Patterico's Pontifications

1/31/2009

Legalizing Drugs: A Fact-free View

Filed under: General — JRM @ 4:03 pm

Radley Balko‘s latest article in Reason tells us once again of how the U.S. fight against illicit drugs is destroying people and property.

He cites both anecdotes which support his position, as well as general trends. Sadly, the general trends he cites are misleading at best. Balko makes four claims: The drug war militarizes our police, enriches our enemies, undermines our laws, and condemns the sick to suffering.

For his first point, Balko cites a 2006 WSJ editorial, which says in part:

Police in large cities formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds, shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances. Concern about such firepower in densely populated areas hitting innocent citizens has given way to an attitude that the police are fighting a war against drugs and crime and must be heavily armed.

If only we had police shooting and fatality statistics from some large police force.

Oh, wait! We do! Fox News reported on a massive decline in total shootings. Accidental shootings were way down since 1996. Police shootings involved about the same number of shots per event.

Did I say Fox News? I meant the New York Times. Sorry. I get them confused a lot.

So, we have fewer shootings, fewer cops killed on the street, and fewer accidental shootings. One might suspect that this would lead an observer to conclude that police forces are getting better, if one looked at the actual data, rather than making it up.

Balko also cites the climbing murder rates:

If you look at a graph of the U.S. murder rate going back to about 1915, you’ll notice a few interesting patterns. There’s a spike at around 1919, just at the onset of alcohol prohibition. The graph then takes a dramatic dip in 1933, just after the repeal of prohibition. There’s then another spike in the late 1960s, just as Richard Nixon took office and fired the first shots of his war on drugs. That spike falls in the 1970s as President Carter took a less militant approach to drug prohibition, but then with Reagan’s reinvigorated war in the 1980s, it begins another upward ascent.

Balko cites this chart for his claim as to the murder chart going up. The chart stops in 1997.

Fortunately, I was able to locate this really neat thing on the internets called Google. You can use it to find data, like the fact that the murder rate in 1997 of 6.8 per 100,000 people was a dropoff from prior years, that Balko’s claim that Reagan’s anti-drug efforts led to more murders (the answer, by the way, is fewer) and even that they kept data past 1997 – when the murder rate continued to drop, stabilizing at 5.6 per 100,000 over the last few years. That’s the lowest rate since 1965.

Balko claims that the current Mexico drug issues are caused by America’s unwillingness to import delicious drugs and its funding of drug interdiction efforts. I can’t help but notice that in those countries where hard drugs are either de facto or de jure legal, crime seems to be worse. Mexico’s lack of enforcement of the drug laws (primarily due to widespread corruption) hasn’t led to peaceful drug lords. It’s led to drug lords killing each other and everyone else.

Look, folks, I consider myself fairly moderate on drug laws; I’m not putting simple users who aren’t committing other crimes in prison or even jail. I even understand both the moralistic argument (you shouldn’t tell adults what to do) or the utilitarian argument (it would be better if drugs were legalized.)

I’m a utilitarian, and I disagree with the latter argument. When people like Balko use dishonest arguments to further this position, it doesn’t do much to make me think there’s merit somewhere there.

127 Responses to “Legalizing Drugs: A Fact-free View”

  1. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds…

    Mostly they carry 9mm Glocks. 9mm is .35 cal, smaller caliber than the old .38’s they used to carry.

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  2. I keep posting this comment on this subject but don’t know if it penetrates. Heroin is a pretty good model for legalization. I makes people happy and passive. The worst side effect of clean heroin is constipation. People can lead normal lives with their endorphin receptors saturated with legal heroin. Of course, most heroin addicts are not normal people.

    Cocaine, on the other hand, makes people hyperactive and paranoid. That is a bad combination. It also causes fatal arrhythmias, an effect that does not diminish with time or habituation. Amphetamines are worse for hyperactive, paranoid behavior.

    Unfortunately, heroin is not the major problem. Cocaine and amphetamine are not good models for legalization.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  3. I am a 44 year old Mechanical Engineer who works in Aerospace (i.e. a Rocket Scientist) and I have what is today called Aspergers Syndrome. Marijuana makes me feel “normal” while liquor just makes me tired.

    But people who use the drug called liquor tell those of use who would rather use another drug like marijuana that their drug is OK and our drug is not.

    For those of you who think liquor should be legal and marijuana should be illegal I have one word for you.

    Hypocrite. Either fight to make liquor illegal or stop fighting to keep marijuana illegal.

    Badger (0fd8c3)

  4. Any of of strawmen and name calling ensues …

    JD (4d1a78)

  5. Marijuana = Liquor then Badger? Maybe next you will argue that LSD = Caffeine, or maybe PCP = Nicotine? I agree that a very arbitrary line has been drawn but a make all drugs legal or all illegal is a stupid argument. But hey what do I know? I am just another hypocrite.

    Dawnsblood (a83e77)

  6. Sentence #1 Either fight to make liquor illegal or stop fighting to keep marijuana illegal.

    Sentence #2: but a make all drugs legal or all illegal is a stupid argument

    Now who in class can tell us what is wrong with the second sentence? Poor reading comprehension is not hypocritical, but it is lazy.

    neutral party (b67dba)

  7. I agree with Mike that this topic has pretty much been exhausted to this point, but I don’t read Reason anymore, because they’re always using specious arguments to justify their inaeliable right to snort whatever they like, piss on whomever they don’t like, and screw whatever suits their pleasure. In short, they’ve never met a law they didn’t like. I’ve always favored marijuana decriminalization, but the proponents are forever overreaching in their arguments, which is one of the primary reasons why those measures fail with citizen – sponsored legislation.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  8. This issue has become a religion on all sides. Sure, Radley plays fast and loose with the facts, but so to did JRM in his response. So cops have improved at their jobs since 1996, or at least screwed up less often since they had fewer criminals to shoot at (probably some combination of the two). What, exactly, does that have to do with drug prohibition? JRM might have a point if he could produce any evidence that drug enforcement had been stepped up since 1996, and that nothing else had changed in the interim that could also account for the drop. I suspect that the polar opposite is true; crime has dropped almost every year since the early 1990s, and neither Clinton nor GWB is particularly famous for cracking down on drugs. Clinton didn’t inhale, and figures no one else did, either, so what did he care about drugs? Bush might have, but since 9/11/01 he had more important things to worry about than the stuff any idiot can “just say no” to.

    Mexico as an example of drugs being legal is, for want of a better phrase, an infrared herring. On one level, everything is “legal” in Mexico if you can pay off enough cops. On another, Mexico has always been as tough on drugs as they are on anything else illegal when it comes to domestic consumption; where they’ve tended to turn a blind eye is to drugs on their way to other countries. The drug lords aren’t killing each other over legal (or even “de facto legal,” whatever the hell that phrase is supposed to mean) drug turf in Mexico. It’s over market share in the U.S., where a truly legal market would leave them nothing worth fighting for. [Whether it would leave the U.S. better off as a whole is a trickier question; to answer that one must guesstimate how many Americans who do not currently abuse drugs would become addicts if their drug of choice were as “safe, legal and rare” as an abortion.]

    Badger’s rejoinder, however, is equally dumb. Whether marijuana should or should not be legal (I personally believe it should be, but that’s neither here nor there), there is nothing “hypocritical” about arguing for the legalization of some drugs and the prohibition of others. If for no other reason, the two can be distinguished on the grounds that moderate alcohol consumption is good for the average person, while there’s no evidence that any amount of marijuana is.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  9. If for no other reason, the two can be distinguished on the grounds that moderate alcohol consumption is good for the average person, while there’s no evidence that any amount of marijuana is.

    There’s plenty of evidence that alcohol consumption can be extremely dangerous, but little evidence that marijuana use is dangerous.

    Pablo (99243e)

  10. Xrlq – I thought JRM’s purpose was to expose Radley’s bogus use of facts or lack thereof not make a complete argument for or against drug prohibition. I don’t see him playing fast and loose the way you did. Where did you find your assumption of “fewer criminals to shoot at”? Was that a Balkoism or an asspull? I agree the Mexico argument was a stretch though.

    daleyrocks (ae34ca)

  11. I had a high school classmate who was on a Doctor’s prescription of one 16oz beer a month for kidney issues. But, yes, alcohol over-consumption is extremely hazardous to your health.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  12. “There’s plenty of evidence that alcohol consumption can be extremely dangerous, but little evidence that marijuana use is dangerous.”

    Pablo – I’ve seen plenty of long-term bong monkeys in recovery, young and old, who will tell you that their marijuana use became dangerous to them.

    daleyrocks (ae34ca)

  13. The 9mm has very closely the same diameter bullet as the .38 and the .357 Magnum. Wikipedia, 9mm entry down the page it has common handgun round sizes.

    htom (412a17)

  14. Comment by Steven Den Beste — 1/31/2009 @ 4:55 pm

    To follow up with some actual ballistic numbers…
    Dirty Harry Callahan, and his “Most Powerful Handgun in the World” 44Magnum generated
    835 lb/ft of force at 25-yds…..This is the yardstick we will use…..

    38-Special, +P, 129gr, JHP self-defense round…246 lb/ft.;
    9mm, 124gr, JHP…315 lb/ft;
    40SW, 180gr, JHP…377 lb/ft;
    45acp (the standard of the world) 185 JHP…350 lb/ft;
    or, in 230gr, FMJ (hardball) 364 lb/ft.

    My experience is that police, when they can, will carry the 40SW cal Glock 22 or 23 (standard for the Border Patrol, Homeland Security, Air Marshall Service, etc) as it packs a bigger punch, and only gives up a few rounds capacity to the nine, while still having moderate recoil.
    Another point that needs to be remembered, is that many departments had upgraded to .357Magnum from the .38Special as the weaponry that they faced on the streets had improved before making the jump to semi-auto’s.
    The big push to semi’s was when the DoD switched to the 9mm Beretta, this allowed these local dept’s to piggy-back on the Beretta orders, and the street cops, many of whom were in the Reserves, could use on the street the same weapon they were using when on duty with DoD.
    DoD in fact, just placed a new order for 400K handguns with Beretta, while other parts of the Fed Govt has gone to the Glock 22/23. But, Special Ops types, in all parts of the Govt, are moving back to new versions of that tried and true veteran, the M-1911 in 45acp.
    John Moses Browning would be proud!

    AD (d63605)

  15. Pablo – I’ve seen plenty of long-term bong monkeys in recovery, young and old, who will tell you that their marijuana use became dangerous to them.

    Dangerous, daley, or inhibiting? Yeah, you can be a stoner loser, but a drunk is far, far more likely to create carnage.

    Pablo (99243e)

  16. But, to the merits of the argument…
    Is the “War on Drugs” making America better or worse?
    It has long been evident that the effort to suppress the trade in illicit drugs is having a deleterious effect on society in general.
    Should “drugs” be legalized?
    Maybe, some, sometime.
    It is a much more complicated question than is alcohol, and we’re still debating what should be the age of majority for booze, which is generally a depressant, so how can we come up with a workable solution for “drugs” which can be “uppers” and “downers”, and more?
    One thing we must do, if we are to have any claim to be a sovereign nation, is to regain control of our borders and stop the trafficking in illicit drugs and bodies.

    AD (d63605)

  17. Comment by Pablo — 1/31/2009 @ 8:13 pm

    You’ve obviously never seen the result of meth-freaks going off on each other, or the paranoia rage of a coke-head?

    AD (d63605)

  18. daleyrocks: You understood my argument better than Xrlq did, I think. I was *not* making an overall argument here.

    I also don’t believe there’s an overall argument to be made – legalization depends rather substantially on what drug you’re talking about. You want to legalize PCP, you’re out of your mind. You want to legalize marijuana or ecstasy, I disagree – but those are much more interesting arguments.

    –JRM

    JRM (355c21)

  19. Dawnsblood, Comment #6. No reason to even debate someone who argues with strawmen.

    Pablo, Comment #10. My wife has been a Nurse for 12 years. She has seen many people who killed themselves with alcohol comsumption but never seen anybody who killed themselves with marijuana consumption.

    Bottom line is that those of you who want use alcohol (which is a dangerous drug) and want to keep it legal but want to keep marijuana (which is a dangerous drug as well, although less dangerous to your health than alcohol is) illegal are hypocrites just because alcohol is your drug of choice.

    You want to know what I call people who use alcohol? Drug users. The only difference is your drug of choice is legal and mine is not.

    Badger (0fd8c3)

  20. “Dangerous, daley, or inhibiting? Yeah, you can be a stoner loser, but a drunk is far, far more likely to create carnage.”

    Pablo – Dangerous to their own physical and mental health. Sorry if that was not clear.

    daleyrocks (ae34ca)

  21. Badger – Does your doctor prescribe marijuana for your aspergers? If not, why not? Medical marijuana is prescribed for other uses. There are also plenty of other drugs available to treat aspergers. To me it just sounds like you’re looking for a rationale to get high, but what the hell do I know.

    daleyrocks (ae34ca)

  22. I am uncomfortable with the legalizing drugs for these reasons mention (folks jump the shark) but Pablo is right, marijuana in small amounts seems as decent a nightcap as a bottle of scotch with no horrid after effects.

    But frankly if you want to see what drug use does forget the back alleys, go to a Pain Management MDs office. And that is as legal as it gets.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  23. Daleyrocks,

    Pain from a medical perspective is the most subjective evaluation that exists and frankly marijuana beats opiate derivatives the MDs give you or drinking it away.

    When it comes to Pain Management (which many addicts do claim to have), marijuana is a very very good choice but the DEA/Gov.t is a bit looney and inconsistent on the issue.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  24. OuA – Aspergers, which Badger was raising, is not a pain management issue. You are moving to an aspect not yet raised on the thread. Personally I preferred the opiates to the marijuana but I didn’t have long term pain issues.

    daleyrocks (ae34ca)

  25. “When it comes to Pain Management (which many addicts do claim to have)”

    OuA – Then again, many addict may just like getting high and may claim to have pain to rationalize it. You can see some pretty bizarre drug seeking behavior. Remember you are dealing with a group of serious liars when you are working with active drunks or addicts.

    daleyrocks (ae34ca)

  26. I think, my bigger point, is drug use is already legalized in many ways and in those instances like “Pain Management” it tends to be a relatively safe way of going about it.

    I am no expert on the global data but I would guess in my small sample size that probably 5-10% of most productive adults in this country are hooked on some pain killer and spend a good part of their day hi without anyone noticing.

    But all under the MDs supervision which makes some sense …….

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  27. Remember you are dealing with a group of serious liars when you are working with active drunks or addicts.

    Comment by daleyrocks — 1/31/2009 @ 9:46 pm

    The biggest lie is the one they tell themselves. “I don’t have a problem.”

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  28. With respect to Aspergers, marijuana has proven to allow suffers to better fit socially and helps lead healthy social lives.

    So ….. again drugs, under and MDs supervision, are wonderful things IMHO.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  29. daleyrocks, comment #22.

    Where I live, marijuana can only be prescribed for medical conditions, not neurological conditions. Believe me, if alcohol affected me like it does “normal” people I would probably use it socially like everybody else. But as it is, I don’t drink at all and only use marijuana infrequently as I could loose my job if I got drug tested.

    Badger (0fd8c3)

  30. Obama über alles!!!!!, comment #29. So your drug should be legally available but I should have to go to a doctor to get permission to use mine? How is that not hypocritical?

    Badger (0fd8c3)

  31. Note to Balko: Libertarianism doesn’t have to be stupid.

    Fritz (d52ebf)

  32. Badger,

    Hypocrisy is life. We are surrounded and bathe in hypocrisy every day. To change one’s mind is hypocrisy.

    I dunno what to tell you other than legalizing many drugs makes it more casual and socially acceptable to take them and eventually some folks become addicted. Just like taking the taboo away from teenage sex and sex ed has caused ever increasing in teenage pregnancy.

    These social norms exist for a reason. It is an unusual hubris of the baby boomers that old fashion equates to wrong.

    But getting back to my point … drugs should be made more available to the populace via the Medical Community to deal with many of these types of cases instead of forcing these individuals, like you, to dred a drug test.

    At least with MD intervention, there is a “method” by which addiction can be managed and controlled by competent professionals, real medical conditions can be treated openly and honestly, it can be taxed and regulated if so chosen, it helps develop a domestic legal drug industry as opposed to sending billions over seas, it lowers low level street distribution and its associated violence because demand/supply shift from violent criminals to MD offices ……

    I don’t see any downside in contrast to what many folks do today anyway.

    Now, while there will still be Stoners who won’t qualify for the MD scripted drug and these same Stones will continue to pursue illegal drugs … at least it makes legal enforcement easier.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  33. Obama über alles!!!!! – By that logic, alcohol should not be legal either.

    Badger (0fd8c3)

  34. Badger, I am not arguing with ya juss saying that’s life.

    What I propose is a “more perfect” solution to the drug problem in this country which will need to be more perfected anyway. Progress is sausage making.

    What I will say on Alchohol is that it is more acceptable because we humans have thousands of years dealing with it and are comfortable with it. The effects, how long it takes, how our bodies react to it……

    The body of knowledge on Alchohol is so much greater than other drugs in general and is felt to be safer than say Marijuana.

    Takes time, change comes. I think Marijuana will be made legal once the Baby Boomers Generation hits Medicare and they become the “old folks.” By then most of the populace will shrug their shoulder at a joint.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  35. Marijuana has been used since the 3rd millennium BC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_(drug)), so that argument does not stand up to scrutiny either.

    Badger (0fd8c3)

  36. One important difference between marijuana users and people who drink alcohol is one group is doing something legal and the other group is doing something illegal that leads to the murders of hundreds of people every year. When the weed smokers demonstrate concern for the law enforcement, civilians and military that their habit endangers, I will support legalization.

    tyree (9e90c9)

  37. Sorry, Badger, until “medical marijuana” advocates treat it more like medicine and less like Getting One Over On The Man, you’ll have to look over your shoulder every time you self-medicate. The cannabis clowns — among them George Soros, whose Open Societies Institute has bankrolled multiple pot decriminalization measures across the United States — are reaping what they’ve sown; they spit in the faces of well-meaning people who soon woke up to find they were scammed.

    Even in my hometown of San Francisco, patience has worn thin with the pot club people. Here’s what I posted here on Patterico.com one year and a week ago today:

    Ten years after the victory of Prop 215, medical marijuana might be seen as legitimate therapy if not for the clowns behind the measure that designed it with loopholes intended to legalize ALL use, medical and otherwise.

    From the San Francisco Chronicle, January 3, 1998:

    At the close of a long interview at his Cannabis Cultivators Club in San Francisco, the affable Dennis Peron offered to roll a reporter a joint.

    The offer was politely declined, and the proffered buds of a substance that might have been marijuana were drawn back to the desk of club founder Peron, who has recently declared himself a Republican candidate for governor of California.

    It was a typical, and not wholly unexpected gesture from the bad boy of pot politics, but it underscored a tendency that is making Peron’s colleagues in the medical marijuana business very nervous — he bends the rules, and sometimes, they break.

    (snip)

    Peron’s uncompromising advocacy of full legalization of marijuana now irks some of his former allies. One of the Proposition 215 co- authors with Peron, Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center director Scott Imler, has publicly chastised the San Francisco club as a “circus” that threatens the existence of every medical marijuana provider in California.

    “We’re sick and tired of spending 90 percent of our time explaining away the excesses of Dennis Peron and 1444 Market Street,” said Imler.

    “We assured the voters over and over and over that we were talking about medical marijuana,” he added. “The minute the election passed, it was `Let’s smoke a fatty,’ and `All use is medical.’ Basically, that’s a betrayal of everything the voters did for patients.”

    Comment by L.N. Smithee — 1/25/2008 @ 5:13 pm

    L.N. Smithee (35fd8e)

  38. AD,

    You’ve obviously never seen the result of meth-freaks going off on each other, or the paranoia rage of a coke-head?

    What, exactly, are you basing that observation on? It couldn’t possibly be anything I’ve said.

    Pablo (99243e)

  39. HYPOCRITES!!!!

    JD (2aa114)

  40. The problem with all the legalization/war on drugs arguments is that they have far too much emotion invested in them, and always have. I’m not sure where the hysteria on the legalization side comes from, but that which permeates the War on Drugs was at least somewhat planned; the hearings (back in the ’30’s!) on the original Federal laws against Pot, Heroin, and Cocaine featured gobs of “We gotta keep them Goddamned Niggers in line” swill, calculated to warm the heart of the worst KKK hardliner.

    That said, a few observations:

    1) both sides have done so much plain and fancy lying that perhaps the sensible thing to do is void all the laws in question for a time and see. It isn’t as if we have to KEEP drugs legal if it proves to be a mistake.

    2) In my personal experience Junkies make much better company than prohibitionists …. and you have to watch you wallet around both (although admittedly the prohibitionists tend to have the Government pick you pocket for them).

    3) I have paid some degree of attention to the War on Drugs for decades, since I was in grade school in the late 1960’s. In that time I have noticed that the anti-drug crusaders tend to use the same template to describe all drugs; Causes delusions and paranoia, can infuse the user with hysterical strength (so Cops need to beat them down hard), may cause your heart to burst the very first time you use it, etc., etc. From my reading this is possibly true of cocaine, almost certainly true of meth, absurd for pot, and highly questionable for heroin, extasy, and a half dozen others I’ve seen it applied to (including Nitrous Oxide!). I’m sure the dim bulbs on the Anti-drug side who do this think they are helping their cause, but it sometimes seems to prove the old adage that over time the behavior of any movement can be predicted by assuming it is run by a secret cabal dedicated to discrediting it.

    4) Some years back, in a World Almanac (I think it was for 1999), I read some DEA statistics for drug use in the U.S.. If I recall correctly, they claimed that there were about 6 million regular users (defined as at least once a month) of illegal drugs in the country, of which slightly more than 10 million were primarily pot smokers. in a population of 279 million, that isn’t a crisis; it’s a statistical hiccup.

    C. S. P. Schofield (2f879a)

  41. Daleyrocks:

    Xrlq – I thought JRM’s purpose was to expose Radley’s bogus use of facts or lack thereof not make a complete argument for or against drug prohibition.

    If that was all he was trying to do, he still failed. Even if JRM had addressed the same time period Radley was talking about – and he didn’t – the fact that accidental police shootings overall may have dropped says absolutely nothing about whether they may have increased as a result of prohibition, relative to the drop that would otherwise have occurred. JRM’s counter-“argument,” such as it is, makes about as much sense as pointing out that today’s chain smokers have a longer life expectancy than non-smokers did in the Middle Ages, and therefore, smoking must not be bad for you. It doesn’t make an argument one way or the other, but it’s equally ineffective in refuting arguments made by others.

    I don’t see him playing fast and loose the way you did.

    Daleyrocks doesn’t see it != it isn’t there. What facts did I supposedly play “fast and loose” with?

    Where did you find your assumption of “fewer criminals to shoot at”? Was that a Balkoism or an asspull?

    It was neither. It was a “having been awake since 1996 and following the news like everyone else except maybe you” ism. Reasonable minds differ as to why crime has dropped precipitously during this period (Lott says increased enforcement of laws, Levitt says it’s a side effect of legalized abortion, etc.), but I’ve yet to hear anyone seriously dispute that it has. Do you have any data to counter this view?

    JRM:

    daleyrocks: You understood my argument better than Xrlq did, I think. I was *not* making an overall argument here.

    I also don’t believe there’s an overall argument to be made – legalization depends rather substantially on what drug you’re talking about. You want to legalize PCP, you’re out of your mind. You want to legalize marijuana or ecstasy, I disagree – but those are much more interesting arguments.

    There are interesting arguments about each. For MJ, the argument typically focuses on why we should ban something that probably isn’t all that bad for you, and is arguably no worse than alcohol. That argument doesn’t really work for hard drugs (unless one employs the same goofy logic you did on crime statistics, as some druggies do, and argues that since cocaine kills fewer people than alcohol, cocaine must be safer). However, there’s an empirical question on each drug as to whether the organized crime you try to wish away outweighs whatever benefit we get from reduced consumption. Everyone who’s not nuts understands that legalization would mean more users and abusers of whatever was just legalized. The question is how much increased abuse we’d be trading for how much less organized crime. And that’s a question we have to ask for all controlled substances, not just the “softer” ones.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  42. I have always been amused by the hypocrisy of the Left, which has been on a Crusade for these many years against the social evils of tobacco (smoking), yet claims there is no deleterious effect to the “responsible” use of cannabis (smoking).
    It has been my impression that the movement to legalize/regularize “medical marijuana” and the Medicare/Prescription Drug policies are just another way for pot-heads to get the Govt to pay for their junk.
    Somehow, I think “Moonshiners” were a more honest bunch.

    AD (7c0940)

  43. Comment by Pablo — 2/1/2009 @ 5:40 am
    My comment was in direct response to what you wrote here…
    “…but a drunk is far, far more likely to create carnage.”
    Comment by Pablo — 1/31/2009 @ 8:13 pm

    AD (7c0940)

  44. “…The question is how much increased abuse we’d be trading for how much less organized crime. And that’s a question we have to ask for all controlled substances, not just the “softer” ones.”
    Comment by Xrlq — 2/1/2009 @ 7:39 am

    Under Sharia, we won’t have to worry our pretty heads over this,
    will we (that is if they still sit on our shoulders)?

    AD (7c0940)

  45. To the Left, it would be far more acceptable to stand in the middle of Main St. while buggering a goat and freebasing cocaine and heroin than it would be to smoke a cigarette on your own property.

    JD (2aa114)

  46. But frankly if you want to see what drug use does forget the back alleys, go to a Pain Management MDs office. And that is as legal as it gets.

    Yep, that’s spot on. I can’t believe the amount of prescription drugs that are commonly prescribed today, they make Valium look tame by comparison. Vicodin, Percoset – so many drugs, so many supposed “patients.” And of course, we’re bombarded with drug ads 24/7, with some seemingly made up out of thin air, to treat conditions that no one had ever heard of previously. This is akin to what Chris Rock said many years ago – “why is pot illegal? Because the drug companies and the government can’t make any profit from it, that’s why! You can grow the damn stuff in your own backyard, you don’t need a drug company to provide it for you.”

    I’m all for big Pharma in most respects, but in some ways it’s quite a scam when you step back from this issue.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  47. than it would be to smoke a cigarette on your own property.

    Just wait, JD – they’ll be coming after your bacon rations shortly.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  48. #28 John Hitchcock:

    The biggest lie is the one they tell themselves. “I don’t have a problem.”

    They quite literally can’t distinguish the problem.

    A large percentage of the population can experiment with potentially addictive psychoactive drugs (whether alcohol, marijauna, cocaine, opiates) without long term adverse effects, but significant percentages of the population are subject to limbic system dysfunction after exposure to them. The brain either stops generating the neurotransmitters necessary to moderate the intake of the abuser’s ‘drug of choice,’ or it never generated them in the first place. In essence, the brain is fooled into believing that a continued supply of the psychoactive is essential to survival~at a very low level, below cognitive function~leading to behavior that seeks out the drug regardless of consequences. Some drugs affect larger segments of the population, marijauna addicting a ratio of about 1.5 times as many users as does alcohol, for example, while nicotine will addict about 40% of people exposed to it.

    In all cases, long term use disrupts neurotransmitter levels in the brain, affecting behavior. As an example, almost all drugs eventually lead to depleted serotonin levels resulting in chronic depression except when the user is high. In effect, drug traffickers are preying on the mentally ill. To make addictive psychoactives more generally available isn’t an idea that I am particularly comfortable with.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  49. #50

    Hard to say where to start with that drivel, except that, if true, it is exceptionally useless drivel.

    Addiction is largely behavioral and trying to explain it quantitatively or chemically is ludicrous. Do you do that with lust and road rage, too?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  50. I think it’s all Bush’s fault.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  51. “I can’t help but notice that in those countries where hard drugs are either de facto or de jure legal, crime seems to be worse.”

    Hmmm. Given repeated criticism that Balko failed to furnish readily available evidence, I wonder why no evidence is offered to support this claim.

    As for rationalizations for selective prohibition, other people in the thread have underscored the issue, so I won’t belabor it. Nor will I be expecting a reasonable account as to why potentially lethal drugs are legal, while non-lethal drugs are properly criminalized.

    My experience is that prohibitionists are ruled by their feelings; logical and responsible consideration of proper law and social policy do not even occur to them.

    Federal Dog (9f7406)

  52. “Hard to say where to start with that drivel, except that, if true, it is exceptionally useless drivel.”

    Kevin – I take it you’ve never seen someone go through withdrawal or jones for their substance of choice?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  53. “With respect to Aspergers, marijuana has proven to allow suffers to better fit socially and helps lead healthy social lives.”

    OuA – I used to think that a six pack gave me instant personality and improved my social life. That’s what you’re talking about here, right? The personality and behavior might change a little after a case.

    I was going to suggest that the medical profession start dispensing what are currently illegal drugs, after all, people like Badger want them for medical conditions, and then the quantities can be controlled. You beat me too it, though. I don’t think the proponents of legalization want anyone contolling their usage.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  54. I’m hopeful that the addicts to the INSANE War on Some Drugs (prosecutors, police, prison officials, defense attorneys(!), prison construction contractors, et. al.) recognize that they have a problem, need to enter a rehab program, and work the IWOSD 12 steps.

    ++++++++++++

    1. We admitted we were powerless to quit our involvement the INSANE War on Some Drugs–that our lives and careers had become unmanageable.

    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

    7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, prsecuted and jailed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

    11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

    12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to Drug War addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

    Horatio (55069c)

  55. Xrlq – Now you’re getting even further afield.

    “the fact that accidental police shootings overall may have dropped says absolutely nothing about whether they may have increased as a result of prohibition, relative to the drop that would otherwise have occurred.”

    Balko’s point was that the militarization of police forces due to the war on drugs – the increased use of SWAT teams, military training, change in weaponry, vaporization not mirandization – was making America a more dangerous place. All JRM did is present data showing police shootings have gone down, not make an argument, as you imply, the ceteris paribas, prohibition is the way to go. To pretend otherwise as you continue to do is just plain obtuse.

    On the murder statistics, again, all JRM does is present statistics refuting Balko’s presumtion, not, as you insist, a ceteris paribas argument for or against prohibition.

    You state that there are fewer criminals around to shoot but present no evidence. That may well be true. I live just outside Chicago and have not seen it reflected in the City’s homicide rate, but it’s not something I’m fixated on so I could very well be wrong.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  56. Daley, you’re sounding more like a lawyer every day – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  57. #54: Kevin – I take it you’ve never seen someone go through withdrawal or jones for their substance of choice?

    If you knew me you would know JUST how hilarious that is. I have, more than once, detoxed people on my couch. Some of them are still sober.

    “Addiction” is about 10% physical and 90% mental, and this is the primary reason why detox and rehab are such dismal failures — they turn out people who are still quite a ways short of a “cure.”

    And #50 is at best blind men describing the elephant, but mostly wank and blather.

    By the way, while I have nothing good to say about hard drugs, and am not enamored of pot, I am mildly in support of decriminalization. It’s long past time for Plan B.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  58. Addiction is a chemical phenomenon with opiates and involves the signaling of opioid receptors to increase in number. With the increase, it requires higher levels to saturate the same percentage, which seems to be the factor that determines effects. If someone has become addicted to high doses of opioids, the withdrawal is severe and prolonged. If that person then gets out of detox or jail or wherever they detoxed, and goes back to the same dose of opioid they were using before detox, they OD, usually fatal.

    One is chemical; one is psychological.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  59. “If you knew me you would know JUST how hilarious that is.”

    Kevin – I don’t really want to know you because you sound like a jerk. If addiction was just behavioral I suppose we would have crowds of recreational crack smokers walking around and stuff like that. I spend a good chunk of most days working with drunks and addicts. After physically detoxing, changing behavior and thinking are the most critical aspects to keeping them clean and sober.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  60. I think that the folks who actually work with addicts are better authorities on this subject, even more so than recovered addicts (though the addicts I know tell me that they don’t ever consider themselves recovered).

    Daley, you work with ’em, trying to help them function again. My hat is off to you.

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  61. This post and its 62 comments consisted of 7042 words.

    Not one of them was ‘freedom’.

    Fred Z (8b55a0)

  62. Yes, but Freedom is the face of a coin with two sides…
    The obverse is Responsibility.

    AD (7c0940)

  63. though the addicts I know tell me that they don’t ever consider themselves recovered

    Very true – I wish my father had admitted that he was still a “dry alcoholic” after his drinking days had ended (with the help of AA).

    Dmac (2fab96)

  64. Yes, but Freedom is the face of a coin with two sides…
    The obverse is Responsibility.

    And in a society that values individual liberty, one has the ability to exercise personal responsibility – not have the government make it illegal to do so, or take the decision out of one’s hands.

    No Force. No Fraud. No Foul.

    Horatio (55069c)

  65. The SF writer Larry Niven put it this way:

    Freedom X Security = a constant

    The more freedom, the less security. The more security, the less freedom.

    Addiction is a troubling thing. My mother quit smoking forty years ago now, and tells me that there isn’t a day when she doesn’t want a cigaret.

    My father, the toughest and strongest-willed man I know, cannot quit smoking. It’s his greatest shame.

    And that’s just cigarets.

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  66. #59 Kevin Murphy:

    And #50 [meaning me–EW1] is at best blind men describing the elephant, but mostly wank and blather.

    Seems to me you have little personal interest in the matter, since apparently you are neither an addict nor an alcoholic.

    Since I am both, I have a little more interest in keeping up with research in the field. A large part of managing a successful recovery is psychological, as addicts are extremely prone to distorted perceptions of their world, but to say that their problem is “all in their head,” while literally true, ignores the advances made in understanding the neurochemistry involved.

    As Mike K. notes, there are physiological changes that occur in the brain in opiate addiction (the same change mentioned also occurs in alcoholics with regard to receptor multiplication), and one of them common to alcoholics and opioid addicts is the cessation in production of dopamine2, the neurotransmitter that tells your brain that you’ve “had enough.”

    Let me also point out that saying you are a wanker and a twit is also quite literally true.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  67. #62 Eric Blair:

    (though the addicts I know tell me that they don’t ever consider themselves recovered).

    In spite of Murphy’s evaluation of my comment above as “wank and blather,” let me point out that addicts never recover simply because the ability of the brain to generate the neurotransmitters that tell “normal people” that they’ve had enough never returns.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  68. EW1, I never get it when people say ‘it’s all in your head’. The brain is a biomechanical device like the rest of our bodies. Just because it’s in the addict’s head doesn’t mean there aren’t chemicals involved or medicinal treatments that help.

    I wish the world were a place where addicts only harm themselves, but even then, it would be a lame world if we let people destroy themselves in the name of freedom. Freedom is about human dignity, being bold in the face of the government, and taking care of ourselves. It’s not about letting people ruin themselves.

    Joco (4cdfb7)

  69. Comment by Horatio — 2/1/2009 @ 5:06 pm

    Those who refuse, or are unable, to be responsible require the hand of government, which is nothing more than the hands of their neighbors and family writ large, to restrain their more base instincts to keep the social contract that we have all made to do no harm to each other.

    AD (7c0940)

  70. #70 Joco:

    The brain is a biomechanical device like the rest of our bodies.

    Well, I am glad that we don’t just tell diabetes patients that “it’s all in your head!”

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  71. let me point out that addicts never recover simply because the ability of the brain to generate the neurotransmitters that tell “normal people” that they’ve had enough never returns.

    Have they not identified a gene that predisposes people to alcoholism?

    Dmac (2fab96)

  72. Those who refuse, or are unable, to be responsible require the hand of government, which is nothing more than the hands of their neighbors and family writ large, to restrain their more base instincts to keep the social contract that we have all made to do no harm to each other.

    And why should responsible citizens suffer because some citizens are not? Some will use drugs responsibly. Some won’t. Some use alcohol responsibly. Some don’t.

    I assert that the majority being penalized because of the minority is patently an absurd way to run a society or government. To paraphrase a noted libertarian author, L. Neil Smith:

    “What a [politician’s] attitude — toward your use of drugs — conveys is his real attitude about you. And if he doesn’t trust you, then why in the name of [Timothy Leary] should you trust him?

    He may lecture you about the dangerous weirdos out there who shouldn’t [use drugs] — but what does that have to do with you? Why in the name of [Timothy Leary] should you be made to suffer for the misdeeds of others? Didn’t you lay aside the infantile notion of group punishment when you left public school — or the military? Isn’t it an essentially European notion, anyway — Prussian, maybe — and certainly not what America was supposed to be all about?”

    Horatio (55069c)

  73. There is such a thing as a “social contract” that all civilized members of society subscribe to, and pledge to observe to the best of their ability; for, it is only through such proscribed conduct can society survive without devolving into the jungle of anarchy.
    If you have a problem with that, then you must live “beyond the walls” with the brigands and barbarians.
    And that will be your choice, not ours, unless you act out and break the social contract, wherefore, you will be banished to an area where you may not harm others who wish to observe that contract (they call that imprisonment FWIW).
    So, you might want to climb down off of that Libertarian horse and work with the rest of us to maintain a society that honors liberty, expects responsibility, and acknowledges freedom as long as you remember that your freedom ends at the tip of my nose.

    AD (7c0940)

  74. “…the majority being penalized because of the minority …”

    But, there has never been a nationwide referendum on drug-use, and it has been determined by our elected representatives, under the rules of The Republic, that that conduct should be proscribed. I do not judge that decision in this discussion, but recognize that if a majority in the country desire it to be changed, then the Legislature will do so, and rightly so.

    AD (7c0940)

  75. “I assert that the majority being penalized because of the minority is patently an absurd way to run a society or government.”

    Horatio – Vote accordingly. We have a democracy in this country. It sounds like you don’t like the idea of democracies because you just want to be free to do your thing. Would be happier in another country that more closely fits your needs? Which one?

    During the peak lunacy of Ron Paul’s popularity last year I kept cracking myself up by imagining a new model town populated exclusively by libertarians and the anarchy and chaos that would result.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  76. EW1(SG) – I’m surprised our racist friend didn’t stop back to take a few shots at the normies. Maybe after the kids are in bed. Good to see you up and at ’em.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  77. AD,

    My comment was in direct response to what you wrote here…
    “…but a drunk is far, far more likely to create carnage.”
    Comment by Pablo — 1/31/2009 @ 8:13 pm

    I only referred to potheads/stoners. Your comment has no relation to what I said, which had nothing to do with meth/coke heads.

    AKA Pablo (99243e)

  78. FWIW,

    Joco, yes marijuana has been around but its secondary effects are less known than marijuana from a pure medical perspective. The other drugs even moreso. Alchohol and all its evils (liek smoking) are well known and studied. My central point is the more science around marijuana — the less folks will find it objectionable and therefore legal.

    Daley, I can not speak for mis-diagnosis by MD in order to facilitate stoners getting stoned, but given reality of how we live having MDs intermediate the drug trade is not a bad idea. It also gives the profession a needed boost in income in order to incent the creation of more MDs — a real big problem going forward is declining MDs and letting MDs monetize the opportunity can be a “positive externailty” and middle road to solving the “Drug Problem.

    To all, some of it is chemistry, some of it personality. All things in moderation the saying goes. No need to criminalize all things in moderation so long as you don’t take away other’s rights.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  79. #73 Dmac:

    Have they not identified a gene that predisposes people to alcoholism?

    They think they might have: as you may be aware, there is a huge familial factor in alcoholism (50% of my generation of my family is in recovery, and the family history of alcoholism is traceable back to the Colonial era…skipping a generation now and then).

    #78 daleyrocks:

    Good to see you

    Good to see you too. Took a cut in pay to work from home (something I would not have been able to do in a past life) so as soon as I settle into a schedule, I hope to have a little more time to comment.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  80. Regarding the genetics of addictions….

    I am a geneticist by training, and I want to tread VERY lightly here. I have seen people shrug off their own actions using the line from Queen’s “Sheer Heart Attack”: “It must be my DNA, that makes me act this way.” It takes me back to Edmund’s pretty speech in Shakespeare’s “King Lear”:


    “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!”


    That being said, there is some evidence of genetic predisposition, with a huge environmental set of influences. Phenotype always results from genotype + environment + random events. Here is a good “Scientific American” type introduction to the subject, if people are interested:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=seeking-the-connections-alcoholism-and-our-genes

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  81. “having MDs intermediate the drug trade is not a bad idea”

    OuA – I wonder what it would do to their insurance rates. Heh!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  82. Daley, I thought sure you were going to work in a pot joke here. Hat tip that you didn’t go for it!

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  83. Obama uber alles, I sincerely doubt that many would want marijuana legalized for recreational use if everyone was well informed about the drug. It causes brain damage.

    It’s easy for me to tell if someone has smoked a lot of pot in their life. It not only damaged memory, but creates imbalances that can lead to schizophrenia. A lot of people realize that the homeless are often insane. They weren’t born that way.

    Alcohol is a drug that can be abused to great harm, of course, but as a culture we can’t go back to a time when we don’t use alcohol, and thus we’ve generally been able to control it and enjoy it. Alcohol is not even slightly as dangerous as marijuana, so matter what you might hear from idiots on campus. IT is dangerous, but that’s not an argument for increasing the danger.

    I do think science should continue to study the effects of pot and do what is possible to inform people about it. But I am under no illusions. Every time a study comes out to explain that pot really is horrible for you, potheads ignore the information.

    Joco (4cdfb7)

  84. After physically detoxing, changing behavior and thinking are the most critical aspects to keeping them clean and sober.

    And what part of that did I disagree with? All I said was that detox and rehab turn out unrecovered people, and that trying to reduce “addiction” to the action of chemical receptors is nonsense. At least that’s what the last 20 years of experience tells me.

    As far as being a jerk, quite possible I am one, although I’m not the one calling names.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  85. EW1(SG) —

    4.1.88

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  86. EW1(SG)–

    Just because you can measure something does not mean you understand it, or that your measurements have real meaning. Which is what my comment about the blind men and the elephant related to.

    Almost nothing of alcoholism, or at least recovery from alcoholism, has anything to do with biochemistry. Sure there is a physical component, but (depending on the substance) it is only a short time before the chemical addiction is gone. All that takes is a locked door, time, and possibly some mediating meds.

    But the sad fact is that nearly all addicts and alcoholics — with nothing done but chemical detox — relapse within days, if not hours. And the reason for this relapse has little to do with biochemistry. It has to do with thinking and behavior that drive and reinforce an obsession. This thinking and behavior have to change drastically if the addict is to go on their life without constant obsession, and obsession that will inexorably win.

    So, as I said to daley: detox and rehab are woefully insufficient and thinking them a “cure” is society’s main mistake.

    Which has nothing to do with decriminalization, of course.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  87. “As far as being a jerk, quite possible I am one, although I’m not the one calling names.”

    Kevin – Take another look at your comment #51. It seems pretty equivalent to calling names to me and then recharacterizing EW1’s comment as wank and blather again, I guess isn’t calling him names, only denigrating his comment. Since you are now trying to clarify what you meant by your earlier comments there seems to be less disagreement. Your original statements made little if any sense. The chemical dependency is while actively using and behavior modification is to maintain sobriety. Why would there be any reason for detox unless there was an issue with dependency. Otherwise I’d expect you to make an argument that alcoholics could just modify their behavior to drink less, which you haven’t.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  88. There are substances that are not good for people that should be banned.

    Some will try to sell these substances anyway.

    The Government must do everything possible to suppress this. That is one inevitable fact of this beautiful world of ours.

    What about this do some libertarians not understand?

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  89. Alcohol is not even slightly as dangerous as marijuana, so matter what you might hear from idiots on campus.

    That is the most objectively ridiculous statement on this thread. No matter how you look at it, be it in terms of physical/mental damage to the user to societal impact and possible consequences to others alcohol exacts a far greater toll than pot. It’s nowhere near close.

    AKA Pablo (99243e)

  90. I agree, and since there was not one scintilla of proof posted here to buttress that rant, the commenter has effectively beclowned himself. Every time some new “study” comes out about the harmful effects of pot, the eventual underwriters of the “study” are revealed to be anti – drug councils. For years we had to hear endless talk about how pot was the ever – present scourge for the “gateway” drugs that were soon to follow, even though no conclusive evidence was ever verified to justify that statement.

    50% of my generation of my family is in recovery, and the family history of alcoholism is traceable back

    I have no doubt that part of it is genetic in origin – on my father’s side, alcoholism has been occuring in every generation, as far back as recorded.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  91. Alcohol is not even slightly as dangerous as marijuana, so matter what you might hear from idiots on campus.

    That is the most objectively ridiculous statement on this thread.

    +1!!

    By every conceivable objective measure, alcohol is far more destructive and dangerous than marijuana. How many people have drunks killed this year? How many spouses and children have they battered? How many marriages and families have they destroyed?

    I’ve known a fair number of people who drank themselves to death. Try to find me somebody who toked themselves to death.

    Out of curiosity, can any of the drug warriors/prohibitionists in the thread tell me precisely what “victory” in the War on (Some) Drugs would look like? Under what conditions it would be declared? Or have you committed yourself to an endless war against your fellow citizens?

    BTW, this is the second stupidest thing in the thread:

    I can’t help but notice that in those countries where hard drugs are either de facto or de jure legal crime seems to be worse. Mexico’s lack of enforcement of the drug laws (primarily due to widespread corruption) hasn’t led to peaceful drug lords.

    Does JRM really think drugs are de facto legal in Mexico? I encourage him to try and get himself caught with an ounce in Juarez. I mean, if weed is “de facto leagal”, there’s nothing to worry about, right?

    The drug cartels infiltrate and corrupt law enforcement agencies precisely because drugs are illegal. They don’t do it to make drugs “de facto legal”, but to make sure their product gets through, while their competitors are imprisoned, tortured or killed. You only need do this with an illegal product. It seems like drug warriors are simply incapable of grasping this point.

    Does Miller have moles in the Milwaukee PD? Has Coors bought off the entire Colorado Highway Patrol so they can intercept Budweiser trucks? Of course not. Because beer is a legal product. They have no need to engage in such tactics. It’s only when prohibition creates a black market that violent criminals move in.

    CTD (7054d2)

  92. Daley–

    As posted (and I still do not see prior context), the assertions about addiction and brain chemistry are just not useful.

    Sure, there are some differences in brain chemistry between “normal” drinkers and alcoholics (and similar for other substances), but even there the science produces only fuzzy statistics. Perhaps “wank” is a harsh term, but I just found the post so massively unhelpful and misleading in its clinical assertion….

    If he was trying to say that with some substances there is more certainty of addiction than with others, that was lost in the technospeak.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  93. Lessee… Steven Den Beste: the nominal diameter of a .38 Special round is .358 inches; the nominal diameter of a 9mm round is .355 inches. The difference isn’t huge. More and more are switching to the .40 S&W, for various reasons; it’s significantly bigger, at .4005 inches.

    Joel Rosenberg (5ec843)

  94. Dear Mr. Rosenberg: I had always heard that the .357 round had the best statistics for “single shot stops” in the real world. Is that no longer true?

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  95. Comment by Eric Blair — 2/2/2009 @ 9:49 am

    If you want to stop someone with one stop, big and heavy works best:
    230gr, JHP, .45acp!
    .357’s got their rep because of its’ superiority over the .38-Special, at a time when many PD’s did not allow their officers to carry 45-auto’s.
    Now, many gunmakers produce 45-auto’s that carry as many as 15-rounds in a package more compact, and lighter than the classic 1911-Govt.

    AD (b72706)

  96. Thanks, AD. I have a couple of .357 revolvers and enjoy using them on the target range.

    A friend has been pushing me toward the .45 ACP. I’m not all that used to autoloaders, but it is time to branch out. The ghost of Jeff Cooper would approve.

    Appreciate the input.

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  97. Comment by AKA Pablo — 2/1/2009 @ 8:39 pm

    Yes, you referred to a “stoner”, but I don’t discriminate among “dopers” – I have no use for any of them,
    and find “recreational pharmacology” to be destructive to society overall.
    YMMV!

    AD (b72706)

  98. Very well – then close all the bars immediately.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  99. …and jail all pharmacists and doctors who prescribe Vicodin, Percoset…

    Dmac (2fab96)

  100. Comment by Eric Blair — 2/2/2009 @ 10:04 am
    There is a .45 wheelgun available…
    The Smith & Wesson 625.
    Using moon-clips, it is very fast on reloads, and very accurate.
    Jerry Miculek, a sharpshooter on staff with S&W, is famous for his ability with this model:
    Draw, fire 6 rounds, reload, fire 6 rounds, all on target, less that 5-seconds total time.

    AD (b72706)

  101. Comment by Dmac — 2/2/2009 @ 10:10 am
    What part of the phrase “recreational pharmacology” are you unsure about?

    AD (b72706)

  102. Regarding MD’s dispensing drugs, this is exactly what happened when we first criminalized opiates.

    In the year 1914!!!

    Result – establishment of a narcotics enforcement agency, making opiates controlled substances, criminalization of dispensing heroin to addicts as it wasn’t ‘medical care,’ imprisonment of thousands of doctors, half of the inmates in Leavenworth were there for drug charges…

    The more things change :)

    carlitos (9e0bdf)

  103. Eric Blair asks: I had always heard that the .357 round had the best statistics for “single shot stops” in the real world. Is that no longer true?

    It’s as true as it ever was, I think. By which I mean: nobody really knows. The Marshall/Sanow one-shot stop data is, looked at most generously, garbage science.

    Probably the best person to read on the subject it Martin Fackler; his conclusion, based on the examination of a lot of dead people and some real science, is that the Big (Relatively) Slow Bullet is a generally better idea.

    And, yup, there are more than a few .45 and other Great Big Bullet revolvers. The only reason (IMHO) to go to an autoloader is if you think that you really might need to shoot a bunch of rounds in a very short time, and are willing to trade off the greater reliability of a revolver for that.

    Joel Rosenberg (5ec843)

  104. Of course, the best weapon is the one with which you have experience, I know.

    But I sure do appreciate the input. I’m looking into a .45ACP, but I guess I have issues with all the polymer autoloaders out there (and it’s purely my personal aesthetics). Oh well.

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  105. Polymer autoloaders…
    As a lover of fine craftsmanship, I too had reservations about polymer-framed handguns, though I bought one over 10-years ago (EAA Poly-Witness in .45acp), and today have models from Springfield-Armory, Stirm, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson.
    If you ride a carbon-fibre framed bicycle, you know that they ride smoother than tubular-framed units. The same is true for polymer guns, they absorb a certain degree of recoil and make the gun more comfortable to shoot.
    In the end, though, it is a matter of personal choice, and just what feels good in your hand.

    AD (b72706)

  106. I’m envious of the handgun talk. Handguns are illegal here in Chicago. That’s why we don’t have any gun violence. I mean, we have only had a couple of shootings at high-school basketball games … this month. The city is gun free.

    carlitos (9e0bdf)

  107. You may laugh, AD, but I have this preference for Parkerized autoloaders. My wheelguns are stainless.

    Just how things look, I guess.

    I do need to go try out a few models. My hands are pretty small, so the double row autoloaders take a lot of practice for me to gain any accuracy. Oh well.

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  108. Carlitos, I live in Washington State. Very liberal state, but no one seems to mind firearms here.

    In fact, I can get a concealed carry permit here, I’m told.

    Try that in LA.

    Eric Blair (53ab22)

  109. Here’s an inexpensive 1911-Govt with a Parkerized finish, and good quality.

    AD (b72706)

  110. Comment by Eric Blair — 2/2/2009 @ 11:07 am
    Hell, I can get a CCW in WA, and I live in CA.
    I think my UT CCW is valid in WA, too.
    Getting a CCW here in SoCal is virtually impossible.

    AD (b72706)

  111. What part of the phrase “recreational pharmacology” are you unsure about?

    Your definition, for one – and your dogmatism on the subject in general, for another.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  112. DaleyRocks #82 — Insurance rates for MDs would probably go up but the money should make up for it.

    Joco #84 — Liberalism causes more brain damage than marijuana. But seriously, the people who run this country use marijuana quite frequently. My wife and I went “Ivy” and pot use is as common as alchohol in the Under 40 crowd. Again, it long effect, to me, seem no worse than alchohol or smoking or bacon eating. Mind I add, neither I nor my wife do/did pot because we felt it a silly escape.

    Kevin #87 — “Just because you can measure something does not mean you understand it, or that your measurements have real meaning” ….. you mean like linking global warming to “man made global warming!”

    DMAC #101 — I think every single MD in the world would be in jail. No joke. Scripting pain killers is as common as taking blood pressure in an MDs office. Hell, Hospitals would be shut down too.

    Obama über alles!!!!! (48dd5e)

  113. AD,

    Yes, you referred to a “stoner”, but I don’t discriminate among “dopers” –

    Actually, I was talking about the substances, not their users. That you don’t discriminate between pot and meth and coke doesn’t mean that I don’t, nor does it change pot into meth and/or coke.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s almost happy hour.

    Pablo (99243e)

  114. Having doctors dispense ‘controlled substances’ only in ‘medical’ circumstances resulted in the prosecution and imprisonment of literally thousands of doctors in the 1920’s, following passage of the Harrison Act. Why do we think something different would happen this time? If the Supreme Court can make in-state pot growing and smoking within the purview of Interstate Commerce, and our government can regulate drugs as part of licensing and taxation, why would we trust the feds to do anything other than grab more power? No matter what remedy we choose.

    carlitos (9e0bdf)

  115. Are we Winning Yet?

    TUCSON — Drug smugglers parked a car transport trailer against the Mexican side of the border one day in December, dropped a ramp over the security fence, and drove two pickup trucks filled with marijuana onto Arizona soil.

    **************

    Maybe this “war on” just needs a bigger TARP!

    TC (0b9ca4)

  116. Comment by Pablo — 2/2/2009 @ 12:07 pm
    “Yeah, you can be a stoner loser, but a drunk is far, far more likely to create carnage.”
    Sounds like you were talking about the person, and why he was a loser.

    Comment by Dmac — 2/2/2009 @ 11:32 am
    I find it incomprehensible that anyone doesn’t know what “recreational pharmacology” refers to;
    but, I would think we could nail it down to:
    Doing drugs for drugs sake.

    I may be “dogmatic”, but, I know what I do, and do not, approve of;
    and, I conduct myself within those parameters (or try to).
    But, what you do or do not do, as long as it does not affect me, is your business.

    Just put me down for an old crank.

    AD (b72706)

  117. Fair enough, AD.

    Dmac (2fab96)

  118. […] few people have asked what I think of this critique of my work over at Patterico’s blog, by a guest blogger with the handle […]

    The Agitator » Blog Archive » Drugs, Crime, Blog Wars (2ccb72)

  119. And if the gun laws get changed, there will be more of you than just Chicago and DC residents that will be handing them in! But isn’t that a personal freedom, we all think is our right also? I think gun laws are wrong. Libertarians agree with you on that, don’t they?!

    But I think that, with more people than ever using illegal drugs (prescription and nonprescription), and all of the violence seen in Mexico from the cartel wars, there has to be a better way. The border has been there for a long time and it is not secure yet?! How much longer do you need, guys?! I don’t think normal people would be able to keep their jobs if they failed at it year in and year out! Come on guys lets get it done!

    The drug war has been going on how long forty years,….,ninety years? And there is no drop in addiction in this country? And, the alcohol addicts outnumber the drug addicts in treatment, by far! It is going to take thinking out of the box, and not old worn out excuses as to why something different won’t work, or even be attempted. We are just spinning our wheels. All the time, your kids can get drugs easier than they can get booze or cigarettes. Come on people, Think of the kids!

    What kind of message are you sending them? They will continue to be able to buy all the drugs they want because we cannot stop dealers form getting it to them? Yes, we are currently supporting the cartels and dealers who are getting very rich off of us! We are supporting an on going criminal enterprise through our lack of action. Dealers don’t card, you know! Remember the kids in Texas that died from cheese heroin at school?! Think about it. We are failing the kids.

    Michael (da179a)

  120. Balko does a nice job in refuting JRM’s “points” here:

    http://www.theagitator.com/2009/02/03/drugs-crime-blog-wars/

    LJM (28d243)

  121. #

    There is such a thing as a “social contract” that all civilized members of society subscribe to, and pledge to observe to the best of their ability; for, it is only through such proscribed conduct can society survive without devolving into the jungle of anarchy.
    If you have a problem with that, then you must live “beyond the walls” with the brigands and barbarians.
    And that will be your choice, not ours, unless you act out and break the social contract, wherefore, you will be banished to an area where you may not harm others who wish to observe that contract (they call that imprisonment FWIW).
    So, you might want to climb down off of that Libertarian horse and work with the rest of us to maintain a society that honors liberty, expects responsibility, and acknowledges freedom as long as you remember that your freedom ends at the tip of my nose.

    Comment by AD — 2/1/2009 @ 7:42 pm

    First of all, our society doesn’t expect responsibility. It demands accountability, instead. Yet, instead of holding people accountable for harming others, some of those we prosecute without having harmed anyone. People get several DUIs, which in this current system is supposed to tip you off that they are irresponsible and will cause harm if they get to the right situation, and yet they are released time and again in waiting for the next time they screw up. People with rap sheets longer than my resume are released time and again knowing that since they aren’t violent that they can commit far more crimes than they’ll be held accountable for. And then we have people that harm nobody. Recreational drug users. People who just want to sit at home and try drugs. As you said, you don’t want to do it, but who cares what they do on their own time as long as they don’t harm you? I’m all for increasing charges for people committing crimes while high on drugs. They’ve shown that they can’t use them responsibly, and therefore aren’t responsible members of society.

    #

    “…the majority being penalized because of the minority …”

    But, there has never been a nationwide referendum on drug-use, and it has been determined by our elected representatives, under the rules of The Republic, that that conduct should be proscribed. I do not judge that decision in this discussion, but recognize that if a majority in the country desire it to be changed, then the Legislature will do so, and rightly so.

    Comment by AD — 2/1/2009 @ 7:49 pm

    So if the majority wanted to get the colored folk out of our country, that’d be OK? The point is that the basic right of human beings to do what they damn well please (logically, without effecting somebody else’s right to do so) without punishment should be inalienable, yet we go on prosecuting against this simple ideal.

    Danny (9b57d9)

  122. #88 Kevin Murphy:

    Just because you can measure something does not mean you understand it, or that your measurements have real meaning.

    Kevin, I’m guessing from your later comments that we aren’t all that far apart on how we treat addiction, but I do disagree with the notion that understanding what actually causes addiction is irrelevant in formlulating effective treatment.

    Almost nothing of alcoholism, or at least recovery from alcoholism, has anything to do with biochemistry.

    I happen to think that understanding the biochemistry that occurs in addiction is extremely relevant in understanding the behavior that accompanies addiction, since its the biochemistry that drives the behavior, not the other way around.

    Sure there is a physical component, but (depending on the substance) it is only a short time before the chemical addiction is gone. All that takes is a locked door, time, and possibly some mediating meds.

    There is a difference between physical dependence, and addiction proper. Opioids will cause physical dependence in just about everybody, but addiction in only about 1 in 10. And addiction rates vary between drugs~ which is why the phrase “drug of choice” is so often used to indicate which one a person is most susceptible to. Physical dependence can be mitigated in a relatively short period, but addiction lasts a lifetime.

    But the sad fact is that nearly all addicts and alcoholics — with nothing done but chemical detox — relapse within days, if not hours. And the reason for this relapse has little to do with biochemistry. It has to do with thinking and behavior that drive and reinforce an obsession.

    This is where we differ: that “obsession” is most absolutely biochemical in nature. To put it bluntly, an addict’s brain is broke. Flat out, physically broken, and there isn’t any way to fix that physical broke. So for the rest of that addict’s life, his brain stem is going to continue to believe that the drug of choice is necessary for the survival of the organism, even when the higher brain knows better.

    Now, since there isn’t any way to fix that broke, what we do that is effective is to teach the higher brain healthy habits, both physically and mentally, that prevent the brain stem from being placed in a position to assert its survival drive for the drug of choice.

    This thinking and behavior have to change drastically if the addict is to go on their life without constant obsession, and obsession that will inexorably win.

    It isn’t necessary for everybody who deals with addiction in their own life to understand the “why” of it, if they are comfortable just with the “how.” But to formulate recovery plans for others without understanding the why is just waving some chicken feathers and spraying some pig’s blood about and hoping that it goes away. And for a few of us, understanding the why is vitally important to implementing the how.

    So, as I said to daley: detox and rehab are woefully insufficient and thinking them a “cure” is society’s main mistake.

    We agree there. They’re just tools along the path.

    Which has nothing to do with decriminalization, of course.

    Nope. My own experience has left me a little less libertarian on this particular issue: knowing that there is no cure for addiction, I would rather see fewer people exposed to addictive substances, but I don’t know how you do that in a manner consistent with our freedoms.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  123. […] had originally planned a full-blown meta-fisking of JRM’s uncommonly silly fisking of Radley Balko’s recent Reason/Culture11 article on the war on drugs, but I see Radley […]

    damnum absque injuria » This Is Your Brain On Drugs. This Is Your Brain On Anti-Drug Hysteria. Any Questions? (490ac4)

  124. Marijuana = Liquor then Badger? Maybe next you will argue that LSD = Caffeine, or maybe PCP = Nicotine
    Comment by Dawnsblood

    I just saw this and had to reply. I am sorry but you are an absolutely ridiculous person if you believe this! This is one of the most stupid arguments I have ever seen! My god!

    I am a student studying Drug botany along with drug action on the brain and I must say you sure have you’re facts mixed up!

    First of all… Alcohol is much more destructive on a person’s system than weed and as for psychological effects… alcohol is the winner there. Weed has a huge calming effect on the mind and people who smoke pot are not violent people. Alcohol on the other hand… Now you’re saying that comparing the two is like comparing LSD and Caffeine? I’m sorry but you are talking out of you’re ass and should actually know something about what you’re arguing if you intend to make statements like that. Back it up or you are just another ignorant fool!

    Jari (8bfbad)


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