Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Narcotics legalization: Comparisons to Gun Control

This is food for thought.  The USA (where there is a War On Drugs under way) has 30 times the overdose death rates per capita as Portugal (which legalized or decriminalized essentially all drugs 15 years ago):

But in Portugal, the numbers paint a different story. The prevalence of past-year and past-month drug use among young adults has fallen since 2001, according to statistics compiled by the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which advocates on behalf of ending the war on drugs. Overall adult use is down slightly too. And new HIV cases among drug users are way down.
Now, numbers just released from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction paint an even more vivid picture of life under decriminalization: drug overdose deaths in Portugal are the second-lowest in the European Union.
This data are stark.  We have a policy in this Republic that has clearly and utterly failed - the data do not lie.  We have powerful incentives for Government to try ever more controls (the Attorney General's idiotic plan to ramp up civil asset forfeiture is offered as Exhibit A only due to the fact that it is the most recent example).  The people advocating for more control have no new ideas that can plausibly work, and so fall back on "do it again, only harder!"

The comparison to gun control is more than a little uncomfortable: target something that people don't like (drug use/gun possession), make a bunch of ineffective laws that empower the State at the expense of the people without "solving" the "problem", repeat the stupidity for 30 or 40 years.

When you consider the vast amount of money flowing to drug gangs, when you consider Attorney General Sessions - the highest Law Enforcement official in the land, for crying out loud - advocating seizing citizens' property without charge or trial or conviction, when you consider the body count from gang turf battles over drug sales, and when you consider the lack of any sort of effective detox programs (like Portugal seems to run), we're left with the conclusion that the War On Drugs is simply evil.  I don't see how any other word fits.


Guffaw in AZ said...

And the current AG is a throwback to Nixon...

Too bad the current President isn't libertarian in this regard (?)


SiGraybeard said...

The thing about the drug problem is that there is No Good Answer. The problem comes down to the fact that the drug users are doing a very anti-libertarian thing to us. No matter what we do, they're imposing on us. With the WoD (War on Drugs), we pay in money and loss of freedoms. In the case of doing a Portugal, we pay in money. In either case, we pay social costs.

I sincerely doubt that those "effective detox programs" come without any costs at all. Likewise, I really doubt that there are no health care costs at all. In our country, it's getting harder for people with bad chronic issues to get treatment because of the WoD. The "opioid epidemic" - perhaps the only epidemic of a non-communicable disease ever - is making it harder for doctors to prescribe pain meds to people who really need them.

Looked at like this, the "live and let live" approach to the drug users becomes simply minimizing bad, not maximizing good. We're not finding a positive solution, we're finding the least negative solution. More freedom is always better, but they're still sucking out of your wallets even if there is no WoD.

If the "small-l libertarian" creed is "don't hurt people and don't take their stuff", the opioid addicts are the ones violating that.

This is kind of an incomplete thought and probably needs refinement.

Brad_in_IL said...


I want to congratulate you . . . for properly using the word "data" in the plural throughout your posting. So few people (unlike us) know that "data" is the plural form of the word, even fewer know that "datum" is the singular.

My hat's off to you.

- Brad