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By All Means, Legalize Drugs...

...because making them legal will make them easier to get, so we'll have more of the sorts of experiences reported by the NYT in its story "1 Son, 4 Overdoses, 6 Hours."   

PEMBROKE, N.H. -- The first time Patrick Griffin overdosed one afternoon in May, he was still breathing when his father and sister found him on the floor around 1:30. When he came to, he was in a foul mood and began arguing with his father, who was fed up with his son's heroin and fentanyl habit.

Patrick, 34, feeling morose and nauseated, lashed out. He sliced a love seat with a knife, smashed a glass bowl, kicked and broke a side table and threatened to kill himself. Shortly after 3, he darted into the bathroom, where he shot up and overdosed again. He fell limp, turned blue and lost consciousness. His family called 911. Emergency medical workers revived him with Narcan, the antidote that reverses opioid overdoses.

Throughout the afternoon his parents, who are divorced, tried to persuade Patrick to go into treatment. His father told him he could not live with him anymore, setting off another shouting match. Around 4, Patrick slipped away and shot up a third time. He overdosed again, and emergency workers came back and revived him again. They took him to a hospital, but Patrick checked himself out.

Of course, if legalizing drugs is too much for the common sense of the American people, we can take the next "best" step and shorten sentences for trafficking them, because this will improve everyone's life.



Decades of prohibition having failed you might consider the rather strong evidence that you are completely wrong. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/05/why-hardly-anyone-dies-from-a-drug-overdose-in-portugal/?utm_term=.cd3ff3cfc20f

1. How do you know prohibition has failed? Do you know what drug use in this country would be WITHOUT prohibition? How?

2. Comparisons to much smaller countries with different legal traditions, history, culture and demographics are, shall we say, problematic.

3. If Portugal is so wonderful, why haven't the nearby countries of Europe (or practically anywhere else) followed its example?

4. If you want more of the misery described in the posted story -- about which you are silent -- you know how to get it: Make drugs like this more readily available. Most people don't want anything like it, which is why, with the sole exception of pot, public opposition to drug legalization remains massive.

You say that I don't know that prohibition has failed because drug use might be worse if we followed Portugal's example. You say it is a bad comparison, without explaining why. You then assert that legalization would increase misery. But how do you know that? I make an assertion backed up by an example, and you reject the assertion and say the example is inapt, but don't say why. You then make an assertion supported by nothing.

I would add that my statement that prohibition has failed is based on the fact that things have not improved despite ever more stringent penalties and enormous amounts spent on interdiction efforts. How much misery do you need to see before you consider trying something else?

This article feels a bit like context-switching. I say that because I don't think there is a huge groundswell of popular support for the legalization of drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Marijuana, yes, but most people know that the effects of and addictive qualities of marijuana are much less than heroin and other narcotics. I'm not arguing that marijuana doesn't have externalities; I'm saying they are milder than those of heroin, crystal meth, etc.

It seems like you're jumping from marijuana decriminalization to all-out legalization. That's not what people are asking for. It also seems like you're ignoring the fact that some drugs are stronger than others. I don't think heroin or fentanyl should be legal. In fact, I think the moment the doctors who helped the man in your example found evidence of these drugs in his system, the police should have been called.

That said, I dispute the contention that there is a widespread outcry for the legalization of all drugs. In the news that I've been reading, the only real controversy has been over marijuana.

You are spot on in saying there is no widespread call for legalizing hard drugs. Indeed, the country is overwhelmingly AGAINST legalizing them.

My target in this post is not the people supporting all-out drug legalization (mainly libertarians), but the argument they use. The argument, in a nutshell, is that in a country that values freedom, it should be up to the individual alone whether he puts Substance X into his own body.

The problem here is that, when an argument takes account of only the virtues of its goal (freedom) and ignores the costs (the suffering and social damage that will result), it's dishonest and, perhaps even more important, unpersuasive.

So, as you suggest, we need to hear more about exactly what Substance X IS before deciding, as maybe a ninth grader would do, that just shouting FREEDOM by itself determines the outcome of the debate.

Freedom is a very, very important value. Virtue is also an important value, particularly as the glue that makes possible such things as a humane culture, and trust.

I join the present, overwhelming majority that would keep hard drugs illegal, and the large minority that would keep pot as illegal as it is now, which is to say, some but not much.

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