"the Silk Road was a distribution center of drugs"
You say this as though there is something immoral about selling drugs. There has never been a strong moral argument for drug prohibition, and in fact many "illegal" drugs (many that were sold on SR) are legal by prescription (cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, etc.). Drug prohibition is and has always been a combination of racism and corporate profits.
"Absolutely immoral. Drugs like cocaine, meth, heroin, etc, make you into an addict once you start taking them on a regular bases - and that happens quite easily."
Under the assumption that selling an addictive product is immoral. Coffee shops must be the work of the devil himself, and it is immoral for a company to provide its employees with free coffee. Video games are also very addictive, so you have just condemned the entire video game industry. Social networking is addictive too, so you just condemned social networking (ironically, you may have even condemned Hacker News, the very site on which we are having this discussion).
Basically, your standard of morality is beyond extreme.
"So a prescribed 5mg Desoxyn (dextro-methamphetamine) pill swallowed once per day for Narcolepsy is no different than the typical 100mg of crystal Meth put and smoked in a pipe to get wired for 24h?"
No, but that is because you are describing the difference between use and abuse of a drug, which is not relevant to the question of whether or not drugs should be illegal. It is also worth pointing out that pharmaceuticals are far less damaging because of the regulations on their production and that one of the biggest problems with black-market methamphetamine is adulterants.
Let's put it this way: would you rather have a meth addict get their drugs in regulated dosages and purities, or leave everything up to chance? When my doctor asks me if, when, and how often I drink alcohol, I can give a meaningful answer because alcohol is legal and regulated. Why shouldn't a meth user be able to do the same?
"Or a couple of Vicodin or Percs for pain in you back is no different than shooting black tar heroin?"
In fact, pharmaceutical opiates are more habit-forming than heroin, due to their purity and the fact that they are basically engineered to be effective drugs. That is why people wind up in this situation:
"The difference in effects between powder-cocaine insufflated and crack-cocaine smoked is so great that it literally feels like a different drug."
Likewise with injecting cocaine, which was once the common way to use the drug, versus drinking coca tea, which was the original way to use the drug. This is like comparing beer to grain liquor; all you are doing is comparing one form of a drug with another form of the drug.
"One of many counter-points to the "it must always be a race thing" argument."
The counterpoint to which is the history of powder cocaine prohibition. Yes, powder cocaine was once legal in the United States, and then people started saying that black men who used cocaine would become more accurate with a pistol, impossible to stop with a shot through the heart, and prone to rape white women. Don't believe me? Here is a New York Times article from the early 20th century:
("Negro Cocaine 'Fiends' Are A New Southern Menace")
It is not just cocaine. Marijuana was make illegal under equally questionable premises: claims that it fueled black Jazz musicians, claims that it caused white women to want to have sex with black men, claims that Mexican vagrants were using it to corrupt the white youth, and so forth. Heroin was made illegal to punish the German company Bayer, and people were told that opiates in general were part of the bad habits of Philipinos and other Asian immigrants. You can look at the Congressional Record and see the overt racism that surrounded the early debates about drug prohibition, debates that we have never revisited.
When you look at the history of drug prohibition you will find racism and hand-outs to corporations. That is because drug prohibition is and has always been about racism and corporate greed, never about public health (unless you care about the propaganda used to support it). While people were (and continue to be) told racist nonsense to justify drug prohibition, corporations that benefit from said prohibition have lobbied hard in favor of it. It should come as no surprise that tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical companies are big contributors to "The Partnership for a Drug-Free America" -- they have enjoyed inflated profits as a result (the irony of a tobacco company pushing a message about the deadly consequences of marijuana or methamphetamine is off the scale).
If you meant something more specific than "addiction" maybe you should have said so. This is not just a pointless distinction, it gets at the very heart of the public health issues involved and should not be glossed over. Lives are not destroyed by addiction in general, as you yourself pointed out.
...and we are just supposed to assume that addictions to those drugs represent a special category? Not only that, but you yourself distinguished between someone who takes methamphetamine as their doctor prescribed and someone who freebases it to get high -- yet prescription stimulants are just as addicting and have the same withdrawal effects.
> yet prescription stimulants are just as addicting and have the same withdrawal effects.
In fact, in many ways, addiction triggered by prescription painkillers and stimulants can be more difficult to deal with. We have gotten fairly good (with a lot of improvement to go) at treating "standard junkies" but people who don't consider themselves to be in that "class" will often fail to seek out treatment because they fear association with that "class".
Basically, the stigmatization of illegal drugs and addiction in general causes collateral damage. The attitude that addiction is immoral or signals some sort of personal defect (more or less, the sort of attitude powertower is showing here) causes harm.
The difference between frequency and types of crimes committed by powder-cocaine users and crack-cocaine users was also so great that laws were enacted to treat the drug differently.
This is racism, pure and simple. It may not be intentional, but that doesn't change it. The frequency and types of crimes committed by powder and crack users are a function of their socio-economic backgrounds, not their drugs of choice, which are a co-incidental cultural preference which was convenient in the repression of lower social classes. The same thing happens now with white meth users.
Yes, they are different drugs. No, one is not considerably more addictive or dangerous than the other.
> "and everything around them becoming 10x worse as a result?"
(Note my emphasis) You are begging the question here.
Consider the alternative hypothesis, that things went to shit and they switched to a cheaper form of cocaine. 'And', not 'because'. In fact, one can hypothesis that both changes were triggered by another factor that you have failed to mention.
> Absolutely immoral. Drugs like cocaine, meth, heroin, etc, make you into an addict once you start taking them on a regular bases - and that happens quite easily.
You've listened to and believed too much propaganda. It has been and is illegal to conduct studies on most of those drugs. So their actual effects are unknown. What scientific knowledge there is indicates addition rates are low ~20%. Not nearly a sure thing. btw nicotine and alcohol dependence probabilities are higher.
[My opinion] It is likely that probability has more to do with the individual user than the individual substance.
The problem is addiction rates for many drugs are exaggerated and the amount of people that live functional lives(functionally equivalent to normal people) is understated. People like you get a free pass with saying things like this but you have no real world experience.
I speak of cocaine specifically of that you mentioned and not crack-cocaine as I have no experience with that.
I am actually arguing that you are incorrect, on the basis of the data. I will not twist the definition. I will propose that a functional human being who has most issues worked out who takes drug use can treat it like any other risk/reward, and that drug usage can be a 'win' scenario.