Quentin Sommerville, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent, posted a “Christmas present” for his Twitter followers on Monday: a hilarious video of himself getting high and losing the ability to report while standing next to a cache of burning opium, heroin and hash.
One of my commenters responded to my expressing support for legalizing drugs:
Lets assume your motive is constitutional and not because you are a drug user. I think then we can agree on a few things:
1) Most of the drugs that are now illegal are harmful and possibly fatal to use as prescribed. I doubt you believe crack is good for you so Iâ€™m going to assume you agree with this.
2)If someone forced my to take crack (or cocaine or heroin etc) they would be assaulting me perhaps even guilty of attempted murder. Again it is a no brainer so I will assume you agree.
3)A child under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to things an adult can consent to. If someone gives my child drugs and my child cannot consent legally then they are â€œforcingâ€ my child into a harmful/deadly act. Again, a no brainer. About now you are beginning to see where Iâ€™m going with this and are looking left and right for a way out.
4)Anyone who tries to kill/assault/attack my child has stepped over a deadly line and I have a constitutional right to protect their life and use deadly force. I assume suddenly you arenâ€™t agreeing with libertarian interpretations of the constitution and want to disagree with me even if it forces you to flip-flop on your beliefs. So thatâ€™s it! I will agree to accept that drugs should be legal and we have a constitutional right to put poison in our body if we choose AND you agree that I have a constitutional right to protect myself and my minor children and I can constitutionally use deadly force . Yes! I am saying legalize drugs and tell parents they can shoot anyone selling, sharing or giving their child drugs. All in all I think it is a good compromise, what do you think?
Like most people who attended college when the Baby Boom generation was young, I did heaps and piles of all kinds of drugs. I’m now getting on in years and am long past all that. I have long since quit smoking, and am obliged to watch my diet fairly carefully. I wish I could do all the things I used to do at age 20 in exactly as carefree a fashion now as then, but there is no possibility of such a thing at all. I do get plenty of drugs, though. I have several prescriptions for regulating blood pressure and so on that I have to take every day.
I have enough experience of life to know perfectly well that some people will kill themselves using drugs recklessly and excessively. But I also know that actually an even larger number of people will inevitably proceed to ruin their lives and kill themselves with alcohol.
We recognized, long ago, that alcohol prohibition didn’t really stop people from drinking. It merely created a hugely profitable black market and caused a nationwide wave of crime and violence. Legal alcohol is associated with harm, but in fact produces much less harm.
The question of your children is a red herring. Has anyone recently forced any of your children to eat free pÃ¢tÃ© de foie gras or nefariously and at gun point made them consume Godiva chocolates?
If you raise your children properly and they do not inherit special weaknesses and neuroses, they ought to be able to drink alcohol and use drugs responsibly and without major untoward consequences at appropriate ages and occasions like most people.
If drugs were not especially forbidden, there would no drug dealers for you to shoot.
James Delingpole is not only sound on Anthropogenic Global Warming pseudo-scientific fraud, he is able to articulate the fundamental moral problem with drug prohibition quite succinctly.
VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) â€” Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul decried the â€œwar on drugsâ€ Thursday night, telling supporters in Washington state that people should be able to make their own decisions on such matters.
Voters in Washington are likely to decide this year whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana
â€œIf we are allowed to deal with our eternity and all that we believe in spiritually, and if weâ€™re allowed to read any book that we want under freedom of speech, why is it we canâ€™t put into our body whatever we want?â€ Paul told more than 1,000 people at a rally in Vancouver, a suburb of Portland, Ore.
Yep. Go on… friends. Tell me: why not???
In a follow-up post, Peter Robinson quotes Milton Friedman in support of Delingpole.
“[N]othing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.”
–Albert Einstein on Alcohol Prohibition, 1921.
To understand that the War on Drugs is bad policy and is not working.
Andrew Stuttaford comments on Michael Phelps’s apology for pot smoking.
In the meantime, I merely note that this broken wreck of a man’s failure to win any more than a pathetic fourteen Olympic gold medals (so far) is a terrifying warning of the horrific damage that cannabis can do to someone’s healthâ€”and a powerful reminder of just how sensible the drug laws really are.
Meanwhile, Radley Balko, at Reason Online, offers his own alternative version of Phelps’s letter of apology.
Maryland, Militarized Police, Official Idiocy and Incompetence, Police Misbehavior, The Law, War on Drugs
Prince George County, Maryland police violated a warrant they were serving for the questionable arrest of the wife of the mayor of Berwyn Heights by staging a SWAT team raid and carrying out an utterly unnecessary forced entry. Two friendly Labrador retrievers were shot dead, and two respectable people were manhandled and manacled for hours.
Baltimore Sun story.
The training and culture of law enforcement has gone outrageously astray in this country.
Remember the federal officers who came to collect Elian Gonzalez equipped with machine guns, wearing tanker helmets and loaded down with paramilitary gear?
Preposterously excessive force, a systematic kind of cringing cowardice expressed by the mentality that sends paramilitary SWAT teams armed with automatic weapons to kick in doors and make arrests of people who’d come down to the police department if contacted by telephone, the overly-prudential point of view that insists on strip searches and manacles for non-violent middle-class members of the public has become typical of today’s police.
It’s been going on for decades. I can remember marveling in Brookfield, Connecticut, years ago, stopping one evening at a fast food joint and seeing a local cop on his dinner break toting around one of those 9mm Beretta semiautomatics and five, count them, five! extra 15-round magazines on his belt. Has anyone ever actually fired upon a police officer in the 200+ year history of Brookfield? I wondered at the time. And was there currently reason to expect a Zulu impi to come over the hill and attack? Why would a local cop possibly need to be carrying 90 rounds of ammunition? That many cartridges are heavy.
I decided back in the early 1990s to get a Connecticut pistol permit. The process required me to stop by the local Newtown police station to pick up a form. Imagine my surprise, when I found the police barricaded away, inaccessible to the dangerous public of upper middle-class suburban Fairfield County, behind locked doors. One communicated with a secretary in a booth protected by bulletproof glass, passing papers back and forth in one of those sliding bank trays. Obviously, Newtown’s police officers led a life of constant fear.
I grew up in a family with many members who were working or had worked in law enforcement. The kind of men who became policemen in the old days were not afraid of criminals. They knew that they were tough and they knew just how uncommon men like themselves were. They knew most criminals are cowardly scum, and incompetent screw-ups to boot. The human being who will initiate violence is rare, and the human being who will initiate violence against a man in authority recognizably skilled at violence is even rarer.
The kind of men who used to become police officers were adequately armed with a .38 revolver or even just a nightstick. My father, working as a Marine Corps MP, and armed only with a nightstick, placed a dozen men under arrest and marched them off to the brig. He told them he knew perfectly well there were enough to them to overcome him, but he promised that he’d kill the first one or two who tried. They submitted to arrest.
The Texas Rangers used to boast of a necessary ratio of “one riot, one Ranger.” And the Pennsylvania State Police long had the same policy of sending a single State Trooper to suppress a civil disturbance or quell a mob.
Today, they send jack-booted Storm Troopers armed with machine guns to bring in 8 year olds.
Contemporary law enforcement culture is a disgrace and a genuine public hazard and it needs to change. They should dissolve every single SWAT team, get rid of every single item of paramilitary equipage, and –of course– end drug prohibition and the accompanying crime epidemic providing most of the excuse for the militarization of US law enforcement.
The Guardian reports the sad news.
Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered the hallucinogenic drug LSD, has died aged 102.
Hofmann, known as the father of LSD, died yesterday at his home in Burg im Leimental, Basle, Switzerland.
His death was confirmed by Doris Stuker, a municipal clerk in the village where Hofmann lived following his retirement in 1971.
The California-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (Maps), which republished Hofmann’s book on LSD, said on its website that he had died from a heart attack.
Dieter A Hagenbach, a friend of 40 years, last spoke to Hofmann on Saturday. “He was in good spirits and enjoying the springtime,” said Hagenbach.
Born on January 11 1906, Hofmann discovered LSD – lysergic acid diethylamide, which later became the favoured drug of the 1960s counterculture – when a tiny quantity leaked on to his hand during a laboratory experiment in 1943.
He noted a “remarkable restlessness, combined with slight dizziness” that made him stop his work. “At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxication-like condition, characterised by an extremely stimulated imagination,” Hofmann wrote in his book LSD: My Problem Child.
“In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight too unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours. After some two hours this condition faded away.”
A few days later, Hofmann intentionally took a dose of LSD and experienced the world’s first “bad trip”.
“On the way home, my condition began to assume threatening forms. Everything in my field of vision wavered and was distorted as if seen in a curved mirror,” he said.
“My surroundings had now transformed themselves in more terrifying ways. A demon had invaded me, had taken possession of my body, mind, and soul. I jumped up and screamed, trying to free myself from him, but then sank down again and lay helpless on the sofa. The substance, with which I had wanted to experiment, had vanquished me.” …
Hofmann and his scientific colleagues hoped LSD would make an important contribution to psychiatric research. The drug exaggerated inner problems and conflicts and it was hoped it might be used to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.
For a time, the laboratory where he worked, Sandoz, sold LSD 25 under the name Delysid, encouraging doctors to try it themselves. It was one of the strongest drugs in medicine, with just one gram enough to drug an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people for 12 hours.
The US government banned LSD in 1966, following stories of heavy users suffering permanent psychological damage, and other countries followed suit.
The president of Maps, Rick Doblin, said he had spoken to Hofmann on the phone recently “and he was happy and fulfilled. He’d seen the renewal of LSD psychotherapy research with his own eyes.”
“Don’t Eat that Hot Dog!” — 1960’s Anti-LSD Propaganda short
And he only lived to 102!
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Arianna Huffington has an interesting, and oh, so valid criticism of all of the contenders for the democrat party nomination.
There is a major disconnect in the 2008 Democratic race for the White House.
While all the top candidates are vying for the black and Latino vote, they are completely ignoring one of the most pressing issues affecting those constituencies: the failed War on Drugs, a war that has morphed into a war on people of color.
Consider this: according to a 2006 ACLU report, African Americans make up 15 percent of drug users, but account for 37 percent of those arrested on drug charges, 59 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. Or consider this: America has 260,000 people in state prisons on nonviolent drug charges; 183,200 (more than 70 percent) are black or Latino.
Such facts and figures have been bandied about for years. But what to do about the legion of nonviolent — predominantly minority — drug offenders has long been an electrified third-rail in American politics, a subject to be avoided at all costs by our political leaders, who fear being incinerated on contact for being soft on crime.
Supporting ending Prohibition did not win Al Smith the election in 1928, but Smith’s politics certainly played a key role in the national political realignment which swept FDR into power and gave the democrat party political dominance from 1932 to 1966.
I think Arianna is on to something.
Anne Applebaum, writing at Slate, has the solution for ending the Taliban’s ability to fund itself, and gain Afghan rural support, via the covert trade in opium.
She’s perfectly right.