America loves drugs

Discuss

29 Responses to “America loves drugs”

  1. PaulT says:

    @@#17: You’re talking about someone with a psychological dependency problem, something which can happen with everything from alcohol to prescription painkillers.

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend, but that wasn’t marijuana at fault. The vast majority of people who smoke on a regular basis would not have had those problems, just as most people who enjoy a drink in the evening don’t become alcoholics.

  2. Jubes says:

    I wonder what other countries they surveyed. Last July, a UN report was released that stated that Canadians led the world in marijuana use http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2007/07/09/canada-cannabis.html?ref=rss). I guess we’re a free and mobile country after all. Oh, wait- the lack of people in Canadian jails for smoking pot might negate that.

  3. mdhatter says:

    #17 – I’ve been where your friend was. I didn’t blame the weed, it was just a crutch, the harm came from somewhere else entirely.

    What I did was bad for me as it was for your friend, but i believe my choice was far better than drinking my sorrows away (which I DO have the freedom to do).

    Had I chosen alcohol (or harder stuff) I’d probably have either had liver failure or a terrible physical addiction – and had I gone to a professional I’d have a manufactured prescription drug that fooled with my neurochemistry in ways that I find unacceptable (largely because of past experiences with friends on antidepressants who tried to kill themselves).

    my 2c – i hope your friend is well now.

  4. Cupcake Faerie says:

    Mr. Obama,
    Please legalize marijuana. It is the right thing to do.

  5. mrfitz says:

    “when they started” implies they currently use it

    we’re not talking about people that started, then used it for an extended period, and then stopped

    that would be like saying that you were an alcoholic once, after drinking six beers

    “young adults”

  6. zuzu says:

    * Cognitive liberty
    * Morphological freedom
    * Neurolaw

    On this Independence Day, I’d prefer to think of it as “Americans, individually, love Liberty“. ^_^

  7. Baldhead says:

    Haven’t you learned? only the US is free. They invented freedom, right? didn’t exist pre- revolutionary war.

    I think that at least part of the point is this: how much drugs or guns or whatever are enforced may not be a factor in how much these things are used. I suspect a deeper look at statistics would show that while in this case more enforcement= more use, in other countries this may not be the case. Meaning direct correlations are difficult, if not impossible, to find.

  8. historyman68 says:

    @21
    These statistics, as well as the success of limited legalization/decriminalization measures across the country, lead me to think that Obama might not do too badly to make that (part of) his platform.

    Until I realize that the main-stream media would tear him down for it because the powers-that-be have a vested interest in keeping the Drug War going.

    But an open question: do you think that public support is swinging to the extent that it would be realistic for Obama to legalize, or at least decriminalize it, without him going down in flames as a result?

  9. zombieite says:

    higher crime rates? if we legalized drugs, that would go away very quickly. as i understand it, a huge percentage of our “crime” is drug-related and a huge percentage of that drug-related “crime” is nonviolent.

  10. pharmacopaeia says:

    As one of those naughty New Zealanders, I can totally vouch for the numbers quoted for marijuana usage, although I agree with those who have said that the study seems not to differentiate between one-off use and more ‘committed’ use. Nonetheless it seems to be more cheap and plentiful here than everywhere else I’ve travelled.

    The coke usage though? I have no idea where that same from, which is a sentiment that’s also been expressed on various local blogs and forums. Cocaine is incredibly rare and so prohibitively expensive here – according to The Economist in July 2007 a gram cost US$714.30 given the exchange rate of the day. Those few people who would say they’ve tried it are far more likely to have been given some nasty speed concoction and not had the wherewithal to know any better.

    (It’s quite an interesting article if you’re able to access it: http://www.economist.com/daily/chartgallery/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9414607)

  11. zuzu says:

    higher crime rates? if we legalized drugs, that would go away very quickly. as i understand it, a huge percentage of our “crime” is drug-related and a huge percentage of that drug-related “crime” is nonviolent.

    Surely I’m not the only one here who learned this from the Zero Crime Bill in Sid Meier’s Civilization: Call to Power II?

  12. savage_lucy says:

    Keep in mind that according to this report NZ cocaine use is dramatically lower than in the States – 16.2 in the US compared to 4.3 in NZ – down close to other countries including Columbia, Mexico and Spain.

    Even so, it would surprise me too if we really had cocaine use rates even up with those countries.

  13. zuzu says:

    Dear Lazyweb,

    Please help me find the statistics on prescription drug use relative to this “recreational” drug use. If you think “America loves drugs” based on the numbers of illicit use, get a load of what sanctioned psychotropic drug use looks like.

    Simply put, if you’re a white collar “professional”, instead of going to your weed dealer, you go get a script for klonopins from your doctor (with a co-pay and corporate health insurance). Or, instead of glass, you get a script for adderall. Instead of smack, you get percacets.

    The war on drugs isn’t about reducing drug use; it’s about making sure you go through “proper channels” to get them. Compliance will be rewarded; resistance will be punished.

  14. zuzu says:

    These statistics, as well as the success of limited legalization/decriminalization measures across the country, lead me to think that Obama might not do too badly to make that (part of) his platform.

    You know, this is entirely the purpose of states’ rights. Why do we have to do this all-or-nothing at the Federal level (either in criminalizing or decriminalizing). Why not let local voters decide what they want their state to do?

    California seems determined to want it this way anyway, despite the DEA and a Federal precedent of absurdly over-reaching interpretations of the Commerce Clause.

    This way, we can think of the states with legalized drugs as the “experimental group” compared with states maintaining drug prohibition as the “control group”.

  15. Bloodboiler says:

    I agree with the opinion that trying to connect high drug use to tight drug laws doesn’t make any sense. But it has nothing to do with having a “highly free and mobile society.”

    How policies affect is entirely cultural. Whatever it is that makes Dutch capable of living with loose drug laws, Americans and Finns (to name two) just don’t have. Finns would drink themselves to death with cheap booze and windshield cleaners if not kept in tight leash and Americans would blow drug lords for a fix if they got too much drug freedom.

    What really should be investigated is what in Dutch society causes them to mostly stay away or use just a little drugs. That would be worth imitating. Maybe they know how to rise kids that genuinely have distaste for excessive drug use. Maybe their work and study culture is fine tuned to avoid stress and create flow that’s better than drugs. One thing it’s not is loose drug laws. Those are just a reaction to few problems with drugs in the first place.

  16. Spinobobot says:

    Zuzu: seriously, what ever did happen to states’ rights? In addition to being ethically preferable in many cases (with some noteworthy exceptions), treating the states as little laboratories of democracy can benefit the nation as a whole.

    During policy disputes, one often hears a lot of back and forth about what would happen if we decriminalized X or prohibited Y, but these claims are almost never substantiated. If you try to bring up international comparisons, inevitably you get people saying the US is just different, and so the comparison doesn’t apply.

    But that shoddy argument totally falls apart if we can contrast, say, New Hampshire with Vermont, or Georgia with Alabama, or Arizona with New Mexico. Sure, there are cultural differences between the states, but they are not great enough (especially if you stick to particular regions of the country) to justify the blanket dismissal of comparisons.

    Fortunately, though, Obama has said that he would stop a lot of the DEA bullshit going on in California. He seems to recognize that a lot of the “War on Drugs” is a waste of money. (My totally unrealistic hope is that he would put an end both to the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror”, perhaps suggesting that we need a metaphor other than war for dealing with complex problems.)

    According to this article he even suggested the possibility of using “scientific evidence” to help decide on the issue of legalization. (Using science to decide on policy? Isn’t there something in the Bible that prohibits that? Personally, I’ve never been able to find the passages in there that justify all these idiotic GOP policies, but one can only assume they’re in there somewhere. Maybe there’s an apocryphal Book of Reagan…)

    Unfortunately, this was way back in Iowa, so it’s questionable if he’d say the same thing today. (Actually, it’s not questionable: he definitely wouldn’t. But once elected, we’ll see where he really stands.)

    The best though, was his response to the question of whether he had inhaled (a reference to W.J. Clinton’s infamous “I smoked but I didn’t inhale”): “I never understood that line. The point was to inhale. That was the point.”

  17. Spinobobot says:

    Zuzu is likely quite right about the “proper channels” argument, but let me address a larger point about drug hypocrisy.

    This cuts both ways. While there are plenty of highly-medicated people who self-righteously decry street drugs, I’ve also found that people in the drug culture are often disdainful of prescription drugs. If you’re getting high everyday on pot to cope with life, however, you are really in no position to criticize people on Prozac.

    (Just to be clear, I’m not attributing a position like this to Zuzu–I have no clue what your opinion might be. I’m referring specifically to some of my own friends and family who have made statements to this effect.)

    Personally, I don’t discriminate. I love virtually all drugs. Human beings, as the result of a process of blind trial and error (to grossly oversimplify), are filled with design flaws. Drugs are the best tool that we have–for now–to overcome some of these flaws. Unfortunately, they are crude instruments and not uncommonly produce undesirable side effects. Individuals have to decide what effects they can live with, but they should be able to make this decision for themselves. (I’m still iffy about having to get a permission slip from a doctor to buy a drug.)

    Few are the people who can get through life without some kind of chemical augmentation. (And, even then, the reason they can exist without drugs is often due to the natural chemicals that their body produces.) But let’s be honest: it’s all chemicals.

    (That is actually a personal motto of mine. :-) )

    If we’re going to make distinctions between drugs, let it be in terms of safety and efficacy and forget the sanctimonious moral bullshit, from either side.

    (Now, when it comes to the practices that create drugs, whether it be multimillion dollar corporate R&D or some dude growing pot in his basement, there’s more room for reasonable criticism. Drugs of all kinds are too often produced in questionable ways and ridiculously over-priced.)

  18. zuzu says:

    Just to be clear, I’m not attributing a position like this to Zuzu–I have no clue what your opinion might be.

    I’m still iffy about having to get a permission slip from a doctor to buy a drug.

    That’s pretty much my opinion on the matter. Hence why I cited cognitive liberty, morphological freedom, etc. (Support the CCLE if this concerns you too; they’re like the EFF of the neurolaw scene. These issues also overlap significantly with both drug decriminalization and with transgender body modification.)

    Essentially, I support positive, rather than normative medical practice. As Spinobot said,

    If we’re going to make distinctions between drugs, let it be in terms of safety and efficacy and forget the sanctimonious moral bullshit, from either side.

    and that should be a matter for hiring a doctor for medical advice, or something like WikiDrugs. (c.f. the Merck Manual, or Erowid) But not that we’re paying a doctor for permission to put a particular drug or device in our bodies. Per the is-ought problem, medical science can describe what is, but decision of what we ought do with our bodies and reproductive rights rests firmly with self-ownership and subjective value.

    p.s. Where are all the extropians to chime in about nootropics? Anyone reading this currently using PT-141 or Provigil? (Some days I really miss Mondo 2000.)

  19. Mim says:

    Well, this shatters my perception of New Zealand as Australia’s goody-two-shoes neighbor.

  20. Billistic says:

    The worst part is, if pot were legal and sold from dispensaries they wouldn’t be on the street anymore and at least as a parent you’d be able to know exactly where not to bring your kid around to.

    “Son, if I ever see you near that place I’m going to ring your neck! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?”

    then bring it on home with

    “alright mister, what do you think you’re doing? You call this a room? This is a pigsty. I want you to straighten up this area NOW! YOU ARE A DISGUSTING SLOB, STAND UP STRAIGHT TUCK IN THAT SHIRT, ADJUST THAT BELT BUCKLE, TIE THOSE SHOES!

    TWISTED SISTER?

    what is that?

    wipe that smile off your face

    DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

    WHAT IS THAT? A TWISTED SISTER PIN? ON YOUR UNIFORM?

    WHAT KIND OF A MAN ARE YOU?

    YOU’RE WORTHLESS AND WEAK.

    YOU DO NOTHING

    YOU ARE NOTHING

    YOU SIT IN HERE ALL DAY AND PLAY THAT SICK REPULSIVE ELECTRIC TWANGER!

    I CARRIED AN M-16 AND YOU, YOU CARRY, THAT, THAT, THAT, GUITAR!

    WHO ARE YOU?

    WHERE DO YOU COME FROM?

    ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?

    WHAT DO YOU WANNA DO WITH YOUR LIFE?

  21. WiredEarp says:

    Just thought I’d mention that marijuana use is very big in NZ… but coke? While everyone always wants it, its expensive and hard to get. Definitely not as available as in Britain etc.

    However, MJ, while still illegal, is pretty much considered by almost everyone here with any exposure to it (except the politicians) as being less harmful than alcohol & tobacco.

  22. Spikeles says:

    I find the comments saying marijuana isn’t harmful to be very naive. I lived with a friend for two years who did marijuana and i watched him turn from a promising sports trainer to a wreck you couldn’t even have a proper intelligent conversation with even when he wasn’t smoking any.

    However, i do believe in freedom of choice. I didn’t stop my friend, i didn’t call the police, i let him know i wasn’t impressed and that i didn’t like that he did it, but it’s his life to screw up.

    I personally dont care if you do drugs, in your own privacy, just keep them away from me, my family, and don’t ruin my neighboorhood because you went all crazy because the drug induced leprechaun behind the rock told you to burn things.

  23. zuzu says:

    I personally dont care if you do drugs, in your own privacy, just keep them away from me, my family, and don’t ruin my neighboorhood because you went all crazy because the drug induced leprechaun behind the rock told you to burn things.

    It’s the Christian Scientists whose kids need medication so they don’t see the pyromaniac leprechaun that I’m worried about.

  24. Ugly Canuck says:

    Coke’s popular cause weed is more difficult to hide and doesn’t flush – NZ does not drug test do they?
    By making it more difficult to use less harmful drugs people start using more harmful drugs – this appears to be the goal of US policy.
    Why the super-excessive penalties for anything to do with LSD?

  25. icehawk says:

    Hey! No fair!

    New Zealand has similar rates to the USA of people trying marijuana. Yup, that’s us. Guys quietly smoking dope on the verandah at a student party is pretty much a kiwi tradition.

    But your article snippet suggests we’ve got similar rates of coke use to the US, which is utterly false. Cocaine is use is rare here, and always has been. It doesn’t go with the laid back, casual Kiwi lifestyle.

  26. Felix Mitchell says:

    There’s a big difference between trying a drug once and using it regularly. These survey’s always ignore that.

    That 42.4% of Americans have puffed on a joint is not surprising, in fact I’d expect that to be an underestimate. All this shows is that people are likely to experiment and that drugs are available. That’s not necessarily anything law enforcement should be too concerned about.

    While drugs are still illegal, getting reliable data on their use will always be next to impossible.

  27. GuidoDavid says:

    So, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Canada, as they have lower crime rates, are not free and mobile societies? Wow.
    I guess Venezuelan society must be highly mobile and free according to our murder rates…

  28. 4Liberty says:

    If somebody wants to smoke crack—let em. It’s their life, their body. When are we going to stop intruding in people’s lives? This phony “war on drugs” doesn’t stop anyone from using. It’s pointless. Jails should be reserved for people who do harm to other people and property. It’s stupid to punish someone who is only hurting themself. Now what, are we going to start cracking down and throwing “cutters” in jail? ….I wouldn’t be surprised…anything that will make the government more money and give them more power over us.

  29. Chevan says:

    >Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the United States led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15.

    So, are they saying that they asked all young adults when they started using marijuana, or that they asked young adults who used marijuana when they started?

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