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It annoys me when people use healthcare cost as something to be counted against recreational drugs. It seems to me that this reasoning could equally be applied to every avoidable burden on the health system.

As an analogy. As far as I know heart disease is one of the main causes of healthcare costs and death. Obesity leads to an increased risk of heart disease. Does this mean that we should have a government mandated diet to eliminate obesity?

Very much so. Isn't public health about reducing avoidable risks and keeping the population healthy?

Isn't the goal of public policy to balance the interests of all of the involved constituents? Public health is about taking effective measures to keep the population as a whole healthy, and part of that is finding effective ways to reduce those bad things.

In that context, you're getting slapped because you're ignoring the fetid mess that the US drug policy has caused, and that our current drug policy is not being very effective for public health or public spending: (a) It's horribly racially biased: https://www.aclu.org/billions-dollars-wasted-racially-biased...

(b) It's incredible expensive (ibid), to the tune of billions of dollars per year in paying for enforcement, incarceration, and lost productivity;

(c) It doesn't obviously reduce use rates! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448346/

You don't have to be a fan of drug use to appreciate this mess. I'm not - speaking personally, I'm about as negative about the issue as one can get, for drugs, alcohol, and tobacco all together. But that's not the point. Barring some actually worthwhile, cost-effective, and fair method of enforcement, which nobody in the US has stumbled upon yet, we need to stop pissing away money putting nearly 1% of our population in jail [1] where not only do we burden them forever with a criminal conviction, we introduce them to a lot of real criminals and set them on the path to real crime.

Putting someone in jail in NYC for a year costs $167,000 [2]. Surely we could do some more effective prevention and education with that money. Or take it and try to reduce alcohol DUI fatalities or tobacco use, both of which are currently more deadly than pot use.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_Sta...

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/nyregion/citys-annual-cost...

I for one do not want a nanny state. I would much rather have personal freedom to do what I want with my body rather than sitting down to a nice hot government ration #323. There are some things that make life worth living and not all of them are good for you. If that means that I have to pay higher taxes then so be it, that is already the price to pay for living in a welfare state. In any case any perceived burden can be offset with a vice tax.

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