?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Young Geoffrey Quixote Speaks - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

[ Website | Edifice Rex Online ]
[ Info | livejournal userinfo ]
[ Archive | journal archive ]

Links
[Links:| EdificeRex Online ]

Young Geoffrey Quixote Speaks [Apr. 20th, 2004|09:28 am]
Young Geoffrey
[Tags|, ]
[mood |aggravatedaggravated]

One of the things that has long been obvious to me - and to any thinking person - is that prohibition doesn't work. Worse, it actually exacerbates the problems with which it is - ostensibly - designed to deal.

Last week, L admitted to a minor untruth: she has not just turned 18, but 17 (what - if anything - this means for our as yet mostly undefined relationship is a matter for another post).

L doesn't drunk much and doesn't smoke (which is good for me; I have had only 2 cigarettes while in her company). In fact, during our first or second phone conversation, when she heard me lighting up she asked if that was, in fact, what I was doing. I acknowledged it.

"Uh oh," she said, laughing but serious. "Minus ten points." She then added, "Are you expecting to kiss me?"

The question itself took me aback (are all of today's young women so forward?). "Er, well, I'm not expecting to," I equivocated - but she was having none of that. "Well, you'd better not have had a cigarette within three hours of putting your mouth on mine!"

Talk about putting the fear of Goddess into Young Geoffrey's dirty old heart! But I digress - and I do have a point.

L doesn't smoke and hardly drinks.

She does, however, have far more than a passing familiarity with all manner of illicit psycho-active substances: THC (natch), LSD and ecstasy, to name a few, some of which I've barely heard of. (Happily, nothing intravenous.)

My points being: First, that legal drugs are hard for L to come by and, second, that every illegal drug is hers for the asking.

I know: this point is not a new one, but it bears repeating: Prohibition doesn't work!

If we are to believe our political masters and their hysteric "family values" supporters (particularly those lunatics running too much of the world from their isolated redoubt in the corrupt bosom of our Southern neighbour), "drugs" (illegal drugs, that is) have been declared illegal above all to "protect our youth" from the scourge of the demon weed and its nastier cousins.

And yet ...

Those substances society has deemed worse, more dangerous, more polluting of our precious bodily fluids than booze or nicotine, are far more readily available to your people than alcohol or even tobacco.

Not only do our policies aid and abet the growth and profitability of organized crime, they ensure our kids have at hand an endless supply of any and every psycho-active chemical under the sun - with no quality control whatsoever and limited only by the amount of ready cash in said kids' pockets.

I suspect most of you, my Gentle Readers, already share my view, but it really does need to be repeated.

And repeated.

And repeated.

If you think drugs are bad - especially if you think drugs are bad! - it's time to regulate and legalize the stuff.

Let's see the LCBO become the Psycho-active Substances Control Board of Ontario and give our cops productive work while we're at it.

All right. Enough tilting for now (pity there are so many god damned windmills out there).
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: fromaway
2004-04-20 08:49 am (UTC)
I agree with you.

On the other hand, 70% of the student body at my (small) high school smoked, and a higher number than that drank, and only a few of them were over 18.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-04-20 09:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, I don't doubt that. And I managed to get my hands on alcohol before I was legally allowed to - but it was easier for me to find illegal drugs than it was for me to get booze.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fromaway
2004-04-20 09:48 am (UTC)
I think my perspective is skewed because I honestly had no idea where to get illegal drugs when I was underage - I was very sheltered, and I knew people used them (including lots of people at my private high school - they'd pass drug stories around during class), but none of my friends did.

My brother, on the other hand, goes to a high school where there's pot everywhere, and probably the harder stuff too. And he goes to a public school, but it's a very clean middle-class public school, not the kind of miserable ghettoized stereotype that comes to mind when we talk about drugs in schools.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-04-20 10:19 am (UTC)
I don't know about skewed, but your experience sounds a little unusual. Certainly, judging by what I read in the media, drugs are pretty close to everywhere, if you want them. But I didn't go to an average high-school and it was *ahem* quite a while ago now ...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: vienneau
2004-04-20 01:01 pm (UTC)

17! Oh my. I eagerly await your "other post".

As for prohibition, allow me to play the devil's advocate for a second...

I believe your reasoning is that by making illegal drugs legal we lower the price so it's not worth it for criminals to sell them to kids so the only sources are the regulated stores, much like alcohol and cigarettes.

But I think you're forgetting the adults. The cost to society having having socially acceptable hard drugs may be larger than you're willing to pay - for the first little while it will likely be okay as current generations have a "drugs are wrong/dangerous" and avoid them even though they're available. But after a decade or two I expect there may be serious social issues as it becomes acceptable and people drive while high and so on. And unless you're planning on making all drugs available (and I wouldn't recommend letting heroin or crack loose on the free market), my legalizing the soft stuff you'll just move "rebellious kids" into the hard stuff.

Now restricting porn and R-rated movies, *that* is a windmill to tilt at! Not only is it widely accesible to minors already, I don't think it hurts them to see it. Sure, in 50 years they may be de-sensitized and snuff films will be the new Restricted movie, but I'm willing to take that risk.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-04-21 05:10 am (UTC)
... your reasoning is that by making illegal drugs legal we lower the price so it's not worth it for criminals to sell them to kids so the only sources are the regulated stores, much like alcohol and cigarettes.

Not quite. Just as there is now with booze, there would no doubt be a residual criminal market for currently-illegal drugs. It isn't so much the price that would drive organized crime out of dealing as that there wouldn't be much of a market - most of us would rather pay for the selection and guaranteed quality of the LCBO than deal with some guy selling something on the street-corner.

The cost to society having having socially acceptable hard drugs may be larger than you're willing to pay - for the first little while it will likely be okay as current generations have a "drugs are wrong/dangerous" and avoid them even though they're available. But after a decade or two I expect there may be serious social issues as it becomes acceptable and people drive while high and so on.

This is a possibility. However, what little evidence there is (mostly from The Netherlands) suggests that even hard-drug consumption goes down after a long period of relative open-ness to them. (Contrary to popular belief, pot is not legal in Holland, but it is tolerated; hard drugs like heroin are medically available to addicts, but otherwise illegal.)

If it is true that consumption there has declined (I can't document sources off-hand, though googling Holland+drugs would probably quickly get some answers), despite an undoubted influx of users from more repressive countries, I believe the most likely explanation is that there is no profit to be made from selling, say, heroin, if your market - once addicted - then just goes to a doctor and gets the stuff prescribed.

For the record, I believe in the full legalization in such "soft" drugs as pot (with age-restrictions), medical distribution of addictive drugs like heroin and am undecided as to what would be the best way to handle things like ecstasy or acid. The latter I know well, and don't for a minute regret that I've taken it many times; it's been a lot of fun and sometimes very educational. On the other hand, it is a very powerful drug and so is dangerous to those whose mental stability is in question. Still, I'm inclined to think the harm to society would be less if it was available - its contents a known quantity, its strength marked right on the package - than with the concern "system" where you "trust" your dealer and hope for the best when popping a pill made god knows where by god knows whom.

(A tangential comment: Two or three years ago, I heard an interview on Metro Morning (CBC 1), in which Andie Barrie was interviewing a scientist who had conducted what sounded to me like a serious study of people who had been drinking or smoking pot while driving, along with a control group of those who were driving straight.

(Throughout the interview, both Barrie and the scientist went to great lengths to downplay a consistent result: that people who were stoned were not only better drivers than people who were drunk, they were better drivers than people who were completely straight. Which parses with my personal experience from my own mis-spent youth: when stoned, I found that I drove more slowly, less aggressively and was constantly on the alert, because I was aware I was stoned. Sadly, fear of prosocution precludes such behaviour now: so watch out when I get behind the wheel!)

As for your remark vis-a-vis porn, you said, "Not only is it widely accesible to minors already, I don't think it hurts them to see it," which could easily be reworded to deal with "drugs".
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: vienneau
2004-05-01 09:52 pm (UTC)
"As for your remark vis-a-vis porn, you said, "Not only is it widely accesible to minors already, I don't think it hurts them to see it," which could easily be reworded to deal with "drugs"."

Uh, well, not really. Controlled use of certain drugs doesn't hurt people, but I don't expect everyone to use them that way. The number of "porn abusers" who cause trouble in society are very small relative the number of users - the only "pain" from porn is to the religious and the conservative, both groups that I'm not too worried about. Addicts and potheads, however, certainly seem to be "hurting".

I'm not sure I'm following on the medical distribution of heroin. Are kids allowed to get it? If not, then it's the same as banning alcohol. If so, that's ridiculous - I don't trust the wisdom of children.

I also don't really want heroin widely available - and what you're describing seems a bit more widely available than "you'll go to jail if you have it". I don't want people addicting others unknowingly - children or adults. I don't want some cool teen breaking into his dad's crack cabinet and bringing it to the weekend party to impress all his friends!

I understand your sentiment - why ban pot or even ecstasy (which doesn't seem to be killing too many) when it just makes it easier to get than alcohol. I think you have to set a line and unfortunately whatever line you set, people (especially kids) will try and cross it. I'm much happier with kids "getting away" with doing weed and E than I am with them sneaking a bit of H behind my back. It does seem that a basic wisdom exists that keeps most people from the hard stuff, but that may be due to a vigilence that keeps everyone aware of how bad it is.

And I'm sure in 20-30 years, when today's ravers are the establishment, everyone will be doing weed, and E will be the drug that they're fighting to legalize. Hopefully there will be some new not-so-harmful chemical in the schoolyards to replace them!


(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-05-02 05:10 am (UTC)
Uh, well, not really. Controlled use of certain drugs doesn't hurt people, but I don't expect everyone to use them that way. The number of "porn abusers" who cause trouble in society are very small relative the number of users - the only "pain" from porn is to the religious and the conservative, both groups that I'm not too worried about. Addicts and potheads, however, certainly seem to be "hurting".

That's arguable - see any number of a certain strain of feminist - but I tend to agree with you here.

I'm not sure I'm following on the medical distribution of heroin. Are kids allowed to get it? If not, then it's the same as banning alcohol. If so, that's ridiculous - I don't trust the wisdom of children.

No they are not, with the possible exception of children who are already addicted. The point of prescribing heroin to addicts is that it eliminates the profit motive: no pusher is going to get people hooked if those victims can then get it for free from their doctor.

I also don't really want heroin widely available - and what you're describing seems a bit more widely available than "you'll go to jail if you have it".

See my comment above about the profit motive. With medical distribution, you can only get heroin legally if you are already an addict - and the criminal distributors have little or no incentive to provide it.

I don't want people addicting others unknowingly - children or adults. I don't want some cool teen breaking into his dad's crack cabinet and bringing it to the weekend party to impress all his friends!

I don't want that either; but it sounds like a better alternative than being able to pick it up from your local dealer in the park.

I think you have to set a line and unfortunately whatever line you set, people (especially kids) will try and cross it. I'm much happier with kids "getting away" with doing weed and E than I am with them sneaking a bit of H behind my back.

My point is, they are already doing all of that and more behind your back. And the exhisting Prohibition ensures there's a lot of money to be made in making sure they can continue to do so.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: vienneau
2004-05-03 07:03 pm (UTC)
My point is, they are already doing all of that and more behind your back.

No, no, no - *my* kids aren't doing that, it's *other* people's kids! :-)

(I don't really have kids...)

At this point I'm reaching, but what about forced addiction? Say my arch enemy is pissed off at me and with easy access to heroin gets me addicted? As a kid when I didn't understand drugs, I always thought that if drugs were freely available then restaurants would put them in the meals or in the air in the building so people would become addicted.

That was more of an aside than actual critique - I see your point, it seems pretty workable, I'm done playing devil's advocate! But I also sense that the reality may be a bit rougher than you imagine. It's hard for anyone to say. I've been to Amsterdam and the open hash markets in Copenhagen, and it's not all fun and roses and they've had their fair share of problems. But that could be because it's only legal in one place so everyone goes there (much like communism certainly won't work when surrounded by capitalists and their fancy TVs). And in countries where weed is freely available, such as various African places I've been to, it's not pretty either. Young men/people, unemployed (and even employed), become potheads for lack of options. Of course, I only saw a small sample, but I'd be worried.

Essentially, in small steps, I'd be willing to go in that direction. I have no opposition to legalizing pot. I think we should see how it works for a decade or two (or more) and then move on to further experiments.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-05-07 09:10 am (UTC)
At this point I'm reaching, but what about forced addiction? Say my arch enemy is pissed off at me and with easy access to heroin gets me addicted?

You are reaching. I'm not saying that legalization and regulation is a panacea, simply that would cause (a lot) less harm than the current prohibition regime.

But I also sense that the reality may be a bit rougher than you imagine. It's hard for anyone to say. I've been to Amsterdam and the open hash markets in Copenhagen, and it's not all fun and roses and they've had their fair share of problems. But that could be because it's only legal in one place so everyone goes there <...>

So much for arguing; I was going to make that exact point.

And in countries where weed is freely available, such as various African places I've been to, it's not pretty either. Young men/people, unemployed (and even employed), become potheads for lack of options.

It's the "lack of options" that (I suspect) are the cause, while the pot is the symptom. I have known quite a number of very succesful "users" over the years - but that, too, is anecdotal, not scientific, evidence.

Essentially, in small steps, I'd be willing to go in that direction. I have no opposition to legalizing pot. I think we should see how it works for a decade or two (or more) and then move on to further experiments.

Politically, I think (and hope) that's the direction in which we're moving; personally, though, I think this fucking society needs to start thinking about problems, rather than reacting to them based on ignorance and fear.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: vienneau
2004-05-07 09:33 am (UTC)
personally, though, I think this fucking society needs to start thinking about problems, rather than reacting to them based on ignorance and fear.

Are you prepared to pay more taxes to get this?

(Oh wait, you don't file income taxes...sigh...) :-)

I work with the government all the time and you're right, they're rarely thinking of proactive things to do as they're just too darn busy trying to react to everything and keep the basic committments covered with insufficient staff and often insufficient skills.

And with little reward for the average staffer if they're "creative", there's a negative culture that really inhibits what you're looking for. It sucks, but that's how it is!

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-05-08 01:28 pm (UTC)
Are you prepared to pay more taxes to get this?

(Oh wait, you don't file income taxes...sigh...) :-)


Ho ho ho. :)

(I don't suppose I need to mention that in my income-bracket, not filing means I pay more taxes than I otherwise would. Which is one of the reasons I am working towards getting those affairs in order. I want my GST rebates, damn it.)

Seriously, though: yes, I would be willing to pay higher taxes. I miss the days when Toronto's streets were clean; when the only homeless people you saw were the self-selected - congenital alcoholics and the like; when the TTC was the possibly best urban transit system in the world; when being admitted to the Emergency Ward meant a bed, not a stretcher in some hallway; when it was understood that public employees provide public services and deserved to be rewarded for it, rather than having their jobs contracted-out for a minor financial saving to people earning little more than the minimum wage and who, therefore and quite understandably, do not give a shit about doing good work.

It sucks, but that's how it is!

Maybe so. But that's not how it has to be, despite the right-wing triumphalists as exemplified by those geniuses currently making the world safe for democracy and freedom in Iraq.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)