The War on Drugs PT2 – Evil Addicts and Bad Fixes

This is part two of a series in which I use the American drug war to examine wider socio-political conerns. You can read the intro here, part one here.

Last time we looked at the first lie about drugs; that they are of themselves an enemy – a social evil. Now we can look at another lie commonly spoken of drugs.

Lie Two – Drug takers hurt us all

Truth is, the ten-bag is really for Grannie!
Truth is, the ten-bag is really for Grannie!

We often hear politicians or extremist nut-jobs (is there a difference?) telling us that drug users frequently run rampage in violent drug frenzies; that all drug users will happily kill their grandma’s to get more money for smack and that all drug takers are welfare scroungers because they can’t hold a job.

The idea we are sold is that drugs are not a victimless crime. Far from harmlessly sitting at home laughing at the wallpaper and eating biscuits, people who take drugs are destroying our society. This is, of course, utter balls.

I will look at dealers and cartels later, but here we are looking mostly at users – people who, if they could, would go to a super-market and buy drugs.

The Drugs Don’t Work

Watch out for those terrifying gigglers and crisp eaters man!
Watch out for those terrifying gigglers and crisp eaters man!

In reality, people who take clean drugs generally fall asleep, fall down wasted, or fall over laughing. These are not good states for rampaging or grannie-stabbing. The main venues for drug taking are large fields in the middle of nowhere and peoples homes. Ooh, feel the danger.

The military has tried to put drugs to use in making better soldiers and failed (1, 2, 3). The majority of drugs don’t make us aggressive – and those that do are mostly legal and aimed at sports (such as steroids), not used for recreation or ‘switching off’ like illegal street drugs.

The Drugs Go Beserk

Okay, he may have graduated to paint-stripper...
Okay, he may have graduated to paint-stripper…

Prolonged over-use of a drug can cause psychosis, it is true. However, prolonged over-use of alcohol can cause psychosis too.

Because alcohol is legal, more can be done to prevent and treat addiction and related illnesses.

One of the things that can send a drug-taker loopy is that street drugs are often cut with all kinds of crap, from baking powder to horse tranquillisers. Dealers want to make more money by diluting the drug, substituting cheaper drugs or making non-addictive substances addictive by adding harder drugs. You never know quite how strong a drug is, or exactly what’s in it or what it will do.

Imagine sipping a regular beer only to find an hour later that the world has changed colour and is melting. It would mess up anyone’s head.

The Drugs Co. Works

Buy one get one freak!
Buy one get one freak!

The best way to ensure people don’t go mad is to have control of the supply to keep it clean, and to provide adequate education on drug use (which is still lacking even for alcohol). A clean regulated supply means one always knows the dosage and content of the drug.

The same goes for addicts killing their grannies for money. With a regulated supply the cost would drop hugely and no-one would need to kill anyone.

I showed in part one that drugs used to be a normal, accepted part of life, as tobacco and alcohol are. If they were to be so again, there would be no more ‘drug crime‘ than the unavoidable degree of crime we have in every area of commerce.

The Drugists Don’t Work

Let's hear it for gesture politics!
Let’s hear it for gesture politics!

The people who really cause harm are not the takers but the dealers. Until they are priced out through a legalised supply they will continue to fight for territory and ‘customers’. Since they cannot fight legally, because drugs are not legal, they will fight illegally through violence. If drugs were legal, dealers would become traders just as if they traded coffee or shoes, with legal recourse to protect their businesses.

Meanwhile, since organised large-scale dealers are the real source of violence, jailing drug users is like discovering banks have acted criminally – and so jailing all those who have accounts with the bank and leaving the bankers free.

The Drunks Don’t Work

As to the idea that drug-takers can’t hold down jobs – this is horse-shit. Not everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic, and likewise only a tiny number of drug takers are the stereotypical, messed-up, wrung-out junkie who can do nothing but think of his next score.

There are thousands who work and who also, quietly, peaceably roll a joint in the evenings, or drop acid on weekends. By far the biggest culprit for missed work is the alcohol hangover, which you don’t get with other drugs.

...and it's still only ten-thirty!
…and it’s still only ten-thirty!

As things stand I would guess that drugs actually save countries money – since working in drugs is the only job available to ghettoised and disenfranchised populations. There are probably more people not claiming welfare because they support themselves dealing, than there are who claim and just get wasted. No dealer with sense would claim if he didn’t have to, it brings with it too much examination of one’s circumstances.

This Pun Don’t Work

Politicians all belong to the "If it doesn't affect me I don't give a shit" club.
Politicians all belong to the “If it doesn’t affect me I don’t give a shit” club.

The cause of the drug war is a failure of understanding from governments. You cannot stop people wanting things, and making what they want illegal only creates crime – just as prohibition should have taught us.

But the government cannot act effectively, because it has become fundamentally detached from the realities it is trying to legislate.

Since this post is quite long already, I’ll write another in which we’ll look at this more deeply.


23 thoughts on “The War on Drugs PT2 – Evil Addicts and Bad Fixes

Add yours

  1. In USA paper was made mostly of hemp which is cheap and leaves very little industrial waste/pollution footprint in manufacture. Early in 20th Century the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst lobbied to have it designated dangerous drug and that’s when the war on drugs (marijuana) started here. He did this because he owned all the lumber yards and paper would now be made from wood , the manufacture of such from this material is pollution high and he now made additional millions owning source of raw material, mill production and sale of product – newspapers.

    1. This is true. Hemp could also have provided an alternative source for fuel and oil. This is precisely the way greedy business has distorted law and politics – areas they should not be allowed near (but I’ll be looking at that next post.)
      Thanks for the insightful comment Carl.

  2. Excellently said, as always. Last weekend I went to an exhibit on Prohibition (at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia – highly recommend) An interesting fact – by the end everyone could see that making alcohol illegal had caused more problems than it fixed. Even the teetotalers agreed! The repeal passed through congress with only two votes against it. I wish more people now could see the cure is worse than the disease.

    1. Indeed Jasc – and how is it that so many agree that we are going astray, yet nothing is done? Are we sensible people still a minority? Or is this no longer a democracy?!
      This Panda for one shall fight/rant on!

  3. I agree. Most serious drug users couldn’t organize a trip to the bathroom, let alone a bank robbery or some such other crime.

    As billyray said, you make such good sense, RoS. Be careful, or I’m sure your PM will try to make that illegal!

  4. You know, it’s very difficult for everyone to anyone in the public eye to speak honestly about this unless they do some kind of ‘My Drugs Shame’ type-story.

    Remember a few years ago when the UK government’s chief drugs guy got sacked for being honest about the relative harm of drugs, legal and illegal? He didn’t say anything radical, just not what his bosses wanted to hear.

    I do remember people at uni who developed psychosis through drugs like cannabis and amphetamines, but overall the biggest, most harmful effects I’ve witnessed (immediate and long term) are as a result of alcohol.

You can tell me anything (yes, even that!)

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