Night Owl Mk. II

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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

(R) You know what? I'm new to the internet, but stumbled on your essay about drugs from following a link from an Advanced Squad Leader site. At any rate, I found the essay and the various responses interesting.
(MB) Congrats on joining the party and thanks for visiting my site. I appreciate your taking the time to respond to this essay and I hope you may wish to respond to others. All opinions are welcome!

(R) As long as I'm here, I feel compelled to say a few words about drugs. Too often the argument for or against drugs centers on right and wrong, with adherents to either faction speaking in all or nothing terms.
(MB) Opinions, by their very nature, tend to center on "right" and "wrong", but it is very rare to find no problems with something that is "right" or to find nothing positive to say about something that is "wrong". If the answer to the issue in question was truly an absolute, there would be no debate and it would likely not even be an issue worthy of discussion.

(R) Where this creates difficulty is the hazy distinctions between Drugs and drugs, and everyone gets caught up in the minutiae or the different sides of the argument without stepping back and being able to see the real problem.
(MB) Everybody has their own agenda to promote. Unfortunately, it often happens that a given agenda has little to do with the arguments offered in support for (or in refutation of) the issue in question. In the case of those who support Drug use, despite all of the grand and glorious pronouncements they may make, the agenda is almost always gaining popular approval for getting high.

(R) It is necessary to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges in the case of Drugs and drugs. Clearly some drugs are more potent than others.
(MB) Similarly, some crimes are more heinous than others. While all of these things are illegal, we differentiate between them by proscribing differing penalties for differing degrees of offense. Likewise, penalties for marijuana possession/use are less severe than those for heroin.

(R) I would posit, however that there is some hypocrisy in how we look at drugs--drinking is in some ways as bad or worse than other illegal drugs.
(MB) True. My original essay stated my belief that if alcohol was a newly-produced drug, it also would be illegal. On the other hand, it is possible to consume alcoholic beverages in moderation without getting drunk and to consume it for purposes other than to get drunk. One cannot make similar claims for illegal Drugs.

(R) Arguments can go back and forth forever in this way, and nobody will change their mind. It is a losing argument to talk about whether or not drugs are good for you--they aren't. It is similarly useless to argue that people shouldn't be trusted to make their own decisions about drugs.
(MB) Quite correct. The question is strictly one of whether or not they should be legalized. If so, there must be strong reasons for doing so -- stronger than those for keeping them illegal.

(R) But it is useful to look at whether or not criminalizing Drug use actually creates crime. It is demonstrable that criminalizing Drug use creates a much diminished supply coupled with a diminished demand. Unfortunately, the demand does not diminish as much as the supply, and the price becomes much higher than a free market would support. The price becomes high enough that users often resort to crime, and particularly violent crime, to support their habits.
(MB) One also shouldn't forget the crimes that are committed by those who supply the Drugs in order to protect their supplies, distribution networks, "turf", and a steady stream of customers.

(R) What the argument should be, then, is whether or not a drastic reduction in the rate of violent crime is worth allowing a higher percentage of drug users. If we take the case of marijuana, I personally believe that in a cost-benefit analysis it would be better to have it legalized. The legalization could be linked with restrictive distribution methods including education and controlling of dosages in order to minimize negative effects, and to fund drug rehabilitation efforts etc.
(MB) There's an important consequence of marijuana legalization that must also be considered. That is the question of what would happen to usage rates. I am of the opinion that usage would skyrocket -- not only in terms of raw numbers of marijuana users, but also in terms of how much they use and how often they use it. All one needs to do to confirm this is to ask people what they would do. I have found that it is only the fear of the legal ramifications of getting caught that prevents or curtails their usage. Consideration of this would likely throw a nasty monkey wrench into any cost-benefit analysis.

(R) Anyway, I'm sure you've heard all that crap before anyway.
(MB) Sure, but we need to keep the issues out in the open. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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