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Legalization of "Hard" Drugs


smac97

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Oregon just legalized "hard" drugs (sorta).  See here:

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Oregon made history Tuesday in the movement to reconsider the nation’s war on drugs by becoming the first state to decriminalize small amounts of heroin and other street drugs.

Voters overwhelmingly supported Measure 110, a coup for the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, the same criminal justice reform group that backed Oregon’s successful marijuana legalization effort in 2014.

I am concerned about this trend, as I fear it will lead to increased drug use.

On the other hand, I am also concerned about the harm caused by the "War on Drugs," by the generalized approach to substance abuse as a criminal matter more than a medical one.

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Peter Zuckerman, campaign manager for Measure 110, called the win “a big step forward.”
...
Supporters believe U.S. drug policy has filled the country’s jails with nonviolent offenders who need treatment instead of incarceration and has disproportionately affected generations of Black people.

This is a challenging issue.  Incarceraton for drug possession is harmful to the Black community, but so is drug use.  Will Measure 110 increase the rate of drug use in the Black community (and elsewhere)?  And if so, what will the impact be?

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{T}he past two weeks featured a scrappy resistance led by critics, including former Gov. John Kitzhaber, who argued the measure would undermine the role of courts in getting people into drug treatment and would not guarantee much-needed treatment beds.
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Jim O’Rourke, one of the leading opponents, said the measure won’t mean more treatment beds for people with substance abuse addiction.

“We are disappointed that Oregon voters have been misled into decriminalizing heroin, meth, cocaine, oxycodone," he said. “Both sides need to come together with the governor and Legislature and give the voters what they really intended -- saving lives and more treatment beds.”

Addressing substance abuse is a very complex issue, but in the end everyone is interested in saving lives and helping people addicted to harmful substances.

Will Measure 110 do that?  I guess we'll see.  The Netherlands is often cited as an example of how decriminalization does not lead to increased drug use (see, e.g., here).  However, the approach taken by The Netherlands seems distinguishable from Measure 110.  See here:

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The Netherlands’ tolerant approach towards drug use and its low penalties for drug-related crimes have contributed to the country’s position as a top producer for drugs. The country is famous for its “gedoodbeleid” or “policy of tolerance” that leads to non-enforcement of soft drug offenses. Distinctions between soft drugs and hard drugs are made under the Opium law of the Netherlands. Drugs with a low risk of harm and/or addiction such as hash, marijuana, sleeping pills, and sedatives are considered “soft drugs.” Hard drugs include heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD, and ecstasy. These substances are considered to have a higher risk of harm and addiction.

And here (from the official website of the government of The Netherlands):

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The Opium Act sets out the rules pertaining to drugs. The Act distinguishes between hard and soft drugs. The sale of soft drugs in coffee shops is tolerated in the Netherlands under certain strict conditions. A coffee shop is an establishment where cannabis may be sold but no alcoholic drinks may be sold or consumed.
...
The Netherlands tolerates the sale of soft drugs in coffee shops and takes rigorous action to suppress the sale of hard drugs. By adopting this strategy, the government separates these two markets. Cannabis users are not obliged to buy their soft drugs from criminal dealers who might easily bring them into contact with hard drugs.

(Emphasis added.)

Put another way, The Netherlands differentiates its approach to "hard" drugs compared to its approach to "soft" drugs.  Measure 110 does not.  From the main article above:

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The measure has three key components:

- It reduces misdemeanor drug possession to a non-criminal violation on par with a traffic offense. People with small amounts of drugs including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, LSD, psilocybin, methadone and oxycodone will get a ticket and face a $100 fine or have the option of being screened for a substance abuse disorder.

- It reduces penalties for what are now felony drug possession cases, which involve larger quantities. Under Measure 110, most of those offenses will be misdemeanors.

- It funnels millions in marijuana tax revenue toward what it calls Addiction Recovery Centers, where people can be screened and directed to treatment options. Those tax dollars will also go to a Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund overseen by the state that could be used to pay for treatment, housing or other programs designed to address addiction.

Heroin, cocaine, meth, etc., the "hard" drugs are essentially now legal in Oregon, provided that the individual is caught with only "small amounts."

Meanwhile, all is not well in The Netherlands:

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A quiet suburban neighborhood in Amsterdam witnessed a bloody shooting this past September that is bringing attention to the growth of drug-related violence in the Netherlands. Derk Wiersum was murdered outside his home during broad daylight in an act meant to frighten and intimidate civilians and local law enforcement. Coincidentally, just a month prior to the attack, Dutch Minister of Justice and Security, Ferdinand Grapperhaus, publicly stated that “The Netherlands is at risk of becoming a narco state.”

A narco state is a country whose economy is dependent on the trade if illegal drugs. Although the Dutch economy is not currently defined by the drug industry, it is an illicit market which has increasing influence on its society. The Netherlands has been described as a central hub for the global drug market due to its many transit ports and the large number of synthetic drugs being produced in the country and distributed around the world.
...
The extensive transport network and transit ports in the Netherlands has turned it into the central distribution hub for marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine. A majority of soft drugs are imported from South America and North Africa but a significant amount of the world’s synthetic drugs are produced within the country itself. Substances such as MDMA, LSD, amphetamines, and GHB are being transported around the globe, and an estimated 18.8 billion euros ($20.75 billion) worth of ecstasy pills are being produced in Amsterdam yearly. The market is not only big, but it moves quickly as well. On the day Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, orange “Trumpies” ecstasy tablets were found on the streets and 24 hours later they were being sold in Australia. Drugs are becoming harder, profit margins are getting larger, and a new generation of drug crime lords are taking over.

There has been a steady increase in drug related violence and at least 50 homicides linked to the criminal networks in greater Amsterdam within the last 7 years. Police complain that they are understaffed and unprepared to handle the rise of crime resulting from the flourishing drug trade. Young people growing up in areas ignored by the government and tourists are turning to crime in hopes of making a living. Drug business and violence is going from underground to broad daylight with lawyers, mayors and police officers being threatened by organized crime. There is growing concern over the way the drug economy is undermining and threatening the legitimate economy and society of the Netherlands.

The country has moved from consuming drugs to producing them on a global scale, creating a lucrative black market. Today, about 59% of Dutch citizens believe the country is now a narco-state. According to chairman of the biggest Dutch police union, Jan Struijs, “If you look at the infrastructure, the big money earned by organized crime, the parallel economy. Yes, we have a narco-state.”

Oregon legalized marijuana in 2014, and has not leapfrogged The Netherlands to legalize "hard" drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth.  Will this increase or decrease drug use? 

Will this lead to Oregon becoming a "distribution hub" for "hard" drugs? 

Will Oregon see "a new generation of drug crime lords" set up shop, now that their product is (sorta) legal? 

Will this lead to Oregon getting more funding for education and "treatment beds?"  Per the main article above, Measure 110 "funnels millions in marijuana tax revenue toward what it calls Addiction Recovery Centers, where people can be screened and directed to treatment options."  So Oregon A) legalized marijuana, B) taxed marijuana, and C) will now use the taxes from marijuana to fund efforts to discourage use of marijuana and other substances (including, presumably, the "hard" ones listed above).  Seems kinda weird.

Meanwhile, some lessons learned about legalizing marijuana:

From 2019:

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For the July 1 {2019} anniversary of when it became legal to grow and possess the plant, The Oregonian/OregonLive interviewed a range of people who have seen its effects.  Adult marijuana use is up measurably, according to surveys.
...
There have been elevated numbers of cannabis-related poison center calls, emergency room visits and impaired driving incidents that have concerned state officials. But in a broader context, those numbers remain a relatively small component of all poisonings, ER visits and impaired driving cases.

And teen usage has changed little, surveys show, although public health officials caution that it's too soon to judge legalization's lasting social and health impacts.

Meanwhile, the market is so flush with extra weed that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has put a temporary moratorium on grow licenses. Black market sales, concerns about potency and worries about big companies edging out local producers are universal for supporters and critics of the industry.

 

Legalization Leads to Increased Marijuana Use, But Evidence of "Gateway Drug" Lacking

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Marijuana legalization is a growing trend among American state governments. Advocates of marijuana legalization argue that the drug is a good alternative for pain relief. Additionally, marijuana tax revenue can add to state economies. For instance, Colorado raised $247 million and Washington raised $319 million from taxes and fees related to marijuana in 2017. 

Opponents of marijuana legalization often cite the "gateway drug" theory. First popularized in the 1980s, the gateway drug theory proposes that use of "soft" drugs like marijuana increases the risk of using more harmful substances, such as cocaine and opioids.

This report looks at drug use trends following legalization in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Colorado. These four states all legalized marijuana from 2012 to 2014, so several years of data are available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  Additionally, education and employment trends are included from other civic data sources.
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This chart, based on data from the SAMHSA survey, suggests that use of marijuana has increased in Oregon, Alaska, and Colorado, beginning in the year that the ballot measures passed, though slightly before the legalization took effect. The trend in Washington, by contrast, was not as noticeable.  

Lessons Learned from Marijuana Legalization in Four U.S. States {WA, CO, OR, AK} and D.C.

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Executive Highlights

Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, followed by Alaska and Oregon in 2014.  The District of Columbia legalized cultivation and possession in 2014.

Today’s highly potent marijuana represents a growing and significant threat to public health and safety, a threat that is amplified by a new marijuana industry intent on profiting from heavy use.

State laws allowing marijuana have, in direct contradiction to federal law, permitted this industry to flourish, influencing both policies and policy makers. While the consequences of these policies will not be known for decades, early indicators are troubling.

This report, reviewed by prominent scientists and researchers, serves as an evidence-based guide to what we currently observe in various states.

This link goes on to itemize some pretty devastating statistics.  A sampling (emphases added) :

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• Since Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) legalized marijuana, past-month use of the drug has continued to rise above the national average among youth aged 12–17 in all five jurisdictions (National Survey on Drug Use and Health {NSDUH}, 2006-2017).
• Alaska and Oregon are leading the nation in past-year marijuana use among youth aged 12–17 (NSDUH, 2006-2017).
Colorado currently holds the top ranking for first-time marijuana use among youth, representing a 65% increase in the years since legalization (NSDUH, 2006-2017).
Young adult use (youth aged 18–25) in legalized states is increasing (NSDUH, 2006-2017).
• Colorado toxicology reports show the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana have increased (Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment {CDPHE}, 2017).
• Washington state law enforcement has documented a total of 424 violations among licensed marijuana businesses. Of these, 288 violations pertained to selling marijuana to minors and 136 violations were for allowing minors access to a restricted area (Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board {WSLCB}, 2017). 
Washington, DC, saw public consumption and distribution arrests nearly triple between the years 2015 and 2016. A disproportionate number of those marijuanarelated arrests occurred among African-Americans (Moyer, 2017; District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department {DCMPD}, 2016).
• Researchers from Oregon State University found that college students under the age of 21 who are binge drinkers have been one of the primary groups of marijuana users after legalization (Darling, 2017).
The gallons of alcohol consumed in Colorado since marijuana legalization have increased by 8% (Colorado Department of Revenue {CDR}, Colorado Liquor Excise Tax, 2017).
In Colorado, calls to poison control centers have risen 210% between the four-year averages before and after recreational legalization (Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center {RMPCD}, 2017 and Wang et al., 2017).
In Colorado, the annual rate of marijuana-related emergency room visits increased 35% between the years 2011 and 2015 (CDPHE, 2017).
One hospital in Bend, Oregon, also had an increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits from 229 in 2012 to 2,251 in 2015; the average number of marijuana-related emergency room visits per month in the same hospital in 2016 was 552 (Hawryluk, 2017).
• Narcotics officers in Colorado have been busy responding to the 50% increase in illegal grow operations across rural areas in the state (Stewart, 2017).
• The U.S. mail system has also been affected by the black market, seeing an 844% increase in marijuana seizures (RMHIDTA, 2017).
• A leaked police report in Oregon revealed that at least 70% of marijuana sales in 2016 were on the black market and around three to five times the amount of marijuana consumed in Oregon leaves the state for illegal sales (Hughes, 2017; Associated Press, 2017, August 14; OSPDES, 2017).
The crime rate in Colorado have increased 11 times faster than the rest of the nation since legalization (Mitchell, 2017), with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation reporting an 8.3% increase in property crimes and an 18.6% increase in violent crimes (Colorado Bureau of Investigation {CBI}, 2017).
• A study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed that the density of marijuana dispensaries was linked to increased property crimes in nearby areas (Freisthler, Gaidus, Tam, Ponicki, & Gruenewald, 2017).
In Alaska, misdemeanor and vehicle thefts have dramatically increased since legalization. Alaska’s national ranking for larceny moved up from 16th to 2nd and motor vehicle theft from 16th to 5th after marijuana became legal (Alaska Department of Public Safety {ADPS}, 2016).
Oregon’s national ranking went from 17th to 11th for property crime, 12th to 7th for larceny, and 13th to 8th for motor vehicle theft, from 2014 to 2016, respectively. (Disaster Center, n.d.).
Marijuana urine test results in Washington and Colorado are now double the national average (Quest Diagnostics, 2016).
The number of drivers in Colorado intoxicated with marijuana and involved in fatal traffic crashes increased 88% from 2013 to 2015 (Migoya, 2017). Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 66% between the four-year averages before and after legalization (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration {NHTSA}, 2017).
Driving under the influence of drugs (DUIDs) have also risen in Colorado, with 76% of statewide DUIDs involving marijuana (Colorado State Patrol {CSP}, 2017).
• Washington State experienced a doubling in drugged driving fatalities in the years following legalization (Johnson, 2016).
• In Oregon, 50% of all drivers assessed by drug recognition experts (DRE) in 2015 tested positive for THC (OLCC, 2015).
Central Oregon hospitals saw a nearly 2,000% increase in emergency room visits due to marijuana poisoning, with 434 marijuana-related emergency visits in January 2016 alone, compared to a maximum of 32 visits per month prior to legalization (Kent, 2016). 

The states that have legalized marijuana have among the highest rates of marijuana use in the country. Other data show:

• Higher rates of marijuana-related driving fatalities.
• More marijuana-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and accidental exposures.
• Expansion of a lucrative criminal market.
• Increases in marijuana-related crimes and juvenile offenses.
• Increases in workplace problems, including labor shortages and accidents.

It seems like Oregon and other states have suffered some pretty substantial adverse consequences for having legalized the quintessential "soft" drug, marijuana.  Now Oregon has legalized "hard" drugs.  I fear the consequences will be bad.

Substance abuse and addiction seems like an intractable problem.  There are serious downsides to criminalizing previously-illicit drugs, but apparently even worse downsides to legalizing them.  

And this doesn't even touch on problems arising from addiction to prescription drugs.

As a voter, and as a Latter-day Saint, I'm coming to the conclusion that legalizaton of drugs, both "hard" and "soft," is a bad idea.  But I'm open to contrary arguments and data.  Thoughts?

Thanks,

-Smac

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31 minutes ago, smac97 said:

... Oregon legalized marijuana in 2014, and has not [sic; now] leapfrogged The Netherlands to legalize "hard" drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth.  Will this increase or decrease drug use? ...
 

As a voter, and as a Latter-day Saint, I'm coming to the conclusion that legalizaton [sic; legalization] of drugs, both "hard" and "soft," is a bad idea.  But I'm open to contrary arguments and data.  Thoughts?

Thanks,

-Smac

Apologies:  This is off-topic, but I believe you do have my e-mail address, and I have yours.  One of my old professors reached out to me recently with a pending publication and said I might be interested in taking a look at it.  While I read it simply out of interest, I did notice a few errors, so I proofread it and sent him an errata sheet.  That led to him sending me a draft of an appellate brief and asking me to send back another errata sheet for any errors I found.  I did, and he tells me a check for the second bit of work is in the mail.  My legal skills are rusted almost entirely shut, but if you have anything major I can proofread for you (or if you know anyone who might; again, I'll emphasize that my legal skills are practically rusted shut, so I'm not necessarily good for checking against Blue Book, but spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, clarity ...) ... :D

Edited by Kenngo1969
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42 minutes ago, smac97 said:

 

As a voter, and as a Latter-day Saint, I'm coming to the conclusion that legalizaton of drugs, both "hard" and "soft," is a bad idea.  But I'm open to contrary arguments and data.  Thoughts?

 

It is the right result.  People should be provided freedom.  

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4 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:
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As a voter, and as a Latter-day Saint, I'm coming to the conclusion that legalizaton of drugs, both "hard" and "soft," is a bad idea.  But I'm open to contrary arguments and data.  Thoughts?

It is the right result.  People should be provided freedom.  

"The Constitution is not a suicide pact" is a phrase in American political and legal discourse. The phrase expresses the belief that constitutional restrictions on governmental power must be balanced against the need for survival of the state and its people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Constitution_is_not_a_suicide_pact

Living in a community has its attendant costs.  We compel people to pay taxes.  Sign up for Selective Service.  Receive vaccines.  Are these things antithetical to "freedom?"

Quoth John B. Finch:

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This arm is my arm (and my wife’s), it is not yours. Up here I have a right to strike out with it as I please. I go over there with these gentlemen and swing my arm and exercise the natural right which you have granted; I hit one man on the nose, another under the ear, and as I go down the stairs on my head, I cry out:

“Is not this a free country?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have not I a right to swing my arm?”

“Yes, but your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins.”

Here civil government comes in to prevent bloodshed, adjust rights, and settle disputes.

I'm a big fan of libertarianism, but it has some real practical constraints on it.

Thanks,

-Smac

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22 minutes ago, strappinglad said:

From the article:

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Disease Prevention

Portugal has seen significant positive change in the realm of disease prevention, with nationwide HIV rates decreasing dramatically since decriminalization.
...

Drug Use Rates

Many proponents of decriminalization claim that Portugal managed to decrease overall drug use, but it really depends on how we choose to interpret the statistics. 
...

Crime Rates

Though we’ve seen some positive benefits, it should come as no surprise that large, sweeping changes to the legal system have also resulted in some negative repercussions. Arguably, the most glaring issue is the rise in homicides, which climbed by about 60% from 2001-2007. They have evened out since, though, and currently sit at a little more than 10% more than they were pre-decriminalization.
 

Hmm.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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31 minutes ago, smac97 said:

"The Constitution is not a suicide pact" is a phrase in American political and legal discourse. The phrase expresses the belief that constitutional restrictions on governmental power must be balanced against the need for survival of the state and its people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Constitution_is_not_a_suicide_pact

Living in a community has its attendant costs.  We compel people to pay taxes.  Sign up for Selective Service.  Receive vaccines.  Are these things antithetical to "freedom?"

Quoth John B. Finch:

I'm a big fan of libertarianism, but it has some real practical constraints on it.

Thanks,

-Smac

Taxes and selective service are required, although I would argue against any foreign adventurism such as Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Government should get out of public schools, and private schools should be free to require vaccines before admission. 

Use tort law to remedy drug abuse.

Edited by Bob Crockett
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56 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

Taxes and selective service are required, although I would argue against any foreign adventurism such as Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Are required" in what sense?  To keep the country financed and defended?

Why can't we say that judicious exercise of the Police Power to regulate harmful and addictive substances is also "required?"  And if not "required," at least permissible under the Tenth Amendment?  From Wikipedia:

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In United States constitutional law, police power is the capacity of the states to regulate behavior and enforce order within their territory for the betterment of the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of their inhabitants.[1] Police power is defined in each jurisdiction by the legislative body, which determines the public purposes that need to be served by legislation.[2] Under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the powers not delegated to the Federal Government are reserved to the states or to the people. This implies that the Federal Government does not possess all possible powers, because most of these are reserved to the State governments, and others are reserved to the people.

If people are using harmful substances, and if that use is materially contributing to injury to "the health, safety, morals, and general welfare" of society (lost productivity, medical costs, crime, "under the influence" accidents and violence, etc.), then don't the states have the constitutional authority to regulate such substances?

56 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

Government should get out of public schools, and private schools should be free to require vaccines before admission. 

Alas, a discussion for another day.

56 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

Use tort law to remedy drug abuse.

How so?  If an barely-employed, drug-addled teenager stabs your beloved auntie in the park tomorrow night, how does tort law help?  Auntie could sue, but then what?  How reasonable is it to think she could recover money damages?

And more to the point, she was stabbed.  By a guy on drugs.  Is a money judgment against a judgment-proof defendant really going to be a feasible "remedy" for "drug abuse?"  Is it going to make her whole?

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

As a voter, and as a Latter-day Saint, I'm coming to the conclusion that legalizaton of drugs, both "hard" and "soft," is a bad idea.  But I'm open to contrary arguments and data.  Thoughts?

i feel that way about anything that is bad, seeing my vote "for" something as if I am saying that is "okay".  So if I had been living in Oregon when this came up on the ballot for a vote my vote would have been against it.

As things are now though I will have to accept that this is the law in Oregon when I move to live there in the next couple of months.

I will now remain silent expecting Nemesis to suspend me for 10 days, again, since I have now been discussing politics, again, in another political thread.

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Just my opinion as someone who grew up around alcoholism, one of the worst addictions possible.  The US let so much of this get out of hand when they closed down mental institutions and made it to where if you have a felony, good luck getting a job.  With Oregon and a lot of the west coast it doesn't help that other states have been busing out their homeless/criminal class for decades.  Denver has to deal with that a lot, people send their undesirables, they blow all their money on weed and yep, end up in jail then on the street. 

Not saying I condone this, I just wonder when I see people complaining if they ever consider the causes of stuff like this.  We really don't have a safety net anymore, people marginalize the poor and far as I can tell the last decade has been little more than people in general trying to out nasty each other, now it's your kids paying the price.  The people I knew years ago who had the attitude of defund schools in poor areas for jails aren't laughing now.  Used to be easy to be judgemental/holier than though from a suburb, now that those problems affect them and their grandkids, I see the ocasional social media post freaking out because no one in society cares about their problems.  I'll admit it, I'm very much one of those people, I had a lousy childhood and was treated poorly, I care nothing for them because like millions of others no one really cared about our suffering.  This was allowed to go unchecked, now all of a sudden white flight isn't an option for most people.  It's so expensive to live in a nice suburb now and have neighbors that care about children.  Can't say I feel bad for them, how many of them moved from place to place voting to jack up taxes for their kids at the expense of the urban poor and single people?  Big suprise when the latter gets tired of it, moves and lets the middle class suburbanites pick up the tab for the very thing they voted for.  We're seeing it here now in Denver and from what I've heard from a friend who moved back to Utah, it's there now too, not like us but they're still seeing the change thanks to transplants.

 

Now that i've shared my opinion, curious what solutions you guys would have, would love to hear them.

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I really don't know the answer for this. But I think a good way to examine it would be to consider what works best as far as public health, and to definitely look at addictions holistically, not as occurring in a vacuum.

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26 minutes ago, pogi said:

Exactly!  Jail is a failed public health approach.  We are spending 51 billion annually on a failed war.  If we were to reinvest that money towards holistic treatment and prevention programs...  I think we would be far better off.   Regulate the industry and get safer drugs out there.  Every dollar of profit that comes in from the sell of recreational drugs goes back in to treatment and prevention, instead of funding drug Lords. 

You're a good guy, wish we had more like you who thought this way.

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I am trying to figure out, is is more of a Mormonism thing or conservative thing, (or both??) where it is more acceptable use government to punish people than to help them? Serious question. This thread brought back memories of old thoughts.

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51 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

I am trying to figure out, is is more of a Mormonism thing or conservative thing, (or both??) where it is more acceptable use government to punish people than to help them? Serious question. This thread brought back memories of old thoughts.

I think there are very few (religious/conservative, or not) who don't believe in the penal system to some degree or another.  It is a matter of balancing justice and mercy.  If you are violating someone else's rights to life, liberty, or property, justice is warranted, and it should be left up to the victim to extend mercy or not.   In terms of addiction, the addict should be held accountable for any theft or damages related to drug use, but I don't see recreational drug use in and of itself as a punishable crime as it doesn't violate anyone else's rights.  In terms of addiction/drug use, justice FAR outweighs mercy in America.  Just follow the money.   It is tragic.   

Edited by pogi
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4 hours ago, smac97 said:

We compel people to pay taxes.  Sign up for Selective Service.  Receive vaccines.  Are these things antithetical to "freedom?"

If "freedom" entails "freedom from compulsion," then the answer is, and straightforwardly, "yes."  If freedom does not entail freedom from compulsion, then whatever does the word actually mean?

4 hours ago, smac97 said:

"The Constitution is not a suicide pact" is a phrase in American political and legal discourse. The phrase expresses the belief that constitutional restrictions on governmental power must be balanced against the need for survival of the state and its people.

While Thomas Jefferson justified the Louisiana Purchase by appealing to this "principle," it is nothing more than a declaration that the American government is unprincipled (ie, lawless), and that whenever the cost of obeying the Constitution seems sufficiently high, then, quite bluntly, it won't be obeyed.

However, baptism is a suicide pact, assuming that by being baptized one witnesses to God and men that one is willing to keep Jesus's commandments at the cost of one's life.  Is there any license in the Sermon on the Mount for using coercive power (threats or force [such as laws]) towards one's fellow beings to stop them from doing as they will, or to make them do what they will not?  Is it consistent with the Golden Rule to use compulsion to prevent others from doing with themselves what they will, or to compel them to do with themselves what you will?

And behold, it is written:
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say unto you that ye shall not resist evil,
but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,
turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat,
let him have thy cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile,
go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee,
and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.

And behold, it is written also
that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy.
But behold, I say unto you:
Love your enemies!
Bless them that curse you!
Do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you,
that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven,
for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.
 

Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world shall lose it in the world to come.

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The biggest problem with these discussions on drugs is that all the drugs get lumped together.  There is a huge difference between Marijuana and Meth for example.  And quite frankly, I would rather have marijuana legal and alcohol be illegal if we are talking about addiction, violent crimes, ruined families, impact on health of the body, etc.  

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39 minutes ago, california boy said:

The biggest problem with these discussions on drugs is that all the drugs get lumped together.  There is a huge difference between Marijuana and Meth for example.  And quite frankly, I would rather have marijuana legal and alcohol be illegal if we are talking about addiction, violent crimes, ruined families, impact on health of the body, etc.  

Also dosage, psychedelics in measured micro doses is far different than "hard drugs"

'It makes me enjoy playing with the kids': is microdosing mushrooms going mainstream?

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20 hours ago, smac97 said:

I'm a big fan of libertarianism, but it has some real practical constraints on it.

Yeah, same here, but...

Why don't we restrict mountain-climbing, wing-suiting, or sky-diving? Not to mention other activities which have relatively high personal risks?

Pure libertarianism runs to anarcho-capitalism if taken to its logical conclusion. And my right to swing my fist ends where your personal space begins.  What if I decide to starve myself to death? Should I or should I not be permitted to do so? Or should the State be empowered to force feed me?

But I do indeed feel that hard drugs can and do take people past the point where their freedom becomes slavery. And even if they seek to escape, they often cannot, without some force exerted on their behalf, even without their consent. Because it can be said that their consent is impaired. But I'm still conflicted about it.

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15 hours ago, california boy said:

The biggest problem with these discussions on drugs is that all the drugs get lumped together.  There is a huge difference between Marijuana and Meth for example.  And quite frankly, I would rather have marijuana legal and alcohol be illegal if we are talking about addiction, violent crimes, ruined families, impact on health of the body, etc.  

I think we tried that once. It did not go well.

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1 hour ago, Stargazer said:

I think we tried that once. It did not go well.

Exactly.  We also tried a war on drugs and it did not go well either.  Thousands of people incarcerated in jails for using a substance far less harmful than alcohol.

I am pointing out the irrational approach to drugs, not advocating the outlawing of alcohol.

 

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