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Legal marijuana is taking a bite out of drug cartels' profits (washingtonpost.com)
300 points by potshot on Mar 6, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 223 comments

> The latest data from the U.S. Border Patrol shows that last year, marijuana seizures along the southwest border tumbled to their lowest level in at least a decade.

That does not mean there are less drugs being imported, just that less are being seized. I worked with the Border Patrol years ago and it was astounding how they tracked success:

- When arrests increased, they celebrated that enforcement was working.

- When arrests decreased, they celebrated that deterrence was working.

Heads I win, tails you lose.

While I'm in favor of legalization, you should take these numbers and the process that created them with a grain of salt..

Speaking of the US Border, it is way more porous than many people think. Here is a photo of the 2 strands of barbed wire that make up the border fence near Locheil Arizona.

If you ride your dirt bike along the border there (I did), then you will find a few dirt roads that cross the border that look heavily used. I spent 8 hours down there and was not approached by any Border Patrol (Saw some from 100 feet away, but no contact)

There is so much stuff crossing the border, in so many places.


I think most people (at least from the Southwest) know about this; otherwise Donald Trump's desire to "build a wall" would be incoherent.

I am surprised by the number of Tucson, AZ residents (where I live) that think there already is a large wall, all across the USA. You certainly see a large wall in Nogales, AZ/ Nogales SON. It is only there for the TV cameras, since a few miles out of town it is back to dual strand barbed wire cattle fence. Everybody who lives within a few miles either side of the border knows this - people in Tucson 60 miles away are not so clear.

They watch the evening news, see a big wall on TV, hear Trump talk about extending the wall, assume it's the same wall all across the USA, and then continue on with their life like normal humans.


compare that to the photo of the barbed wire fence along the border in the other comment.

I'm from Arizona too and lived in Tucson for four years :)

I'm genuinely surprised by your experience. Maybe I was simply lucky enough to only talk about border issues with more educated than average people. I guess it's because I was in college when I lived there, and mostly hung out with Latino college students.

I visited a couple of locals on the US side of the Nogales border, and they showed me the sights. "Here is the border fence... and 8 miles further (drive drive) here is where it runs out, and they come over those hills there (drive drive) these houses being built are where the immigrants spend their first nights before heading inland...".

We drove past a border patrol depot, and there were literally hundreds of vehicles. "Wow, the border patrol must have a huge number of staff to keep most of those active at once" > "No, those are just for the TV cameras - border patrol doesn't have anywhere near that number of staff"

Other oddities that stuck out for me in the area were that the border ingress to Mexico was literally just a turnstile, and that the distance markers about 20km short of the border on the US side were, indeed, in km instead of miles.

Aren't borders such silly concepts?

Borders delineate jurisdictions of legal authority, and accommodate the ability for different communities to enact different laws. If you are a fan of the rule of law, you should appreciate borders.

Why are borders silly? I guess it's fun to say but what does that mean? Is it silly that people that live in Vermont have access to the kind of legal due process and protections afforded by the U.S. government that people in Colombia do not?

> Is it silly that people that live in Vermont have access to the kind of legal due process and protections afforded by the U.S. government that people in Colombia do not?

Yes, that's the point. For a country whose first words were "all men are created equal" we've built up a mindboggling apparatus for demonstrating that that's not true.

From the perspective of a humanist, borders are kind of arbitrary. Simply because you had the shit luck of being born maybe a few kilometers South of the most southern states, you end up getting a way worse experience in life and your ticket is almost entirely predetermined.

I agree on law and order, but again, isn't it a little crazy that in one state you have one set of laws and then once you cross an imaginary line you get an entirely new set of laws?

Oh, I think the "states" are unnecessary in the US. I agree with that. But borders between nations are, outside of a worldwide utopia, are rather necessary.

but they aren't essential

Donald Trump's desire to "build a wall" is incoherent.

You don't understand what I meant by "incoherent". I am very pro free movement. I consider my homeland to be the multi-ethnic region consisting of the SW USA and northern Mexico and viscerally hate the idea of some man made wall dividing it.

However, it's a perfectly coherent idea: it has a concrete meaning that is easy to understand.

The desire to "build a wall" is a reaction of locals along the border to the realities there, and that reaction diffuses through the rest of the population who aren't on the border but who see problems that they perceive (or are persuaded to perceive) might be solved by curtailing illegal immigration. They may be wrong about, or miscalculating, the ultimate consequences of a wall, but the perceived need for some kind of "wall" is coherent in an immediate sense.

What do you think is incoherent? A plan to build some kind of physical wall (barrier), or a serious plan to keep people from crossing the border outside of the normal immigration process, or both?

His desire is coherent and certainly appeals to millions of Americans.

Whether it is realistic, plausable, beneficial, cost effective, or just plain stupid is another question.

It may be unrealistic, but it seems coherent enough to me. What's so crazy about border control?

Making Mexico pay for it for one and the other crazy ideas he wraps up in it. That, indeed, does make his plan incoherent.

If he means it's going to come out of their pockets directly, he's deluded.

On the other hand, given the trade deficit he could say, we're pulling out of Nafta, unless you kerb your unauthorized border crossings.

Alternatively he could fine the unauthorized border crossers they catch and partially fund it that way. Or he could institute temporary permits (seasonal whatever) and impose a fee for those. Also fine employers who hire undocumented workers and fund it partially that way.

It really depends on what he means by "Mexico" and "pay". But if he's flexible, and he appears to be, it could be possible.

In fact Trump has mentioned ideas such as a special tax on any money sent to Mexico, which is certainly plausible.

Trump doesn't help his case by simply headlining "and Mexico will pay for it" over and over, but he does mention practical suggestions (even if you remain opposed to the fundamental concept) from time to time on most of his policies.

I think you are getting brow-beaten by a kind of pedantry here, sorry for that. I'm taking you to mean that his statements are those of a buffoon that no one in intellectual society should take seriously. I agree with you.

Donald Trump's incoherent.

He is coherent in the fantasy world of his supporters. And he has millions of them. And their fantasy is a possible reality soon. I laughed at Trump when he started to run for president. It is not so funny anymore, his odds have gone up.

If he wins, the next reasonable US president will be celebrated by the rest of the world with a lot more than a pre-emptive Nobel peace prize...

> Speaking of the US Border, it is way more porous than many people think.

Why would I think it wouldn't be porous? It's been that way the entire history of the world, why should we change it now?

Although there isn't so much of an immigration issue, the border between the EU and Russia is also non-existent in a lot of places:


A problems for drones to solve I guess.

That's true and a good point, but the article also quotes a Mexican grower who says the bulk price has come down about 50%. That's money right out of the cartels pockets.

It's money out of the grower's pockets, for sure. But the cartels, they'll just focus on other products.

Pivoting doesn't come without any cost, focusing on other products means large investments in infrastructure, which was earlier set up for marihuana and became unprofitable. However you want to look at it, it's a loss for the cartels in the short term. In the long term, it depends on what they decide to focus on; hopefully, we'll legalize that next thing before the cartels start making a huge profit from it.

Yeah, but extortion and kidnapping don't scale as well as the drug trade does.

All government programs tend to work like that. Recession ? Private players to be blamed and government needs to act. Economic boom ? Government programs caused that boom.

The legalization of marijuana is a much bigger battle. We will not get all the benefits of the free market unless government regulations are substantially reduced. If you cant buy Marijuana in Target or Wallmart it probably wont suffice.

All government programs tend to work like that. Recession ? Private players to be blamed and government needs to act. Economic boom ? Government programs caused that boom.

Recession? Poor private companies groaning under the massive burden of big-government regulation, and idiotic government "interventions" in the market are to blame! Economic boom? The miracle of the free market succeeding in spite of all obstacles! Hail the market! Down with big government!

The difference, of course, is that I don't know anyone who actually takes the "government is always the solution" line, but I do know plenty of people who take the "government is always the problem" line. So, um, nice straw man you've go there.

>"The difference, of course, is that I don't know anyone who actually takes the "government is always the solution" line, but I do know plenty of people who take the "government is always the problem" line. So, um, nice straw man you've go there."

I take it you haven't had much debate around the concept of a free-society without government. You bring that one out, and suddenly everyone is a statist that thinks that "government is always the solution", for every problem imaginable.

Heck, I'm an anarcho-capitalist and even I think government should be the solution to every problem. That is, as long as I'm paying taxes. While that's the case they better well be using my tax contributions to solving those damn problems, even if government isn't the "best" solution for them.

I think they meant, that's how all government programmes measure what they've done.

I get that measuring the effectiveness of enforcement is inherently difficult, but isn't the number of arrests made far away from the border an excellent proxy for how poorly border control is working? You can't isolate yourself from drugs manufactured in-state or from failures of other border patrol units (or successes of drug enforcement away from the border), but you also can't fuck with the stats.

Fucking with stats has always a key aspect of law enforcement.

The best numbers to use are the prices, which they also cite.

Granted, there are still multiple factors at work and you need to take several measurements.

Another reason not mentioned in the article is quality. Domestically produced hydroponically grown marijuana is so much better than the Mexican weed. I live 60 miles from Mexico in Tucson Arizona, we see a lot of it around here. The quality difference is huge - compare your favorite craft brew with Bud Light that has been left in the sun too long.

I had a friend give me an ounce of Mexican weed last year. That is a fair bit of weed. I tried a sample one night, and then gave it back. It wasn't worth keeping around, even for free. I knew I would just never use it, it was typical Mexican ditch weed and my tastes had gone to better things.

So which beer did you want? Sam Adams, or this Miller with a cigarette in it? The Mexican weed is just disgusting now. Only people on a tight budget will use it, not people with a choice; maybe 10% of the users I know. Everyone else gets the good stuff. Light, fluffy with 20 strains to choose from, tested and graded, and you can pick out the individual bud that speaks to you; or compressed brick that smells a little like coffee or grease and has an unknown THC level, unknown origin, unknown anything.

The only positive attribute to the Mexican weed is price.

Not to nitpick, but right in the article:

>And it's not just price — Mexican growers are facing pressure on quality, too. "The quality of marijuana produced in Mexico and the Caribbean is thought to be inferior to the marijuana produced domestically in the United States or in Canada," the DEA wrote last year in its 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment.

They perhaps didn't elaborate on it (from a good and interesting perspective) as you have, but it was mentioned.

Thank you. I hardly ever see comments about the benefits of legalization to casual weed smokers. Maybe we haven't shed the stigma yet, but this isn't just bad for drug lords and for-profit prisons, this is good for millions of consumers!

The true price of weed is like $1/gram.

Depends how its grown. RAND estimated somewhere around "225 per pound for a successful, wellmanaged operation, plus in-kind contribution of labor...". This was done in 2010 and so its a little outdated now but still a great read. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/working_papers/201...

If your forced to grow it inside a building, under artificial lighting, with heavy security and heavy regulation; then yes it's ~15$ / oz (225 per pound). Cut out that crap and use a field and it's far cheaper.

PS: I don't smoke and have no idea if 'hydroponic' is better for the plant or if it's a proxy for grown in the US and fresh. But, I suspect it's mostly about post processing.

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil.[1]


There's 450 grams in a pound. 225/450 = $0.50/gram.

But that number and mine is nonsense. I was being generous in order not to shock anyone. Look up the price to grow crops like corn, cotton, etc. It's < $500/acre. Per acre. When cannabis is grown like every other crop it becomes dirt cheap. Great cannabis does not need to be grown indoors. Great weed is grown outdoors on the west coast all the time.

Make sure you are factoring in the labor cost of hiring trimmers. Trimmers on average can do about a pound/day if they really try...

That would all be done by machines.

Under prohibition pricing, our[0] costs (Indoor, organic nutrients) come out to about $17/plant to produce.

0. https://medicalcannab.is

The biggest commercial operations are run by passionless businesses. The hydro homegrow on the other hand hardly qualifies as casual.

Who care whether your weed is grown with passion? seizethecheese and gregpilling care about the quality of the product.

Yes, and they appear pretty passionless, too. Weed does that to people. Not that I would care.

In a more serious tone, I was alluding to the Domestically grown weed that casual weed smokers buying from passionless business will never get to see.

Either way, I could have pointed out that quality control is one of the more often noted benefits, in theory.

> In a more serious tone, I was alluding to the Domestically grown weed that casual weed smokers buying from passionless business will never get to see.

Are you using `Domestically grown' with a meaning that's different from `grown in the same country as the consumer'?

Yes, I am. Domus means house or home. You know, homegrown. False friend right there. I guess when corporations are people, nations are houses and nationally grown crops may just as well be domestic.

Still stands to reason, as with other industrialized crops, that the selection does still not favor taste over yield, speed and looks, nevermind health factors with regard to the fertilizers and pesticides used. Contrary to what the OP might imply, it's not the best thing since sliced bread. I'm not even going of on the tangent about all natural garening, because the ecosystem has ways to fix itself better than a gardner could treat fungi and all that he can't even see, because then I would sound like a spiritual, paranoid pot head, while agricultural engineering seems amazing, but probably dangerous in the wrong hands.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

[LEWIS CARROLL (Charles L. Dodgson), Through the Looking-Glass, chapter 6, p. 205 (1934). First published in 1872.]

If you talk with people in public, is it much better to either use commonly accepted meanings of words, or at least mention your your own definitions before you use them.

> I guess when corporations are people, nations are houses and nationally grown crops may just as well be domestic.

If you want to play the etymology game (for at least as far as a Google query for `<word> etymology' does), `corporations' are some kind of bodies; nations have something to do with being born; and `industrially grown' would mean grown with diligence.

Why stop at domus?

I'd be hard pressed to believe that it doesn't mean what I intended, it just has two meanings. I'm a second language speaker, if that's any excuse.

corporation - embodiement

national - from the place of birth / the brood / the natural habitat

industrial - to grow with most diligence will be (expected to be) most profitable, so it's a nice implicit meaning.

domus - green houses, warehouses or office buildings are houses, even the porches and front yard by extension are sub-surmised, why not the acres, too, or market stands, or maybe somebody just heard and used it with an adjacent meaning to denote the embodiments of economy and now has to go with it, rather than admit it was kinda somehow wrong.

Also, does that mean 9/11 was domestic violence?

Since when is the sun worse than indoor lighting?

It's more about a controlled growing environment. Outdoors there's a 100% higher chance of pollination, which means seeds and spindly buds. Indoors it's much easier to separate male and female plants, and also much more likely to have consistent watering etc which leads to more lush growth

I personally find that [high quality] outdoor is akin to a beer after work. It helps you wind down after a stressful day. An hour or two later and there are no lingering effects, it's great for a touch of relaxation. I find that I can carry on being productive even while high.

Conversely, indoor tends to be more like sharing a bottle of wine with someone - you're going to get far a stronger kick out of it and it's going to last longer. It also tastes much nicer.

I'm not disputing what you're saying, growing outdoor is cheap (virtually free) and therefore attractive. Typically there is little pride involved and the quality suffers. However, well-grown outdoor fills a niche just like well-grown indoor does. It merely has a bad reputation.

besides the pollination from other farmers, which is probably far from 100%, selection is not any easier indoors, why would it?

Since advanced indoor grow operations existed. The Sun is better only in price. Indoors you can control all the variables and have a consistently grown product on a schedule. It's far too expensive for most crops, but marijuana isn't most crops.

The sun comes up and goes down on its own schedule. Indoor lights can be turned on and off as needed to change how and when the plants mature.

It's about quality control. You have more certainty about soil, air, water, light, insects, animals, etc. So the scientific method is more effective.

On a side note: outdoor plants grow much larger, and as such have much larger yields.

I mean, I don't think there's anyone in California smoking weed grown in Mexico. There just wouldn't be any reason to.

The cartels, of course, are adapting to the new reality. Seizure data appears to indicate that with marijuana profits tumbling, they're switching over to heroin and meth.

This is a really interesting development. There's always been this "gateway drug" argument around pot: once people start with marijuana, they'll move onto the harder stuff. I can imagine that there might be a correlation, but I expect that the causality is the other way around: once you break the law a bit for pot, and discover that it's really not a big deal, you assume that the other illegal drugs are probably fine too.

As marijuana becomes more and more legal in the US, it'll be interesting to see which way the causal link goes.

Cannabis being illegal actually influences people to use prescription drugs and meth. If someone has a job that drug tests them or are on probation, then people will choose harder drugs (or alcohol). The only drug aside from PCP that stays in your system over 3 days is cannabis.

Interestingly, in Colorado it's legal for a company to fire an employee who has (legally) smoked marijuana. So even with legalization drug tests may remain a thing.

It's interesting, but taken through some lenses, maybe that's still OK?

I've never smoked, but I wonder if I'd like my doctor to be high when he operates on me, or for an armorer to reassemble my rifle while high. Does marijuana influence attention to detail? Is there a way to ensure that people don't get high while at work, that they stay sober on the job? Anecdotally, from watching high people while I was in university, I don't think I'd trust their giggling selves with my life.

This has always been a really bad argument, the myriad ways it's been made. I wouldn't want my doctor drunk while he operates on me either. But failing a marijuana drug test says absolutely nothing about weather you are under the influence of marijuana. If you could detect alcohol in the blood a week after taking a drink, it would be clearly stupid to have random alcohol tests that cause you to lose your job if a trace is found.

The way to ensure that people do a good job is fire them if they don't do a good job. No need for indirect methods.

> But failing a marijuana drug test says absolutely nothing about weather you are under the influence of marijuana.

I'm not so sure of that. Failing a marijuana drug test means that there's a measurable amount of THC in your body.

Most tests measure THC metabolites, not THC, and in a heavy user these fat solvable compounds can persist for almost a year after cessation.

They are not "under the influence" for those 10 months.

You may not be so sure of that, but I am.

A "marijuana drug test" usually means testing for THC metabolites, not active THC in your blood stream. These can show up on test results a month after you ingested anything.

Imagine if tomorrow you were called in and they did a test to see if you had a single beer/glass of wine in the last month. Would you pass that test? If you would, great.. I'm willing to put down money that most people wouldn't.

There are quantitative tests for THC and its metabolites. A quantitative test can be dialed to whatever threshold you want, within the lower limit of detection for the methodology.. Demonstrate that most people are "under the influence" at a threshold value, then set policy to that value. This is just a matter of political will and influence. Many studies have been done, enough to design specific 'influence' studies (for driving, etc).

And if she's been working 19 hours without sleep before your surgery? How would you know?

How about an eye surgeon that just had 3 big coffees? I think the fact that you haven't smoked makes your perception of cannabis' effects wildly out of step with reality. I wouldn't trust any of the sober university students I knew performing surgery on me.

You introduce working 19 hours without sleep before surgery as a hyperbolic excess that should get one fired.

In fact, it appears to be routine and required of medical residents in the US. Which is ridiculous.

It seems medical students and their teachers can't apply basic notions of healthy living on themselves. I always wondered why they agree to stay up to 24 or 36 hours per shift. Can't they have 8 hour long work shifts?

A large part of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community, including champions, use cannabis because it helps them get into a flow state and recover from injury.

Obviously this doesn't apply to surgeries, and I can't think of a surgeon who would smoke weed and operate. But in a hypothetical situation, it could allow a person to perform better.

However, if your doctor smokes weed or drinks alcohol in his free time, it doesn't make him a bad doctor.

The real world is more shocking. I know many doctors and surgeons who use cocaine. And there are surgeons who will intentionally do bad surgeries because the profit motive is so high.

Three doctors including a surgeon were arrested today (one from Beverly Hills) and are facing 50+ years in prison for insurance fraud.

Human nature is a scary thing.

This is handled through most jobs requiring that people show up sober to the workplace. The same laws/rules would apply to marijuana. You can't operate heavy machinery while drunk or high, though caffeine and tobacco generally aren't regarded in the same way.

It's foolish to think people will just throw caution to the wind and get high before doing their job.

If your employee is a habitual pot smoker there is still the risk that one day he turns up high for work. Why would you take that risk if you can hire somebody who does not smoke at all?

Other than that, consumption of cannabis is correlated with a bunch of stuff that an employer may want to avoid (for instance increased impulsivity [1])

Given the fact that employers routinely choose to not hire somebody because of even the slightest misgivings, not wanting to employ a pot smoker can hardly be called irrational.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25595054

Why would you take that risk if you can hire somebody who does not smoke at all?

Indeed, that's why I hire only teetotalers. After all, if they like to have a drink now and then, there's still a risk that one day they turn up drunk for work.

You would think this, especially for people operating heavy manufacturing equipment, yet a quick search lists page after page of results where auto workers in assembly plants were busted, fired, and reinstated after being caught drinking and smoking before or on the job.

The first link I got from my search: http://www.torquenews.com/106/chrysler-ordered-rehire-worker...

People can get high with edibles, vape pens, body rubs, many ways. Someone you work with could be getting high right now, and you wouldn't know it - they were quitting smoking and vaping, or they got some chocolates (but won't share).

You can't tell, and 50% of the sales at Tucson dispensaries are edibles and concentrates.

So you will have to judge on the work, not if they are giggling. You should be more concerned if your surgeon is ethically compromised so that he would operate impaired by anything - no sleep, alcohol, weed, prescription pain killers. Same for anyone in a life/death job.

I own a factory, and use it for pain management. When I am using it (that day) I won't drive the forklift or use any machinery. I could hurt myself or others by being lost in a weed fog. Instead I do emails, meetings, R&D, etc. while sitting at my desk. Nothing that would kill me if I stopped paying attention for a minute. Forklifts and CNC machinery can definitely kill you if you aren't paying attention.

Your weed smoking armorer would probably not be using when working on weapons. His life could be at stake for a loss of concentration, and he knows it. It's smart to avoid weed induced problems, no altruism needed. Just cover your own ass.

Lots of people who you would think should know better drive under the influence of alcohol. I think part of the reason is that alcohol impairs judgment. Having never smoked weed, I'm curious about whether there is that same effect. Are you more able to tell yourself "I'm high, I shouldn't drive" than you are "I'm drunk, I shouldn't drive"?

Absolutely. Pot makes you paranoid man...

Anecdotally, yes, people tend to know when they're too stoned to drive.

Here's something addressing a similar question[0]:

> Detrimental effects of cannabis use vary in a dose-related fashion, and are more pronounced with highly automatic driving functions than with more complex tasks that require conscious control, whereas alcohol produces an opposite pattern of impairment. Because of both this and an increased awareness that they are impaired, marijuana smokers tend to compensate effectively while driving by utilizing a variety of behavioral strategies.

[0]: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10550490902786934

There are plenty of legal substances that you don't want you doctor to be on, before he operates on you.

Do you also refuse to trust people that drank a glass of wine with their dinner several weeks ago?

That would be absurd for someone to do, but, if someone wants to, well, freedom of association?

Note: I am not strongly committed to this idea I am expressing at the time of this writing. I'm not even sure I am at all committed to it. I do think its a relevant position that seems worth considering, if nothing else.

> freedom of association?

Two freedoms seem to be conflicting here. Person A's freedom to do legal things in their free time and person B's freedom to not like the other person's choices. I can't stop person B from being prejudiced. However, I argue that person B should not have the right to control person A's legal activities.

In this case, doctor A could drink the glass of wine and decline patient B as his client. Patient B would pay a higher price on average to express his preference, and doctor A would receive less business to express his preference.

I imagine a pothead doctor could even use the fact that he's a pothead to market to other potheads.

Is it legal for the doctor to operate on you while drunk? What if s/he used alcohol in the previous 24 hours?

With doctors my biggest concern would be their lack of sleep.

and chronic abuse of sleeping pills resulting from that.

You wouldn't want your doctor to be drunk in the operating theater, either, but no one has ever said that people should be fired for drinking on their day off. Why do you think marijuana should be different?

only problem is that drug tests don't prove current intoxication unless it's specifically designed to do so. the drug tests you are referring to, pre-employment and workers comp drug tests, are urinalysis.

you'd know this already if you weren't naive

I've made the argument with lots of strongly pro-legalization folks that they should be investing in efforts to develop a reliable test for current intoxication. A lot of the strongest (in my view) anti-legalization arguments stem from the current difficulty to detect things like driving and coming to work under the influence.

A simple computer-game like thing (think, a tetris-lookalike) might work.

Problem is: a lot of sober people would fail this test. Of course, you could argue that grandma really shouldn't be driving any more if her reaction times are so bad. Or the sleep-deprived father of three. And you'd be absolutely right and justified.

Such a result would be political suicide, though.

Why? It would only feed a new industry of expensive arrests and trials for no good reason.

Because it isn't safe to drive under the influence of marijuana, or to do many jobs. For driving, there just currently isn't a great solution, and that freaks a lot of otherwise open-minded people out. For jobs, the solution is often to disqualify anyone who has used it in the last few weeks (or even months, maybe?). Neither is a good solution.

Do you believe that breathalyzers result in expensive arrests and trials "for no good reason"? I don't. I don't believe people high on marijuana are as dangerous as drunk people, but I also don't believe they're harmless.

So far, driving has become safer in Colorado. Show me an overall bad outcome.

There's an interesting point here. I suspect we would both agree that "driving has become safer in Colorado" because more people are choosing to be stoned at home, instead of drunk on the roads. However, I think there are still a lot of people stoned on the roads, and that driving would become even more safer if we could deter that through reliable detection. But it's possible that would be a wash or have a negative result due to re-tipping the scales in favor of being drunk and potentially driving. Obviously, that hasn't been tested, but I think it's worth shooting for an even better outcome, rather than just avoiding an overall bad one.

You have already pointed out why that might not work in practice, plus you have not proposed a way to prevent law enforcement from imposing de facto prohibition or creating other self-serving distortions as law enforcement often does.

There isn't any protection for consumption of other legal substances either (except when they are prescribed for a health condition); cannabis isn't an exception. Alaska Airlines, for instance, prohibits their employees from using tobacco products even on their own time, and tests to that effect.

Keep in mind that the default is that anyone can be fired for any reason. A company is free to fire an employee who has legally smoked cigarettes too (if they wish).

I thought you could fire in America for `no reason', but not for `any reason'. Ie you can't fire people for being white or female?

There are certain things such as race and gender which are protected classes. It is illegal to discriminate against someone based on these attributes in various ways including employment. [1]

Beyond this, most employment in the US is "at-will", meaning that you can be fired for any reason or no reason. [2]

Some things not explicitly listed as a protected class might still pose problems if its determined that the way in which is it enforced is discriminatory. [3]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_class [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment [3] http://navbat.com/can-you-fire-someone-for-being-too-ugly/

There's always been this "gateway drug" argument around pot

I have studied ...bunches of stuff. And I believe a huge factor is the fact that marijuana is illegal, so you cross an important legal threshold when you try it and that can become a slippery slope. I think details like that probably matter more than the substance per se. Addiction is hard to solve in part due to shame and all kinds of social reinforcement.

If you have a bad habit that won't get you stigmatized, ostracized and arrested, friends and family can be excellent sources of support for helping you break the habit. But when you can't TELL ANYONE...don't be surprised when a bad habit is exponentially harder to break when deprived of amiable social support.

And I believe a huge factor is the fact that marijuana is illegal, so you cross an important legal threshold

I've always thought the "gateway drug" nonsense was, in part, due to the realization someone has that they've been blatantly, bald-fadedly lied to about drugs for most of their life. (DARE bangs on about cannabis like it was injecting heroin and PCP with dirty needles!)

And the next thought from there, naturally, is "Okay, now what else were they making up?

Crossing streets on red light is illegal too. Enjoy it.

I do. Because I can go faster wherever I want to go and laugh at the people who stan at an empty road...

Yep. You are doing it because it is faster for you, not because it is illegal.

Only in some countries.

The article fails to put the timeline of meth-centric US laws into perspective. i.e. restrictions on meth ingredient purchasing, the move from large US production facilities to imports to small homebrew operations. This isn't a particular area of interest to me, but to discuss law/supply/demand issues of marijuana, and then to casually toss in increases in meth and heroin without the same analysis of contributing factors is not truly informative.

Are you talking about consumers...or dealers? The gateway is supply-side, and decriminalizing and medicalizing drug abuse takes away all of their profit motive. Make pot legal, they'll move to other high profit drugs because that's what their suppliers will have. Legalization cuts off that entire miserable supply chain.

My theory is that if you can't get a cheap, legal high then you are more susceptible to trying something else.

Could you think of a way to test this?

(I imagine one can probably find lots of `natural experiments'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_experiment)

We test that every day: People get their oxycodone prescription etc. taken away.

Today this is one of the most substantial gateways to heroin use. A proportion of those who have their opoid prescriptions taken away turn to buying more on the black market. High black market prices for drugs like oxycodone lead people to try heroin.

Here's to hoping people realize and deal with the real gateway drug: Prescription opiates

Here's to hoping people realize and deal with the real gateway drug: Alcohol, that great destroyer of worlds, marriages, cultures, physical health and particularly the brain, time (hangovers, boredom), coping strategies (emotional pain), real pain (coping strategies), poor decision making (you know it), and so on. Start here, and come into it with a few entrenched problems, and sure enough you'll find yourself elsewhere should time and circumstance align.

To all the magical, healing drugs that are currenly illegal: may you one day be free. http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2010/11/drugs_caus...

Alcohol, in small doses (0.5–2 drinks) is a pretty good anxiolytic.

This. Problem is some people sober up fast after that little, so a continual low-level intake can be required.

That said, I've found I'm more productive with whiskey than without lately.

Gotta hit that Ballmer peak[0]!

[0] https://xkcd.com/323/

That's a dangerous slope you are sliding down there..

To qualify the previous statement, I've been using low amounts of alcohol to break anxiety related to lack of productivity. It helps with actually getting things done, as opposed to being stuck in a nervous loop overthinking things.

Once I've built momentum again I just cut out the alcohol entirely. It's kind of like a bootstrapping process, or perhaps boozestrapping..

I can't recommend anyone actually does this though, especially if you're prone to problems with alcohol. Personally, I've far more to fear from RTS games as far as addictions are concerned.

>It's kind of like a bootstrapping process, or perhaps boozestrapping..

You are describing the ballmer peak (https://xkcd.com/323/). It's a joke, but some truth rings to it. Developing while dealing with anxiety can be crippling so a small amount of booze helps lubricate things.

That said it's easy to get into the habit of drinking very slowly, so never getting intoxicated, but the drinks still add up over the hours. You end up putting down a lot of excess calories not to mention the negative impact on your overall health if you drink 5-6 drinks over the course of a 10 hour coding session over and over again.

I've since found exercise works just as well and is much more sustainable. Something for you to keep in mind perhaps.

What would happen to those rankings of meth and heroin were sold at every grocery store?

Alcohol takes a lot of blame because it is the most accessible and cheapest drug.

Methamphetamine is sold at grocery stores (Safeway, Target, several others), at least according to a quick search:


This is misleading; it's sold at grocery store pharmacies, but only with a prescription. As a Schedule II drug the controls are much tighter than normal drugs, including strict regulations on who can prescribe such drugs and secondary verification for new prescriptions. In NY (and soon more states), they can only be prescribed electronically using approved security measures.

Wow its not even masked under a different name, just straight methamphetamine for sale

Alcohol has costs, but it also has benefits.

Looking at only one side of the equation doesn't make for fair analysis.

> Here's to hoping people realize and deal with the real gateway drug

I think they already tried a certain approach, about hundred years ago

Point isn't to ban it, just to be honest about what we're dealing with so as to better understand the dangers and / or benefits of other drugs and approaches.

Opioids are actually much less harmful than other stuff, even alcohol. Alcohol is a neurotoxin, i.e. it literally kills brain cells. On the other hand, everyone's bodies produces opioids naturally. Endorphins are opioids, and the rush you get when you work out at a gym, is you getting mildly high on the natural opioid, endorphin (whose name is short for "endogenous morphine").

Synthetic and natural opioids have the same mode of operation on your brain as endorphins. They bind to these things called "opioid receptors"[1] in your brain. There is a biological purpose for the existence of these receptors. Quoted from Wikipedia: "The endogenous opioid system is thought to be important in mediating complex social behaviors involved in the formation of stable, emotionally committed relationships."

Opiates actually seem to have a significant benefit to people suffering from severe and refractory major depression, where all other legal anti-depression medication has not helped them.[2] Now compare this with alcohol (ethanol) -- a substance that recklessly goes around destroying cells in your brain and your liver, which people take just to get rid of some social anxiety. Huh.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opioid_receptor

[2] http://www.opioids.com/antidepressant/opiate.html

Why so you insinuate that stuff your body produces is good to consume? That's a naturalistic fallacy.

> everyone's bodies produces opioids naturally

That's one of the dangers of opioids - once external opioids get into the system, it adjusts for them and if they are withdrawn, everything breaks down. Of course, if you are seriously ill, then your other choice - e.g. suffering severe debilitating pain or depression - is worse, so you choose lesser of evils. But that doesn't make opioids something nice and safe.

With alcohol, for most people usage in typical recreational doses is completely safe. I've been using alcohol recreationally for decades without any problems, and so did many people I know. I suspect doing the same with opioids would end very badly (and I'm not inclined to test that hypothesis and don't recommend to anyone).

Alcohol does not kill brain cells. This is a common myth.

Well, I sort of agree. I work with several fibromyalgia groups, and it's a simple fact that pain management in america is abysmal. The regulation of prescription opiates so onerus, it makes it extremely difficult for patients to get, and doctors to prescribe, the medication that would have a massive difference in their quality of life.

It is because of this that they find alternatives/substitutes, which range from alcohol to heroin to suicide. Two people I know have killed themselves because they could not deal with the pain and the medical system failed them.

I find the attitude of doctors to chronic pain for which they cannot provide a solution to be very frustrating.

Why is it that opiate addiction is seen as far far worse than debilitating chronic pain? Why can't the patient make that choice?

For most people with long term pain an opiate prescription is the wrong choice.

The patient ends up with an addiction of opiates; while taking dangerously large quantities of opiates; while still being in pain.

They've still got the pain; they now have two additional problems.

Most people with long term pain need access to pain management services which include other stuff (exercise, physiotherapy, weight loss, psychological therapies) as well as (if needed) opiates.

None of those are alternatives that make sense with fibromyalgia. I could see them for lower back pain.

The thing with fibro is that pain causes reactions that make fibro worse, such as sleep deprivation.

Opiates can break this cycle through a short term course.

Except that the primary focus of pain management services seems to be overwhelmingly about reducing opiate intake, rather than helping the patient deal with pain.

Maybe there are no good choices for some long term pain.

I don't know where you are, but in England most pain control clinics are mostly about helping the patient deal with pain, and using appropriate medication to do so.

Here's the English guidance for managing pain in non-specialist settings, so this is what people should be getting from a regular doctor. (For neuropathic pain).


They're not just gateway drugs, but also a huge problem in and of themselves. I have a friend who went to rehab for heroin and he said most of the people there were addicted to oxycodone, not heroin. Opiates are not to be trifled with, yet some doctors are more than willing to throw them at people. My other friend was prescribed Norco for a sore throat >:(

I recently burned my hands with bacon grease while cooking which was a painful experience and was prescribed Norco. The pain was pretty much gone in the morning ~12 hours later and I had only taken one dose (which made me feel terrible, btw) and didn't take any more. I imagine many people just take the dosage until the prescription is gone.

> I imagine many people just take the dosage until the prescription is gone.

Or more than the dose and then buy it on the street after they run out. After that gets too expensive they figure out heroin is the same rush.

I've heard that Heroin was invented in first place to be a "phasing out" drug of sorts, to fix Morphine addiction...

It was. Then suboxone, methadone, etc. I can't wait to see the latest fad.

Suboxone helped me kick a 6 year heroin addiction. For an actual addict, there is effectively no high from it (aside from the relief of getting rid of withdrawal symptoms, which is very different from an actual high). So, you can dismiss it as much as you like, but it (coupled with excellent support from the government-run clinic) saved my life.

Here's to hoping people realize that the whole concept of "gateway drug" is horseshit. Human beings exhibit a wide range of behaviors following the use of any substance, that usually have much more to do with the humans and with their environment than with the substance.

These days it's hard to get a handful of Vicodin to get you through a few days of pain after hurting your back.

It's being "dealt with" for sure. I'm not sure the amount of inconvenience and needless suffering imposed is an improvement on anything. I've never abused drugs. Opiates after back pain, minor surgery or a root canal aren't a "gateway" to anything for the vast vast majority of people.

I don't know about recreational heroin, cocaine or meth. I'm going to err on the side of caution and suggest that they're probably something I don't want to see legalized.

OTOH it'd be nice if marijuana advocates would stop treating alcohol as if it's the worst substance known to man. Current DWI laws are not justified with science. Legalizing marijuana and criminalizing responsible consumption of alcohol is not progress. If everyone you know would probably be in jail were it not for the fact they haven't been caught, it's probably not a good law.

Sane pain management should be between you and your Dr. Ethical patient treatment should not be disincentivized because someone has a political agenda.

"I'm going to err on the side of caution and suggest that they're probably something I don't want to see legalized."

Beware of status quo bias. Why do you think restrictions are the cautious choice, as opposed to the daring choice?

This is one of the main reasons I support legalization and/or decriminalization of all drugs. Demand is demand, and a black market economy is worse than a transparent & regulated economy.

I think it's still necessary to focus on reducing demand (through education and self-help, not punishment).

I'm of the opinion people should be able to do what they want. And certainly drugs being illegal causes more problems than it solves. That being said, here is a case to think about.

When I was in my early 20's (20 years ago) I got a job in Phoenix AZ working on a concrete crew. We were building poured in place buildings (something like big box store size). First we would pour the floor. Then the walls on top of the floor and pull them up into place with a crane. It was extremely demanding work and the company beat the crap out of everyone. Very often we would get to work at 3 AM so we could pour before the sun to prevent the mud drying so fast. Lunch time was around 10 minutes and there weren't breaks. If you didn't run at all times... going to get a shovel...run, go for a drink of water, run you got yelled at. If you still didn't run a second time you were fired just like that.

My first day there were 7 or 8 new people. At the end of the day they had fired all the new people except me and one other guy. This went on for a couple of weeks until they had the crew they wanted. I needed the job and it paid pretty well (at the time) so I ran and busted ass like you wouldn't believe. After a couple of months I got let go as well and was very OK with it. It was completely nuts and I'm sure illegal as hell but no one appeared to complain and I'm not sure the state at the time and place would have listened anyway.

The point being... almost everyone on the job site was doing meth. Except me and maybe a couple of other people. I've never been a fan of meth and find it completely disgusting even though I'm not "anti-drug" and I damn sure wasn't about to do it out there. It was expected. The pace was set by meth. When you finally burnt out, you were thrown away and left with mental/health problems. But the building was up and the company owner made money.

That is my fear about legal drugs. Expectations. End results. Even social expectations like booze is now in many places. I want to do what I want to do... not be expected to do anything.

It's a complex problem. I don't know the answer. Maybe part of the answer is to invent better/less harmful drugs that are less easy to abuse and legalize those.

Here's how I look at it: it's a trade-off like any other. There are people with unsustainable work practices in every job. It could be long hours, little sleep, performance enhancing drugs, etc. If it makes them deliver better work, they'll get rewarded for it in their career, but they're most certainly suffering consequences elsewhere. Family strain, health problems, emotional drain, loneliness.

The temptation is strong to ban other people from making different trade-offs than us, because it keeps them from besting us in competition and challenging our value systems. But what right do we have to dictate what other people should value and what trade-offs they're allowed to make with their own lives? My sweat, blood, and tears are mine and mine alone to give and withhold.

That's an interesting perspective and I hadn't really considered it like that.

But I believe there is a reasonable point at which people should not be expected to go beyond because it becomes ultimately too harmful for them (ok... maybe that's not our business) and society which has to deal with the fallout (very much our business). Its why we have labor laws. Laws on how long truck drivers can drive without sleeping. People shouldn't have to degenerate into selling their souls and risking the well being of others for short term survival. Society shouldn't degenerate to competition at this kind of level. It really shouldn't.

I do strongly believe in the individual's right to chose. But as with all ideologies, purity generally produces very sucky real world outcomes and a modicum of sense and nuance has to be applied for the thing to work. The powerful shouldn't be able to lay traps for the less informed and then stand back and say "oh well... they chose...they have to accept the consequences while I reap the benefits". That's not how civilization should work.

You have a good point, especially for low skill jobs that people often don't have the luxury of walking away from, because they need the money to pay the rent and put food on the table. I find myself increasingly favoring a basic income (but only along with abolishing the bulk of the regulatory and welfare state), which I think would address the concerns that you raise. No one would be compelled to stay in a job by hunger, only ambition.

Because rational people know that people aren't always rational.

Are you also opposed to those medians and guardrails on highways that impinge on your freedom to drive off the road when you so choose?

It's not quite so cut and dried, though. As safety measures are introduced, people tend to increase risky behavior which ends up mitigating the new safety measures.

For example, since you bring up roads -- narrower lanes make safer drivers: http://www.planetizen.com/node/80229/another-study-shows-nar...

I think that's a spurious analogy. The public has no duty to build roads such as to enable your preferred suicide technique. The public has no right to tell you how many hours you can work or not. A job is a free exchange between two parties.

> A job is a free exchange between two parties.

That's a statement born out of extreme privilege. For substantial proportions of people, there is very little freedom involved: You take what is on offer, or you lose your house or don't eat. One side has an extreme amount of extra leverage, and some of them takes according advantage.

People died fighting for the 8 hour working day because without regulation employers simply did not give a shit if they were working people into an early grave. We have May Day labour demonstrations in large part of the world in part as a result of what is now the AFL-CIO wanting to commemorate the Chicago Haymarket massacre, and restart what was already then, in 1880's, a multiple decades long fight for human working hours.

In other instances, people burned to death because of employers that thought it ok to lock the factory doors to prevent workers from taking unauthorised breaks.

Is that an indication of a free exchange?

For a free exchange, both sides need to have reasonably equal power.

You make a good point. My response to a someone with a similar perspective on a different fork of this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11237231

I would love to hear your thoughts. I'm hopeful that both classical and progressive liberals can find common ground in a basic income. Combined, we are an unstoppable force for human freedom and prosperity.

If I can try to paraphrase: Criminalization has been so ineffective that you were simply expected to use meth at this one job you had, because everyone else was doing it.

And you think this might argue in favor of continued criminalization?

No, not at all. I agree... this kind of problem exists even with criminalization and I agree on the pretty obvious (to me anyway) need to do away with criminalization.

But problems of this kind could become worse if taking meth were legal. That's my only point.

It sounds pretty analogous to the problem about the incentive to take performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports. In this case the players might mostly prefer a world in which doping was banned, with effective enforcement, to one in which it was permitted, just because of the competitive pressure to take risks.

The personal barrier to entry would become worse with legalization, that the peer pressure would thrive on. But that logic would be true for other accounts, too. I've been thinking before that legalization, from the perspective of prior moralized prohibition, would seem like allowance or even encouragement, instead of deregulation because of a lack of or even of the futility of enforcement.

This was one anecdote. I have another anecdote where I was not expected to do meth. Can we turn your argument around now?

I don't think that meth is the point of this story. There are a lot of ways to trade off your health for higher productivity, not necessarily with illegal drugs. Professional athletes do this with extensive training and accepting injury rates. Salarymen do it with 80 hour workweeks.

The point is, they make this decision themselves. I don't think that your colleagues were somehow oblivious to the fact that meth is bad. I also doubt that your employer gave them meth disguised as "work-enhancing vitamins" or something. When people do things like that, they see the downsides, and they make this decision regardless.

Is it a bad decision, a mistake, for a person to trade his health and long-term well-being and health for his job? Personally, I think that it is. But I also think that people have fundamental human right to do this kind of mistake, that they should be free to decide it for themselves.

Would you die of hunger if you didn't take this job? I don't think so. Could you and your colleagues find a more relaxed job that would put roof over your head and food on your table? I don't know your situation, but somehow I think that yes, you could. So, you didn't take this job just because it was necessary to physically survive, which would be a different situation.

So, if a person doesn't have to sacrifice his health to survive for his job, but does it because he wants something more — should we stop him from it?

Have an upvote, but I don't think the solution to resolving the kind of problem you describe is criminalization of substances. In fact, I think the crazy controlling environment you describe fits hand in glove with criminalization. They both essentially grow out of a mindset that one person has some inherent right to control another in highly invasive, fundamental ways. A "live and let live" attitude would create laws and effective means to protect employees from abusive employers of the type you describe while not caring what drugs you choose to take, so long as you can behave. "Your right to swing your fist stops where my face begins" and all that.

Huh, have an upvote for bringing up a genuinely new point to me, thanks.

I've heard similar stories about how cooks abusing cocaine to keep up with the pace.

But I'd never made the connection that if it's legal, employers could expect performance-enhancing levels of productivity (more than I guess some restaurants and construction crews already do).

This is also an issue in professional sports and the olympics with athletes taking banned (but legal!) performance enhancing drugs. Similarly in colleges you see people abusing adderall or modafinil to study.

>Demand is demand, and a black market economy is worse than a transparent & regulated economy.

would this apply to gun ownership too?

Yes. And it's always humorous (sad) when people use ideological reasoning to defend their right to x (e.g. guns). But then are blind to how it applies to y (e.g drugs).

You can't grow a gun in a pot in your kitchen window.

I can grow one on the mill in my garage.

You can't print a joint at your computer.


Of course. Unfortunately the main issue there is that people disagree on exactly how much gun ownership should be regulated.

In WA and CO (and others) cannabis is more regulated than guns.

Absolutely, a regulated market would be better than a black market.

If every gun and every bullet were marked, all sales (or losses e.g. to theft) required registration with a central registry with the new owner requiring a proper license (including criminal background check, etc.), and distributors/manufacturers/registered owners were held liable for damages in the case of improper use, and with potential for their ownership/distribution license to be revoked, guns would become a lot safer. (Exactly what breakdown of liability is up for debate, but currently there is none whatsoever.)

Almost nobody has a problem with “gun ownership” in the abstract, and some type of gun ownership is legal in most parts of the world. The problems are with e.g. semiautomatic rifles being purchased on the black market and then used to shoot up schools, criminals trivially and untraceably getting their hands on as many guns as they want, people leaving guns lying around in places where children can play with them, or huge numbers of untraceable guns getting smuggled across the border into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

>and distributors/manufacturers/registered owners were held liable for damages in the case of improper use, and with potential for their ownership/distribution license to be revoked, guns would become a lot safer.

My understanding is that this is just an attempt by gun-control activists to effectively ban gun sales to consumers. How can the gun manufacturer be responsible for how the gun is used? Their job is to make the gun to the advertised spec, not keep the peace. You can't sue the knife-maker when you get stabbed. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "liability for damages in the case of improper use"?

If a manufacturer or distributor sells a bunch of guns off-the-books to a criminal gang, and one of those is then used in a murder, the distributor should be liable in some way.

If there were a proper gun registry and if improper gun use resulted in liability for the last documented owner, it would be much more difficult for criminals to hide the guns’ ownership / distribution history, because distributors and owners would have a strong incentive to properly report sales.

In the system we have now, the gun show / flea market / second-hand sales “loophole” is so wide as to basically render gun licensing and tracking requirements entirely useless. cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_show_loophole

Think about the way we currently regulate automobiles. Every automobile has a documented ownership history and registration, and every automobile driver needs to pass a set of tests in order to obtain a license.

A manufacturer or distributor selling guns "off the books" is already highly illegal. Anyone doing that will incur a fat stack of felonies.

Are you unaware of that? Or proposing that we make it even more illegal?

Here are the first two results in a 20 second web search I just did. I don’t have the weeks of free time it would take to make a comprehensive research report on this subject (feel free to do that as an exercise, I’d love to read your final document), but needless to say, the current level of gun registration and tracking in this country is nowhere near as complete as the tracking of e.g. automobiles. The Wikipedia article above about the “gun show loophole” also does a reasonable job filling in some context.



I hope that we never have national gun registration in the US. Just recently, California passed a law allowing the police to confiscate your firearms on the sole basis of a family member's or ex's claim that you're a danger to yourself or someone else. For 21 days, you don't even get a chance to defend yourself. The confiscation and ban of gun ownership can then be extended for one year, without a conviction for a single crime.

You also have politicians all over the country who openly admit that they would ban and confiscate all guns if they could. You have half of the Supreme Court willfully misreading the Second Amendment as giving no rights to people, only to states.

It's easy to see where this is going. Everyone who values their right to keep and bear arms will fight tooth and nail against any national registration proposal.

Again, all of those methods in the PBS article are already highly illegal... Straw buying, unlicensed distribution, theft...

Shall we make them more illegal? Or are you unaware that they are illegal already?

> or huge numbers of untraceable guns getting smuggled across the border into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Your own government is the worst offender of this in recent memory.

>This is one of the main reasons I support legalization and/or decriminalization of all drugs. Demand is demand, and a black market economy is worse than a transparent & regulated economy.

Nobel economist Milton Friedman said, "The proper role of government is exactly what John Stuart Mill Said in the middle of the 19th century in 'On Liberty.' is to prevent other people from harming an individual. Government, he said, never has any right to interfere with an individual for that individual’s own good. The case for prohibiting drugs is exactly as strong and as weak as the case for prohibiting people from overeating. We all know that overeating causes more deaths than drugs do. If it’s in principle OK for the government to say you must not consume drugs because they’ll do you harm, why isn’t it all right to say you must not eat too much because you’ll do harm? Why isn’t it all right to say you must not try to go in for skydiving because you’re likely to die? Why isn’t it all right to say, “Oh, skiing, that’s no good, that’s a very dangerous sport, you’ll hurt yourself”? Where do you draw the line? If you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That's literally true.”

Milton Friedman interview from 1991 on America’s War on Drugs


Wow what a Black Swan event.

Take something illegal and taxing it heavily has a negative impact on the black market's profit and a positive impact on the economy. Truly disrupting the space.

I'm sure the black market profit doesn't even notice. However, many operations are still considered at least gray market as the feds take down plantations.

The black market is noticing; the article ends with this:

> "The cartels, of course, are adapting to the new reality. Seizure data appears to indicate that with marijuana profits tumbling, they're switching over to heroin and meth."

It's pathetic that we've learned nothing at all from Prohibition.

While the seizure rate has gone down, I believe this to be a two part or multiple part reason. Border agents have also gone way down along the border. It's a number that has also been rapidly decreasing over the past four years from the current administration. Ex: I am a past employee of Customs and Border.

I don't see that in the federal data. Can you cite something to back up the claims? Border & Customs is still employing most of those people to work _somewhere_.

Why was marijuana in the "illegal" list in the place ? Any scientific studies that it is more harmful then alcohol or smoking ? Here in India it is legal and part of the religious traditions since thousands of years. It's known as "bhang" in hindi.

Essentially legalizing is just getting thing right which was wrong earlier.

"Here in India it is legal "

That's a rather spectacular claim to make, and indeed, the very first sentence of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_in_India says " All forms of cannabis are currently illegal in India, with some limited allowances made for some traditional preparations." So either you are wrong or the Wikipedia article is, along with all its references, history etc. I'm not a betting man but if I were, I know where I'd put my money...

Its nice to have some data to confirm what many predicted. That said, the DEA is acutely aware that it is much easier to move drugs around once they are already in the country and so their mission my require installing border crossing checkpoints on states that have legalized those drugs.

I saw a sign on the Kansas side of a highway leaving Colorado that said "If you bought pot, leave it behind." Clearly someone had seen an uptick in drugs coming in that way.

Is anyone surprised by this?

It's the same thing that happened when alcohol prohibition was lifted.

The actual headline would be better expressed as "legal marijuana undoing what the drug war caused"

Pot is still illegal in Australia because, you know, it's bad.


> The bill that would legalize cultivation of Australia medical marijuana is guaranteed to become law, with the main opposition party immediately pledging support

This is annoying though because it is nothing more than a step towards legalisation based on pseudo-science (since there isn't any great evidence for the efficacy of cannabis in treating anything). Why can't we go straight to legalisation without all the wasted time and money used on the whole "medical" cannabis step?

It's a path that worked in USA, so (social) science endorses this policy path

But alcohol is, you know, grrrreeeat!


You're confusing alcohol with, you know, Frosted Flakes.

Isn't sugar known to be just as addictive and almost as harmful as alcohol these days?

Ban oxygen. Approximately 93% of all people who have ever consumed it, even once, have died.

Oxygen is necessary to you living... sugar not so much.

Sugars are as necessary for your body to work as oxygen is [1]. Of course, you don't have to take them as refined sugar, there are much better ways.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose#Energy_source

That's why I said "not so much" because this is referring to refined sugar.

Refined sugar is still nutritious. The human body even has an enzyme (called sucrase) specifically for breaking down sucrose into glucose and fructose. The glucose can go right into the bloodstream or be stored in the liver as glycogen. The fructose portion is processed by the liver, where it is eventually stored as fat.

Given the near-universal appeal of the taste of fructose, as well as historical relevance of fruit to the human diet, makes it seem reasonable to believe that humans are well-evolved to tolerate reasonable levels of fructose without suffering any ill-effects. Even moderate amounts of stored body fat are fine.

Alcohol, meanwhile, is not a nutrient. Most humans have a strong aversion to its taste and must train themselves to consume it and even then the flavor is often heavily disguised. Although the body can derive some energy from ethanol, this is only by way of a complex metabolic process that can cause serious acute and chronic liver problems[1][2]; not to mention the risks of alcohol poisoning. The pleasurable, euphoric effects of blood alcohol serve no physiological benefit and directly interfere with cognitive and motor functions. While there may be some potential ancillary benefits of moderate drinking on cardiovascular health [3], the mechanisms and parameters of this are still not well-known or well understood.

[1] "Acute Alcohol-Induced Liver Injury" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3372892/

[2] "Alcohol-Related Liver Disease" http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/alcohol/

[3] "Alcohol and Heart Disease" http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/alcohol-and-hear...

The fact that we have one terrible substance that is legal isn't a justification to legalize another.

you're right. however, pot is less terrible than alcohol in basically every way.

except that alcohol currently and historically has generated huge tax revenue. if i were the alcohol lobby, i would make damn sure than no other drugs become legal and taxed.

That's why we should follow the Dana Carvey plan for marijuana: "Legalize it, tax the shit out of it."

(I believe Carvey originally made this statement about prostitution, but I'm not sure.)

Pot isn't a terrible substance. Especially not when compared to alcohol.

That's always a question of proportion. It's all in the mix. It's sure carcinogenic and surely beats the lung up in a lot of ways. It also does statistically, by my own observation, lead to a significant lack of all kinds of activities.

For example, it frequently leads to a lack of believe in - or even just consideration for - how terrible substance consumption is, over all if not for the sake of nutrition.

Also if you are prone to developing a psychotic disorder (prevalence of psychotic disorders is ~3%), pot consumption before the age of 20 increases the chances of it happening.

Which is probably just a consequence of other complications.

This is a fairly neutral review of the literature:


there is not a single source given, just wiki links

There are plenty of sources and the original papers are easily found, but there isn't a proper bibliography with links which I agree is frustrating. For example the first one says the last name of the author and the year: Andreasson and 1987. So I googled "Andreasson 1987 cannabis" and found the article:


Hope this helps.

Frosted Flakes though man, not even once

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