Share Your Opinion on the WoD


Via Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Guest, the pro-War-on-Poor-People Drug Free America Foundation’s poll on whether drug use is a victimless crime. As Robert notes, 2/3 of the poll’s respondents agree or agree strongly.

I voted for “Strongly agree. What a user chooses to do themselves is no one’s business.” But three of the other choices — including “Disagree. Individual drug use affects society” had some appeal too. The question — whether drug use is “a victimless crime” is a stupid one.

I got a call this evening from an 18-year-old who’d been arrested recently. I correctly guessed in the first 15 seconds of the conversation that it was a marijuana case. He just seemed . . . slow. Children should not be smoking marijuana. It delays their emotional development — being 16 is hard enough when you’re 16; it must be even harder when you stop smoking weed years later — and it makes them sound like the gears in their brains are gooey.

Drugs can be harmful. They can harm their users as well as, indirectly, their users’ families’ and society. “Victimless crime” is a terrible description for drug possession. Is drug possession victimless? Often, no. Is drug possession a crime? Yes, but only arbitrarily. If we’re trying to figure out whether to decriminalize drugs, the question of whether their use is a victimless crime is the wrong one to ask.

The fact that drug possession is currently a crime adds nothing to our understanding of whether it should be. The question should not be, “is drug possession victimless” but should drug possession be a crime? My answer to that question is “no.” The WoD is wrong, but not because drug use has no victims; rather, because the cure is much worse than the disease.

Drug use is victimless in the same way that alcohol use, tobacco use, or high-fructose corn syrup use is victimless. It’s a crime only because . . . well, because it is.

There’s got to be a way to describe the use of these harmful substances (which kills more people in America every year, illegal drugs or alcohol? Illegal drugs or tobacco? Illegal drugs or carbohydrates?) that conveys the damage done without implicitly justifying the WoD. In a perfect world, it would be a victimfuil non-crime; we wouldn’t be sticking our noses into each other’s business.


0 responses to “Share Your Opinion on the WoD”

  1. I looked at the DFAF’s list of “myths” surrounding the War on Drugs. Most of the “responses” were simply contrary points of view, bolstered by studies written by advocates posing as “experts”, rather than refutations of the alleged myths. But the “refutation” of eliminating the profit motive — IMHO, the strongest argument for decriminalizng drugs — completely misses the point. The response is that drug use would become more widespread once the price went down and the criminal sanctions disappeared. Bullshit. I’ve never used cocaine, and it has nothing to do with facing a felony charge if I did. There’s no such thing as a safe way to use cocaine. If it cost $5 a pound, I wouldn’t do it. That’s anecdotal evidence at best, but it’s anecdotal evidence I’m confident in. Moreover, the profit incentive is crucial to getting people to use drugs in the first place — like tobacco. Virtually all people who smoke started smoking as teenagers, because that’s who the tobacco companies market to — people too immature to make completely informed decisions about their health. Why do kids start doing drugs? Because pushers make them available to kids so they’ll develop a taste, then an addiction, and become customers for life.

  2. I think the analogy made between illegal drugs and/or tobacco is a valid one. Alcohol is certainly something I’ve “taken” on many of an occasion, and I’m fully aware of the ramifications that alcohol addiction can have on a family.

    The one difference I see is that a great many people can have alcohol on occasion and not become addicted to it. I’m not certain that the same can be said for cocaine, heroin, or meth. I always stayed away from weed growing up because it was illegal (otherwise, it sounded like a lot of fun).

    I guess that the concern that I have is what would the country look like if it was legalized? Would there be less drug-related violence? Quite frankly, I don’t care what people do in their own home, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone. Would those who wish to legalize drugs also seek to legalize meth and, even worse, phencyldine (PCP)? Those two drugs in particular are often associated with violent crimes. Yes, I know that alcohol is as well.

    However, I’ve never read of two people killed over an “alcohol deal gone bad”.

  3. AHCL: I think the fear of legalizing drugs like meth and PCP might be a little excessive. People want to get high, and the current legal options for that really suck. If they had more legal outlets for their lifestyle, I imagine they’d do whichever was cheapest/most effective/safest.

    Perhaps overused example: when I was in college, the kids in the dorms drank a lot of grain alcohol because it was cheap and easy to hide. Those same kids, when living off-campus, drank nothing but beer and wine with a little tequila thrown in for variety. Every time I hear news of a kid dying from alchol, I think about how it likely could have been avoided without this idiotic paternalism. Similarly, if drugs were fully legalized, I think you’d find that the vast vast majority of drug users were using pot, shrooms, and prescription drugs.

    P.S. I’ve watched entire movies with nothing but people dying over alcohol deals gone bad. It doesn’t remotely matter what they’re trading in. If it’s illegal and there’s alot of money in it, violence will follow. Take away the money, and you take away the violence.

  4. I’ve been reading a lot of Joseph Campbell lately and he has an interesting take on the drug abuse issue, that in the modern world, largely devoid of myths, drug use provides a mystical experience that myths used to provide.

    He describes a Native American tribe (don’t remember which one) actually “hunting” peyote with bows, believing that it had been provided as a mystical substitute for the hunting ritual that had been taken away.

    I see a lot of crime committed by addicts, but think the court system often doesn’t help them get to the root of the problem as it misunderstands the first step of AA, asking them to be powerFUL over their drug addiction and admit that their lives have become managable, which is the opposite of the real first step.

    While my clients with money often get beds in treatment facilities, my indigent clients end up in the “poor person’s rehab:” jail. Sometimes it does work to help them hit bottom, but most of the time, lacking what they need for treatment, they just get used to jail and go back to using as soon as they get out. And the cycle continues…

  5. Personnally, I think that our government likes the idea of illegal drugs such as meth on the streets that is why they arrest and make plea bargains with known meth cooks and users. In my county the young drug users are arrested, and put on probation pay their fines hire lawyers. But the long time drug cooks are still out there with NO RECORD getting more young people on dope. It makes one wonder who is really behind the drug scene. If you wanted off the streets you have to stop the hand that feeds it. Case closed.

  6. Thanks for the link.

    We accept, or at least espouse, an affinity for freedom of speech which contains the freedom for ideas. Is the logical leap to accept the freedom to control one’s mental state so far a leap? When did your body, your mind, your mental state, your sobriety, become property of the federal government? Merely another area for regulation, lobbying, political whims.

    Finally- Think of the great minds and resources we waste on this tyrannical farce. Judges, prosecutors, police officers, and even defense lawyers could all spend their talents on other endeavours. Instead we waste the talents an education of thousands with advances degrees. We spend hours aruing over who possessed what, whom sold what etc.

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