10A104 Drugs by Jim Davies, 12/17/2010    

The starting point or axiom underlying all rational discussion of what we humans can and should or should not do is that of self-ownership. Properly and by natural right, every person owns himself or herself, so nobody at all has any right to over-rule him, no matter what uniform that intruder wears nor what weapons he carries nor what pieces of paper he says "authorize" him to interfere.

Armed and uniformed thugs do so intrude in practice, of course, and deny that self-ownership right in all manner of ways; but the right remains absolute.

It includes, naturally, the right to decide what substances to eat, drink and otherwise ingest, assuming the ingester owns them. His choices may not always be "good" in the opinion of observers, but as long as their his choices, they are good by definition. Such choices come, as does all freedom, with responsibility; if I eat mainly greasy food and get overweight and die young, there is no obligation on you to do anything about it. Or if I take in drugs that give me a good feeling but inhibit my ability to work for a living, that too places no obligation on anyone else, to prop me up or keep me alive. These are all fundamental truths, and when they are ignored - as they normally are - the result is chaos. It's like defying gravity; it may look good for a while, but in the end it's messy.

The mess that has resulted from governments' denial of the right to ingest whatever drugs each person may choose has caused immense chaos since they started interfering more than a century ago. It has now risen to screaming pitch. To our South, where illegal drugs can often be transported and manufactured with lower cost than in the USA, the Mexican government has tried to close down that industry and is experiencing failure so spectacular that whole areas are ruled not by the "legitimate" government (quite bad enough!) but by rival companies in the drug trade - who, being unable to compete openly and legally, do so with violence. So far the result has been more than 28,000 dead since 2006 - including people caught in the crossfire. And that's just one country.

All war is a disaster, but the "war on drugs" is a catastrophe and it is 100% the doing of governments. It hasn't even resulted in lower regular drug use; that remains steady at about one person in twelve, where it's been since the 19th Century; the rate wobbles up and down a little here and there, and this week among teenagers it was reported as having risen, for marijuana. PBS' News Hour managed to get through an eight minute interview on Tuesday without mentioning by how much it rose, but who's counting; the Drug War has its own momentum, and never had any rationale at all.

One glimmer of light glowed yesterday, from all this chaos. He expressly said he's "not a libertarian" (so removing any possibility that he can fix the problem) but the former Home Office minister in the UK allowed as how “the war on drugs has been nothing short of a disaster.” Long obvious to anyone with a brain, this has now dawned on an actual politician! His prescription is dead wrong (he favors controlling sales through pharmacies and physicians, instead of just setting the market free) but at least he acknowledges the problem. It's feeble, but it's a beginning.

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