism... More Terrorism
War on Poverty... More Poverty
Hurkyl
#36
Nov26-04, 03:24 PM
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You're kidding, right?
In any case, the war on drugs is not unsuccessful just because there is some drug use.


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