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Following Up... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

skullsSwift reader Steve Wellcome, commenting on my recent entry here about the Charles Lynch fiasco, offers us this:

You may want to check out www.leap.cc the website of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of several thousand current and former law enforcement professionals who are calling for an end to drug prohibition. Not because they condone drug use, certainly, but because drug prohibition is causing far more harm than good. Think of the social harm caused by alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, and multiply that disaster by exponential quantities.

Steve expresses my feelings on the matter quite well. I believe that if the sale and use of drugs were to be suddenly legalized, first, the entire criminal community would be almost instantly crippled due to lack of income, on an international scale. Second, those individuals who were stupid enough to rush into the arms of the mythical houris and/or Adonis's they would expect to greet them, would simply do so and die - by whatever chemical or biological fate would overcome them. Third, the principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance, and I'm very, very, weary of supporting these losers with my tax dollars. As reader Wellcome points out, our species - the American sector - made the very expensive and very failed Prohibition experiment, yet we have survived cancelling that error, rather well.

Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would - and presently do - mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored.

Note that the sentencing of Mr. Lynch has been postponed until June 11th...

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Don't think Legalization is the Answer, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Evidence for the Success of Decriminalization
written by antibot@gmail.com, April 27, 2009
"If you look at Gambling and Alchahol which are legal in most states you will notice that the criminal community still thrive on the manufacturing and distibution of thes items."

Please provide evidence that criminal organizations are involved in manufacturing and distribution of alcohol. I find it incredibly unlikely that Anheuser-Busch or Sam Adams or Jack Daniels are relying on criminal organizations to move their product.

And in defense of drug legalization (or at least decriminalization), here is a study done by the Cato Institute on the success of drug decriminalization in Portugal. They did not legalize drugs, they just made the penalty for possession a fine instead of a criminal offense.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/03/14/portugal/
http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=5887

It's not a perfect system, almost anything is better than the system we have.
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Why is Marijuana Illegal?
written by That Guy, April 27, 2009
A brief history of the criminalization of cannabis:
http://blogs.salon.com/0002762...egal.html

You might also find this link, and the entire site, very interesting. It goes into the history of why possibly the most popular drug in the world is illegal.

And yes, I fully agree. Decriminalization is far from perfect, but "almost anything is better than the system we have."

And dlutchy, how are those legal drugs used? Maybe you are referring to the sale of legal prescription drugs by criminals. In this case, the drugs may be "legal," but it is still not to have them without the consent and permission of a doctor. So this criminal use is still against the law. Legalization of all drugs would render this a non-crime. Someone would not need a criminal to gain access to what they are already getting.

When it comes right down to it, who is the government to tell me, and you, what we can and can not put into our bodies? It is mine, I should be able to do as I please.
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Randi a Libertarian?
written by Realitysage, April 27, 2009
Randi is absolutely correct in his assessment of the failings of the drug wars. It's costly, ineffectual, and people who desire drugs in most cases will always be able to score whatever they want. Many things that are legal are more damaging than medical marijuana like opiates and perhaps psychotropic drugs. Decriminalization and education is the key. Whether consuming a few drinks or recreational drugs, folks will always seek ways of escaping the stresses of life and/or getting in the mood for something pleasurable. That's why there's a behemoth black market and a huge number of offenders who get busted incarcerated. Religious or not, many people try to impose their morality opinions on others. Sure, out of control addicts harm themselves and others, but there's all sorts of human behavior that are best left private such as sexuality. If medical marijuana is legal in any given state and helps people, the authoritarian feds should butt out. Hopefully Dr. Lynch will be exonerated. But I'm not holding my breath.
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LEAP
written by roguetrick, April 27, 2009
LEAP is a great organization, used to have a guy who lobbied for them live in my town. I don't agree with the decriminalization of opiates and many other very dangerous drugs, but I agree with the general approach.

And on the "Randi a Libertarian?" comment, I'm a social democrat. Believing in social liberty has nothing to do with economic policies.
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written by advancedGIR, April 27, 2009
I totally agree, like many other thing that our society has made illegal or is seriously considering doing so (like prostitution or depiction of violence), drugs are a very bad part our ourself, but it will still be a part of ourself whatever, no matter how hard we try to deny it.

I believe in a regulated management, that can of course include criminalization of extreme situations, but have to acknowledge it will be very hard to quit the current situation. However, if we currently are in an anti-pareto situation in which every possible move is a losing one, isn't that the ultimate proof of failure of the current approach?
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written by kaivulagi, April 27, 2009
Mr Randi..........Bravo!
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written by Careyp74, April 28, 2009
I think a lot of politicians know how much better off we would be by legalizing drugs, however, it is difficult to get to that point, with the red tape involved, and then the possibility that it won't work slows down their momentum. The best thing we can do is collect data and speak up. Since Leap is already doing that, the second best thing we can do is support them. coincidentally, I was hit # 420 to this swift article. What is the june 11th reference about?
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Hear! Hear!
written by bosshog, April 28, 2009
The major social evil associated with drugs is the crime, not the drugs. Criminalizing drugs does nothing to make them less sought after but DOES make them harder to get, which (per the law of supply and demand) makes them a lucrative business. Mexico is dealing with an explosion of homicides among the drug cartels who operate there. Our prisons are filled beyond capacity with people whose sole crime was either the possession of drugs or the sale of drugs on the streets. The street gangs who control the inner cities are funded with drug money which serves as an irresistable incentive for poor youngsters to join these gangs. Tens of thousands of home meth labs are busted every year. These labs are environmental nightmares which can be lethal even to unsuspecting persons who move into these homes after the drug manufacturers have left.
With legalization, drugs would be regulated and controlled. They would be cheap enough that addicts could get them without having to devote all their time to engaging in criminal activities such as robbery and prostitution to afford them. Criminal organizations would be defunded. Taxes on the drugs would fund rehab and education programs while the prohibitive cost of the War on Drugs would be eliminated. Contaminated drugs would disappear from the streets. With the availability of pharmaceutical amphetamine, garbage meth would become a thing of the past. Licensed businesses who sold drugs would not wish to lose their licenses by selling to children. Police action would be reduced to the enforcement of truly dangerous behaviors (DUI, domestic abuse etc) that come with drug use instead of pre-emptive enforcement against anyone using drugs (how would you like to have your door kicked in by a SWAT team who knew you were having a martini and feared you would get into your car and drive?)
My sister pointed out an interesting wrinkle: the police forces of the nation are all in favor of the War on Drugs. Why? Because they are so concerned with the safety of the nation? No. They just like all the tax money that comes from it, and the high-tech gadgets and the extraordinary, unconstitutional power granted to bust heads and confiscate property (drug property goes to the enforcement agency that seized it, often without due process or even a conviction; sweet, huh?) Drug prohibition, like alcohol prohibition, is a corrupting influence on the agencies that enforce it.
As Randi said, the idiots who choose to use drugs will do so regardless, and as Americans we are free to destroy ourselves if we so choose (we still are free, right?) It's time we wake up, get real and recognize that drug use is a problem that will NEVER be eliminated but CAN be lived with if managed intelligently.
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written by Rustylizard, April 28, 2009
@Careyp74 - What is the june llth reference about?
See Randi Speaks:Charles Lynch Sat, 25 April 2009. Very interesting (and appalling)!

Though this social/political subject strays a bit from the paranormal and the supernatural, I notice that Skeptical Inquirer magazine has been covering issues like global warming and global population, often citing scientific data and evidence in addition to opinion. This might be another good issue for them to address. I don't know about you, but the more information I have, the more comfortable I am in making a decision.
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written by Roo, April 28, 2009
I totally agree with this. These things SHOULD be legalised. Look at Holland - Marijuana is legal there and they don't have massive numbers of kiddies being scythed down like wheat due to overdoses.

Prostitution should be legalised as well. It would make it safer for the girls (and guys). And anything that helps to get rid of underworld criminal influence at any level of society, whether it be through legalising drugs or prostitution, can only be good.

I suspect that the REAL reason that governments won't legalise drugs (especially cannabis) is that it's FAR too easy for folk to grow themselves for personal use and they wouldn't make the billions in tax revenue that they get from alcohol and cigarettes. After all, those two are proven to cause cancer, cirrhosis, other nasties, and cannabis can only be harmful in some cases (and even then there are probably other contributing factors). Cannabis has even proven to be beneficial to those suffering the agonies of rheumatoid arthritis. The harder narcotics are more dangerous but, if we are old enough to weigh up the risks and make our own decisions about booze and fags, aren't we ALSO old enough to make our own decisions about other, currently illegal, drugs?

Tax and government revenues - that's what all this comes down to. The world of the weed isn't as easy to regulate as that of the cigarette or the brewing industry, so until those in authority can work out a way to make their percentage from the trade, it will remain illegal and innocents will continue to suffer and perish at the hands of criminal narcotics gangs.
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written by CryoTank, April 28, 2009
janis1207, there seem to be quite a lot of Doctors who would recommend using Cannabis over some kinds of medication. Especially oncologists, neurologists and some psychiatrists. But alas, they can't.
I can't give you any numbers here as I only know this from anecdotes by some of these doctors. It's not evidence, but there is a kind of consensus. Make of that what you want.
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Let them eat cake!
written by Griz, April 28, 2009
I love when "survival of the fittest" and "natural selection" means getting rid of all the people *I* don't think are worthy of existence. It's funny how everyone thinks their particular little failings are trivial while other's problems deserve no consideration beyond "let them die!" There's probably a lot of people that think that medical attention to a grumpy octogenarian with heart problems is probably wasted effort. After all, what can people contribute at that age? Write 'em off, their possible contribution to society is probably not worth the time and expense of propping up their bad ticker.

Every one of those drug addicts that you'd like to condemn to death is someone's son or daughter, possibly someone's mother or father. They mean nothing to you but that doesn't mean they mean nothing to no one.
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Janis1207
written by Griz, April 28, 2009
Most of the arguments for legalization of weed that I see make the case that it's less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. Having used marijuana in my youth, I'd have to agree. I also don't believe the argument that it's a gateway drug any more than alcohol is. If you are prone to getting hooked on something for the purpose of escaping reality, then you're probably going to get hooked on something. I escaped the drug use phase of my life with an alcohol dependancy in spite of the difference drugs that were available to me.

The truth is, while I don't agree with the let 'em die if they can't handle it statement, Randi's post above is largely correct. Violent crime has increased in the US in the past couple decades almost solely because of illegal drug trafficing (see the Bureau of Justice Statistics if you want the numbers.) Our penal system does little of nothing to get dangerous drug users the help they need to kick the drugs, much less even just get them off the streets. Drug users are in prison for possession or property crimes, and the dealers are in prison for murder or mass distribution. Gangs would lose a lot of their reason for being without the drug trade (not all though, there will always be gangs as long as there's massive economic disparity). If we took the money we use to fight drugs and used it to offer real help to drug users who want it, we'd be far ahead monetarily.

During this economic downturn police departments are constantly squeezed to do more with less. And yes we spend massive amounts of time on victimless crimes like minor drug possession and prostitution. As times get tighter, I think all Americans would probably agree that we'd like the attention of law enforcement turned towards more pressing issues.
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I dunno
written by JasonPatterson, April 28, 2009
While I agree that drug policy is a complete failure to date, I don't know that I agree with the cavalier attitude Randi takes toward the loss of life in this article. I'm willing to bet that it wouldn't be crocodile tears he'd shed if it were someone he cared about who took a high dive into the shallow end of the gene pool via drugs.

I'm not suggesting that I have a better alternative, or even that a better alternative necessarily exists, but saying that these deaths would be a necessary part of human evolution is absurd. The abuse of less toxic drugs (less toxic than cocaine or heroin, that is) like alcohol also has the potential to damage users' breeding viability, but it has not been bred out of the gene pool even though alcohol has been readily available for millennia. However, it has caused a good deal of collateral damage to those who do not abuse it (drunk driving, violence, etc.) Do you honestly believe that those people who would use these drugs legally would not place society in just as much danger as alcoholics currently do? (Note, I'm not really referring to marijuana here, but the article simply said that drugs should be legalized.)

Perhaps if we wait long enough these tendencies will be eliminated from our population, but how long will that take and what would the effect on the remainder of humanity be during that period?

I'm also not sure what these articles have to do with JREF. I appreciate social justice, but is that the point of this organization?
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I dunno either
written by pxatkins, April 28, 2009
I agree with Jason. Randi's remarks about natural selection smack of something I'd rather not have anything to do with. Drug addicts/users may well be stupid, annoying, costly, embarrassing, but they are our brothers, children, siblings etc. and we are responsible for their welfare. And as for thinking legalizing drugs would make criminals disappear ... well, that would be some conjuring trick.
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The Drug Wars are a Business
written by epok205, April 28, 2009
I was made to pay almost $2000 dollars for a marijuana charge here in Alabama. I also had to spend 30 days in jail for my refusal to comply with TASC (a drug program that does not employ psychiatrist or scientist of any kind). There is a lot of money made by government officials and police by the illegalization of drugs. It is also hard for anyone to get a job when they have a drug problem because of random drug testing and the stigma that goes along with even something as harmless as marijuana. Yes marijuana is relatively harmless. No worse than smoking cigarettes when it comes to health issues and, yes, you can live a long and meaningful life being a smoker. If someone dies of cancer because they smoke then so what, its not your concern or business. Now I do believe that heroin and methamphetamines are unhealthy but where does the government have the right to tell you that you can't live an unhealthy lifestyle. Is it right to persecute someone before a crime is even commited? Not every addict is a thief. Not every alcoholic kills someone in a car wreck. So many kids are enamored with criminal life. Society is not doing a good job of making gangsters look silly. The main reason is the rhetoric that is used when talking about drugs. Kids may not be eloquent in their own speech but they can figure out when someone is BS'ing them. I have convinced more kids to stay away from harder drugs by telling them its better to be a pothead than a junkie. Most people grow out of the pot smoking faze on their own anyway. And if they don't then so what? They aren't hurting anybody. And if you have a family member who is an alcoholic or a junkie then stop babying them and force them to accept the consequences of their actions. This whole attitude of addiction being a disease has to stop because it allows the user to make excuses and pity themselves.
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The War on Drugs.
written by bigjohn756, April 28, 2009
Please, review your history. Look at the 18th amendment. It was a religiously motivated amendment, which, like all religiously motivated proposals, removes individual rights. After more than a decade of enriching criminals and squandering millions of tax dollars, it was finally repealed. Lesson learned? Don't amend the Constitution to remove the rights of individuals. Legislate the religious rules to take away rights. The effect is the same; criminals are enriched and billions in tax dollars are drained from the treasury to fight an unwinable war.

More tax dollars are squandered to build prisons to house the people imprisoned by artificial crimes. All these poor folks did was to own something that was objectionable to religious zealots. For that they are stripped of their property and jailed for inordinate amounts of time. Here in Texas, for example, the punishment for being caught with one ounce of marijuana can result in 45 years in prison as well as confiscation of all cash and property. All of this wealth is, of course, the real reason for the reluctance to end this foolish war. No matter how many people are killed, no matter how huge the prisons become, this booty will keep the officials from legalizing drugs.
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I'm not sure I agree
written by Alencon, April 28, 2009
I don't have a problem with legalizing marijuana (as a matter of fact I've been in favor of it for as long as I can remember). After that I think I'd like to know a little more about the toxicity of certain drugs and the possibility of reactions which might place non-users in danger.

Let's get some additional facts before legalizing stuff like meth and heroine. I think we should be skeptical about the cost-benefit ratio of legalizing hard drugs without some additional evidence that it's not going to be a major mistake.

I also vehemently protest the whiff of Social Darwinism I'm getting from the post. Shame on you James. I suspect that our Creationist foes would have a field day with that one.
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about the toxicity of certain drugs
written by That Guy, April 28, 2009
Alencon, this information does exist.

Drugs like meth are a result of the war on drugs. Meth is actually a pretty crappy drug, and if other, safer drugs are available, few people would choose to use meth. In fact, it is not even a very popular drug. The "epidemic" of meth is largely only in the media, where it is a sensational story, but does not have much reality.

Heroin, and other opiates, are actually pretty safe to use, when their prurity and strength are known. Most of the danger from using them, for both regular and first time users, result from either obtaining a product that is much stronger than excepted or has some junk in it from the process of deluting it. Strength can not be regulated, because there is no regulation. When mid-level dealers receive a drug like heroin, it is in a very concentrated form, because it is easier to move, and the profits are better. Before it can be sold, it needs to be cut down. And because there is no rergulation, some people choose to use any substance which is a white powder. And it is these substances which actually pose the greatest risk. Heroin was actually created as a medical drug, and received its name because it was supposed to help people who were addicted to morphine. And in Europe, I believe, it is still used in medicine. One of the side-effects of opiates is nausia, and being able to provide a patient with a more pure form, which heroin is, can provide same levels of pain relief with lowered levels of side-effects.

When Nixon appointed the Shafer Commission, one of the experts said, and I don't have the full quote, that the worst effect of heroin on a user was constipation. The report was almost completely ignored by Nixon, and everyone else who wanted to start a war on drugs.
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written by nelson650, April 28, 2009
Smoking anything is idiotic.
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It's a public health issue
written by garyg, April 28, 2009
We should be less concerned about the effect on organized crime than the effect of
legalization on public health (frankly, I think drug traffickers would just move to
still-illegal drugs and take some of the potheads with them).

Marijuana isn't illegal because the DEA and the rest of the government over the
past decades are killjoys but because it's bad for public health. Yes, alcohol CAN
be bad for you (I drink it but never too much) and certainly tobacco (but it doesn't
impair your work). Marijuana, however, is hardly a "no-impact" drug. Why add to
the damage to society of alcohol, tobacco, etc?
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That Guy
written by Griz, April 28, 2009
You are making some dangerously misleading statements there when you say opiate are "safe". The worst effect is constipation? The worst effect is habituation and addiction. If you want to look at it from a strictly medical point of view, sure, opiates are safe in controlled use. However, from the users point of view, on which you clearly have not inhabited, when used recreationally they are highly addictive, difficult to kick, and demand ever increasing dosages. This spiral nearly always results in a situation where the addicts habit exceeds his resources and this causes negative lifestyle changes like theft and prostitution, and risky behaviors like needle sharing.

Sure, if consistent doses are administered by a doctor in controlled conditions, opiates and related pain killers are perfectly safe. When self administered for purposes of recreation and escape, every time you need a little more to get the same effect. Like alcohol, the process of detox can be even more dangerous than the drug abuse itself.

While in principle I agree with the statement that we should be free to abuse our bodies, as someone with a great deal of familiarity with drug abuse I still think that some sort of control over the more dangerously addictive drugs like opiates and cocaine is wise. Not many of us when we get started on them are prepared for the consequences of addiction. It somehow needs to be made clear that however strong you think you might be, the drug might well be stronger.
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written by Diverted Chrome, April 28, 2009
Do these substances have to be completely legal or illegal? Why not decriminalization first?

I'm all for the taxation of marijuana but not all substances. Legalization and decriminalization are not the same thing from the management, medical, or legal standpoint.

Everybody already knows the Abe Lincoln quote etc.
Everybody also has to admit to the irony of a "free" country controlling who can consume what substances while subsidizing tobacco growers.
(What I don't know is why JRandi would call people born with addictive-compulsive disorders "losers").

Note, roo: marijuana is not legal in Netherlands, it's decriminalized. Same as Vancouver and now Denver. The tide is changing in the western states, one step at a time.

Have you ever noticed that when they try to tell you marijuana is as bad/worse for your health than tobacco they compare each inhalation only? What they don't tell you is that even a daily marijuana smoker inhales 40-60 times less than a pack a day cigarette smoker. And they tend to compare it to organic tobacco, whereas a Marlboro is said to be 90% chemical additives by weight. Given this, I'd venture that marijuana is at least 100x safer than cigarettes. I know people who've died from cigarettes. Where are all the people dying from marijuana?
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A Distinction
written by JasonPatterson, April 28, 2009
In my earlier comment I was largely referring to 'hard' drugs, not so much marijuana, which appears, at least in effect, to be no worse than alcohol and substantially better in some ways, though intoxicated drivers are still intoxicated drivers.

Whether legalizing or decriminalizing, making something like cocaine widely available will not simply weed out the 'losers.' It takes relatively few uses (a little peer pressure and some curiosity) for a person to become psychologically addicted to the stuff and start the road toward physical addiction. I don't care if you call it an addictive disorder, lack of will or character, or just bad luck, the fact is that far more people than the folks who are currently hooked on this junk will be.
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written by SalzVR6, April 28, 2009
Strong opiates are not something that need to be legalized. The medical system in America is not exactly the trustworthy organization some here have painted them out to be- I can promise you would be astounded at the rampant abuse in hospitals by staff. These people can, by hook or crook, get access with little to no consequences. If anything, they need to be controlled more, and the doctors aren't doing a good job of it either. While I'm not keen on the states retaining records of prescriptions, the AMA isn't doing squat about it and there are far too many legally addicted people in America.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is something that stupid people fear, partly due to government misinformattion. For example, my HS health teacher actually told our class that LSD 'unzips' your DNA (I'm not kidding, he actually said this). They waste millions on superbowl commercials that show two teens smoking weed and deciding to shoot a gun for fun.

Meantime, the drunken father is beating his wife because 'his' team is getting blown out...now cue the Budweiser commercial...
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A Word in Support of Randi
written by bosshog, April 28, 2009
Although his words are harsh, I agree with Randi. People who are chronically and incurably self-destructive should not pass their traits on to the next generation. The penalty of social norms and the penalty of law have proven useless in changing their behavior so it's up to the penalty of nature to do the job.
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Actually, I am also talking from the user point of view
written by That Guy, April 28, 2009
Gritz. yes, most of the "opiate are safe" comment was directed at physical effects. Alencon, after all, was talking about toxicity. These arguments almost have to be, when the pro drug war group is always making up "facts" about how bad these drugs are for you physically. LSD will unzip[ your DNA. Yes, habituation and addiction and not great, but I would argue the effects of drugs being illegal are much, much worse. In fact, addiction is made much worse by the drug war. It makes it harder to get the drugs once you are addicted, and makes it harder to get help when you want to stop.

However, my comment was also made from the user's point of view. It is not something I feel great about admitting, but I am a drug addict, and I always will be. Even when, like now, I am not using drugs, I will be an addict. But then, I am a very small part of the population. Most addicts are. When you actually look at the numbers, far and away, most people who use drugs are not addicts and actually use drugs responsibly. And because using drugs is a crime, most of the people who are deterred from using them will not become addicts. They are the people who don't need to use drugs. It is very similar to increasing taxes on cigarettes. The only people this will deter from smoking are people who smoke very little. The true addicts will just continue to smoke at the same levels.

Diverted Chrome, there are no people dying from pot. It just does not happen. It is impossible to overdose. Even asprin kills something like 6 people a year. It does not lead to cancer like tobacco does. I have even seen a study which compared the lungs of tobacco smokers, pot and tobacco smokers, and just pot smokers. Those who smoked both pot and tobacco actually had better lungs than those who just smoked tobacco. And that is another major problem with the war on drugs. It makes it very hard for real scientists to actually conduct research on drugs and their effects.

And while decriminalization would definitely be better than prohibition for the general user, it is still not going to solve what is maybe the largest issue with the drug war. Criminals will still be in control of the supply. If it is still not legal to sell the stuff, only criminals will sell it. And that is not going to stop, say, the drug cartels in Mexico. You can't stop them by arresting them. Another will just move in to take their place. You can't stop them by killing them, as, again, another will just fill the void. The profits are too great. The only way to stop them is to take away the things that make them money. The drugs. It is now easier for kids to get illegal drugs than tobacco and alcohol. Why? Because it is criminals that are doing the selling. The disincentives for selling tobacco and alcohol to a minor are much, much more effect than prohibition will ever be.
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Oops, just noticed my first URL got chopped
written by That Guy, April 28, 2009
Below you will find, hopefully, the working URL.

http://blogs.salon.com/0002762...legal.html
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written by Demian, April 28, 2009
Marijuana isn't illegal because the DEA and the rest of the government over the
past decades are killjoys but because it's bad for public health.


I just start to boil when I read clap-trap like this. Get your facts straight. Marijuana was made illegal due to the following reasons:

Racism - it's use by Mexicans and "Negroes"
Fear of the above-mentioned races and so-called association with Persian "Assassins" (a name supposedly derived from the term "Hashashin", meaning a smoker of Hashish
Protection of Corporate Profits and Yellow Journalism, especially from William Randolf Hearst who hated "Negroes" and was concerned that hemp paper would affect his timber holdings
Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators
Personal Career Advancement and Greed, especially by one Harry J. Anslinger, first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics

The true story can be had by following the link pasted above by That Guy, and I'll repost it here
http://blogs.salon.com/0002762...legal.html just so you don't miss it. Marijuana prohibition has gone on long enough, and should be stopped. Remember that Carl Sagan, the poster child for skeptical thinking and undeniably one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century was an admitted heavy Pot smoker, and his wife, Ann Druyan, is a leading proponent for legalization. Don't be swayed by the misinformation the fat cats in government disseminate regarding this natural, useful (hemp rope, clothing, medicinal properties) and relatively harmless substance, all the while leaning back smoking their cancer creating cigars and drinking their mind-blurring scotch and sodas. Greed and ignorance are what keep Marijuana illegal, not some altruistic concern over the health of the users.
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written by luisclaudio, April 28, 2009
Legalization of all the drugs is also a matter of health and safety, not just organized crime. The wish is for legalization of marijuana or all the drugs immaginable?
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There it is
written by Griz, April 29, 2009
I wondered when the hemp conspiracy was going to surface here smilies/smiley.gif

Also, for those comparing pot smoke to cigarettes, there are many better ways to enjoy weed without smoking it. The psychoactive chemicals in marijuana vaporize at a temperature lower than the combustion point of the plant material so you can vaporize those chemicals without breathing the products of combustion. Also, those chemicals are fat soluble so extraction in oil or butter is better than smoking. Or so I'm told.
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written by Kuroyume, April 29, 2009
there are many better ways to enjoy weed without smoking it


Hash brownies, anyone? Freshly baked. smilies/grin.gif
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written by cullen, April 29, 2009
I'm surprised there's no vitriol against the state of California, which deliberately and, perhaps, maliciously created a situation where they endorse, regulate, and approve activities in violation of federal law (and apparently of local statute in some cases).
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A Thought
written by JasonPatterson, April 29, 2009
It occurs to me that (purely anecdotally) the people I've known who have abused drugs actually have far more children on average than those who do not (4 or more as opposed to 2, typically.) I wonder if anyone has done a population study to see what's actually happening. It's the "only stupid people are breeding" phenomenon.

Excepting those individuals who are going to almost immediately suicide via drugs, there seem to be a great many who casually use and also engage in generally irresponsible reproductive behaviors. I guess what I'm saying is that being educated atheists who abstain from drugs has netted my wife and I two children total while high school associates who are heavily into drugs have 4 or more. Similarly, anyone who actually chooses to not have kids, whatever their reason, has made a very similar choice, in evolutionary terms, to someone who dies from stupidity at a young age (there are differences in that their relative's children will be more successful, but nearly everyone is able to reproduce in our society, so this is a much less extreme effect than it might have been in 'the old days.')
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Randi, a truly shameful post. :(
written by BillyJoe, April 30, 2009
The following words will echo long in my mind and colour my opinion of you, James Randi, for a long time to come:

"those individuals who were stupid enough...would simply do so and die"

"the principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope"

"I'm very, very, weary of supporting these losers with my tax dollars."

"Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids...is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would - and presently do - mature into grown-up idiots"

"Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored."


I am absolutely appalled by this display of heartlessness towards the disadvantaged in our society.

As for your promotion of social darwinism and his nonsense about Darwin being appalled: In fact, Darwin would turn in his grave if he were to hear this nonsense promoted on his behalf.

A truely shameful post, Randi, and I will not forget it for a long time.

BillyJoe

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Griz, thank you for your considerate response
written by BillyJoe, April 30, 2009
Here it is with the last paragraph highlighted:

I love when "survival of the fittest" and "natural selection" means getting rid of all the people *I* don't think are worthy of existence. It's funny how everyone thinks their particular little failings are trivial while other's problems deserve no consideration beyond "let them die!" There's probably a lot of people that think that medical attention to a grumpy octogenarian with heart problems is probably wasted effort. After all, what can people contribute at that age? Write 'em off, their possible contribution to society is probably not worth the time and expense of propping up their bad ticker.

Every one of those drug addicts that you'd like to condemn to death is someone's son or daughter, possibly someone's mother or father. They mean nothing to you but that doesn't mean they mean nothing to no one.

Well said,

You should email your post to Randi because, as far as I can tell, he doesn't read the comments to his posts.

regards,
BillyJoe
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written by gsdguy, April 30, 2009
What’s going on with this website?

Why has it taken a turn from woo woo science and Sylvia Brown to politics and social problems?

Here’s my two cents…

Personally I don’t think legalizing drugs is the answer. Legalizing gambling just turned more people into gamblers which we now have to support with our tax dollars because they can’t get off of gambling and afford to pay their living expenses.

I fear we would have the same problem with drugs. Alcohol is bad enough without adding drugs to the mix. I can see the PSA’s now. “Don’t snort and drive”. If you think Darwinism will take over, think again, people in Washington will throw money into programs to try and save these people and put them on the welfare system to buy votes. This will be the line in Washington, “Look at the poor drug addicts, the horrible disease that they are inflicted with, we need to help them, pull them out of poverty”. All this will do is act as a funnel of our tax dollars to the people who make the drugs with the addicts being the middle men. Besides, the government will probably tax the crap out of the drugs so there will still be a need for black market drugs. I can hear the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharpons of the world howling about how the government targets the underprivileged black people with their dugs. Lawyers will line up to sue someone for something.

I agree the system we have is no working, but I don't think legalizing drugs is the answer either.

Flame away.

-- Bob V.
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written by bosshog, May 01, 2009
Billyjoe:
Just what does "disadvantaged" mean anyway?
It's one of those "feelgood" words that hide more than they reveal. An "advantage" is "any state, circumstance, opportunity, or means specially favorable to success, interest, or any desired end" (Random House). The word is used to imply that those who prosper in this world have been unfairly given a bigger share of the communal pie than others and that those who suffer do so owing not to their own actions but because they have been cheated and snookered by the lucky ones.
Drug addiction is not a disadvantage; it is a stupid mistake and as we all know nature is not sympathetic to stupid mistakes.
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written by baldape, May 01, 2009
ABSOLUTELY SECONDED:
A truely shameful post, Randi, and I will not forget it for a long time.

Randi, I am not an evolutionary biologist, but I would wager that any so-entitled professional scientist would consider your musing on natural selection, in this context, to be utterly foolish pseudo-scientific claptrap. With these words, which ring oh-so-close to sentiments I've read in such garbage as "The Bell Curve", you do yourself and the JREF a great disservice.

Please consider educating yourself on the difference between biological evolution and "Social Darwinism", and re-read (and perhaps recant) your words, which blur the very distinctive line between the two.
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@ bosshog
written by BillyJoe, May 01, 2009
I don't want to play with words.

There are kids whose parents have neglected or abused them and who end up on the street and on drugs. If they are not disadvantaged, find another word. There are also kids with caring parents who just happen to get into the wrong social group and are led by degrees into drug addiction. If they haven't become disadvantaged, find another word.

Whatever.

But what James Randi said was pure unadulterated crap (where he tried to enlist Darwin into his argument), and a complete lack of compassion/empathy/concern/[choose your word] for the disadvantaged/neglected/abused/[choose your word].

BJ
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@Billyjoe
written by latsot, May 02, 2009
Agreed.

What Randi calls 'natural selection' here doesn't resemble natural selection as understood by biologists.

'Survival of the fittest' is a generally misleading and often misused term and Randi goes right ahead and misuses it in a display of surprising ignorance and lack of thought.

He should know better in both cases.

The claim that Darwin would advocate the death of those unfortunately addicted to substances is astonishing. I'm quite certain from his writing that he would do no such thing.

We're all of us frail. Susceptibility to substance dependency or to dependency on superstition seems to be built into all of us. Some are more susceptible than others, and this seems to be due to both genetic and environmental factors. It's not at all clear that either are due to stupidity. Neither is it self-evidently clear that the weeding out of these traits through natural selection or eugenics would be desirable. We just don't know enough about it to make such asinine statements.

Compassion to those less fortunate also appears to be a human adaptation. Caring for those unfortunate enough to suffer from substance abuse might be a misfiring of this instinct, but I for one welcome it. I'd be a lot happier for my tax to be spent on that than on incomprehensible wars, for example.
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written by L.A., May 08, 2009
While decriminalization has merits, we must admit there is always trade-offs in everything.

A few sociologists claimed early, widespread alcohol acceptance caused very prevalent social and economic issues that brought about Prohibition to begin with. After Prohibition ended, problems like family disarray and workplace accidents remained lower. I'm sure others will offer counter-arguments to this.

Drug Criminals - particularly violent or misfit ones - are not about to turn to the 9-5 route upon legalization. The organized ones may simply find other violent and exploitative fields to move on to (arms dealing, contract killing, sex slavery?)

While we may save many at the "bottom end" through decriminalization, we may also "lose" more than a "few good men" at the top end of society. One Newsweek writer penned how he counted himself as a "Success Story of the Drug War." He and a few of his other educated, productive friends were once into street drugs. But they eventually decided "it just wasn't worth the hassle anymore." While some of his other friends couldn't stop, the legal sanctions were just enough to dissuade him and the other still-rational friends. Without the legal(and added social)stigma, he wondered if they would have stopped at all. Without the added pressure, we may be skimming some off the top of society. Just a thought.

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written by Steel Rat, May 09, 2009
With legalization, drugs would be regulated and controlled.

Which would make the government the cartel. And control implies not everyone can get it, which means they'd still have to do all the things they used to.

I don't know if legalization is the right thing to do, I really don't. But as I said in the other thread, I don't have the desire to drink, smoke, do drugs, etc. I've certainly had plenty of opportunities, but, like Randi, I have no desire, and choose not to.

I don't know much about addiction, but wouldn't legalization, especially of the really addictive drugs, place an even larger burden on the healthcare industry? And if the drugs are still controlled, wouldn't the addictive nature of many of them mean people would never be able to get enough (just like now)?

I have to agree, however, that the "War on drugs" hasn't "worked", I just don't know if legalization is the answer. Perhaps Portugal's solution is viable, but what happens if you can't or won't pay your fines because you spend all your money on drugs?
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