How The Dark Net Is Making Drug Purchases Safer By Eliminating Associated Violence And Improving Quality

from the hidden-virtues dept

Despite a few daring experiments in the space, the dark net (or dark web, if you prefer) is generally seen as a dangerous, frightening place inhabited by terrorists, pornographers and general ne'er-do-wells. That makes a report in The Guardian about drug dealers moving online unusual, because it shows how the dark net can also be beneficial to society:

Research into internet drug markets by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) suggested the self-regulation of online markets such as Silk Road provide a safer environment for users and dealers of illicit substances.

Feedback mechanisms similar to eBay mean customers are able to hold dealers to account for the service they provide, the report said, while remote access to the market almost eliminates the risk of violence that has long been an integral part of the black economy.
Moving online not only safeguards drug users from violence and theft when they buy drugs in the physical world, it provides a natural way for customers to provide feedback on the quality of the drugs provided. Just as with traditional e-commerce companies, drug dealers who go digital can no longer risk bad customer reviews by providing inferior or dangerous products, since their future sales are likely to suffer. As a result:
Drugs available through darknet markets tend to be of a higher purity than those available on the streets.
The new report comes from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which is funded by the European Union, and, as usual, is accompanied by an official comment from the relevant EU commissioner. Unfortunately, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, trots out the usual unthinking reaction to drug sales that has made the long-running and totally futile "war on drugs" one of the most destructive and counterproductive policies ever devised:
We should stop the abuse of the internet by those wanting to turn it into a drug market. Technology is offering fresh opportunities for law enforcement to tackle online drug markets and reduce threats to public health. Let us seize these opportunities to attack the problem head-on and reduce drug supply online.
That blinkered attitude ignores the important advantages moving drug sales from the physical world to the digital one brings not just for for users and dealers, but also for society as a whole, which does not have to deal with the social and economic consequences of violence on the streets, or with the long-term damage caused by poor-quality products. Along the way, his remarks inevitably and unhelpfully reinforce the view that the dark net is evil, and thus is something to be destroyed.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 2:24am

    Just treat it like booze during prohibition, because that worked great

    If they wanted to 'reduce threats to public health' with regards to drugs, they could do that in three steps.

    1. Decriminalize drug use, treating it instead the same as booze and cigarettes.
    2. Tax sales of now legal drugs.
    3. Offer free rehabilitation for users who want to quit, paid for by taxes from #2.

    #1 completely undercuts the criminal groups who make insane profits due to the illegal nature of drugs, and cutting them out of the loop means a huge drop in crime. #2 allows the government to both make a profit from sales and track them, and #3 allows those who need and/or want help to get it.

    Of course none of these will ever happen so long as politicians are more concerned with being heard than being right, and who care more about looking like they're 'doing something' rather than actually fixing the problem. Not to mention how many people who currently quite enjoy the power and profits from the 'war on drugs' who would suddenly find themselves out of a job thanks to legalization.

    But no, while the 'war on drugs' has been going on for several decades at this point with no sign of working, and if anything just making things worse I'm sure a few more decades, maybe a century or two and the scourge of illegal drug use will be eradicated for good.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:05am

      Re: Just treat it like booze during prohibition, because that worked great

      ^This. A thousand times this. While at heart I disapprove of narcotics abuse and getting high, I understand that prohibition doesn't work on demand-side problems.

      Legalise, tax, and regulate seems to be the best way forward.

      However, you may find that the spanner in the works is not so much the authoritarian prohibitionists but the people making money hand over fist as a result of the War on Drugs. I'd be surprised if it wasn't them making all the moralistic noise that stops us getting out of this mess.

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    • icon
      Wyrm (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:59am

      Re: Just treat it like booze during prohibition, because that worked great

      See also "asset forfeiture".
      The War on Drugs is one of the most common excuse for seizing cash without any conviction and trial.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:00am

      Re: Just treat it like booze during prohibition, because that worked great

      Wonderful utopian concepts that I wholeheartedly agree with.

      Now for what's wrong with it in a practical sense:

      1. The "War on" drugs like all other "War on" issues isn't about public safety, it's about power. Legalizing drugs would change the balance of power slightly in the direction of the citizens favor. So never gonna happen.

      2. Revenue from taxes, they already tax the public to "fight the war". They are getting their money already.

      3. Reformed addicts don't generate revenue or excuses to "do something" (typically expensive requiring increased taxes for your own safety). So they are less valuable than addicts.

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      • icon
        nasch (profile), 13 Feb 2016 @ 9:33am

        Re: Re: Just treat it like booze during prohibition, because that worked great

        Legalizing drugs would change the balance of power slightly in the direction of the citizens favor. So never gonna happen.

        It's already happening.

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    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:57am

      Re: Just treat it like booze during prohibition, because that worked great

      Isn't this pretty much what happened in Washington and Colorado when they legalized marijuana? Government revenue is up due to drug taxes and incarceration rates are down since people with single doses of marijuana aren't getting thrown in jail.

      Or did those states collapse into Mad Max-style wastelands now that everyone was free to smoke pot, the "gateway drug", that led to the entire population getting hooked on hardcore drugs?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 4:18pm

        Re: Re: Just treat it like booze during prohibition, because that worked great

        Mustn't forget the drop off in usage of pharma opioids such as ocycodin whether legal or illegal & the lowering of deaths due to overuse. Putting a dent in Corporate profits is an act of war against the rich.

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      • icon
        nasch (profile), 13 Feb 2016 @ 9:35am

        Re: Re: Just treat it like booze during prohibition, because that worked great

        Isn't this pretty much what happened in Washington and Colorado when they legalized marijuana? Government revenue is up due to drug taxes and incarceration rates are down since people with single doses of marijuana aren't getting thrown in jail.

        Colorado's constitution requires voter approval for spending tax money, so they're issuing sizable tax refunds from all this excess revenue they're getting but don't have approval to spend.

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  • icon
    JoeDetroit (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 4:55am

    Agreed. All we can do is continue to promote the decriminalization concept anywhere we can. It;s really about changing people's beliefs.

    51 billion plus spend annually & I can still go down the street to score. Or have it delivered I'm sure.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:26am

      Re:

      When I talk to people about legalizing ALL drugs conversations typically go something like this:

      Average Joe: But they will rob me to support their drug habit!
      Me: They will do that if its legal or not

      Average Joe: But more people will do drugs if they are legal
      Me: Maybe, but at least it will be out in the open instead of hidden in dark alleys surrounded by violence and death.

      Average Joe: But people will overdose and die!
      Me: They do that now, at least addicts will get clean drugs not stuff laced with who knows what that WILL kill them.

      Average Joe: Ok, well but its bad for you and I take a moral stance against drug use!
      Me: Who made you the judge of all that is moral? Is it moral to deny someone a drug that improves their quality of life or eases their pain? Is it moral to dictate what others can or cannot do with their own bodies? Morality belongs in church/community not law.

      Got some better arguments I can use next time?

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      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:08am

        Re: Re:

        Carry out search using the terms "Portugal drugs policy."

        I was of the Average Joe persuasion until a fellow Pirate pointed me to that. I downloaded the documents and went to work trying to take the ideas therein apart. I failed. Why? It either works or it doesn't. It's either cheaper or it's not. Usage either goes down or it doesn't. The benefits to society are either greater or lesser.

        The answers to all those questions was A. Tax, legalise and regulate 1, Wendy Nil. I'm okay with that.

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      • icon
        nasch (profile), 13 Feb 2016 @ 9:51am

        Re: Re:

        The "keep morality out of it" may not be convincing to a lot of people. Maybe "how many deaths is it worth to try, and fail, to keep people from using drugs you think they shouldn't use?" Some way of pointing out that no matter how immoral you think drug use is, what we're doing now is killing people and isn't working anyway.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Blowhard, 12 Feb 2016 @ 4:56am

    They don't care

    They don't care if the war on drugs harms people. They don't care if the online drug marketplace provodes value to society at large. Drug warriers like the DEA, FBI, prosecutors and politicians are looking out for number one. The money and power the war on drugs provides makes it all worthwhile.

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  • icon
    Toestubber (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 5:16am

    Leaving the drug trade in the hands of criminals and street gangs is the whole point of prohibition. They don't want things safer. It is only nominally about abolishing some arbitrary group of recreational substances.

    The US government only benefits when people die in this drug war. The carnage creates fear among the public, who clamor for more fewer rights and unconstitutional laws. It ensures there is always an enemy, an "other" - satisfying the country's eternal craving for war - and provides unlimited funding for militaristic pork. And it justifies any and all social control of the underclass.

    For politicians, a poison- and violence-ridden black market is a feature, not a bug.

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    • identicon
      Michael, 12 Feb 2016 @ 5:57am

      Re:

      While I agree that is what it often looks like, I think you attribute much more forethought and intelligence to the lawmakers in the US government than they are due.

      I'm pretty sure they think they are doing the right thing but are simply stupid.

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  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 6:35am

    Safer is a relative term. I think "less risk of being killed during the transaction" might be more accurate, but the safety is a huge question.

    Illegal narcotics, no matter how you slice it, are a huge risk. Buying online from an unknown, untracable source could mean that you are buying the best blow ever, 99% pure - or that you are buying borax powder, rat poison, and compressed sugar with a side order of PCP. You don't know.

    See, when you have a regular dealer, that person is sort of your quality control. He (or she) generally buys from the same sources that have provided the same sort of product over and over again, and they in turn buy from the same sources, and on up the ladder. Yes, your drugs will be stepped on, but your dealer generally won't stiff you with shit product because he knows you will look for someone else to supply you in the future.

    Online essentially shifts ALL of the burdens to the purchaser. You have no dealer to rat out if you get arrested, you have no source to point to. It's your drugs, and you have nobody else to blame except {{snowman123}} on a rickety dark web site. You also have no come back if he sells you a bag of sugar instead of coke, because he's anonymous and shifts names 100 times a week.

    So yeah, you are less likely to die in the transaction, but your risks are off the charts in every other part of the deal. Not sure this is "better".

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 3:22pm

      Re:

      You actually make sense. By their very nature of being illegal a website selling drugs is visible to all so the law can remove it and hence it must keep re-popping up.

      I guess there are ways around this. I don't really know anything about how these things operate (maybe they already do this) but I suppose they can have a private/public key pair. The online drug dealers can identify themselves by their public key and they can sign their messages with their private key. Then the person ordering can know they are getting it from a consistent source even as the website migrates over and over to evade law enforcement.

      Then again doing so also makes it easier for law enforcement to trace these sites. With a consistent public key the law now has a consistent search term (the key) to search for when tracking potential online dealers.

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 13 Feb 2016 @ 10:21am

      Re:

      So yeah, you are less likely to die in the transaction, but your risks are off the charts in every other part of the deal.

      "Research into internet drug markets by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) suggested the self-regulation of online markets such as Silk Road provide a safer environment for users and dealers of illicit substances.

      Feedback mechanisms similar to eBay mean customers are able to hold dealers to account for the service they provide, the report said, while remote access to the market almost eliminates the risk of violence that has long been an integral part of the black economy."

      So your research demonstrating the opposite is where, exactly?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 6:40am

    The problem is the black market. If these drugs were legal they would be much safer, with fewer contaminants, and there would be much less to no violence associated with them. The cost of having to overcome legal restrictions, the uncertainty of whether an existing dealer today will exist tomorrow, makes it hard for those that make drugs to build businesses and reputations and to weed out those with poor reputations. Being illegal also makes it unregulated and hence the ones sold on the black market are not FDA approved for not having any dangerous contaminants. Violent turf wars exist due to the fact that the established government does not assign turf as it does with legal stuff that are sold at the stores and so gangs have to come up with their own mini-governments where they fight over turf in the same way that governments and countries fight over land in war.

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    • icon
      Whatever (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 9:59pm

      Re:

      The problem you face here is that legal drugs should (and likely would) be regulated by the governments, require testing, labeling, quality control, and proper packaging - not to mention that they would collect taxes out the ying yang. The next result would be to push users back to illegal drugs.

      If you don't think so, consider what happens when cigarette taxes are raised too high. In Canada. Quebec and Ontario quickly found out that they created a whole business for people to smuggle in untaxed smokes from other locations, to sell "floor sweeping" smokes are cut rates, and generally to bypass the system, because the public wanted them cheaper and it was possible.

      Regulated and legal drugs wouldn't be cheap. In the US, the product liability laws alone would likely make it almost impossible to really operate. The costs for legal drugs would be high, and thus the black market of stepped on, cut, and contaminated street crud would continue. That kills, hurts, and maims more people each year than we care to imagine.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2016 @ 12:44am

        Re: Re:

        "The next result would be to push users back to illegal drugs."

        Do you buy your alcohol, cigarettes, and aspirin on the black market?

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      • icon
        nasch (profile), 13 Feb 2016 @ 10:24am

        Re: Re:

        Why are you just completely making stuff up when we have real scenarios to look at? Have any of the things you're claiming actually taken place in Washington and Colorado? If yes, let's see the sources. If no, please stop pulling stuff out of your ass just to disagree with TechDirt. Facts or GTFO.

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:08am

    Wow, looking over this article and the comments... so much wrong here. The stupid, it burns!

    Dimitris Avramopoulos is absolutely right, and this article is completely missing the point. Reducing the violent risks associated with something that is even more harmful to society than violence, which removes a strong disincentive for people to participate in it, does not constitute a net benefit for society! Trading "the social and economic consequences of violence on the streets [and] the long-term damage caused by poor-quality products" for the long-term social and economic damage of a great abundance of freely-available high-quality addictive, destructive substances is a loss, not an improvement.

    The reason "the long-running and totally futile 'war on drugs'" has been so destructive is that we've never actually had one. Sure, they use the term, but when's the last time you heard of drug dealers being treated as enemy combatants? If you try to fight a war like it's not a war, of course you're going to lose. (Just look at Vietnam!)

    How many of the people spouting Libertarian idiocy about drug legalization on here have ever actually been friends with an addict? That really opens your eyes. Violence can kill you, but drug addiction is quite literally a fate worse than death, because it enslaves you, strips you of your dignity and your humanity, destroys your relationships with family and friends, impoverishes you, destroys your health, and all too often drives you to crime, before finally killing you. Anyone who thinks we need more of that, rather than considering it a pernicious evil to be utterly eradicated, needs to have their head examined.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:16am

      Re:

      I will be following the comments to your post. I actually agree, that with the free flow of drugs we will have an untold number of people ruined. Once ruined, they will still result to crime to get the money they need for the drugs.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:29am

        Re: Re:

        They resort to crime partly because drug prices are so high thanks to being illegal. If they were legal the prices would be much lower and the need to resort to crime would be reduced.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You haven't addressed the point that once legal and cheap, there will be most likely be far more users. Users who get addicted; lose their jobs, families, friends, etc. Users, who no matter how cheap the drugs, will not be able to afford them because they have no job.

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          • icon
            Toestubber (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yeah, right. Nearly everyone is just itching to feast on those cheap, plentiful, addictive drugs the moment they get decriminalized. The only thing separating normal folks from abject junkiedom is the potential for arrest. Because Americans would never break the law.

            /sarc

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Exactly. If you're stupid enough to do drugs in the first place the law isn't going to stop you. People don't do hard drugs not because it's illegal but because it's stupid. Believe me, it's not the law that's preventing me from not doing any hard drugs.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:58am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                (well, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I rarely even eat junk food. Those things are legal yet I don't do them. and if I wanted to do those things I wouldn't care if they were illegal. It's not the law that's stopping me).

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            • icon
              Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:11am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Why the sarcasm? We already have a precedent in alcohol: a highly addictive, harmful drug that's fully legalized in just the same way the libertarian morons want to do with other drugs.

              Just look how our culture treats it: drinking is a right of passage. Everyone knows what it means that "you're legal" on your 21st birthday, and for millions of kids, having a drink literally on the first day they become legal is considered an important tradition. And the drug dealers (breweries, wineries, and so forth) make billions of dollars off their backs, and meanwhile we lose about 15,000 people, and rack up tens of billions in societal costs, every single year, from drunk driving alone. (source: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) Plus all the other damages, in the form of drunken violence, non-traffic accidents due to intoxication, deterioration of health, and deterioration of quality of life, caused by alcohol.

              You really think we should extend that pattern any further?

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              • icon
                Toestubber (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:17am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Why aren't you advocating a return to alcohol prohibition?

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                • icon
                  Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:37am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Not sure if serious or trolling.

                  Simply because it's not politically feasible to roll back the serious legal drug problem we already have doesn't mean that we ought to be actively making it worse. If you can't understand something as simple as that, please go away and let the adults talk here.

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                  • icon
                    Toestubber (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:48am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    No trolling, just trying to parse your cognitive dissonance.

                    Given all of the social problems associated with alcohol, and your strong moral convictions about recreational substances, what is stopping you from advocating alcohol re-prohibition, and demanding that liquor store-owning scum be eradicated? I'm not claiming that it's "politically feasible," I'm saying you should be consistent and honest about your beliefs.

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                    • icon
                      Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:57am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Cognitive dissonance? You're the one using the R-word here.

                      Recreation is harmless fun. Watching a movie, going out dancing with friends, or hanging out and playing video games... that's recreation. Drug use is not harmless, and it's not "only harmful to the user" and therefore the next best thing to harmless. It does massive, widespread harm to all of society, because no man is an island.

                      My beliefs are completely consistent. Yes, I'd like to see liquor stores vanish from the face of the earth just as much as I'd like to get rid of any other class of drug dealers, but I know that attempting to do so is not politically feasible, due to alcohol being legal. But that doesn't mean I have to accept that it's desirable, or even acceptable, to make the problem worse.

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                      • icon
                        Toestubber (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 9:15am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Please don’t muddy the water. They are called “recreational drugs” only because they are not used to treat illness. Like all prohibitionists, you are conflating addiction (chemical and emotional dependency) with the actual substances themselves. It’s an extremely authoritarian stance. If we don’t have dominion over our own bodies, then we have no rights that matter.

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                        • icon
                          Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:26am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Like all prohibitionists, you are conflating addiction (chemical and emotional dependency) with the actual substances themselves.

                          And what's wrong with that? They're called addictive substances for a reason: Causing addiction is an inherent property of "the actual substances themselves."
                          If we don’t have dominion over our own bodies, then we have no rights that matter.

                          More libertarian nonsense. That line sounds good at first sight, until you realize it can be used to legitimize essentially any crime at all: It's my body; am I not inherently free to use it to [insert horrible thing here]? The answer, of course, is no, you are not, not when it causes harm to others! And there are few things that cause as much widespread harm as drug abuse.

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:41am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            No one is saying that causing harm to others should be legal. But there is a difference between banning drugs that cause harm to individuals and passing laws that prevent people from causing harm to others. The latter is fine, the former is what's questionable.

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                            • icon
                              Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:38am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              No, the only difference is that the one is a subset of the other, because drug abuse does cause a great deal of harm to people other than the user. (If you don't believe me, talk with someone who grew up with parents who abused alcohol or other harmful drugs.)

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                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 12:24pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                and there have been many families with parents that don't drink that have hit their children really bad too. Heck, in the past in many countries this was legal (and probably still is in some countries). and there are families with parents that do drink that don't hit their children. The problem is the abusive parents (drug use and abuse is just a symptom of an underlying problem) and that's what should be illegal, prevented, investigated, and sought out. To ban something because it can be abused is taking the easy, less effective, and more expensive way out and doesn't actually solve anything. It's easy for law enforcement to go after contraband. Gives them something to grandstand over about how they are needed when really they are wasting resources. It's not effective. It's more expensive. Instead they should target their efforts on going after crimes with actual victims. They can go after child abuse without irrelevantly going after alcohol and drug abuse. A more targeted approach towards the problem is both cheaper and less costly. But then law enforcement doesn't need large budgets since now not everyone is a criminal and so how are they going to justify large budgets.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            To the extent that they resort to crime the government can go after them for the specific crimes they do resort to. Focus the enormous resources they waste on going after everyone that commits crimes with no victims and putting them in jail (it's expensive to jail someone) towards only going after those that commit real crimes with actual victims. Use some of those resources to create rehab programs. Stopping crime with victims is what the government is paid to do. But it's much easier for them to go after crimes with no victims I suppose, taking away our rights in the process, and it justifies having an over sized police force with too many powerful weapons and a police state that invades our rights and privacy.

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    • icon
      Toestubber (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:40am

      Re:

      I was addicted to heroin for many years, and you could not be more wrong. Your belief that problems in society stem from not enough punishment is a medieval religious fantasy.

      Allow me to modify your argument: "Violence can kill you, but [the legal system] is quite literally a fate worse than death, because it enslaves you, strips you of your dignity and your humanity, destroys your relationships with family and friends, impoverishes you, destroys your health, and all too often drives you to crime, before finally killing you." I got off the drugs, but there's no escaping the system.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:45am

        Re: Re:

        not enough punishment is a medieval religious fantasy

        So punishment is religious idea? Talk about fantasy.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          They can't even control the drug problem in jail or in the military. So clearly punishing these people doesn't work.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Absolutely, just ask the inquisitors.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            So w/o religion there would be no jail/punishment? I have seen people stretch arguments to blame religion for the worlds ills, but this is stretched so far as to be ludicrous. So you are implying that if we eliminated all religion, there would be no punishment for breaking laws? Just rainbows and unicorns?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              More like: there is a lot of evil rooted in religious doctrine, couched as good. For example, the Bible tells us so. All you need to do is read it, not skip over parts you don't like and work at not rationalizing those parts that give instruction on doing bad.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:45am

      Re:

      "How many of the people spouting Libertarian idiocy about drug legalization on here have ever actually been friends with an addict?"

      and has prohibition stopped them?

      I've known people that have died from cigarettes too. And alcohol. Are you in favor of prohibiting those too? What about chocolate and all that junk food and fast food that's bad for you and causes obesity? and sodas. and high energy drinks that can be bad for you if you drink too much. I've known and have heard of people that have been hospitalized at least partly because they've had too many of those high energy drinks. Heck, too much of anything is bad for you and we shouldn't prohibit everything just because a few people may abuse something. OTC drugs, prescription drugs, etc... It's their decision not the government's and not yours. Who are you to tell someone else what they can and can't do.

      TBH I still don't really hold a strong opinion when it comes to some of the harder drugs. On the one hand the government can't protect people from themselves and trying to do so is both very expensive and ineffective. Furthermore trying to do so introduces a black market with potential contaminants that can cause even more harm. How many of your addict friends have taken contaminated drugs that have contributed to their problems? You probably don't know because they got those drugs on the black market. Had they been legal and regulated you would know the answer, probably zero. Also regulating them can regulate people's use of them (ie: with alcohol, OTC, and prescription drugs we have don't drink and drive laws and we have an idea of when it's safe for someone who generally drinks to drive through standards such as blood alcohol level. We know about how long it takes for alcohol to clear someone's body and under what conditions though there is variance from person to person. Drugs are also required to present contraindication information on when it can and can't be used and what substances it can and can't be mixed with. but if something is outright illegal then users probably won't seek that information, it won't be presented to them when they buy the drugs, and they won't care anyways since they are breaking the law regardless).

      On the other hand the harder drugs are very harmful. But for something like marijuana, while I wouldn't do it for recreational use and I don't recommend anyone else do it, I don't think it should be illegal. The government really needs to stop over criminalizing everything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:48am

      Re:

      I think you missed the point. I have had friends who have had their lives destroyed by drugs, but it being illegal didn't help them get help. When there is a crime associated with taking a certain substance, these people are less likely to reach out for help. If it was legal, there would be less stigma associated to it and they would be more likely to go and get help when they realise they need it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:07am

        Re: Re:

        Furthermore if it's a crime employers will be less likely to hire them if they have a criminal history so it makes it harder for them to get jobs in the first place. Now they resort to crime to get drugs.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:50am

      Re:

      The reason "the long-running and totally futile 'war on drugs'" has been so destructive is that we've never actually had one. Sure, they use the term, but when's the last time you heard of drug dealers being treated as enemy combatants? If you try to fight a war like it's not a war, of course you're going to lose. (Just look at Vietnam!)

      So just to clarify, because I've got to be reading that wrong(or at least I hope I am), are you saying that drug dealers should be allowed to be shot on sight? Something that we don't allow for any other crime?

      Anyone who thinks we need more of that, rather than considering it a pernicious evil to be utterly eradicated, needs to have their head examined.

      And anyone who think that this will ever happen clearly hasn't studied human nature or history. We have laws in place that can put people behind bars for life for drug use or even possession, and people still use them. Drug use will always occur, there will always be people looking for something to perk them up or get them buzzed, so knowing that the question changes from 'How do you stop it?' to 'How do you minimize the harmful effects?'

      Legalization pulls the rug out from under organized crime, drastically reducing their power and crime rates(for evidence just look at how Prohibition in the US caused an increase in crime, from robberies to murders. The USG even resorted to adding poison to alcohol and even that didn't do anything but kill a bunch of people).

      Taxation allows you to track it's sale, and provides money for the next step, rehabilitation.

      Rehabilitation allows you to wean those that are addicted off of drugs, and combined with legalization people who would otherwise have kept silent for fear of being incarcerated will likely be willing to step forward to get the help they need.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:27am

        Re: Re:

        So just to clarify, because I've got to be reading that wrong(or at least I hope I am), are you saying that drug dealers should be allowed to be shot on sight? Something that we don't allow for any other crime?

        Not exactly. I'm saying that if we're not willing to take it that far, we need to stop claiming that such a thing as "the war on drugs" exists, because it does not.
        We have laws in place that can put people behind bars for life for drug use or even possession, and people still use them.

        Where did I ever say we need to punish users? Why are you trying to attack me on that point? That makes exactly as much sense as locking up mugging victims for assault, and I agree it needs to be changed. What I said is that dealers are the worst kind of scum, and that what they do is worse than violence or even murder, because it is.

        Legalization pulls the rug out from under organized crime, drastically reducing their power and crime rates

        Don't be ridiculous. Legalization legitimizes them. Suddenly you have a bunch of experts with experience in producing and distributing harmful drugs that no one else has; who do you think is going to take the lead in the newly-opened legitimate markets? Russia had a similar problem with the fall of the Soviet Union. When capitalism and free markets were suddenly legitimized, the only people with experience in free markets were shady black market types, hardened criminals who very quickly took over the economy and have been causing widespread financial oppression and corruption in Russia ever since. (Not that free markets are like drugs; just that this is a real example in the modern world of what happens when you take something that only criminals have experience with and legitimize it: the experienced criminals go legit and take over, but they're still criminals at heart.)

        Rehabilitation allows you to wean those that are addicted off of drugs, and combined with legalization people who would otherwise have kept silent for fear of being incarcerated will likely be willing to step forward to get the help they need.

        Or we could stop incarcerating drug victims without throwing the baby out with the bathwater by legalizing drug dealing and thereby creating millions of new drug victims. Just a thought.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 9:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Just because something becomes 'legitimized' does not mean it cannot be controlled. The value of that control is a different argument.

          The purpose of control can be varied, as in the control of alcohol is different than cigarettes which is different still from prescription drugs. I would think that control for legalized (legitimized) drugs would be closer to the latter than either of the former, though some drugs might be treated differently, like marijuana has been already.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 9:21am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Not exactly. I'm saying that if we're not willing to take it that far, we need to stop claiming that such a thing as "the war on drugs" exists, because it does not.

          Don't look at me, I'm not the one who named it that.

          Where did I ever say we need to punish users? Why are you trying to attack me on that point?

          I said not to attack you, but to try and point out that despite the insane laws the demand is still there, and it will almost certainly always remain that way. So long as there's a demand, there will always be someone willing to meet that demand, and given that it's better that the source be as 'safe' a one as possible.

          Don't be ridiculous. Legalization legitimizes them. Suddenly you have a bunch of experts with experience in producing and distributing harmful drugs that no one else has; who do you think is going to take the lead in the newly-opened legitimate markets?

          The companies who would make significant profits in the new market, and can do so legitimately. Which do you think people are going to want to buy from more, some random guy they meet who may or may not be offering a pure product, or a company that is required by law to have their product checked for quality to make sure it's as safe as it can be?

          There's also the matter of scale, what costs an individual dealer a significant amount to make a company can make much cheaper, which means they can undercut individual dealers in price, leading to yet another reason for people to buy from them.

          With regards to real world examples of how the legal status of something affects the criminal element, I'd say you'd need look no further than the US Prohibition period. The illegal status of alcohol made production and sales an extremely lucrative business for organized crime, vastly increasing their power and crime rates in general during the period it was in effect. Once it was made legal again however they were quickly undercut by 'legitimate' sellers who were able to sell cheaper, and their profits and power took a dive as a result.

          Or we could stop incarcerating drug victims without throwing the baby out with the bathwater by legalizing drug dealing and thereby creating millions of new drug victims. Just a thought.

          There will always be a demand for drugs, which means there will always be a demand for those selling them. This is not likely to change any time soon, if ever, so as I noted above, the best thing to do then is try to figure out the best way to minimize harm from it, and the best way I believe this can be managed is to cut the criminal element out of the loop, give people legitimate and 'safe' sources to get their fix from, while providing rehabilitation for those that need and/or want it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Which do you think people are going to want to buy from more, some random guy they meet who may or may not be offering a pure product, or a company that is required by law to have their product checked for quality to make sure it's as safe as it can be?

            Which company do you think will have an easier time getting production up to speed? Lilywhite Pharmaceuticals, who is new to the business, or Cartel Inc., with their decades of pre-existing experience in growing, harvesting, refining and distributing the stuff?

            There's also the matter of scale, what costs an individual dealer a significant amount to make a company can make much cheaper, which means they can undercut individual dealers in price, leading to yet another reason for people to buy from them.

            Sure, this might drive street-level dealers out of business, but they're by no means the entirety of the drug distribution problem. Most of them don't even make the product they sell; they get it from someone bigger, who gets it from someone bigger, who gets it from the massive cartels who would laugh all the way to the bank if legalization actually happened.
            With regards to real world examples of how the legal status of something affects the criminal element, I'd say you'd need look no further than the US Prohibition period.

            Alcohol is made from sugar and yeast, and in a pinch you can literally make yeast out of thin air, so anyone could make booze in their basement. Stuff like cocaine and heroin are a completely different story on the production side, so no, that's not a good comparison at all.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Which company do you think will have an easier time getting production up to speed? Lilywhite Pharmaceuticals, who is new to the business, or Cartel Inc., with their decades of pre-existing experience in growing, harvesting, refining and distributing the stuff?"

              If they are following the law in the process then who cares. If they break any laws law enforcement should go after the laws they do break. Use the resources they spent going after everyone that sells drugs to go after those that break good laws. It's their job to go after those that break good laws without taking away all our rights in the process. and yes, going after those that break the law would require some investigative work. That's what law enforcement gets paid to do and in the scenario that drugs are illegal going after those that break the laws requires even more work. In a legal market it's much easier because now drug dealers have stable establishments to legitimately sell their product and they're not always running around trying to evade law enforcement. It's much more expensive to have to do something illegally and relocate every time than to stay in one place and follow the law. Moving around less makes it easier for law enforcement to keep an eye on them since they know where they are. Businesses, for instance, register with cities so the city can keep track of which businesses are located where.

              The law should not presume people guilty until proven innocent, such is a very bad authoritative position that's reminiscent of the Russians you criticize. This mentality of bad law enforcement is what leads to the problems with Russia when people start to disrespect too many overbearing bad laws and often unfairly discriminatory enforcement practices. You gloss over the fact that many of Russia's social problems are/were often a result of corrupt government, too much government, and in many instances corrupt government and industry working together for the betterment of industry at public expense. Something shouldn't be prohibited just because you speculate that lawbreakers will be the ones that benefit the most from it. It's not like maintaining prohibition is suddenly going to make those lawbreakers go away or like legalizing drugs will suddenly create more lawbreakers. Instead it will make it possible for many of those previous lawbreakers to legally make a living and they don't have to be lawbreakers. Don't think they want to be lawbreakers, they do it because there is a market for it and where there is a market there are people who need to make a living. Furthermore legalizing it allows people who were previously lawbreakers to no longer be lawbreakers and so they can better find jobs or start businesses.

              and the cartels (in your unlikely hypothetical cartel scenario) have reason to follow the law, because if they don't they will be shut down and overran by those that do follow the law and once shut down recovering against competitors that have legitimately established themselves with the backing of the law is much more difficult. and those that do follow the law have the law on their side to back them and the law will protect them and the law offers the best protection possible. Presuming law enforcement does their job.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 11:06am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                The law should not prohibit or continue prohibiting an activity just because some people that take part in that activity may break the law. The law should only go after those that do break the law in the event that they do. It shouldn't assume that an activity should be illegal because it can result in people breaking a law and therefore ban said activity. Otherwise the law can justify prohibiting anything and everything, like drinking water, which law breakers do as well.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:09pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Which company do you think will have an easier time getting production up to speed? Lilywhite Pharmaceuticals, who is new to the business, or Cartel Inc., with their decades of pre-existing experience in growing, harvesting, refining and distributing the stuff?

              Let's see, the pharmaceutical company, who has the resources, experience and connections in dealing with creation and distribution of drugs to legitimate markets, and have no problem with inviting government inspectors to look over their books and faculties...

              ... or the cartels, who suddenly find their clandestine markets nearly worthless(who's going to go to some alley or warehouse when they can just go to the drug store?), their growing and production facilities that they would really rather the government not know about or investigate(just because part of their business is legal doesn't mean all of it is), and their books that they would really rather the government not get a look at.

              The cartels would be ahead of the game in some parts, but when it comes to distribution through legal channels they would be woefully behind, and it wouldn't take drug companies very long at all to catch up on the production and refinement process.

              Most of them don't even make the product they sell; they get it from someone bigger, who gets it from someone bigger, who gets it from the massive cartels who would laugh all the way to the bank if legalization actually happened.

              No, I'm pretty sure they'd be cursing up a storm due to the massive drop in price that would occur thanks to legalization. Marijuana for example is a freakin' plant, anyone with a pot of dirt, water and some sunlight can grow it, yet in areas where it's still illegal it sells for a nice bit of money, not because it's difficult to produce, but because of it's illegal nature. Make it legal, regulate and tax it, and the number of producers will increase significantly, which will cause the price and profits to drop significantly.

              Alcohol is made from sugar and yeast, and in a pinch you can literally make yeast out of thin air, so anyone could make booze in their basement. Stuff like cocaine and heroin are a completely different story on the production side, so no, that's not a good comparison at all.

              You missed the point. I mentioned Prohibition not because of how hard or easy it is to make the illegal substance in question, but to highlight what happens when you take something with significant demand and make it illegal. With legal sources gone if someone wants access they have to go to illegal sources, and thanks to the risky nature of selling prices skyrocket. As a result, crime in general, and organized crime in particular both get a huge boost to profits and power.

              In addition you also turn a whole bunch of people that were acting within the law into criminals, and if they're already breaking the law in one way, they're much more likely to do so in other ways.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 13 Feb 2016 @ 10:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          What I said is that dealers are the worst kind of scum, and that what they do is worse than violence or even murder, because it is.

          I'm not really clear on what your plan is to permanently and completely eliminate drug dealers and drug dealing. Can you explain it?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:57am

      Re:

      ...totally futile 'war on drugs'...we've never actually had one...when's the last time you heard of drug dealers being treated as enemy combatants?...

      If you think the violence is crazy now just go ahead and declare war. Soldiers - not police officers - are trained to shoot first and ask questions later once they get "weapons free". And do you really want armed attack helicopters flying over your neighborhood?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:09am

        Re: Re:

        Not to mention there is a drug problem in the military too. Oh, you can deny it all you want but I've talked to people who know from experience.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          IOW, you can't simply stop the war on drugs by simply creating more government, more police, more military because then you run into a situation where many members of the police, military, and government are on drugs too. Heck, many drugs originated from the military and they have had a long long history of drug use. Don't think it's any different now. Drugs are done by people within the government as well as people who aren't a part of the government. Stricter punishments, more government, and more enforcement won't change that. The problem is human nature and the government can't really micromanage human nature because the government is composed of ... humans!!!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 4:31pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Iran-Contra deal comes to mind with the CIA importing vast amounts of cocaine to finance other black ops elsewhere.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:10am

      Re:

      Mason, I used to agree with you until I read about Portugal's drug policy and that it works. I'm a convert. Logic 1, Wendy Nil.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:15am

        Re: Re:

        From what I've read, Portugal's policy is about helping the victims of drug dealers be able to find safe and effective treatment more easily, which I'm all for. There's nothing about that that's incompatible with thinking that drug dealers are scum that need to be eradicated.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Toestubber (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          drug dealers are scum that need to be eradicated

          No drug dealer ever made me get high. It would be interesting to see your list of all the "scum" who deserve death. I imagine it is quite long.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Justme, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:08pm

        Re: Re:

        The comments on this story alone expose the biggest problem we face in dealing with the issue of drugs and drug policy.

        People on both sides let their emotions or individual morality determine their position on the issue. And while that is perfectly fine way to determine your own individual chooses about drug use, its not a great way to determine public policy on the issue.

        If the stated objective is zero tolerance then the result will be failure.. never been achieved in the history of mankind. Even in the most totalitarian of societies.

        If the objective is to lower the number of people who suffer from addiction and help them become contributing members of society again, then our current policies are nothing but destructive to that goal!

        There is no perfect policy on the issue but it would be hard to imagine one with results that are worse then current policy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PrivateFraszer, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      According to the UK Government death certificates website - no one dies from Weed every year. It may cause mental problems for some. I don't think its addictive. Ecstasy kills very few as well (if not none)
      - Alcohol kills thousands year, as does sugar and cigarettes.
      - Opiates kills roughly the same number as Aspirin/Paracetamol, though maybe its impure heroin thats the problem.
      So i am not sure you are right about the obvious harms of the illegal drugs.
      But one obvious harm of legalising illegal drugs is that folk would drink a lot less - damaging the alcohol industry.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeDetroit (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 10:30am

      Re:

      Right now, TODAY, there is great "abundance of freely-available high-quality addictive, destructive substances". No war on drugs? Please explain how we can make it more of a war. Torture suspects? Firing squads for convicts? Build more prisons? Invade another country? Do you really believe some sort of escalation of the war on drugs will decrease the circulation of illegal substances?

      I've been friends with dozens of addicts/alcoholics. Friends & family. Many got clean, many died, some are still out there. I am quite aware of the damage done by substance abuse. Most of said damage is the result of alcohol abuse. Diverting the money wasted to treatment & actually decreasing the demand makes more sense than making even more of them criminals.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 2:09pm

      Re:

      cAN i SUGGEST A FEW THINGS..
      1. Most drugs used are to BRING you UP or DOWN.. to help you speed up or slow things down for relaxation..Even Medical drugs do the same and have the same addictive properties..
      2. MOST of this tends to be Adulterated drugs. NOT the plants themselves. MOSt natural drugs are not that addictive, and even the medical community has used them.
      3. placing drugs into a CLOSED ARENA/location makes it easier for people to be Instigated into trying something different..Even tho they may be a light user, they gather around others WHO may have other/harder habits..and be introduced to something they will be MORE addicted to..
      4. There is something in the background you may not see. Drug price so high there is FEW other ways to get money to pay for them, except STEALING..Controlled introduction of drugs to limit access and force prices UP(standard business practice), HOW do you control Millions of people in an easy way? esp with FEWER jobs then the 60's...Think about releasing minor drug offenders and bringing BACK most of our military, and TRYING to find jobs for all of them... MOSt of those in jail for Drug offenses, tend to have done nothing wrong except take a few drugs at HOME..
      5. WOULD TRUE education help with drugs? Probably. WOULD helping many of these people find jobs and keep them preoccupied, and teach them JOBS that are available, HELP?? Probably..
      6. in the PAST, we had groups and associations, and training ALL OVER the place for people to learn things they wished...NOW we charge for ANYTHING you want to learn..WE ARNT HELPING EACH OTHER..

      I could go on..but its not worth it. You can only change peoples minds IF THEY CAN SEE IT..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      wow, 14 Feb 2016 @ 7:26pm

      Re:

      Mason, get a grip.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:13am

    Nobody wants to admit it but there's a toxic co-dependency between the drug cartels and the governments that wish to fight them.

    For the cartels, government prohibition makes them profitable.

    For the government, cartels mean larger drug war budgets that divert money away from healthcare, infrastructure, etc. Not to mention that politically-connected contractors and privateers make off like bandits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 12 Feb 2016 @ 7:26am

    Not trying to control how people choose to live their own lives is ALWAYS beneficial to society.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 8:33am

    Confusus say

    It's hard to get a TLA to see the truth, when their existence relies on not seeing the truth...

    Three Letter Agencies (TLA's) rely on these fake wars to exist and to supplement their budget. The CIA brings in billions of dollars in drugs a year (imports to the US, not confiscating from illegal operations), how else do they fund all those black sites and operations? The DEA and FBI get billions to "fight" the illegal drug trade that their fellow TLA's created (not only does the CIA profit from the sales, they can then "tip" off other agencies as to where the good busts are, grab the drugs that were sold, and repeat the process).

    Or perhaps my tinfoil is just a little too lose this morning...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 12 Feb 2016 @ 1:01pm

    Sociaty and logic, may the 2 never meet.

    I wonder about the laws and regulations..
    What would happen to a Druggie, if they could GET what they wanted, and NOT be introduced to OTHER drugs in a Unregulated/dangerous/atmosphere..

    REALLY, if you find a drug you can enjoy, or does what you want...WHY try something else, without an introduction, or someone SAMPLING the drug to you..

    The most interesting idea comes in nature..UNADULTERATED drugs..Are seldom, as addictive, damaging, overwhelming..and THEY are the most controlled..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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