Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Is This Worth Killing Someone?

As long ago as 1949, H. L. Mencken identified in Americans “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy,” an astute articulation of our weirdly Puritan need to criminalize people’s inclination to adjust how they feel. The desire for altered states of consciousness creates a market, and in suppressing that market we have created a class of genuine bad guys — pushers, gangbangers, smugglers, killers. Addiction is a hideous condition, but it’s rare. Most of what we hate and fear about drugs — the violence, the overdoses, the criminality — derives from prohibition, not drugs. And there will be no victory in this war either; even the Drug Enforcement Administration concedes that the drugs it fights are becoming cheaper and more easily available.

I see little justification for the violence the government delivers in the name of stopping the use of drugs.  I fear the decriminalization, much like those must have feared the end of prohibition.  The common habit of thought is pretending the drug war's consequences - gun and other criminal trafficking, subversion of legitimate purposes of law enforcement, empowerment of criminals, thousands dead in drug gang violence and thousands more in jail for non-violent crimes - justify the minimal degree to which the drug war reduces consumption.

I hate what drugs do to humans.  The drug war takes all of that and makes it worse.

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