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Seattle vacates hundreds of marijuana charges going back 30 years (theroot.com)
343 points by MilnerRoute 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 172 comments



Actually, Seattle PROPOSED to vacate hundreds of marijuana charges going back 30 years.

I hope the proposal gets accepted, but I dislike clickbait headlines even more.

As I see it, the subtext on why TheRoot.com (1) wrote a misleading headline in that way was not only to clickbait readers, but also to function as way for The Root's journalist Angela Helm to use their media to pressure the courts into accepting the proposal.

Which is a noble intent, but I hate clickbait.

(1) TheRoot.com is part of the Gizmodo Media Group and focuses on Afro-American issues.


I look forward to the day when all drug offenses are vacated, and all drugs are legal.

This is a cognitive liberty issue. One should be allowed to alter one's own consciousness any way one sees fit.


It is not a cognitive liberty issue equally for everyone.

Many alcoholics are born that way. They do not have the same liberty with regard to alcohol as others do. Their agency is impaired when confronted with decisions about alcohol.

Alcohol is a potentially dangerous drug that I believe should be regulated more heavily than it currently is, while I also believe that other intoxicants such as marijuana are far milder in their overall impact and should be regulated less.

But in any particular case, I think that we must face the social implications of substance abuse as a real issue. I’ve talked to addicts that say that the intervention of law enforcement saved their lives. Of course this is not generally the experience for poor people or minorities. So if you are going to be more permissive in what people can legally acquire, I think that we have a moral obligation to provide intervention and support services for individuals affected by substance abuse. I don’t see a lot of people actually talking about this aspect of decriminalization in the US. Yes, blanket legalization will cure some ills but it will create many others. I don’t see any way to tell which side the weight comes down on at this point.


"Many alcoholics are born that way. They do not have the same liberty with regard to alcohol as others do. Their agency is impaired when confronted with decisions about alcohol."

I'd really like to see some studies that show this is the case.

Even more, I'd like to see some studies that show this is the case for all the drugs that are currently kept illegal due to reasoning of this sort.

Plenty of drugs that are illegal, like psychedelics, aren't addictive. So such reasoning, even if true for certain other drugs, should not keep the drugs that aren't addictive from being made legal.

As far as alcohol is concerned, are you in favor of going back to Prohibition? Because that's the state that many other drugs are in.


This is a starting point regarding alcoholism and impaired judgment:

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-co...

There are genetic components to many people’s drinking disorders, but of course everyone is different and the causes of addiction are complex. Anecdotally though, some people are effectively alcoholics from their first drink. I’ve heard the same thing about meth addiction.

I’m not in favor of outright prohibition of any substance. I’m definitely not in favor of the extreme penalties the US imposes for casual drug use. But I think the general rallying cry of “legalize it” is irresponsible.


What should be legalized is 'use' ...anyone should be allowed to inbibe any substance and not be jailed for it...whether it's drugs, arsenic, or tide pods. Stupidity shouldn't be outlawed.

Sellers of 'banned' substances -- drug dealers this segment should be the only one prosecuted and jailed.. others should be recommended to rehab if they can afford it (or medicare for all passes - then it's null whether they can afford or not), and if they choose to go. If they don't then they can hurt/maim/kill themselves all they want.

Of course anyone committing other crimes as a result should still be jailed - like drunk driving...etc..

It's a mental health, not a criminal issue. Once we ruin lives via criminal justice system though they're almost guaranteed to remain addicts for life...


> Sellers of 'banned' substances -- drug dealers this segment should be the only one prosecuted and jailed

Banning substances is a large part of the problem.

In banning specific drugs all we've accomplished is to make the market that still exists dangerous to consumers, by making regulation impossible.

The recent uptick in Fentanyl overdoses is an example, those probably would not have happened if the Fentanyl were coming from a pharmacy in packaging designed for end use, made by a pharmaceutical company, rather than mystery powder from a blackmarket channel.

It happens in very predictable cycles: every so often suppliers flood the market with higher potency or incorrectly "cut" Fentanyl analogs, which can't be used safely, and people who otherwise would have survived instead overdose and die.

Opiates are still dangerous when used incorrectly (and sometimes even when used correctly), but those additional overdoses are largely caused by lack of regulation in the market, because of the ban.

We probably wouldn't even be talking about Fentanyl if it weren't for the ban on Heroin itself. Fentanyl is just easier to illegally manufacture since large poppy fields aren't required, and the potency is extremely high so smuggling large amounts is easier.


Outlawing the sellers creates more and bigger problems than the users.

Large parts of south and central america are awful places because drugs are illegal in the US. Drug and alcohol prohibition create massive cesspools of corruption that left unchecked eventually destabilize governments.


"This is a starting point regarding alcoholism and impaired judgment"

There's nothing in there about people being born alcoholics. Even if there was, it's not a scientific study, nor does it cite any.

"There are genetic components to many people's drinking disorders"

Where is the scientific evidence for this?

"Anecdotally though, some people are effectively alcoholics from their first drink. I’ve heard the same thing about meth addiction."

There are so many urban myths surrounding drugs and drug addiction. I really would think twice before trusting what I hear through the grapevine.

"I’m not in favor of outright prohibition of any substance. I’m definitely not in favor of the extreme penalties the US imposes for casual drug use. But I think the general rallying cry of "legalize it" is irresponsible."

So if prohibition is not the answer for you, and legalization isn't either, what is? What exactly do you propose?


There is some evidence that there might be a genetic component to some drug misuse disorders. Specifically, I know that there's been some research done with nicotine here (either out of Columbia or Radboud, don't really remember). Most researchers are still of the opinion that environmental factors have much more effect on drug misuse disorders than genetic.

The trope of "your first dose will get you hooked" is patently false. There's no evidence that this is true. Anecdotal anything, especially with drugs, doesn't mean anything, and all of these outlier anecdotes are actively damaging to the education of the public with regards to drugs.


Google these genetic polymorphisms + alcoholism that I copy and pasted below, there is your proof :)

Genetic polymorphisms that may increase risk of alcohol abuse Wild type ADH1B1 allele and wild type ALDH21 may increase the risk of alcohol use disorder because no acetaldehyde build up is associated with normally-functioning ADH and ALDH enzymes. Several studies have shown association of ADH1B1 and ALDH21 with alcoholism, especially in the Asian population. Kim et al. studied 1032 Korean subjects and concluded alcohol dependence in 86.5% alcoholic subjects could be attributed to ADH1B1 and or ALDH21 [14]. Tolstrup et al., in a large study involving genotyping of 9080 white men and women from the general population and using the brief Michigan Alcoholism Screening test, concluded that men with ADH1B1/1 genotype (wild type homozygous) had a two to fourfold higher risk of developing alcoholism compared to men with ADH1B2/1 or ADH1B2/2 genotype. The authors further commented that because ADH1B1 allele is found in more than 90% Caucasians and less than 10% East Asians, the population attributable risk of alcoholism by ADHB1/*1 homozygous genotype was 62% among Caucasians compared with 24% among the East Asian population [15].


Google these genetic polymorphisms + alcoholism that I copy and pasted below, there is your proof :)

Genetic polymorphisms that may increase risk of alcohol abuse Wild type ADH1B1 allele and wild type ALDH21 may increase the risk of alcohol use disorder because no acetaldehyde build up is associated with normally-functioning ADH and ALDH enzymes. Several studies have shown association of ADH1B1 and ALDH21 with alcoholism, especially in the Asian population. Kim et al. studied 1032 Korean subjects and concluded alcohol dependence in 86.5% alcoholic subjects could be attributed to ADH1B1 and or ALDH21 [14]. Tolstrup et al., in a large study involving genotyping of 9080 white men and women from the general population and using the brief Michigan Alcoholism Screening test, concluded that men with ADH1B1/1 genotype (wild type homozygous) had a two to fourfold higher risk of developing alcoholism compared to men with ADH1B2/1 or ADH1B2/2 genotype. The authors further commented that because ADH1B1 allele is found in more than 90% Caucasians and less than 10% East Asians, the population attributable risk of alcoholism by ADHB1/*1 homozygous genotype was 62% among Caucasians compared with 24% among the East Asian population [15].


Thanks for that. However, those studies only show that a certain gene is more prevalent in alcoholics, not that people with that gene "do not have the same liberty with regard to alcohol as others do" nor that "their agency is impaired when confronted with decisions about alcohol".

Also, I still don't see any studies showing this for any of the other drugs that have actually been made illegal, which would be more to the point.


Google these genetic polymorphisms + alcoholism that I copy and pasted below, there is your proof :)

Genetic polymorphisms that may increase risk of alcohol abuse Wild type ADH1B1 allele and wild type ALDH21 may increase the risk of alcohol use disorder because no acetaldehyde build up is associated with normally-functioning ADH and ALDH enzymes. Several studies have shown association of ADH1B1 and ALDH21 with alcoholism, especially in the Asian population. Kim et al. studied 1032 Korean subjects and concluded alcohol dependence in 86.5% alcoholic subjects could be attributed to ADH1B1 and or ALDH21 [14]. Tolstrup et al., in a large study involving genotyping of 9080 white men and women from the general population and using the brief Michigan Alcoholism Screening test, concluded that men with ADH1B1/1 genotype (wild type homozygous) had a two to fourfold higher risk of developing alcoholism compared to men with ADH1B2/1 or ADH1B2/2 genotype. The authors further commented that because ADH1B1 allele is found in more than 90% Caucasians and less than 10% East Asians, the population attributable risk of alcoholism by ADHB1/*1 homozygous genotype was 62% among Caucasians compared with 24% among the East Asian population [15].


Google these genetic polymorphisms + alcoholism that I copy and pasted below, there is your proof :)

Genetic polymorphisms that may increase risk of alcohol abuse Wild type ADH1B1 allele and wild type ALDH21 may increase the risk of alcohol use disorder because no acetaldehyde build up is associated with normally-functioning ADH and ALDH enzymes. Several studies have shown association of ADH1B1 and ALDH21 with alcoholism, especially in the Asian population. Kim et al. studied 1032 Korean subjects and concluded alcohol dependence in 86.5% alcoholic subjects could be attributed to ADH1B1 and or ALDH21 [14]. Tolstrup et al., in a large study involving genotyping of 9080 white men and women from the general population and using the brief Michigan Alcoholism Screening test, concluded that men with ADH1B1/1 genotype (wild type homozygous) had a two to fourfold higher risk of developing alcoholism compared to men with ADH1B2/1 or ADH1B2/2 genotype. The authors further commented that because ADH1B1 allele is found in more than 90% Caucasians and less than 10% East Asians, the population attributable risk of alcoholism by ADHB1/*1 homozygous genotype was 62% among Caucasians compared with 24% among the East Asian population [15].


Legalize, educate, regulate, tax and treat abuse as a medical problem. Subsidize the medical treatment and sponsor research for mitigating abuse from the tax revenue.

People will pay obscenely high taxes on this stuff if it’s made legal.

Dismember the government apparatus setup to deprive so many of their liberties.


Abuse as a medical problem??? No way. You do not allow people to take a harmful substance then say “oh and if you get sick we will pay for it”.


Sugar, etc


So people in America used to cook with lard. Until someone said “oh no lard is bad people are getting fat” so they banned lard. And everything tasted like shit so they substituted lard with sugar. Now America is one of the fattest nations on earth. Go figure.


People already take it.

People already get sick.

Tax payers already pickup their healthcare bills.


And that is wrong. The west is backwards in this regard. In the UK, Australia, NZ, you can get paid with tax payers money for choosing to not work... So someone works hard to fund your life. Someone works hard to pay your bills for your choice to smoke. Someone works hard to pay your bills for your choice to do drugs and get addicted.


It’s not always that simple. The opioid epidemic is largely because people use legal pain killers as a gateway drug.

Think about it from an investment perspective. The addict has typically had some semblance of public education. That cost tax payers money. Let’s call it $40k over 18 years (12 grades). That investment needs to be recouped by society for it to pay off.

Now this person has gotten addicted to drugs. We could do nothing and they might commit crimes to fund their habit and hurt innocent people but then we have to imprison them at great cost to society and we lose more potential tax revenue and productivity from the potential loss of life of victims. We could leave the addicts alone and hope they die peacefully from their addiction, knowing we lose the investment (not to mention it calls into question our morality for letting someone die when we have the resources to save them). In reality though addicts get more desperate as they get more addicted and are more likely to turn to crime. We could be proactive and imprison them at great cost to society for being addicts. During which time they gain an education of criminal behavior that helps them fall deeper into criminal activity to support their addiction.

Or we could realize that we just need to treat addicts as medical patients who can be rehabilitated if given proper treatment. This costs society money up front but helps rehabilitate addicts so they can become productive citizens again. This is not revolutionary.


> It’s not always that simple. The opioid epidemic is largely because people use legal pain killers as a gateway drug.

This problem pretty much only exists in America. Because you can literally write fake prescriptions and get them filled, or buy them off gumtree.


The problem exists elsewhere. America tracks it better than most countries.

The drug war is Jim Crow 2.0 and has failed to do anything than further degrade the economic perspective of minority populations while simultaneously costing tax payers a fortune. It’s a shameful and disgusting set of policy that needs to be terminated.


> The problem exists elsewhere. America tracks it better than most countries.

America is terrible at tracking anything. It doesn't even have a central marriage registry. It is literally the only country in the world where you cannot request for a certificate of impediment for marriage.

Doctor's write prescriptions for non-existent symptoms and get paid under the table by patients to do so. And filling in prescriptions doesn't require additional checks from a pharmacy.

America, like always, fights the wrong battles. Instead of fixing the system, it tries to patch it at either end. No one tries to resolve problems in America. It's no different from the abysmal education system & health care system.


We've got some non trivial percentage of America hooked on legal opioids as an experiment. That's going well. Seems smart to get another good pct hooked on h. And before you say the price will drop... My understanding is weed is more expensive per intoxicating amount than alcohol in seattle. So let's get everyone hooked and in debt, seems like a different route to the same place. They won't be in jail but they'll be struggling financially just the same.

But they'll at least get treatment. Which we can also charge for.

Apparently I've angered the libertarians who can't concieve of Any bad consequences to anything. Look I Live in Seattle and don't see any bad side to the mj legalization currently. I also think we should have heroin treatment in many areas. And opioid. Doesn't mean I think you should be able to buy h when you hit 18. I know plenty of people who use alcohol and mj responsibly. Many who don't. I have anecdotal data on opiods and lots only know one person who used h personally and that didn't go well. More for meth, most had some pretty severe problems before or because of it.

But apparently I can't disagree with you, only the pure ideals are acceptable.


"My understanding is weed is more expensive per intoxicating amount than alcohol in seattle."

What "intoxicating amount" would that be?

A single beer might get a teetotaler drunk, while it might take a six pack or more to get an alcoholic drunk. The same goes for smoking cannabis. One hit might get someone with no tolerance high, but someone with a high tolerance might need much more. That doesn't even begin to take in to account all of the different varieties of cannabis or different types of alcohol, which could have quite varied potencies.

You can actually kind of compare different alcohols by the percentage of pure ethanol in them, and with cannabis you can compare the percentage of THC, but there are so many other compounds in cannabis that can have an effect on your intoxication that they're really difficult to compare in a standardized way.

Even when sticking to one particular alcohol or cannabis variety prices vary tremendously based on brand and where they're bought (ex: a beer at the grocery store will cost much less than one at some trendy bar, a mass-produced generic beer vs some hand-made microbrew, etc).

When I hear such comparisons I really have to question what they're actually comparing and why they're comparing it and not something completely different. For alcohol vs cannabis prices, I struggle to understand how there can be any comparison.

"So let's get everyone hooked and in debt"

How many people go in to debt buying legal cannabis? If money's such a problem for them, it's trivial to just grow your own for free: it's a weed.

Anyway, if your goal is to keep people from going in to debt, the last thing you should be for is prohibition, which astronomically increases the cost of drugs far past their legal price.

"Doesn't mean I think you should be able to buy h when you hit 18."

Well, whether you think you should be able to or not, you can. Making drugs illegal has flatly failed to stop their availability. Like it or not, if you want them, it's not hard to get them.

The question is whether the state should continue to spend billions ruining people's lives by throwing them in jail or outright killing them during raids, breaking up families, propping up organized crime with illegal drug profits, corrupting the judicial and political system, etc.

To me it doesn't make sense, especially as it's so ineffective or even counterproductive (as people are drawn to the forbidden) in preventing drug use.


> My understanding is weed is more expensive per intoxicating amount than alcohol in seattle

I'm a Seattle resident. No way that's correct. The pot is way, way cheaper.

Using fairly "middle class" products, percentage of a $15-20 gram that has intoxicating value is lower in dollar value than a draft beer ($6).

Even focusing strictly on value products, there's no single-unit alcohol product (40oz, tall boy, etc) that can compete against the common $3 preroll.


You can get 37.5 ounces of Four Loko for $3 (1.5 cans), at 12% ABV you're getting 4.5 ounces of ethanol which is equivalent to 9 1.5 oz 80 proof shots. This will absolutely destroy you compared to a half gram preroll joint filled with shake.


Prison is pretty life destroying pretty much anyone not a danger to others would be better off outside a cell. Also poor people generally aren't poor because they smoke too much marijuana it's not even remotely addictive like that.


> we must face the social implications of substance abuse

True. But we must also face up to the costs of regulation. The illegality of recreational drugs delivers $1 trillion into the hands of organized crime per annum, for example. The corruption, the adulterated product, the incentives to hook people, destruction of whole Latin American countries, etc etc.

I am not accusing you of this, but there is often an implicit assumption that regulations can be put in place for no cost. An assumption that is often wildly wrong.


On the other hand, regulation of alcohol has not gone well historically, with people arguably worse off with very stringent controls. Artificial scarcity has resulted in predictable increases in black markets and crime, reduction in safety, and boosts to the prison industrial complex.

We seem to have reached a middle ground, here in most parts of the US. Alcohol is taxed and regulated, the products are relatively safe (no worries about methanol poisoning), and the black market is quite small.


Effective regulation on alcohol has an upper limit due to how easy it is to make. Cannabis has this too, but you still need either a place with visible sunlight (which can probably be easily seen) or an indoor place using a lot of electricity/producing a lot of heat, plus the seeds. You only need sugar and yeast to make alcohol, and you can do it in a well hidden place without using a lot of energy


It’s trivially easy to make enough weed for personal consumption; certainly much easier than making alcohol (safely). The thing that’s hard is growing enough to sell.


You've newer brewed your own beer, cider, wine or sugar wine, have you?


You've never grown weed, have you? It's called weed for a reason.


Both are easy to make.


>Many alcoholics are born that way. They do not have the same liberty with regard to alcohol as others do.

This is a patronizing and disempowering statement with no scientific basis.


An important factor to consider in seeking to regulate such things is the ease with which they can be produced. Marijuana is a weed and wine is fermented grape. And what about the obesity epidemic? I’m inclined to agree with your views, but there is a practical aspect that needs to balanced against the desire for more effective public policy.


Many diabetics are born that way. Shall we ban sugar? Alcoholism is a disease, not a crime.


"if you are going to be more permissive in what people can legally acquire, I think that we have a moral obligation to provide intervention and support services for individuals affected by substance abuse. I don’t see a lot of people actually talking about this aspect of decriminalization in the US."

Actually most people involved in the activism and policy front talk about this all the time. Some examples include citing the portugal diversion panels following decriminalization or the safe injection sites and needle exchange sites in the czech republic again following decriminalization there or insite/onsite the colocated safe injection site and rehab center in vancouver as models for the US to follow for harm reduction.

In addition other people in the US are making harm reduction fact based high school drug education curricula as a way to educate people about drugs.


I can't disagree with your position more, I'm afraid. If the choice is between allowing access for all or access none, I think we need to swallow the bitter pill and, accepting that some will suffer, choose the latter.

Out of curiosity, would you support a liberalization of drugs if we were able to operate a system of selective prohibition, where alcoholics and drug addicts could have access revoked?


You simply can't do what you suggest. We tried banning alcohol once. It did reduce the number of alcoholics. It also created massive organized crime syndicates that routinely murdered people. Banning vice always creates black markets, those markets tend to have issues spilling violence into the society around them.


One should be allowed to alter one's own consciousness any way one sees fit

Crime in the pursuit of drug addiction exists, meth- and cocaine-induced paranoia exists. There is a public health problem mixed in there. Anyone who thinks they can disregard the public health issue really needs an alcoholic in the family.


"Crime in the pursuit of drug addiction exists, meth- and cocaine-induced paranoia exists. There is a public health problem mixed in there."

Does that outweigh the whirlpool of violence that the War on Drugs has stirred up by its very existence? All the money funneled in to organized crime by the War on Drugs, enabling and incentivizing them to kill their rivals and corrupt the judicial and political system? All the people killed by police during drug raids? The decades of life wasted in prison by hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders where they are tortured, raped, killed, or groomed in to far more serious criminals? All the families broken up, devastating them emotionally and financially? All the children left to be raised by just one of the parents or made parentless when their parents are imprisoned or killed?

Crimes committed due to drug addiction are often committed in order to get money for the next fix. It's the illegality of drugs that keeps the prices so incredibly high that they're unaffordable to poor people. That need not be the case if they are made legal.

Cocaine paranoia is a medical issue, and it and other health issues related to drug use should be treated medically, not by throwing people in jail -- which doesn't work anyway. Drug use is rife in prison.

The War on Drugs is an abject failure that makes the failure of Prohibition pale in comparison.


One more... massive effects on entire countries who lose rule of law because the local population simply can't compete with the drug/gun money of the narcos. In fact, a caravan of people displaced, in no small part due to our war on drugs, are now at our boarder to ask for asylum.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-caravan/b...


> Does that outweigh the whirlpool of violence that the War on Drugs has stirred up by its very existence?

Did anyone imply in the slightest that it does? No one defended the War on Drugs. They suggested that some drug use poses a public health problem, and thus that zero regulation is inappropriate. To equate that with support for the War on Drugs is plainly dishonest.


What regulation is appropriate, then?


Self-Regulation


There's more nuance here to discuss. One is throwing people in jail - you can still make production and distribution illegal while keeping the use itself legal. Another one is that availability of various drugs allows people to make relatively safer choices - see the difference in opioid addictions between states with different pot laws.

We can still jail people actively distributing/producing highly addictive drugs, while at the same time giving mostly free choice and helping rather than harming (potential) users. Monitoring actual results in the society can affect the thresholds of what's done.


"We can still jail people actively distributing/producing highly addictive drugs"

But that doesn't work, and leads to all the abuses and downsides of the War on Drugs, like encouraging and enabling organized crime, etc.

Alcohol and nicotine are some of the most addictive drugs out there, and yet we don't jail people for distributing or producing those.

Food is also highly addictive and there's a huge obesity epidemic in the US, and yet no one is suggesting imposing jail terms on the companies that make food or entice people to eat it.

Skydiving and other extreme sports are often described as highly addictive and are obviously dangerous, yet no one is trying to prohibit them. It's widely recognized that if people want to engage in those risky activities and other people want to provide them, it's a matter best left to the consenting adults engaging in those activities -- with perhaps some regulation to help make them as safe as possible.


> Alcohol and nicotine are some of the most addictive drugs out there, and yet we don't jail people for distributing or producing those.

They are regulated to an extent. You will get fined for selling to minors, for example. Same for smuggling cigarettes and alcohol. And for misleading advertisements and fake medical research. I don't think those fines go far enough.

> Skydiving and other extreme sports are often described as highly addictive and are obviously dangerous, yet no one is trying to prohibit them.

I'm not sure "highly addictive" works here. Do you have withdrawal symptoms if you stop? Does it make you unable to function and think clearly for a while? Is your judgement affected enough that you'd harm yourself or someone else to participate in the sport again? This is a "fun hobby" that will make you sad if you don't do it again, not addiction.


"They [alcohol and nicotine] are regulated to an extent. You will get fined for selling to minors, for example."

Legalization does not mean lack of any regulation. Alcohol and nicotine, which are legal, are regulated, as you point out. So are prescription (and even non-prescription) drugs. I am not opposed to forbidding sale of legal drugs to minors, though it's not perfectly clear cut (the age limit is particularly tricky to set, and often minors manage to get their hands on alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs anyway).

"Do you have withdrawal symptoms if you stop [skydiving]?"

Actually, I have read of people who did feel like their depression was alleviated through participation in extreme sports like skydiving,[1] and who feel depressed if they don't go again for extended periods of time. So I think a psychological addiction (much like addiction to food where similar effects are seen) can apply.

"Does it make you unable to function and think clearly for a while? Is your judgement affected enough that you'd harm yourself or someone else to participate in the sport again?"

Depression can affect your thought process, and can lead to harm of self or others, so yes, I think those are real risks of quitting for some people who get relief from depression through participation in extreme sports (or other perfectly legal activities which either help them to cope or alleviate their depression).

[1] - "Skydiving Cured My Depression" - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16837748


Sorry, this still seems like a completely different situation to me. Depression was already there.

Heavy addiction: you have X problems, you escape via addiction, now you have X+addiction problems, you stop, you still have X+addiction+withdrawal.

Hobby: you have X problems, you find something that helps you with depression, you have X-1 problems, you stop, you have X problems again.


They are not the same, but they share two key properties: their danger and potential addictiveness.

Most people would not even seriously consider making extreme sports illegal, despite their danger and potential addictiveness, but it's those very same properties of some illegal drugs that are most frequently cited as the primary reasons for making them illegal.

If those are honestly the main reasons that so many drugs are illegal, then why not make extreme sports illegal as well, for those very same reasons?


> Alcohol and nicotine are some of the most addictive drugs out there

Nicotine alone is not actually that addictive. I use it as a nootropic and have not seen any signs of getting addicted. Yet years ago I struggled to give up smoking.

With pure nicotine I simply forget to use it for weeks at a time in spite of the large benefits I personally get from using it to aid hard thinking.

Some more here https://www.gwern.net/Nicotine

There are many other substances in tobacco smoke other than nicotine that seem to be far more addictive. Add on the reinforcement from the smell/taste and handling the cigarette and it is a different beast.


So the reasoning is X thing might cause crime (of the real variety), so let's make X illegal, so that anyone that does X is automatically a criminal, even if only a subset will actually go on to commit real crimes.

As for the public health implications, there's probably way more effective ways of mitigating that than making them criminals. It's a range though, those that cause significant harm to others should certainly be taken out of the system. Alcoholics are frigging annoying, and highly disruptive, but many aren't actually violent criminals.


IMHO, the logic is that catching people in the act (of burglary, robbery, etc) is difficult, and convicting them if they're not caught red handed can be difficult. Catching and convicting people for drug possession is relatively easy.

Since we think certain people are up to no good anyway, drug laws let us put them away, without actually having to prove the bad things they've probably done. It's essentially an end run around "proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

Laws criminalizing concealed weapons follow a similar logic.


Its more than just violent vrimes, if you weigh the benefits to society of drugs the negative aspects clearly outweigh the positive aspects. With alcohol alone there are the deaths from overdose or accidents from drinking (drunk driving is the biggest but not the only cause of accidental alcohol related deaths) and the tole that addiction takes on people. I think in a world where enforcement worked there would be a good argument that the societal problems are more important than a personal freedom that brings little benefit (even if I'm not sure I would agree with that argument). As it stands enforcement doesn't work so obviously legalization is the best choice but people who are very pro-legalization often ignore the fact that recreational drugs currently seem overall bad for society.


"people who are very pro-legalization often ignore the fact that recreational drugs currently seem overall bad for society"

I don't think it's the drugs that are the problem, but the way people use (or rather abuse) them, and the conditions that drive people to abuse drugs.

Lots of social conditions are bound up in problems for which drugs alone are blamed. Too many people are poor, desperate, lonely, outcast, downtrodden, hopeless.

These and other social ills are what encourage drug addiction (and other types of addiction and destructive behavior), and they are the things that society will have to squarely face and overcome before they can effectively treat addiction.

Merely making drugs illegal hasn't and isn't going to work. Locking people up for seeking a way out of their misery hasn't and isn't going to work. Merely making drugs legal isn't going to work either, but at least it isn't making the problem worse or adding all sorts of other problems to it.

One day you're an addict, the next day you're an addict and shot by the police or in jail and your life is ruined and it's likely to get even worse once you're out. That doesn't help anyone.


I'm not sure if this comment was supposed to be aimed at me because I explicitly say that enforcement doesn't work and I'm for legalization but I'll at least respond to the first paragraph. Legalization might lessen but will not stop the "drug use and abuse" and I think that if we agree on that we actually are on the same page as far as I can tell.


This is my view exactly - and to expand upon this, the rest of our institutional systems are completely corrupted and slanted to only favor the wealthy.

Trump being the best example in the US, and other oligarchical systems in all other countr.

Money is the root.

Or as George Carlin puts it best:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kXhZyAOuyhE


The crimes there aren’t taking the drugs, they’re the actions which harm and endanger others. Focusing on those crimes makes most sense. Under the current system, we prosecute drug use, distribution and sales way more than we prosecute the actual crimes that harm others.

It’s completely backwards. You should be free to alter your cognition, but also held responsible for your actions.

Orthogonally, there are also many other mental health and non-mental health related public health issues we should continue to pursue, regardless of the current state of substance legalization.


Completely agree. There are always going to be people that want to try drugs, and a portion of those people are going to be successful. A portion of those people will use drugs on a semi-regular basis, a portion of those people will become addicted, and a portion of those people will commit crimes as a result of their addiction. But why attempt punish everyone that takes drugs because some percentage of them commit crimes?

Why set up the system to amortize the public cost of addiction over long periods in the form of hospital visits, lost productivity (both directly due to addiction and indirectly as a result of former criminals' difficulty rejoining the job market), public assistance, court costs, jail costs, and prison costs, rather than focus on rehab and breaking the addiction itself?

If you look at history, drugs were almost never criminalized because they posed a public health crisis - and when they arguably did (as in alcohol prohibition), criminalization created more problems than it solved. Usually the motivations had something to do with xenophobia, moral panic, or politics. Alcohol prohibition was fueled by general animosity towards immigrants (Irish) and a growing Catholic population, with a smattering of both moralism and public health concerns spearheaded by women's rights groups. Marijuana was criminalized largely due to xenophobia toward mexicans and black people. Crack carried harsher penalties than regular cocaine because black people used it. LSD was cracked down on to quell anti-war sentiment in the Vietnam era.


It's because so many people don't know, forgot, or choose to ignore that the US was founded on enlightenment principles of individualism. So they always say stuff about some amorphous "social contract" to focus on what is essentially thought-crime, saying "let's stop them before they do the thing that then induces them to commit the crime" instead of just prosecuting them for the crime.

Talking like this frames the narrative and too many of us let these anti-american rhetorical tricks pass without calling it out.

The government has no right to tell me what I can and can't put in my body, whether that's lettuce, Devils lettuce, a cigar, or a soda... doesn't matter.

It's a matter of individual freedom.


It's because so many people don't know, forgot, or choose to ignore that the US was founded on enlightenment principles of individualism.

Unless you were a child, woman, native, or a slave, right? It also helped to own land.

Come on, we can be against prohibition for practical reasons without resorting to pining for a history which never existed,


I'm so tired of repeatedly hearing this trite and ridiculously myopic response every time someone brings the subject up. No one is ignoring the realities of history here except you.

First of all, lets just state the fact that the principles of a government can be different from the reality of it. The two aren't mutually exclusive. It's as if by mentioning the worst affected groups you think you magically negate the foundational principles just because the implementation wasn't (and isn't) perfect. It's also not to say the system is theoretically perfect, because it's not, but to use such a logically weak strawman ("pining for a history which never existed") and not even expanding whatsoever is intellectually lazy at best.

"Come on, we can be against prohibition for practical reasons"

The foundational principles of American individualism is the greatest practical reason to be against prohibition. What the hell do you think enabled us to finally get rid of the shackles around those disaffected groups in the first place? It was the hard work that mostly Madison put into researching all the various forms of government, and the greatest political thinkers from around the world, that established a structure that although imperfect would be able to improve over time.

Before we continue this, my main question is whether you are American or not. I find that my approach to this subject needs variation for my friends across the pond. If you are, you need to brush up on your civics.


> What the hell do you think enabled us to finally get rid of the shackles around those disaffected groups in the first place?

Other countries have banned slavery, and have enfranchised women, the poor, and people of colour many years before the United States did.

Those countries were not founded on any such principles, nor have they ever claimed that they were. How could they possibly achieve such progressive feats of emancipation?

It's possible to imagine that perhaps, the founding principles weren't of much help in this endeavor. In fact, there's a strong case to be made that none of these achievements had anything to do with the constitution, or the bill of rights, or anything else that the founding fathers wrote about, but did not actually implement - and everything to do with the zeitgeist of the times.


I've seen a family member commit slow-motion suicide with alcohol. Nothing I saw made me think that it would be better if he had to pay a black-market markup to get his fix, or that incarceration would have benefited him, or that his incarceration would have benefited the people he hurt.


I've seen family members commit slow-motion suicide with food -- overeating until they're morbidly obese, and suffering all sorts of horrible health issues as a result, up to and including death.

Yet there isn't the same moral stigma attached to overeating as there is to drug or alcohol addiction, and no one is suggesting throwing obese people in jail or raising the price of food so high that food addicts have to commit crimes in order to feed their addiction.

Obesity and alcoholism are seen as health issues, and treated accordingly. The same should be the case with drug addiction.


Soft drink tax is proposed in the UK, so it's similar to cigarettes or alcohol in that respect.


If the tax is high enough, it encourages organized crime to form a black or gray market, as is the case for cigarettes in the US, which are smuggled and sold on the black market.

This results in a quasi-prohibition which has many of the same downsides as full-on prohibition, such as the enabling and funding of organized crime, people getting killed or thrown in jail, and other types of violence.

Though the profit margin for smuggled soft drinks is likely to remain too low for organized crime to bother getting involved, I'm not convinced it's the right way forward compared to voluntary, education- and health-based approaches.

On the other hand, I am in favor of the $0.10 charge for plastic and paper bags in California, where lots of people often bring their own reusable bags rather than pay the fee for a disposable bag. Perhaps a reasonable surcharge on soft drinks could make a difference to overall public health.


So what's your proposed solution? "The War on Drugs" is actually a "War on poor people and minorities". Far more harm has come from locking people up for non violent crimes that disrupts families, gives police more power, and makes it almost impossible to find meaningful employment after being released.

There have been plenty of studies showing poor and minorities get treated much harsher by the "justice" system.


It's not necessarily my opinion, but one can decriminalize use without fully legalizing.


Besides employment, it also prevents citizens from voting after they have served their time.


> it also prevents citizens from voting

It is widely believed, and I think established by White House recordings, that Nixon established the War on Drugs to attack people he didn't like: Hippies and blacks.

I believe that in public affairs and politics, the way to evaluate and act is to look at the (expected) outcomes and to ignore all the rhetoric. First, the outcomes are what matters and there's not a high correlation with the claims made ahead of time. Second, politicians are sophisticated enough to know what the outcomes will be; I think it's reasonable to assume that they know what is going to happen.


Not from recordings. From a second-hand quote by a single person, now deceased, who was hung out to dry by Nixon after Watergate.

It may be true, but it’s worth considering who the source is, their motivations, and why it took so long for the quote to come out.


Re: Nixon using drug laws to criminalize dissent:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16885281


Not everywhere. In Seattle, for instance, voting rights are restored after serving time and any probationary period.


Voting rights are eventually restored in most of the US:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felony_disenfranchisement#In_t...

A lot of states do restrict the vote for those on parole or probation, but once the supervision ends the vote is restored.


>Crime in the pursuit of drug addiction exists

Drugs are artificially highly priced due to their illegality. Legalizing drugs would drive down the price, removing a major motive for crime. People will still be addicts, but in my experience bums who have alcohol as a drug of choice manage to get by without engaging in muggings/robberies to feed their habit.


So prosecute those crimes. I don't think the criminality of drugs have any effect on addicts in the status quo. No one is calling for decriminalization of crimes to support an addiction, only decriminalization of drug possession and use. There's a public health issue with alcohol, tobacco, McDonald's, and sugary sodas as well.


Crime in the pursuit of cars, houses, and shoes also exists.


I've had my fair share of family alcoholics. In every case, it has been a response to existential emptiness, and if they weren't destroying themselves with alcohol they'd be doing it some other way. In fact, I think this is a big part of the reason so many people are obese.

This view is supported by science. Research has shown that rats housed in isolation, or with stimulus deprived environments compulsively use cocaine when given the option, while rats housed with other rats in enriched environments use it sporadically.

We need to take a long hard look at our society.


Don’t need to ignore all downsides in order to prioritize values.


This isn't hard. Education, treatment, alternatives are the answers.

We have the means to do all of these things and get much better value for society per dollar than we do now.


Then put them in jail, or prison, for comitting a real crime with real victims instead of some imagined future offense. Future crime being normalized is more evil and does more damaged than any drug could or has. Statistical judgments against classes of people are bad, and worse when backed up by government violence. The vast majority of murders in the last 200 years have been because of this kind of thinking.


Of course it's true that these are public health matter. But having been through trial and turmoil with family members in the depths of alcoholism, I have never found myself wishing to return to alcohol prohibition; have you?


Alcohol related death are up around 88,000 per year in the US.

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-co...

It's the 3rd leading cause of death behind tobacco and sedentary lifestyle.

Should people be allowed to do what they want? Sure, as long as no-one else is impacted. Good luck meeting that criteria, though. Do you really expect someone who has OD'd on some substance to have zero impact on what other people are doing?

The other day, a woman at a store lost consciousness due to opioid overdose. Her toddler was wandering around, wondering what was going on. I'm sure the paramedics who showed up had nothing better to do that day.


Not impacting other people isn't the sole criteria. It's also not the correct premise: not initiating violence and or traditional crime upon other people is the criteria, not a vague 'do not negatively impact other people in any manner.' Libertarian-leaning thought in regards to social liberty does not argue that you should/can have no negative impact whatsoever. It argues you are to not initiate violence upon others.

Legalization and decriminalization are also the sole rational alternatives, broadly, to prohibition. We've tried prohibition every possible way across two generations, and have spent truly vast sums of money attempting it all. It was an extreme and total failure without exception.

Legalization & decriminalization have a minimum of three very strong arguments in their favor. Each of the arguments alone decimates the prohibition argument. These three arguments encompass nearly every spetrum politically, except for most of the very far right traditional wing of old conservatism.

Argument one: it's your body, as an adult liberty means you largely have a right to do with it as you see fit. The government should err to the side of staying out of my life. That's the more libertarian, government leave me alone, argument. Even conservatives should universally go for this one, however they betray the principles they pretend to believe in here.

Argument two: the obvious dollars & cents argument. It's radically more cost effective to treat people with addiction or mental health problems. It's not cost effective to put them in prison at a cost of $40,000 per year (a million dollars over ~25 years). It's also not cost effective to maintain a police state system that costs hundreds of billions of dollars per year. It's like maintaining a second military. That money should be going into healthcare, infrastructure, education, job training. This is another argument on which a lot of conservatives betray their claimed principles: what's more anti small government than a giant bureaucratic police state system? It also destroys the economic value of the person put into prison, making them a non-contributing person and dependent on big government: another thing that should remove conservatives from supporting the prohibition approach.

Argument three: compassion. It's illiberal and very cruel to put a non-violent offender into prison for 15 or 30 years out of their life (drug addicts are often repeatedly arrested), for drug use or drug addiction problems. You know your premise about the opioid lady (or anyone like that in general)? Putting her in prison repeatedly, disappears her from the child's life as well, at a very high cost to society and the child. With the treatment approach, you at least have an opportunity that the parent can be present. It's worth noting here that prohibition does not stop overdoses, it amplifies the lethality of the situation by pushing overdoses into the darkness.


It's not really that.

Legalizing drug use and abuse reduces overall crime, drug usage, and damage done by drugs through more help, less stigmatization, clean tools, clean drugs.

It's literally the dream solution, however, politicians are too dumb to understand that.

It's proven scientific evidence, see Portugal.


Portugal didn't legalize drug use, we decriminalized it, which is not the same. It's still illegal, you just can't go to jail for using or carrying small amounts. Usually you get a trip to the police station, you're searched for drugs (which are confiscated), and you get a date to go to a meeting with a psychologist, who will usually try to convince you to give them up or, depending on the case, to enroll on a treatment program.


Criminalization allows crime.

IMO the government should sell drugs and use the money to treat drug addicts.


I would agree with you on a lot of drugs. Definitely Marijuana for one thing.

However the thing that is less obvious about drug use is how it effects everyone around the user. I'm from a low income rural area in the south and had a close friend, and a sister who both became hooked on metamphetamine and opioids.

My sister absolutely destroyed her life. The drugs cost money, and a drug addict is not stable enough mentally or physically to hold a job. The only option is for them to commit crime. My sister lied to our family constantly, and stole from us.

A serious drug addict is like a tornado destroying everyone in their vicinity.

Maybe for light drugs like marijuana it is a cognitive issue, but for hard addictive drugs it is very much a societal and criminal issue. Drug addiction causes user to commit crime out of desperation. A drug addict will harm the community around them.


>One should be allowed to alter one's own consciousness any way one sees fit.

You state that as a self-evident fact. It clearly isn't. I can think of no human society where limits and restrictions were not placed on intoxicating substances. Objectively, as all societies have such restrictions, why should I believe your conclusion?


There are some chemicals that have caused certain individuals to feel invincible and harm to themselves and the public at large e.g. PCP

What do you think about the the prevalence of these types of crimes given complete legalization of all drugs?


PCP gets an unjustly bad rap. Most people would be quite surprised to find out it's quite similar to Ketamine, a drug that many don't hesitate to party with and has recently shown positive results for treating depression.

"PCP makes you feel invincible and violent" is an urban myth -- one that Ketamine somehow doesn't share, despite its great similarity to PCP.

Of all drugs, the one most strongly associated with violence is alcohol. Yet hundreds of millions if not billions of people think nothing of using it at parties, bars, at home with their family, in front of their kids, etc. -- often with disastrous results -- yet it's perfectly legal.


That is one of those "most villified drugs" from drug education in the mid-80's through the early 90's. Now, I haven't met very many people that have done PCP (as opposed to things like LSD, MDMA, and cocaine, for example)... but they've never described it like you do. It isn't hard to imagine that since the drug education deceptively describes LSD, MDMA, and cocaine, that they'd be deceptive on this one. I've always guessed these sorts of stories were outliers: They might have happened once, and it is good to know there is some slim chance of weird reactions, but definitely wouldn't be a common thing.


Agreed, as long as it doesn't impact someone else's freedom. For example, if one has a vehicle, one shouldn't be allowed to take drugs. Though it's ok to me if one doesn't fasten his seat belt.


The trouble with that is it can upset family and friends. You may want freedom to use drugs yourself but would you want people selling heroin to your kids at school? Hence we have drug laws basically everywhere on earth.


Opiates are legal painkillers. How's that working out?


But obviously that isn’t in any country’s interest


> One should be allowed to alter one's own consciousness any way one sees fit.

And to what degree is one accountable for the things they do in pursuit of and under the influence of altered consciousness?


It isn't a problem if one doesn't commit crimes nor greatly harms another (Sure, someone can fall over and accidentally harm someone else, but that is hardly a crime). The main crime most drug users commit is... buying and using drugs. If someone commits some crime while on drugs... prosecute them for the crime.


How about school is optional too? That alters consciousness. The problem with both is they can cause you to be less able to contribute to the society. You do have some responsibility to do that because your life is supported by the other people in that society. You can't survive well alone in Somalia with no support network.


I'm fine with that, as long as they waive their right to public welfare if they become a societal burden caused by drug addiction/abuse. If one should be allowed to alter one's own consciousness any way one sees fit, then one should also accept full responsibility for making that decision without putting burden on the rest of the society.


I'm not sure that people who escape their situation by using drugs should lose the help from the rest of society. That's actually backwards - addiction clinics, safe injection sites, housing for homeless, and many other services should be sponsored by the rest of society. Otherwise, what's the inventive to stop taking the drugs? And what path out do you think those people would have?


Drugs destroy your mind and then the rest of us have to live with you. Eventually, we'll also be faced with the shitty choice of either ignoring or taking care of you when you can't take care of yourself.


And I don't. Anyone that had contact with addicted people to heroin will tell you the same. You don't know what you wish for. I am all in for marijuana to be legal but not hard drugs.

Look at prescription opioids problem in US. This is public health issue, you should research how New York looked 50 years ago[1].

Making all drugs are legal would be irresponsible and hurt society as whole.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/1970/02/16/archives/heroin-epidemic-...


Seattle police have been fairly tolerant about marijuana over the years. In 2013 at Hempfest, an annual festival celebrating hemp (and its potent cousin), the police set up a booth handing out lunch box sized bags of Doritos with a sticker warning people not to smoke and drive, but otherwise enjoy the munchies. I-502 was the initiative that legalized pot stores and personal use.

http://cannabisdestiny.com/seattle-hempfest-doritos-priced-a...


> the police set up a booth handing out lunch box sized bags of Doritos with a sticker warning people not to smoke and drive

Many people forget that there are alternatives to strong-arm policing. Community based interactions such as this are often both more effective at changing behaviour as well as more cost effective, bags of chips are way cheaper than roadblocks and field sobriety checks.


This seems like a great move! I am confused about the criteria though - there is no way that there have only been 542 misdemeanor possession convictions in the last 30 years in Seattle... it's the 18th most populous city in the United States and, while safe, is far from the safest city. I can't find great numbers, but there are hundreds-of-thousands of possession arrests every year in this country. Does any one have specific information on what earns someone a judgment vacating their conviction?


Marijuana has been SPD's lowest priority for the past 15 years[0]. This is only misdemeanor possession convictions. Not felony possession; not anyone who wasn't convicted. Not anyone who was stopped and searched on a pretext of marijuana possession, and then charged with something else.

I agree there are probably more people with records affected by marijuana possession, but it's a necessary first step and helps at least those 542.

[0]: http://norml.org/news/2003/09/18/seattle-voters-approve-init...



In Seattle, arrests for weed have not been a priority for a very long time. Usually, if you were stopped by a cop for smoking weed, they would frisk you and confiscate, unless you were carrying more than an ounce.


My takeaway from this thread: People are tyrants. They want the freedom to enjoy their own lifestyle, but are not tolerant, and so do not want liberty generally. The want to use the State to force people with different values to refrain from impinging on their lifestyle.


In these kinds of discussions about marijuana I often see people supporting the legalization of all drugs (see current top post in this thread). As someone who disagrees with this stance (but has very little personal experience with drugs and is probably misinformed about some of these things), could someone give counter-arguments for my concerns? I'd like to better understand the point of view that all drugs should be legal instead of a very specific subset of "safe" drugs. (I do think that marijuana should be legalized)

1. It's been medically shown that some drugs cause aggressive and violent behavior. Why should we allow an increase in that kind of behavior if it could be largely prevented as it is now?

2. If all drugs become legalized, what's to prevent addiction to certain drugs sweeping across an entire population and devastating productivity? If drugs are more accessible it seems likely that more people would experiment with and become addicted to more debilitating drugs.

3. It seems like whether drugs are legal or not, if you get addicted to some types of drugs you become effectively unable to earn an income. Even if legalizing drugs reduces the prices, aren't the people addicted to them still going to commit crimes to make the money they need since they still can't work normal jobs?


The main issue for me, and I'm on the fence, is that the cure is worse than the crime in the majority of cases. Any guilty plea, likely coerced, will result in a permanent record which is searched by all employers and will pretty much remove the chance for gainful employment for 7 years. In some states, this is for life. The only way this would be remotely helpful if it somehow was a "wake up call," totally shocking the person into going straight. I'm not sure how likely this outcome is, but this person wouldn't be able to stay straight for long, because he can only get crap jobs for the next 7 years. No reason to pursue a good career, and the best medicine for a shitty life is more drugs.

The way the punishments for drugs are administered today, it almost guarantees repeat use, because people are set up to fail in life, which leads to despair, which leads to more drug use and eventually more crime.

If not completely legalized, I would be ok with a small citation (like a speeding ticket), no arrest, no criminal record, and free drug counseling (not forced because it would get you fired). I would actually be ok with a robo-call every week nagging for counseling.

The bottom line is the US governments have one tool, and it's a big ass hammer. They aren't capable of learning anything else. Not in my lifetime anyway. Might has well rule the drug war unconstitutional. It's only legal under the dubious and often abused commerce clause. We had to have a constitutional amendment for prohibition and repeal. I don't see how illegal drugs are any different.


The usual argument isn't that "all drugs are great". It's that meth, heroin, etc. are harmful, and even more harmful when they're banned, because the second-order consequences of prohibition (funding organized crime, risk of overdose due inconsistent purity, reluctance for user-criminals to seek help, etc.) more than offset any benefit from decreased availability.

This is more of a factual question than a moral one. It's hard to get data, but experiences like Portugal's point in favor of at least decriminalization. Even with perfect data, you have to decide how to value lives of Americans who choose to take drugs vs. Mexican civilians caught in drug war crossfire vs. ....

Quickly:

1. "Largely prevented as it is now"? Take a walk through SF...

2. If heroin were legal, would you try it? The legal risk is hardly the biggest reason to avoid the stuff now.

3. Lots of addicts are high-functioning even now. The goal is that more would be with lower prices, consistent dosage, public health support with less stigma / legal risk, etc.


We also need better education. Dare preached to me that basically all drugs were terrible and extremely addictive. Turns out, after I did more research and tried some, the effects very greatly. Marijuana is way less addictive and harmful than heroin and meth. However, lots of people don't do that extra research and so once they realize the information about marijuana was largely BS, they incorrectly assume drugs like heroin and meth are no big deal either.


Alcohol causes all those 3 things and yet it's legal. But when you are aggressive and violent, you get arrested for that. If drugs are legal, they will actually be harder to get. Kids can get drugs easier then getting alcohol because the black market for alcohol is not as big (since it's legal). In the Netherlands, weed is seen as not really cool by the youngsters and so they aren't as keen to take it up. If people have no money due to drugs, they can also have no money due to gambling, or no money due to internet shopping, but we don't call them crimes, if someone commits a crime for no money, arrest them for the crime. But it's more a health issue, if someone gets addicted now to say computer games etc and has no money we treat that as a medical issue like normal.


Is the current legal situation actually preventing the deleterious societal effects you predict? There is an enormous amount of crime and abuse associated with controlled substances now. If our current strategy was going to work, wouldn't it have done so by now?

Addiction does not result from experimentation. That's not how drugs work. Vulnerability to abuse and addiction comes from social, mental, and emotional instability. Furthermore, addiction is not a phenomenon unique to drugs. It's a neurotic state that can twist any activity which is healthy or innocuous in moderation (e.g., shopping, gaming, weightlifting) into an unhealthy obsession.

Healthy, secure, and informed people generally don't have any interest in drugs like meth or heroin, even if they have access. Criminalizing the people who have fallen into abuse and addiction isn't addressing any of the root problems. It just perpetuates the broken system.


> It's been medically shown that some drugs cause aggressive and violent behavior. Why should we allow an increase in that kind of behavior if it could be largely prevented as it is now?

It isn't largely prevented now, prohibition has not been effective.

> If all drugs become legalized, what's to prevent addiction to certain drugs sweeping across an entire population and devastating productivity?

Public health screenings and interventions that aren't inhibited by fear of criminal sanction. Addiction to certain drugs serious through entire populations now, with prohibition, and treating it as criminal matter complicates intervention.

> It seems like whether drugs are legal or not, if you get addicted to some types of drugs you become effectively unable to earn an income. Even if legalizing drugs reduces the prices, aren't the people addicted to them still going to commit crimes to make the money they need since they still can't work normal jobs?

Perhaps. Making drug use itself a crime obviously doesn't prevent that from happening, so I'm not sure how that is an argument against ending prohibition.


"It's been medically shown that some drugs cause aggressive and violent behavior. Why should we allow an increase in that kind of behavior if it could be largely prevented as it is now?"

Alcohol is one of those drugs. Do you want to go back to Prohibition? It is widely acknowledge not to have worked, just as the current War on Drugs hasn't worked to prevent use of other drugs.

"If all drugs become legalized, what's to prevent addiction to certain drugs sweeping across an entire population and devastating productivity?"

Drugs were legal in the US and other countries for most of their history, and yet productivity was fine. The US War on Drugs was mostly started in the 1970s. Before that, most drugs were legal, and before the 20th Century, all drugs were legal. US productivity did fine.

The only major counterexample that I know of is the massive opium addiction prevalent in China around the time of the Opium Wars. My impression is that it did impact productivity there, but I don't know a lot about it, and would need to research more.

Anyway, I think we have to look at the root causes of addiction. Many of those causes are social in nature, and have less to do with the legal status of drugs than things like poverty, despair, hopeless, etc. Those could be addressed in better ways than by making illegal the substances that make the miserable lives of drug addicts bearable.

"It seems like whether drugs are legal or not, if you get addicted to some types of drugs you become effectively unable to earn an income. Even if legalizing drugs reduces the prices, aren't the people addicted to them still going to commit crimes to make the money they need since they still can't work normal jobs?"

Just because you're addicted doesn't mean that you can't work a normal job. I've read of a 20-year study of doctors in the UK who were addicted to heroin. The study found that as long as the addicted doctors were provided a steady supply of the drug, they actually performed slightly better than their unaddicted colleagues.

Anyway, addiction is not the inevitable result of drug use. Some people can use drugs and not get addicted. This is especially true of psychedelics, which can actually be used constructively and to the benefit of the user and of society.


The Wikipedia article on this is remarkably balanced, with arguments on both sides: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arguments_for_and_against_drug...

In general I believe that there exists a healthier balance towards decriminalization than what currently exists in most states (particularly due to how criminal rehabilitation is treated by society), but that full and absolute legalization of all drugs would cause more problems than it would solve.


> 1. It's been medically shown that some drugs cause aggressive and violent behavior. Why should we allow an increase in that kind of behavior if it could be largely prevented as it is now?

Two thoughts:

A balance has to be struck. We can't preemptively take away people's liberty to do anything that the government claims might harm others. That would be a very restrictive, totalitarian society, with government empowered to control any activity; driving is a danger to others, for example. On the other hand, we don't accept people walking around with plastic explosive in their pocket. The question is, how dangerous is each drug? Alcohol makes people violent, for example.

Also, the illegal drug trade creates an enormous amount of violence domestically, and also undermines government and funds insurgencies throughout Latin America, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. In the worst-case scenario for violence among users, legalization might reduce violence overall, especially organized violence.

> 2. If all drugs become legalized, what's to prevent addiction to certain drugs sweeping across an entire population and devastating productivity? If drugs are more accessible it seems likely that more people would experiment with and become addicted to more debilitating drugs.

> 3. It seems like whether drugs are legal or not, if you get addicted to some types of drugs you become effectively unable to earn an income. Even if legalizing drugs reduces the prices, aren't the people addicted to them still going to commit crimes to make the money they need since they still can't work normal jobs?

Both questions assumed no regulation or other measures. For example, certain drugs can require prescription (e.g., if the doctor diagnoses addiction), and sale and distribution of them can be regulated through pharmacies, like other prescription drugs. Other drugs can be regulated like alcohol. Treatment can be part of the prescription.


It's hard to imagine that legal drugs could cause more "aggressive and violent behavior" than the US government's War On Drugs, which has really been a war on its own population.

Millions of people thrown in jail for years or decades, millions of lives destroyed. It's hard to measure, but at least 100,000 dead Americans, plus countless people in Colombia and other countries where the war has been fought even more violently.


The trouble is that we treat all drugs and addiction as a crime. At least in the US, treatment options for opiad addictions are stupid expensive. Only rich people go to rehab. The normal person can't shell out that money or take that time off work.

America needs to have better treatment programs and options for people who want them, and less stigma from punishment and less funding for private for-profit prisons.

A good case study is probably Portugal. I heard a speaker tell an audience that if you are caught with serious drugs in Portugal, you go before a board, and basically lay our your life before them. They then give you required next steps; treatment options or whatever. But if you're supporting your family, paying your bills, have no debt you're not paying on to buy drugs, then they might just tell you to come back in six months. It's a case-by-case individual approach from what I understand.

Other alternatives are safe injection houses. If you're going to inject, at least have a safe place with clean needles and nurses who are there if something goes wrong or you finally decide you want to quit.


> 1. It's been medically shown that some drugs cause aggressive and violent behavior. Why should we allow an increase in that kind of behavior if it could be largely prevented as it is now?

The #1 drug responsible for violent behavior is alcohol. It's legal. In fact, the answers to your other two questions can also be explained away with "alcohol already applies here and it's legal".

Assuming you have equal access to both, it's far easier to be a functioning opiate addict than it is to be a functioning alcoholic. I have been both an alcoholic and an opiate addict, fortunately I am not a current user of any drugs.


I wouldn't argue that all drugs should be legal, but I also don't think it should be a criminal matter. The idea that you can end up with life in prison for having drugs on you is just bonkers.

It probably shouldn't be treated as a civil matter either, it should be treated as a medical matter. Something like first offense - 1 night in rehab. Second offense, 1 week in rehab. After that every offense is one month in rehab.

There is of course something of a "lesser of two evils" issue here though. The status quo where you can get life in prison for a small amount of drugs is probably worse for society than total legalization.

> 3. It seems like whether drugs are legal or not, if you get addicted to some types of drugs you become effectively unable to earn an income.

I do think this is probably overblown. People who can't earn an income are more likely to be homeless, and therefore are more likely to be visible. The number of functional addicts is almost certainly understated because they hide it well.


OK, so first, you bring up three points, which if they were sound, are good ones. However:

1. Has it? Jacob Sullum (for whom I have a great deal of respect) addressed this fairly squarely in Saying Yes. That's over a decade old now. He also addressed this as one of his main points during his appearance on C-SPAN[0]. Are you saying that you have research to correct his work? Have you presented this to him?

2. Here, you presume that addiction is spread through a vector of casual use. But that has never been shown, except in the strange case of nicotine, which appears to be an outlier in this property. [1]

In fact, in times and places of widespread drug use and in times of temperance and sobriety, addiction seems to afflict between 10 and 20% of the population.

The evidence suggests that some people are pre-disposed to addiction, and that the act of drug use has only a small effect compared to this pre-disposition. So then the question becomes: why treat this segment of the population like an underclass?

3. Again, do you have evidence to support this claim? There are today many functional heroin users - see the medical field, for example.

...but even if you were correct on these three points, is that sufficient to justify such a repressive, immoral policy as prohibition? Don't you think that, in the absence of prohibition, people will generally be healthier and have better access to help?

What do you say about prohibition psychedelic drugs? Isn't this an affront to religious freedom?

Your points seem to assume that drugs as we know them will continue to be drugs as we know them in the absence of prohibition, but it's far from clear that that's the case. For example, we currently have access to alcohol (a drug which is as dangerous as any) in varying degrees of concentration, from beer (relatively benign) to grain alcohol (which can cause death quite easily).

However, during alcohol prohibition, access to milder forms of alcohol disappeared, leaving people to drink mostly whiskey (and often horribly impure whiskey at that). James Gray talked about this quite a bit and quite convincingly I think. [2]

Similarly, today, we have a very corrupted view of plant drugs because the benign forms (coca leaves, poppy tea) are unavailable, so people with a taste for those plants instead use cocaine and heroin. In the absence of prohibition, we will likely see more people return to use of the plant forms of those drugs, just as the end of alcohol prohibition has gradually pushed the slider toward beer and wine (although liquor use still hasn't returned to pre-prohibition levels).

Finally, the best argument against prohibition is probably that it funds incredible evil in the world. Illicit drugs are a market of over $400 billion at the wholesale level. A great deal of this money in turn funds criminal gangs or third-world dictators. Why allow them to continue to corner this market?

[0]: https://www.c-span.org/video/?176758-4/us-drug-policy

[1]: http://drugwarfacts.org/node/3343

[2]: https://youtu.be/xEC2IK4piwI?t=5067


Basically all of your questions apply to alcohol as well.


Here is my take on it: Rebellion is a big part of teenage life (especially if the child is from a broken home). There is an urge to break rules, to question authority and to disobey the law. But the urge to rebel varies from one individual to the next. Trying banned drugs is one way to rebel against the system.

You say: > 1. It's been medically shown that some drugs cause aggressive and violent behavior. Why should we allow an increase in that kind of behavior if it could be largely prevented as it is now?

How do you know that some drugs cause aggressive and violent behaviour? It's because it's in the list of banned substances. Banning gives it the popularity it would have never gotten in the first place. There are plenty of pharmaceutical drugs that are equally or possibly more potent than the list of banned substances but are not in common knowledge primarily because those drugs haven't been banned. That's one big advantage of legalization. It removes these drugs from the bucket list of rebellious things to do. The novelty wears off with time.

> 2. If all drugs become legalized, what's to prevent addiction to certain drugs sweeping across an entire population and devastating productivity? If drugs are more accessible it seems likely that more people would experiment with and become addicted to more debilitating drugs.

That isn't going to happen the way you think. Those who weren't going to dope in the first place wouldn't be inclined to anyways. That leaves the others who were already addicted. These people always got the adulterated/spiked drugs from the peddler which put them at real risk of overdosing. At the very least, those addicted now can be taken care off by Government rehabilitation institutions that would be legally permitted to administer a clean doze of the drug in reducing amounts, slowly getting the addicted person off the dangerous drug if possible.

> 3. It seems like whether drugs are legal or not, if you get addicted to some types of drugs you become effectively unable to earn an income. Even if legalizing drugs reduces the prices, aren't the people addicted to them still going to commit crimes to make the money they need since they still can't work normal jobs?

Yes but it's going to stop the spiral of new people getting addicted. The danger here is the attachment of drugs with acts of rebellion. The only way to separate the two is by legalizing drugs. Also what is the Government gaining by prohibition? Instead of solving the problem of drug abuse, prohibition creates two big problems:

1. A thriving black market controlled by the Mafia. 2. No tax revenue for the Government and huge costs for enforcing Prohibition.

Governments, in my opinion, should not concern with social issues. It should be purely legislative and administrative, only intervening during natural disasters or wars. The burden of solving social issues should rest only and only with the society. Currently, in all countries that have one or the other forms of Prohibition, the Government has taken over the burden from the society instead of letting the society/community self-regulate.


> Those who weren't going to dope in the first place wouldn't be inclined to anyways.

Are you sure about that. I really want to experience drugs like cocaine, meth etc. The reason I dont do that is because its illegal because if I get caught my life and my family would be ruined, I cant take that risk.

If drugs were legal, you bet I would try them and I assume there would be many more people like me.


The reason you want to try it is because it's a banned substance. If it wasn't banned in the first place, it wouldn't have been popular enough to get your attention. Curiosity is the primary motivator. There are plenty of psychotropic substances that are similar or more potent than cocaine, meth but you have no idea about it because they aren't as popular or are limited to the labs of a chemist. Unless you know about it, from where would you get the incentive to try it? Banning is the most effective form of advertising. Have you ever seen a banned book or movie flop?

Like I said in my previous comment: rebellion varies from individual to individual. You have enough rebellious attitude to contemplate trying inspite of knowing the consequences but are stopping short because of it's legality. There are plenty who are by nature rebellious enough to even disregard the law. The law won't work in such cases. To be honest, legalization would actually make it less interesting. The element of thrill negotiating a deal with the peddler no longer exists when you can just walk up to a storefront and buy one from the counter just like everyone else.

There was a story about "legal highs" which you can read here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/6549e0fc-ebd2-4777-9a...

The idea essentially is that those who want to try will not be deterred from trying in the first place. However, if it was legal the government would have regulation over the quality and quantity of supply. When it's banned there is absolutely no control. That's when it becomes really dangerous.

Secondly, have effective regulations instead. For example, in India, you are fined if you are caught smoking in a public space like bus stands, airports or railway stations. This has caused a big dip in the number of people who smoke. DUI laws prevent most from drinking alcohol while driving. People find these regulations reasonable: not completely baby sitting you on what decisions you need to take about your own life and at the same time having regulations to protect others from harm in case you lose your mind.


Please research drugs before you take them. Cocaine is a hell of a lot different than meth from the research I have done.


That is not the point.


I don't think that a reasonable argument could be made for legalizing meth or heroin, for example. They're just too destructive/deadly. It's like how not wearing a seatbelt while driving is illegal, it's to protect you from yourself.


One argument would be that by legalizing these drugs, it's much easier to offer treatment and addiction therapy. Users are less likely to get help when their habit is illegal, and the stigma around illegal activities makes citizens less willing to fund social programs that might help because they view it as helping criminals who don't deserve their hard earned tax money.


I meant legalizing the sale of the drug, not usage. I don't think addicts should be considered criminals.


Criminalizing the supply chain has disadvantages, too. The government loses sales tax revenue and criminal organizations make large profits. Quality isn't controlled and is often dangerously polluted (e.g., fentanyl being sold as heroin).

Also, not all drug users are addicts.


Meth is legal. It's a prescription drug in most of the world, e.g. Desoxyn in the US. Heroin is a prescription pain killer in the UK and several other countries.

Many of the most notable destructive aspects of drugs come from impure and unknown products, gang/cartel distribution, and treating drug abuse as a crime rather than a disease.


If you legalise it you can tax it, you can ensure people don’t go overboard with personal consumption, and ensure the drugs are actually not laced with potentially deadly substances.

It makes users more visible, and gives an easy point of contact to help those that want the help.

I’d say it comes down to how you deliver the drugs - like you should not sell to people that have never used it, and it should still require something like a mini consultation before you get it - allowing people that really want help to walk away from it.

People today are taking harder drugs - so why not put a supportive and regulated context around that. Having it underground causes more problems and makes people judge others when what they really need is help.


>heroin, for example. They're just too destructive/deadly

How is heroin inherently destructive/deadly? Most of it's problems seem to stem from its illegality.


Not sure why this is downvoted.

Long-term use of heroin produces no long term physician damage beyond chronic constipation.

Heroin is destructive because it's illegal. People take drugs of unknown purity and die from overdoses or infections. And people commit crimes to pay for the black market markup.

They have heroin replacement programs in Europe where addicts get prescription heroin. Experience shows that an addicts life gets pretty boring on it (boring from the stability). Which causes many of them to actually do something with their life rather than just hustle 24/7 to pay for black market heroin.


> I don't think that a reasonable argument could be made for legalizing meth or heroin

Do you literally mean this? That all the arguments in favor of legalizing heroin are unreasonable? I'm curious to hear what you think is unreasonable about, for example, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It by Jim Gray or Drug Crazy by (unrelated) Mike Gray.

It's hard for me to understand the position of prohibition of (especially the more dangerous) drugs, but it's very hard for me to imagine how you find these positions unreasonable.

Here's a talk advocating legalizing all drugs which I think is something like the definition of reasonableness (15 years old - it feels a little dated now, but still good stuff): https://youtu.be/xEC2IK4piwI?t=5067


Seat belts aren't there to protect you from yourself: They are there to make a possibly deadly activity less deadly. And in some drug classes (like heroin), this is what legalisation does.

We already have experience with heroin and other opiods because of the medical uses. With legalisation, we can make sure the strength is correct. We can get rid of some impurities. We can make meth in a proper science lab instead of blowing up a neighborhood house. We can be sure of clean needles, clean products, and things like that.

If someone starts to come into clinics often, we can suggest treatment early on. We can educate people on signs of addiction and a slew of other things.

It won't stop a subset of problems, just makes them a little better.


Legalised doesn't necessarily mean "sold in shops".

meth and heroin are destructive. But illegal meth and heroin are more destructive than a medically supplied legal form.


Same argument for eating meat, and fast food right?


This is one step forward in a positive direction for the US. I'm very happy to hear my neighboring country taking a more common sense approach to drugs. First Korea and now this.. What the heck is up with the world.. People are finally waking up. :)


Two comments:

1.

    "...the move would affect 542 people who have weed
    convictions on their records..."
542 (people) /30 (years) / 12 (months) = 1.5 (convictions per month).

This is very low number for a metropolis at the scale of Seattle.

2. Why is that "people of color" thing has to be mentioned here. If it's right, it is right. Leave the skin color aside Mr. City Attorney.


Because, from the article: "A few months later after legal sales began, an angry Holmes threw out nearly 90 marijuana tickets written by a single officer who appeared upset at legalization and began targeting homeless and minority men with public consumption and possession tickets. At the time, Holmes called the officer's actions 'abhorrent.'"


  What the is that "people of color" thing
  has to be mentioned here. If it's right, it
  is right. Leave the skin color aside Mr. City
  Attorney.
It’s mentioned because it’s relevant! Maybe the background here isn’t obvious, but marijuana convictions have been systemically used against people of color in a way they haven’t generally been used against others. So understanding the disproportionate impact here, of which acknowledging it as true is the first step of many, is part of making this right.


[flagged]


I think the conviction rates and arrest rates should be entered into evidence in this argument. Compare them with various other studies about marijuana usage and you'll find whites, blacks and Latinos use marijuana in pretty much the same rates.

And to be fair, a drug arrest if you're white is no cakewalk. You need a good lawyer and money, and even then you'll be doing a shit ton of community service.

I'd like to see more studies showing these types of arrest/convictions by income. I have a feeling being poor (and being stuck with a public defender) plays a bigger role in drug crimes. There are more poor minorities, but that's a bigger causality issue that's considerably more complex.


> The implication is that police and courts are racially profiling or being racist. But you shouldn't believe that without evidence.

It sounds like not even all the evidence that exists would make you believe it. Racial profiling is real.


There's an enormous amount of evidence of racism in the criminal justice system. It's not at all controversial to say there are widespread patterns of racism.

Arguing the opposite puts one in the same league as climate change deniers - you're more concerned with what you want to believe than what the evidence supports.


The 2nd paragraph of the article answers the question. The parent seems to have overlooked it, because it quotes from the 5th paragraph. From paragraph 2:

City Attorney Pete Holmes acknowledged the racial disparity in marijuana convictions, citing an ACLU report showing that African Americans are more than three times more likely to be arrested for pot possession than whites, despite the facts that blacks and whites use at the same rates.

If it appears on HN that someone in the world is trying to do something positive for any minority, someone on HN will object to it.


>What the is that "people of color" thing has to be mentioned here

Probably because marijuana laws overwhelmingly punish minorities over white people. Just a quick Google search shows some numbers for New York, where 80+% of marijuana arrests in 2017 were people of color, and less than 10% were white.

http://www.politifact.com/new-york/statements/2018/apr/25/ki...


The mention of racial disparity brings context to the decision, particularly as to why such an issue was long overlooked -- it affected disenfranchised groups who had little political clout.

Those who forget history, etc. etc.


What’s your specific objection to leaving skin color out of this?


Why shouldn't an outlet pertaining to issues for people of color mention people of color?


I believe OP is commenting on the original motion filed by the city (due to the "Mr. City Attorney" remark), which does mention PoC explicitly. (I don't agree with OP's comments — just clarifying.)


Looking at the downvotes and wonder - For how many of those down-voters their grandparents came from Africa like mine...


Can you prove that?


I don’t support vacating the weed charges. I support legalization of weed and its products —- I think schedule 1 is wrong.

But people who broke the law (and got caught) when it was illegal are law breakers.

As Joey Diaz says —- if you got busted for weed, you’re a momo.

If Seattle voters approve the vacating, then so be it. That’s their prerogative. I don’t support it though.


Would you support the imprisonment of someone who was proven to have smoked cannabis back when the state viewed it as illegal? Shouldn't we imprison all those people too because 'they broke a law when it was illegal'?

What an astoundingly dim/daft position.

Would you support the imprisonment of a doctor or woman who performed an abortion prior to Roe v Wade? How about two gay men performing sodomy?

What more important, some pedantic reverence to the law or focusing on what's ethical and not?


The difference is was the law immoral and now we are fixing that error, or did the law have good intent but now the politicians think that there is a better way to reach the solution. For example, if alcohol was taxed at 30% but someone only paid 20% tax, they would be jailed. If the tax got changed to 20% the person shouldn't be released because they broke a moral law. In your example of gay men being jailed, that law is immoral and therefore those people should be release after removing the law.

I don't think that jailing people who were consuming illegal drugs is an immoral law. Sure, the law may not be so good and should be changed. But, people who break moral laws are not good for our society.


>Would you support the imprisonment of someone who was proven to have smoked cannabis back when the state viewed it as illegal?

So you're arguing that: yes, the state should expend resources today to imprison past-crime even though it's legal today.

I wish I could have people like you foot the tax bill for imprisoning people, who decided for themselves what they could and could not put into their body, and not me.


There are many things that I wish that I wouldn't have to pay for. I would not pay for many of the bureaucratic waste that happens in Washington. But, unfortunately taxes do not work like that. All one can do is vote for different laws and convince others to agree with them. In the end the majority elects the politicians that make the rules.


firic: "[I'm ok with other people subsidizing my believe that ethical, two party consent should be imprisoned]"


Yes, just like I am okay outlawing duelling to the death, gambling to the death and selling yourself to slavery. Even if both parties consent.


Is your position that we should adjust all past judgements to match current laws?

You’re arguing by straw man analogies. Weak technique.

If Roe v Wade is overturned, I assume you would support the imprisonment of all past violators?




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