Clarifying My Remarks Concerning Drug Decriminalization
Since having discussed my opinion on the drug war during a recent edition of Paleo Radio (Mon., Oct. 20), I have been bombarded with questions and requests to further clarify my position. It is for this reason that I am writing this particular post. My goal isn’t to convince anyone of my position, but simply to make appropriate clarifications and answer a few of the more common questions I have received.
I believe that those drugs currently deemed illicit (not legally permitted or authorized; unlicensed; unlawful) should be moderately decriminalized.
A brief explanation:
My position is premised, in part, on the belief that the use of these particular drugs falls within the moral category of a sin rather than a crime. While admitting that all crimes are (or ought to be) sin, we must never forget that not all sins are (or ought to be) criminalized. The question, then, is not whether or not the use of these drugs is morally acceptable, medically advisable, or situationally permissible, but if they should remain criminalized. My answer to this specific question is, in short, no.
Common questions from listeners, readers, friends and family:
Don’t you think drug use would sky-rocket?
Possibly. But this is hardly grounds for making it (or keeping it as) a crime. The legalization of alcohol certainly contributes to its widespread popularity. The same can be said of tobacco and caffiene. They are drugs, widely accessible, and greeted with general acceptance. They also happen to be highly addictive and potentially deadly. The line between illicit and licit, at least in the cases mentioned here, are as costly as they are arbitrary.
So you support drug use?
Sometimes. If I have a headache, I reach for my Tylenol. For those who have siezures, I would see no problem with taking Depacote or even Lithium. Those with panic or anxiety disorders are encouraged to take Ambien, Xanex, or Clonazepam. For children with ADHD (if you believe in such a thing), I would strongly encourage the use of caffiene over typical regimens of Adderall or Ritalin. There are medications for cholesterol, heart problems, muscle pain, and a host of other ailments. There are also natural remedies to these problems, and the market for such therapy is growing.
The point, though, is to demonstrate the foolishnes of the question. The question ought not to be about whether or not I support drug use, but with whether or not the line dividing the drugs we consider licit and those we consider illicit is reasonable. I say that it is not.
Do you support medical marijuana?
Of course. If it can be used, used it. We currently have medications far more addictive and with far more short- and long-term consequences than marijuana. Most people who have asked me this question have taken, or known someone who has taken, Morphine or Codeine for pain. These are derived from opiates. Once again, the dividing line between licit and illicit is absurd.
For those in Michigan, this issue is being put up to a vote on Nov. 4. It is Proposal I. I’ve endorsed it.
So you don’t support any laws whatsoever?
On a federal level, the government should restrict itself to issues pertaining to the interstate, commerce, and trade, specifically on the borders with incoming drugs. But as for federal laws criminalizing the producing, selling, and consumption of what are currently considered illicit drugs, these can (and should) be taken off the books. This would force the federal government to return to pre-1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act standards and activities.
States, on the other hand, may regulate it as they wish. Some would be more liberal than others, but states deal with situations like this on a regular basis. Some states don’t allow the sale of corn whiskey. Some states ban the sale of certain fireworks. Other states have differing gun laws. This would just be another thing to add to the list of state distinctives.
How would there be any regulating drugs?
This presumes that society has but one regulatory agency, and that this is the state. But even without the criminalization of drugs, society is comprised of a number of regulatory influences and agencies. Social norms limit what many people do, if for no other reason than that they are norms. Families have rules that the members abide by. Individuals typically wish to be moderate and sober in hope of excelling in their various endeavors. Churches will likely continue to prohibit the use of these drugs, though they may incorporate these newly decriminalized drugs into those accepted on medicinal grounds. Schools and sports associations could put in place (or keep in place) rules they have concerning the use of various drugs. Employers and Unions could place restrictions on its use, especially during work hours. Local and state lawmakers could include these drugs within the scope of laws regulating the public use of alcohol. These are just a few examples of what could (and should) happen were we to decriminalize drugs.
While I am confident that many will disagree with my position as well as the rationale behind my position, it is my hope that the listeners and viewers having expressed concern will be better familiarized with my view as well as the reasons I have for holding such a position. If there are questions I did not answer that you would like to have answered, please let me know. I am more than willing to discuss this matter in greater detail. In fact, with the economic crisis we are experiencing, there may be no better time to discuss this particular issue.