T Nation

The War on Drugs

Exactly as the title implies. This conversation started on one of the mighty stu’s threads, primarily a back and forth between me and Brickhead. I’m curious to hear different perspectives to that of my own… I’ll make some key points to start

Classification of licit and illicit substances

  • The current model regarding how substances are classified remains significantly flawed. Such a system should be adopted on the principle of “how much harm does X substance induce”. The media may have you believe this to be the case, but if this were the case, prohibition would’ve been reinstated. Why is it that I can consume liquor, drink it to my heart’s content yet cannabis possession can net me jail-time (because big corporations have created a monopoly… but rationally speaking).

AUS policy

In Sydney, NSW sniffer dogs patrol train stations, pubs, sidewalks in the city, music festivals etc. If one of these dogs sniffs you, the police will take you aside in public, regardless of age and strip search/cavity search you… the majority of time when something is found it’s a joint or two. These searches have been confirmed to be illegal in nature, especially when conducted on minors without a guardian present. Statistics indicate these dogs are incorrect within roughly two thirds of all detections. I have more frustration regarding Australian policy however I’ll stop here. Such police tactics as present in NSW will only serve to induce a sense of distrust between youth and the police force, and rightfully so. An unwarranted cavity search over a drug dog detection at a pub/train station may be very traumatising for some, especially those who have been previously subjected to sexual abuse/assault. Despite arrest rates skyrocketing for possession, rates of drug use have remained stable… or have increased

  • Certain substances such as anabolic steroids impose a mandatory prison sentence (in QLD and the NT), a sentence of up to twenty years in prison can be imposed for steroid possession even if only designated for personal use. When a trafficable quantity comes into play the penalty escalates. These practices don’t represent rational punishment compared to the amount of harm these compounds actually induce when used reasonably. A man on cycle isn’t stealing/killing for more gear… there may be the incredibly rare exception, but as a generalisation this isn’t the case. People need to stop equating a guy on gear to that of a heroin addict, they’re not comparable. Barring perhaps high dosages of compounds known to be very harsh from a neurological standpoint (tren etc), the vast majority of men/women on are productive members of society. As a matter of fact, there is a strong correlation between gear usage and higher income/educational attainment (not always the case, but the correlation exists). I’m aware this incredibly complex topic isn’t as simple as I’m making it seem.

Generalised statements/rambles

With the this “war” still raging on… illicit, large scale suppliers exist. If you’ve got a large-scale supplier for an illicit product, you’ve typically got ties to organised crime, unregistered firearms/casualties (this is exactly what happened with Prohibition… the rise of Al Capone). My answer to this is…. Legalise, tax and regulate. Mexican Cartels make a fortune from cannabis… with the substance no longer prohibited cartels will initially suffer a massive net loss… until they switch over to other substances. Here bears an argument for regulation of… everything… but that’s flawed in my opinion, I don’t believe say cocaine, methamphetamine etc should be legalised… decriminalisation seems like a better route to me when regarding mere possession without intent to distribute. My counterargument to “cartels switching sources of income” relates to statistics, cannabis caters to a larger audience than heroin does, thus net profits will still be likely to drop.

Some of my arguments

  • Pertaining to lighter/intermediate level substances the user is only harming themselves, no one else. Rarely will you see a man high on cannabis/on cycle or even a harder substance such as MDMA deteriorate into a crazed, violent frenzy like one might see with alcohol, cocaine or methamphetamine.

  • statistics showcase that heavy policing/intimidation tactics induce more harmful patterns of drug use. An example of which would be someone swallowing everything on the sight of police etc

  • countries of which adopt harm minimisation strategies tend to have comparatively lower overdose rates

  • If Alcohol and tobacco are allowed, it’s rather hypocritical to be handing out jail sentences for other substances that are arguably less dangerous.

  • With the legalisation and taxation of numerous “soft” or “intermediate” level substances, the amount of revenue generated can be put into funding legitimate campaigns aimed at educating the populace regarding harms/risks, similar to how programs have been created to cut down rates of tobacco usage. I’m not referring to programs like DARE… that was a load of shit that supposedly led to increased… not decreased rates of illicit substance abuse.

  • Pill testing when trailed has been demonstrated to potentially save lives, as potentially lethal contaminants are typically found within certain batches of pills

  • Locking up an otherwise productive member of society is counterproductive

There’s the argument “but what about burden on the public healthcare system”, particularly in relation to chronic substance abuse (AAS factor in here). Studies have anecdotally demonstrated within certain areas wherein cannabis is legalised that upon legalisation, problematic use/use rates of the compound either remain unaffected and/or SLIGHTLY increase, hospitalisations rose regarding adverse psychiatric reactions (disproportionately pertaining to edible products… enterohepatic metabolism and more potent/psychedelic metabolite 11-hydroxy THC would be to blame). There is the prospect between “illicit drug use, mental health” etc, but this correlation also exists with booze, whether legalisation actually leads to more cases of psychiatric illness due to higher rates of use or whether more people come forward due to no fear of punishment/stigmatisation is unknown. People currently clog up the healthcare system regarding burden of disease associated with recreational substance abuse… It isn’t as if things will dramatically increase tenfold if legalisation occurs, I believe such a conveyed ideology is fear-mongering/fear of change. Say crack cocaine was decriminalised, no one/VERY few will be dumb enough to use because the prospect of jailtime has been abolished. The “law” doesn’t deter people from indulging, how could we possibly think “if this hasn’t worked for the past 50 years… we need tougher restrictions” … Drugs are still a problem within the Philippines… Under Robert Duterte’s rule drug use/possession is punished by either life in prison or execution… if that doesn’t serve as a deterrent, nothing will. If we adopt a harm minimisation style protocol, we may have a slight uptick within ER visits… but on the plus side less people will die, people will be more eager to seek help for problematic patterns of use.

In my opinion this should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one. Expend resource to catch suppliers, not the civilian. QLD incarcerates 2x more people than the rest of Australia combined for minor drug possession alone. An enquiry into practice regarding punitive measures recently found QLD and Aus in general (similarly to America) has a problem with mass incarceration. A large chunk of offenders being in prison for minor, non-violent drug related offences. The report hypothesized had illicit drug use been decriminalised, the overall amount of incarcerated would drop by 30% within the next five years alone…

I’ve made this very long; I have a lot to say here and wanted to link literature… But I don’t wish to write a book on the introducing post. 1500 words isn’t a book, statistically 90,000 words is)

I should clarify this is a CIVILISED debate, for those who become hostile/aggressive and/or condescending, I will not respond. There’s a chance I may be wrong, one of the best aspects of “freedom of speech” is that we all get to convey our ideologies… regardless of who they clash with. If we all harboured similar opinions on everything the world would be incredibly dull.

Look at countries that have adopted harm minimisation policies (Netherlands, Canada, Portugal etc). Low overdose rates, relatively low incarceration rates, the Netherlands has a very high rate of inhabitant satisfaction; the sky didn’t fall. The majority of cannabis/soft drugs consumed in say, the Netherlands tends to stem from tourists coming down to experience what they feel to be “taboo”. With government regulation, it’s no longer quite as enticing, especially for the younger crowd.

For those who say I don’t know what I’m talking about due to naivety… I’ve unfortunately been around quite a lot of drugs throughout my life, I’ve seen the havoc addiction can wreck upon a life… I’ve seen bad/acutely psychotic reactions too, I’m not oblivious to potential harms… I may not be well versed on say the usage patterns of certain substances as I will never use cocaine, methamphetamine etc, but I’ve been around enough under the influence and/or using it to know how it can alter someones demeanor. The worst consequences I’ve seen from acute intoxication were Alcohol induced.

I’m not arguing drug use is healthy or that it should be seen as acceptable (though alcohol is seen as acceptable), I’m arguing a different approach should be made to deter use/employ harm minimisation tactics for those who decide to use regardless as the law typically won’t deter anyone from getting high/jacked (this also refers to alcohol and cigarettes… however it’s taxed and regulated, the outcome has been alright). Statistically within the US, alcohol is involved within more homicide’s comparative to all other substances, one could argue “if we kept it illegal this wouldn’t have happened…” what about speakeasy’s, bootleg liquor killing countless, organised crime. One could argue they’re not used as often; hence they aren’t implicated within as many homicides, I’d say moot point… even if decriminalised the general populace won’t start using crystal methamphetamine (should be noted methamphetamine hydrochloride is a legitimate pharmaceutical) …. Anecdotal experience does play a role here as well as literature…. I’ve only seen fights, destruction of property, grave bodily injury with people using booze (and cocaine once… and benzodiazepines mixed with booze)

If this isn’t an appropriate discussion for the politics sub-thread, this can be moved over to the “off topic” thread

@BrickHead the thread has been made. If anyone wants me to provide literature to back my opinions I will gladly do so. Literature exists that backs both sides (punitive vs harm reduction)

1 Like

Thanks for the tag. I’ll comment when I can. :+1:

1 Like

I just skimmed your post… novel… whatever. But just my 2 cents:

I feel like almost every family comes from some kind of addiction. My dads side is heavily alcoholic (functioning… but if it barks like a duck…) my moms side is big into pills, my fiance’s family has a smattering of heroin, along with many close friends from high school… my point being, I was going to say “I’m not an addict but I know a guy” but i feel like everyone has that opener.

A lot of my opinions are based on heroin use, it’s the most extreme common drug choice, with the most extreme variables.

So… from my experience…

  1. Prohibition of anything doesnt work. Tested and true, if you tell the people they cant have something, they’re going to find a way to get it. Even if it kills them (try telling any smoker it’s going to become illegal, they’ll tell you they’re going to wrap their own shit. Hell, my town was fighting for a bill to make vaping a misdemeanor, and I came to terms real quick that I would just be getting a mark on my otherwise clean record)

  2. Addicts, users, junkies… whatever you want to call them… arent going to stop because of fines, or jail time, and to a lesser extent rehab (mainly heroin). This is common knowledge, backed by many studies and anecdotal evidence. Its simply the Feds knowingly having a source of steady income.

  3. Darwinism. I mean, honestly. If someone wants to use… then so be it. Forced rehab simply doesnt seem to positively influence heroin users. Let alone jail time. It takes a deep talk with whatever God you follow, very personal introspection, and extreme family intervention, and they have to come to terms with rehab themselves.

  4. Anything regarding marajuana is a fucking joke at this point. I dont smoke, makes me weird. But it is absolutely fucking insane that in Michigan you can bum a blunt in front of an officer and it’s all good. But people are literally getting beat in my town because they lied about having weed on them. I’m glad the states have their individual freedoms, but this is a very solemn occasion where the feds need to establish something much more concrete. Which just to be clear, I understand the consequences of knowingly breaking the law is bigger than just smoking weed, so I dont necessarily see the argument for retroactively adjusted sentencing.

All of this aside…

The “war on drugs” requires a serious overhaul. IF were going to fight it legally, there needs to be a serious adjustment of what’s okay, and isnt. Alcohol is legal, but weed isnt? Cigarettes are okay, but vaping is still under constant political fire? Heroin users are allowed clean needle dispensers, but taking shrooms is serviceable by jail time?

Personally, I’m all about them freedoms. If someone wants to shoot diesel into their tear ducts, more power to them. If it doesnt have immediate reaching effects (think bath salts and people fucking eating eachother, or crystal meth and gutting yourself in public) then who cares how someone wants to take themselves out? In which case, people should be tried to the full extent of the law regarding the crime committed because of the drug. Not because of the drug itself. At worst, there should be a… bonus fine or something. A fucking murder shouldnt be prefaced by “a guy high on PCP… killed a guy”; it should be “there was a murder first and foremost, he was also high on PCP”. Using the terminology of the drug first, makes the crime seem excused.

The one law that should be greatly amplified in my opinion, is driving under the influence. Sorry not sorry to anybody that feels targeted by this, but there should be no second chances. One and done. If you think you can drive while high or drunk, then you think you can take someone’s life for your night of fun. (Granted someone I went to school with just killed someone driving drunk last night, so I’m already on a tear about that)

Honestly I’m all over the place now, so I’ll stop and see where this thread goes.

1 Like

The problem with this is… In Australia they have roadside drug testing that looks for a trace/metabolite absent of actual presence of impairment. You can get done in for smoking a joint three days ago, lose you’re license for 6+ months, get a fine of 1000$+

Are you telling me I’m “under the influence” because of that marijuana cigarette I smoked 72 hours ago? It’s crucial that one comes up with a way to legitimately detect impairment. I believe the BAC limit in the US is 0.08, Imagine an RBT that would ping you at 0.09 when you haven’t had a drink in days… it’s absurd. At least in the Netherlands they’ve got a decent cutoff regarding this kind of stuff, you can take say 25-50mg MDMA in the Netherlands and still pass a roadside drug test as they’ve got standardised cut-off limits that actually detect impairment rather than the mere trace of a substance

Whats worse is that in Aus they only test for the drugs most commonly used within low socioeconomic demographics
(JUST MDMA, meth and cannabis)… cocaine is fine, as is ketamine, GHB, psychedelic drugs (unless you crash, they’ll take a blood test)… but you can pass a roadside test on these substances… yet smoking a joint three days ago… nope

Same goes with these music festivals, you can’t bring cannabis in… it’s almost as if they’re encouraging users to bring in/use harder substance prior to entering. A dog isn’t trained to smell opiates, benzodiazepines, z-drugs, pharmaceutical grade amphetamine, barbiturates, PCP etc

Agreed, however Aus still has sniffer dogs everywhere (music festivals, in NSW they’ve got them at train stations, pubs etc)

as I’ve specified prior, if a dog sniffs you… they’ll pull you aside and perform a CAVITY search (and strip search)… complete violation of civil liberties. The law states a strip search can only be conducted in a state fo urgency… say you believe you’ve got a dealer.

There is no evidence to suggest that dealers use public transport here, the practice is merely aimed at punishing small time users.

1 Like

You’re absolutely right! I guess I mean… in the instance of being pulled over clearly under the influence. To the point of obviously not being able to operate machinery. Which… I guess could be considered subjective? Regardless, I’ve personally got a pretty 0 tolerance thought process here. I’m fine with risk vs reward, but not when you are putting the lives of others and their families at risk because you’re too goddamn cheap to buy an uber. I consider myself a very conscientious driver, I’m not on my phone, and I am very alert at most times, and I’m absolutely terrified I’m going to be taken out by some yuppie that had a glass of wine too many.

Agreed, I’ve never driven under the influence of illicit substances. I have a very strict rule “don’t get into a car when the driver is intoxicated”… no matter what, I’ve adhered to that rule as much as humanely possible (there have been times where I was unaware)

This is just fucking wild from start to finish. I honestly dont have a lot to add to it to be honest. Just fucking insane, and extremely corrupt.

More than insane/corrupt, we have this ridiculously conservative government in power. WA tried to recently reimpose JAIL time for any amount of cannabis possession… there was public backlash, so they’ve decided to quadruple the fines for first time possession (if caught once with a very small quantity you might be able to get off with a fine of a few thousand dollars in WA)

Meanwhile Canberra (the ACT) has flat out legalised recreational usage

As to shrooms/psychedelics, penalties are INCREDIBLY harsh here, expect jail time if caught with say over a gram or two (unless it’s mescaline, you can buy those cacti here otc)

Australia was once a very chill, laid back country. Over the past two decades we’ve transformed into a police state/nanny state

There was a weed capitol (town called nimbin) they have a grass related festival once yearly… all was fine until a few years ago (no one was getting hurt) when the cops started getting involved, arresting people during a festival dedicated to marijuana, setting up these roadblocks in and out of the town to catch those who had smoked the day prior. With the induction of a heavy police presence/other variables related to prohibition, the “weed” town is now a town riddled with ice addiction

Here… this is the kind of shit we have to ideal with

I’m not in NSW, but other states aside from the ACT aren’t any better

It’s such a fucking scam. Its 100% about revenue production and demographic targeting. We have similar in the US but not quite to that extent.

Quick aside, I went to high school with this kid; dad blew his brains out with a shotgun, mom OD’d, and was also a trust fund baby for millions. Needless to say hes about as fucked up as you can get, and has done enough harm physically and mentally to enough people to be permanently locked away, (whether that’s a psycheward or a jail cell depends on if you’ve been on the receiving end or not). But the county just keeps letting him out, knowing hes a repeat offender and will keep paying out the money. Until he literally kills someone, they’re just going to keep repeating the cycle. Literally the definition of corruption.

1 Like

And regarding the “amnesty bins” within the article they talk about… they were implemented… without pill testing and the bins were only present within the middle of the festivals according to reports. To throw drugs out a user has to enter the festival (surrounded by like 20 sniffer dogs… 40 policemen etc…) Then there’s more dogs inside the festival, the supposedly police circle around the amnesty bins despite being told not to… The amnesty bins were BS… it would’ve worked out, had they expected all teenagers to think like ultra conservative, middle aged coalition workers.

Instead countless teenage lives are ruined with criminal records during each and every music festival… Police high fiving and handing out 1000$+ fines, court dates for those found with a pill

Where I live its not quite as bad as this… the dogs/police are only present at festivals, and the police won’t typically cavity search you… but they’ll still try very hard to catch you for minor possession

1 Like

Their lives are hardly ruined…

Instead of shitting on police you could always not do dope or enact policy change. I mean it’s your life if you wanna be a pill head but…

1 Like

Revenue production ? Demographic targeting ? Not really.

You want your community riddled with addicts and their suppliers ? You don’t. I’ve been there. Fact is there has to be repercussions for possessing or dealing drugs.

1 Like

I’ve never taken MDMA

If this is the case, then there HAS to be penalties for possession of alcohol too considering it’s arguably more dangerous than MDMA is (will link literature). I’m going to link some literature when my computer turns back on showcasing rates of drug use barely differ when prohibitive vs non prohibitive measures are taken

Btw it actually is demographic targeting, it’s been PROVEN the NSW police were disproportionately targeting indigenous children to meet a certain quota… it was about revenue

As to cannabis, it’s preferable to booze for me… given that it won’t fuck up my liver, kidneys, esophagus, gastrointestinal lining, heart and more… as I’ve specified before, legalisation doesn’t equate to condoning/acceptance. If say crystal meth were decriminalised, the masses won’t start using it… that’s not how it works

The amount of resources spent on attempting to enforce a militaristic assault on drug use in my opinion is absurd, especially when looking at the statistics, seeing rates haven’t dropped whilst incarceration rates/arrests have skyrocketed

Give me ONE good reason as to why possession of say… mushrooms, a substance “less dangerous” than booze should lead to jail time whereas I can drink a bottle of vodka if I so please

Do indigenous children disproportionately partake ?

Seems like the old crack myth here in the states that they claimed was racist but it was black community leaders pushing for harsher sentences for crack. And meth; a predominantly white drug, carries the same sentencing lengths as its crack counterpart.

1 Like

Militaristic… ? That’s a bit over the top.

Look fella I couldn’t give a shit less what you pollute your body with as long as you’re not endangering others. Be it booze, weed, crack. I dgaf just please be considerate of others.

I personally despise alcohol and drugs as I’ve seen the massive destruction they bring.

1 Like

With cannabis, yes… other drugs such as cocaine… no

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6424313_Development_of_a_rational_scale_to_assess_the_harm_of_drugs_of_potential_misuse

Interesting study, scales substances via harm induced to user… alcohol is very high up there. We can agree to disagree with the “polluting body” ideology, I stated this was meant to be a civilised debate, not an attack on character. Keep the judgemental attitude at bay please.

I don’t use crack, I rarely drink… there’s a big differentiation between weed and crack… you can’t compare

I’ve read about their high rates of alcohol abuse. Really sad to see such an interesting and valuable people destroy themselves with booze … Nat Geo had a great article about them some years ago.

Yes, it was quite sad. When foreign people invaded Aus, alcohol was a foreign concept to the indigenous populace, thus no tolerance had been built… given how Australia systemically fucked them over, booze was abused as an escape of sorts

Very sad, and we have still yet to properly apologise… it’s for this reason that I don’t celebrate Australia Day (it inherently celebrates the systemic attempt of destruction regarding a population, their way of life etc

Well you’re certainly not doing your body any good are ye’ ? Pollute is quite benign as it were.