Monday, July 23, 2012
Ancient Regime Signaling an End?
Lowry often reflects a Vatican/Roman Catholic perspective.
Exhaustion is finally setting in with the enormous human and fiscal costs of attempting to eradicate the ineradicable. People have always used intoxicants, and always will, in ways ancient and new. After all the countless resources expended trying to keep illegal drugs from entering the United States, The New York Times reported the other day, abuse of indigenous prescription drugs is the nation’s biggest drug problem. In 2008, it accounted for the lion’s share of overdose deaths.
A new drug tends to go through a natural epidemic cycle. New users pick it up and spread the word about the good times. Then, it loses its allure as its ravages become plain in the wrecked lives of the hooked.
The metrics say we are “winning” the fight against cocaine. Today, there are only 1.5 million users a month, a drop from nearly 6 million in the heyday of the 1980s. But cocaine’s price hasn’t changed much; its prestige has. “When cocaine stopped being the drug of investment bankers and started becoming the drug of $5 whores, it became less fashionable,” says UCLA professor Mark Kleiman, co-author of “Drugs and Drug Policy.”
The war on drugs overseas, a US foreign-policy priority for decades, has only shifted around trafficking routes. Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group notes how — in the “mercury effect” — pressure against the cartels in Colombia squeezed the action into Mexico, where it is now being displaced again, to Central America and the Caribbean. No wonder that at the Summit of the Americas in April, Latin American leaders expressed disenchantment with the entire enterprise.
No one crafting American laws from scratch purely on a basis of public health would make marijuana illegal while alcohol — much more damaging to society — is legal. Slowly, the prohibition on marijuana is giving way. Medical marijuana is legal in 17 states and DC. Colorado, Oregon and Washington state will consider ballot measures to legalize the drug in November.
The current regime makes criminals of millions of casual users, but legalization — even in one state — could collapse the price nationally and lead to more widespread use.
Every alternative has its pitfalls. The mandatory treatment now being implemented in New Jersey, although better than a jail sentence, is often less effective than advertised. But we are exiting the era when a focus on the harmful effects of illegal drugs excludes all consideration of the harmful effects of their hard-fisted prohibition. The debate is becoming less susceptible to cheap rhetorical bullying.
The un-spoken pitfall is the whole market substitution issue.
They fear more widespread use- of what, marijuana versus alcohol?
Or greater use of cocaine and opiates.
But why must they look at matters in such a limited fashion?
Throughout history societies have delt with propogating cocaine use, starting and continuing with the sociteies useing it the longest in South America- using Coca leaves (rather than concentrated cocaine, as people use Coffee, caffeineated beverages and Tobacco, or caffeine pills or nicotine chewing gum, but not conentrated caffeine and nicotine in unfixed potencies.)
Eleven decades ago two Popes awarded Corsican French pharmacist-entrepeneur Angelo Francois Mariani gold papal medels as a 'benefactor of humanity'
Today, Mark Klieman can talk about 1980s wall street stock brokers and more recent $5 prostitutes= a sly reference to the hyperglygemic - ultra rapid over absorption as more of a sexual [over]enhancer than something to be otherwise constructive.
But why don't we see anything being said by Klieman, and others in academia about the whole iron law of prohibition of cocaine and opiates discussed way back in December 1986 in National Review 'the narcs created crack'.
Why can't they see or say anything of the larger picture- of denying coca with the effect of perverting it to ultra-concentrated forms for the sake of protecting other agricultural commidities.
Why can't we buy coca products, but we can buy alcohol and especially cigarettes, everywhere?
And alcoholic beverages and Tobacco products just happen to be the two class of products exempted from retail product labeling requirements.
With Tobacco the most dangerous of the plant stimulants, and Coca, known as a 'Tobacco habit cure' the safest, why are we continually spending billions proping up such a costly agricultural mercantilsim scheme?
Why do we put up with academiacs seemingly most concerned about prolonging the agony?