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Posts tagged ‘Drug laws’

Link farm August edition

I know I’ve been inactive lately, but that is due to a full–time job that leaves less time for blogging. Still, I will try and keep posting.

In the meantime, here’s a link roundup:

  • The Texas Attorney General admits to deliberate gerrymandering. At least he’s honest.
  • The US might take steps to reduce the over–incarceration caused by the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs. This is a good idea. The vast majority of people imprisoned in the US to lengthy prison sentences are for non–violent crimes like drug possession. This is a huge drain on public resources, and a huge dump of corporate welfare for the prison industrial complex. Ending it would help public finances, and prevent many young people from becoming a permanent underclass. Treating drug addiction as a medical problem would also improve public health, while reducing drug use, and ending the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs would also reduce crime and gun violence in the US.
    • It does not follow from the above that I necessarily endorse the use of drugs. The primary reason tobacco use causes heart disease is because smoking produces carbon monoxide. Smoking marijuana would produce likewise. (There is still excellent evidence that marijuana has medical uses, however).
  • Noah Smith is right. Libertarianism really is just about protecting the liberty of “local bullies.”

We could get billions in revenue

A new study has determined that more than 366,000 British Columbians use marijuana, with the market value of their purchases being about half a billion dollars a year, According to the study, taxing it (the same as with alcohol or cigarettes) would bring in billions in new revenue (links removed):

The researchers also point to data from Washington, which recently held a successful referendum to legalize pot, that suggests the same number of pot smokers in that state could bring in $2.5 billion in taxes over five years in a regulated system.

This is one of the reasons why marijuana should be legalized. It would free up money spent prosecuting and incarcerating non–violent criminals who harm no one other than themselves. It is especially important, as the legalization in Washington state could cause a grey market of British Columbians going there to get their marijuana. Completely legalizing it here would prevent such an event. As it stands, a potential boost to ours (and more diffusely, the Canadian economy) is being lost and undercut.

And this study shows yet again why socons should never be allowed to control the public purse. Given the chance, they’ll always deny revenue and blow the budget on puritanism, going after people for doing something they probably do themselves.

Study: crime bill to make reintegration harder

A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reports that the Reformatory crime bill (C–10) will lead to difficulties in integration of released prisoners. From a newspaper report on the study (since I can’t find an abstract):

Canada’s omnibus crime bill will lead to more physical and mental “degradation” among prisoners and risks their reintegration back into society, warns an article in Canada’s leading medical journal.

[…]

Without more resources, more prisoners will overwhelm already overburdened prison mental health services, he said, “and that continues to be an issue after someone is released from jail.

But remember, the Reformatories and Harpercons are Tough on Crime™. Wait, actually, they aren’t. What they really are is tough on criminals, which is not the same thing as being tough on crime. By making reintegration harder it makes them more likely to become career criminals

And many people in jail are for non–violent victimless/consensual crimes, like drug use and possession. If we ended the War on (some classes of people who use some) Drugs, if we quit wasting money punishing people who harm no one but themselves, and if we treated drug addiction like the medical problem it is, we’d do far more to save money and prevent crimes. That way we can get around to punishing real criminals who really do harm others and are a threat to society.

A good ruling from the Supreme Court

Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that Vancouver’s safe injection site, Insite, can stay open indefinitely. It also ordered the Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, grant the site an exemption from Canada’s drug laws. The specific legal rationale was that the failure to grant an exemption violated Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This is the correct ruling. Harm reduction, which safe injection sites are part of, and the general practice of treating drug addiction as a medical problem than a legal problem, has been far more cost–effective than the failed War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs. In addition, harm reduction and the liberalization of drug laws are far more effective at reducing crime, improving public health, and reducing drug use than caving to the appalling prison–industrial complex.

Debunking the “But we don’t show kids how to use drugs” argument

There is an argument against comprehensive sex education that basically argues that since we do not teach young people how to use drugs safely, we should not teach them how to have sex safely/use contraceptives/etc and instead should focus on abstinence alone. This argument fails for several reasons.

Humans are animals, are biological organisms. Humans have a natural, evolutionary tendency desire to have sex; indeed, if we didn’t, we’d be extinct. Do humans have a natural, evolutionary tendency to do drugs? Certainly not tobacco and cocaine, as those are native to the Americas.  Similarly, cannabis is native to central Asia north of the Himalayas. Basically, do not have any biological need to use these drugs. (Medicine does not count; is is possible, although painful, to never use a painkiller, for example.) Alcohol may be a partial exception, as light consumption may have some beneficial effects, but otherwise biology does not make us have to do drugs. Basically, people normally have a sex drive, but do not normally have a “drug drive”.

Similarly, there are different things involved in using drugs versus having sex. How does one go about, say, obtaining marijuana?  One can grow it, or buy it from someone. For heroin, one has to buy it. The same applies for other drugs. This allows multiple means to go about and prevent drug use. Besides telling people not to use it, one can also go after suppliers, dealers, and the like. One cannot do that with sex. All one needs to have sex is someone else willing to do it with you. The only way to the same to sex as is done to drugs would be to prevent people from spending time with others. In short, there are generally more steps involved in doing drugs than in having sex.

Finally, most drugs (caffeine is a notable exception) are illegal, and alcohol and tobacco are age restricted. Although there is an age of consent for sex this is not the same thing. Once one reaches the legal age of consent it is legal for them to have sex with someone else willing to and who is also of the age of consent. Even if there is a blue law banning non-marital sex, such laws are unenforced (the government has better things to do than control people’s sex lives). Hence, even if they are de jure illegal, they are de facto legal. This is not the same as people getting away with drug possession. Even if most people who smoke marijuana are not caught, people are still charged if found to be in possession of it. The same happens for other illegal drugs.

Hence, for these reasons, the “we do not teach young people how to use drugs safely” argument against comprehensive sex education does not work.

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