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The War on Drugs Is Far More Immoral Than Most Drug Use (2013) (theatlantic.com)
130 points by jseliger 15 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 35 comments

Not to mention mandatory minimum sentences which robs the judge of his/her discretion and weighing of circumstances... not to mention crazy disparities in the sentencing guidelines where possession of crack gets you 18X the mandatory sentence as the same weight of powdered cocaine.

This used to be 100X until changes were made to drug sentencing laws under the Obama administration.

No it's okay though because there's no more crack now. Crack addiction was solved.

Government’s policy: to prevent people from ruining their lives with drugs, we’re going to ruin their lives for them.

Imagine funding corporate food research and imprisoning anyone not eating or distributing the official corporate food.

That is the war on drugs.

If we lowered the barrier to entry for those seeking therapy and medication this problem would largely disappear.

I don't follow that analogy. Mandating a behavior and banning a behavior don't seem all that related.

I'm highlighting the point that corporate interests control the entire chain of authority on drugs.

The government plays along because it provides a fantastic scapegoat for a myriad of human rights violations and budget items.

Data collection, large defense budgets, corrections facility occupancy, fearmongering for elections.

Neither TFA nor any of the comments so far mention what seems to me the single most damning irony of drug-prohibition... that one of the most dangerous and harmful drugs of all remains legal through all the drug-war theater: alcohol.

Scientifically today there is really no doubt that alcohol is nearly as or perhaps even more harmful (considering all forms of harm, such as drug-specific mortality, drug-related mortality, health problems, dependence, economic costs to society, etc.) as the most dangerous illegal drugs, such as heroin and crack cocaine. Not that I think alcohol should be prohibited either, but if you don't prohibit it where is the logic in prohibiting far less harmful drugs such as canabis or psychadelics? The only logic is to use that prohibition as a tool for the arbitrary oppression of selected segments of society. And that's just plain immoral.

You can see from the racial differences in alcoholism that alcohol already killed off most of the people that can't handle it, in places that have had it for millenia. That's the case for legalizing it. The same might be true of marijuana (I don't know the history).

This hasn't happened with modern drugs that didn't penetrate society the way alcohol has. Legalizing them means accepting the eugenic removal of susceptible people and their descendents from the future human population.

Sorry, but no. Alcohol is still killing more people than all the illegal drugs combined, still causing more traffic accidents and violence, and overall costs to society, than all the illegal drugs combined. If you want evidence, google something like 'drugs vs alcohol'... there's lots; from the perspective of public health there is no doubt about this.

Its not like they just invented alcohol 40 years ago.

Besides, I've never heard it reported that 'X' brand of vodka killed a family of four on the turnpike last night. Vodka doesn't kill people. People kill people.

> Alcohol is still killing more people than all the illegal drugs combined,

That's because they're illegal.

No it isn't. Despite the "war on drugs" those illegal drugs are easily available in the US and even during the Prohibition of the 1930s alcohol consumption only dropped by 30-40%. Similarly ending the prohibition on canabis, where this has occurred, has resulted only in a small increase of consumption, and has even resulted in a decrease in consumption among adolescents. The evidence would seem to indicate that even if you legalized all currently illegal recreational drugs, alcohol would still kill more people, especially if you dedicated even a fraction of the money saved to treatement and prevention efforts.

So alcohol should be made illegal?

The problem with making alcohol illegal is that it is so easy to produce it at home, with generally available ingredients like sugar or yeast. That's why prohibition did not work. Banning drugs, especially synthetic ones is orders of magnitude more effective.

The problem is that now a days a chemist can simply attach an inert molecular group to a banned chemical and viola it's no longer illegal but still the same drug. There are tons of LSD analogues like 1-acetyl-LSD https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ALD-52


O-Acetylpsilocin (4-AcO-DMT)

AL-LAD (6-allyl-6-nor-lysergic acid diethylamide)

ETH-LAD (6-ethyl-6-nor-lysergic acid diethylamide)

PRO-LAD (6-propyl-6-nor-lysergic acid diethylamide)

1P-LSD (1-propionyl-lysergic acid diethylamide)

Cannabis and psilocybic mushrooms literally grow wild, ready to consume.

Well, we could try that, it would be a noble experiment wouldn't it?

Have you heard of prohibition? Been there don’t be that. Didn’t work.

Culture impacts legislation, it's not really that surprising.

Has any work been done to map out where the money lobbying for prohibition is coming from? Private prisons? Pharmaceuticals?

The war on drugs was started by the white supremacist Harry J. Anslinger.

One would think any and all institutions tenable to racism would be funding it.

Hard to dig up concrete info on this. I’ve found one article on lobbying [1], but it was pharma lobbying against the DEA, to prevent them going after opioid distributors.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/investigations/...

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari profiles early figures in the drug war including Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.


I’m not sure what’s more depressing... that some people are surprised by findings like this or that some people believe laws are moral.

What are you implying? That people should not feel negatively about immoral laws? That people should not have opinions about the morality of laws?

I guess I’ll have to eat every chicken in this room.

Most cultures assimilates some kind of consciousness altering chemical into the culture. The US would be a healthier place if we could take a measured approach to mind altering substances. For example the US does young people a disservice by banning socially mediated alcohol drinking. The result of our ban on alcohol is that teens and college students drink in dangerous places. You find the worst examples of violence and sexual assault on college campuses in the places where underage students go to get drunk. The fraternities and houses offering underage students alcohol don't care about the people they're getting drunk. The most horrible stuff that happened at Penn State wouldn't have happened if the drinking was organized by responsible caring people.

This largely misses the point about the War on Drugs. It wasn't a reaction to the nation's morality slipping, it was a concerted effort to imprison Black men. Drug use is highly tied to unemployment and lack of income, the drug epidemic largely arose from the decades of redlining and blue collar jobs shifting to the suburbs.

Every drug gets banned different though. Alcohol prohibition was a cause championed by wives and family of alcoholics in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Psychedelics were banned because they got linked with the counter-culture movement in the 60's. Even coffee got largely excluded from the middle east in medieval times because it was deemed against the quran's restrictions on intoxication.

>imposing more costs on people who never chose to use drugs but suffer from many harms of the black market, we have achieved a morally dubious redistribution.

That point could be expanded into a million more. All of the money flowing into the black market creates intense violence and crime, more violence than drug use creates. Instead of preventing self harm, it creates piles of innocent victims, caught in the collateral damage of war between parties empowered by their respective benefits gained by prohibition.

Why is it only that the US seemingly has this problem? Other developed nations (UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Canada, etc.) don't have the so called "war on drugs" that wasted billions of millions of dollars.

It is a manufactured war started in reaction to the civil rights movement by Nixon and escalated by Reagan with the explicit intent to disrupt and imprison as many blacks and leftists as possible.

This allows people to push the fallacy that the only other available alternative is to fully allow drugs in all sorts and let people do whatever they want.

The New Jim Crow is a great book if you want to learn more.

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