Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Thin Blue (Magic) Line

I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about the war on drugs. He strongly supported legalizing marijuana but backed the government ban on "harder" drugs such as cocaine and heroin. In fact, the only drug he seems in favor of bringing back into the private sector was weed. I asked him why.

"Because they're dangerous," he said. I reminded him that all drugs are dangerous, including legal ones like tobacco and alcohol. "But these are really dangerous." There is no doubt of this: heroin, for example, is incredibly addictive and dangerous, far more than, say, alcohol. But alcohol and heroin are not inherently different; heroin is just more of the same. So if one is okay and one isn't then there must exist a line that, once passed, makes it social optimal to illegalize. So where's the line?

I have not yet recieved an answer to this question that reflects current laws and I doubt I ever will (though the reader is welcome to try). The best boundry I can come up with is "when the drug starts to have an overall negative impact on the person's life." Heroin is more likely to cross that boundry than alcohol, but it ultimately depends on the person. Since an individual is the foremost expert on themselves (followed by friends and family), and people are all very, very different, a blanket law that treats everyone as the same will punish some unjustly.

Everyone has their own personal boundries, a fact that these laws ignore. To assume individuals are the same is social alchemy; I don't believe in magic.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to make a comment here. I believe that all drugs should be legal. I don't think that anyone has the right to tell you, or anyone else, what you are allowed or not allowed to put in your body. There's something about that that just upsets me. I think that it's unconstitutional and fascist. My definition of freedom is: as long as you're not hurting anyone else, live how you'd like. I think that you should be allowed to smoke crack and drink terpintine if you'd want. That's just my opinion, anyway.
There's another reason that I think all drugs should be legal. Prohibition doesn't work. It never has and probably never will. As long as people want X people will get X one way or another. Despite all of the effort and the billions spent each year on prohibition there are more people using drugs than ever. There isn't anyone out there who wants to get high but isn't because it's illegal. All prohibition does is create a black market. Period. I think that children should be educated about the dangers and realities of drugs from a very early and if upon turning 21 they decide to use drugs, despite everything that they have learned, they should be allowed to. That's just my opinion.

Bill said...

David, with all due respect you don't have a clue about addiction and your data is flawed. Alcohol has caused more deaths per year than all of Illegal drugs combined. There are more alcoholics in the USA then drug addicts, the main reason for this is because Alcohol is socially accepted where Illegal drugs are not.

As for the second post, this is either a young adult or a person who has never done a line of Cocaine or a bump of Heroin. This person continues "My definition of freedom is: as long as you're not hurting anyone else, live how you'd like." Ok why don't you move into a drug infested neighborhood and we shall see how the drug use of others will effect your life and your personal property.

Ask any ex addict if drugs should be Illegal and she what he/she will tell you or perhaps you should get away from the safety of your computer and enter the real world.