I support the decriminalization of illegal drugs not because I necessarily condone their use but because I am convinced the current drug laws have done far more damage than good. My suggestion is unbiased education (i.e. the truth) and controlled distribution (rationing) of mood altering and/or mind expanding drugs. By denying this privilege to the violent criminals and rewarding it to the responsible citizens we can turn a threat into a tool. Punishing free and peaceful people for personal choices is not only anti productive, it is immoral. Based on the current drug laws, far more than half the people on this planet should now be in jail. This mindset must be changed or it will bring about more pain and devastation than the drugs themselves ever could.

Ramy



Original article is posted on DrugLibrary.org


WHY WE SHOULD LEGALIZE DRUGS
By Benson B. Roe, MD

Benson Roe is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of California at San Francisco.

And "poison" is also a misleading shibboleth. The widespread propaganda that illegal drugs are "deadly poisons" is a hoax. There is little or no medical evidence of long term ill effects from sustained, moderate consumption of uncontaminated marijuana, cocaine or heroin. If these substances - most of them have been consumed in large quantities for centuries - were responsible for any chronic, progressive or disabling diseases, they certainly would have shown up in clinical practice and/or on the autopsy table. But they simply have not!

More than 20 years ago when I was removing destroyed heart valves from infected intravenous drug abusers I assumed that these seriously ill patients represented just the tip of the iceberg of narcotic abuse. In an effort to ascertain what proportion of serious or fatal drug-related disease this group represented, I sought information from the San Francisco Coroner. To my surprise he reported that infections from contaminated intravenous injections were the only cause of drug-related deaths he saw except for occasional deaths from overdoses. He confirmed the inference that clean, reasonable dosages of heroin, cocaine and marijuana are pathologically harmless. He asserted he had never seen a heroin user over the age of 50. My obvious conclusion was that they had died from their. habit but he was confident that they had simply tired of the drug and just quit. When asked if the same were basically true of marijuana and cocaine, he responded affirmatively. That caused me to wonder why these substances had been made illegal.

It is frequently stated that illicit drugs are "bad, dangerous, destructive" or "addictive," and that society has an obligation to keep them from the public. But nowhere can be found reliable, objective scientific evidence that they are any more harmful than other substances and activities that are legal. In view of the enormous expense, the carnage and the obvious futility of the "drug war," resulting in massive criminalization of society, it is high time to examine the supposed justification for keeping certain substances illegal. Those who initiated those prohibitions and those who now so vigorously seek to enforce them have not made their objectives clear. Are they to protect us from evil, from addiction, or from poison?

The concept of evil is derived from subjective values and is difficult to define. just why certain (illegal) substances are singularly more evil than legal substances like alcohol has not been explained. This complex subject of "right" and "wrong" has never been successfully addressed by legislation and is best left to the pulpit.

Addiction is also a relative and ubiquitous phenomenon. It certainly cannot be applied only to a short arbitrary list of addictive substances while ignoring. a plethora of human cravings - from chocolate to coffee, from gum to gambling, from tea, to tobacco, from snuggling to sex. Compulsive urges to fulfill a perceived need are ubiquitous. Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others and some "needs" are more addictive than others. Probably the most addictive substance in our civilization is tobacco - yet no one has suggested making it illegal.

As for prohibition, it has been clearly demonstrated that when an addictive desire becomes inaccessible it provokes irresponsible behavior to fulfill that desire. Education and support at least have a chance of controlling addiction. Deprivation only sharpens the craving and never works. Even in prison addicts are able to get their `fix.'

And "poison" is also a misleading shibboleth. The widespread propaganda that illegal drugs are "deadly poisons" is a hoax. There is little or no medical evidence of long term ill effects from sustained, moderate consumption of uncontaminated marijuana, cocaine or heroin. If these substances - most of them have been consumed in large quantities for centuries - were responsible for any chronic, progressive or disabling diseases, they certainly would have shown up in clinical practice and/or on the autopsy table. But they simply have not!

Media focus on the "junkie" has generated a mistaken impression that all uses of illegal drugs are devastated by their habit. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that the small population of visible addicts must constitute only a fraction of the $150 billion per year illegal drug market. This industry is so huge that it necessarily encompasses a very large portion of the ordinary population who are typically employed, productive, responsible and not significantly impaired from leading conventional lives. These drug users are not "addicts" just as the vast majority of alcohol users are not "alcoholics."

Is it not a ridiculous paradox to have laws to protect us from relatively harmless substances and not from the devastating effects of other substances that happen to be legal? It is well known that tobacco causes nearly a million deaths annually (in the US alone) from cancer, cardiovascular disease and emphysema; more than 350,000 die from alcohol-related cirrhosis and its complications and caffeine is the cause of cardiac and nervous system disturbances. These facts suggest that the public is being fraudulently misled into fearing the wrong substances and into complacency about hazardous substances by allowing their sale and even subsidization.

Our environment contains a plethora of hazards, of which recreational substances are much less important than many others. Recognizing the reality of consumer demand and the perspective of relative harm should make a strong case for alternatives to prohibition. Should we not have teamed from the failure of the Volstead Act of the 1920s and the current ubiquitous availability of illegal drugs that prohibition is the height of futility?

Is it not time to recognize that the " problem" is not the drugs but the enormous amounts of untaxed money diverted from the economy to criminals? The economic incentive for drug dealers to merchandise their product aggressively is a multi-billion dollar return which has a far more powerful effect to increase substance abuse than any enforcement program can possibly do to, constrain that usage. The hopeless challenge of drug crime is compounded by the parallel expansion of theft, crime, which is the principal economic resource to finance the drug industry. How can this be anything but a lose-lose situation for society?

We should look at the fact that a relatively low budget public education campaign has resulted in a significant decline in US consumption of both alcohol and tobacco during a period when a costly and intensive campaign to curtail illegal drugs only resulted in their increased usage. Is there a lesson to be heeded?

Of course there is. Scrap the nonsense of trying to obliterate drugs and acknowledge their presence in our society as we have with alcohol and tobacco. Legalization would result in:

  1. purity assurance under Food and Drug Administration regulation;
  2. labeled concentration of the product (to avoid overdose);
  3. obliteration of vigorous marketing ("pushers");
  4. obliteration of drug crime and reduction of theft crime
  5. savings in expensive enforcement and
  6. significant tax revenues.

Effort and funds can then be directed to educating the public about the hazards of all drugs.

Can such a change of attitude happen? Probably not, because the huge illegal drug industry has mountains of money for a media blitz and for buying politicians to sing the songs of "evil" and "danger" which is certain to kill any legislative attempt at legalization. Perhaps it will take some time before reality can prevail, but meanwhile we should at least do more to expose deception and to disseminate the truth.






COMMENTS:



I have to agree with the legalization to a certain extent. The problem with todays so called "illegal drug scene" is that because they are in such high demand and not available on your local street supermarket, etc people will go wherever they have to so that they can get them, now introduce the "bunk" and "fatal" fake drugs. Lets assume a person wants to purchase a pill of "X" or Ecstacy. That person goes out and finds someone they think will have it and he/she sells them a pill for $20. Later that evening this person takes the pill and goes into a seizure. Why? Because people are trying to get into this highly profitable market w/ items that are more fatal/hazardous than the items they are portraying. Substituting various other substances for the "ideal" one or someone who thinks they know how to make it and selling it in DANGEROUS quantities.

Basically the argument is that people are willing to do anything, and these fatalities that you here about are a high % of people who use these "bunk" drugs, and yes like any drug some people take just too much.

I guess that the whole idea behind the legalization of various drugs would be by creating such a widly regulated and available market the % of dangerous/bunk drugs would lower because people wouldn't be buying from their local corner dealer, but from a company sanctioned to produce a, for lack of better terms "quality" product. The 2nd factor is the availablity of these might even lower some peoples risk because there is less of a "rush" about doing them. Some people dont do it for the feeling, or the "karma" associated with them, but for the rush of doing something illegal. If it wasn't illegal then people wouldnt' be quite as intregued.

One last factor is lets take a look at pot, marijuana. In Amsterdamn it is legal to smoke it in REGULATED hash bars. If your going to do something, then legalize certain drugs into things like this. That was proper staff would be there, as well as a controlled environment.

There are SO many things to take into consideration, but the highest I think is the bad product out there... thats what doing the most killing and it needs to be cleaned up, and these "anti" drug forces aren't going to do it.

Digital_k
digital_k@iloveraving.com




The war on drugs has become a big business itself. First you have the "rightious" federal agents who know whats best for us to pay, then the police, then the people who build prisons, the people who manufacture all goods for prison goods, then there is the totally exagerrated cost of living per inmate. I know many people who make below poverty level income per year and live 10x as good as prisoners, and it doesn't cost +-30,000$. Then we have prison guards, the hiring of national guard helicopters to spot the handful of personal marijuana plants in corn fields, and last but not least search and seizure. Tobacco was imported from Europe when our company was settled. Drugs were not. The government cannot successfully tax the amount of drug transactions that take place in our country so they will continue to be illegal. When Uncle Sam doesn't get his cut, then he will do his best to keep everyone else out of the picture. Throughout college I have worked in many bars and clubs as a bouncer, and I can tell you firsthand that alcohol is by far worse than marijuana. I would rather the club be full of people who are stoned than drunk. How bad is marijuana, really? A person might get high and...oh my God...eat a bag of chips..or go to sleep...or decide they are too relaxed to drive a car. There are many hidden agendas that our government is not letting us in on. And as long as we allow them to control us their control will only grow and grow.

unknown




I do not completely understand the logic behind the abuse alcohol. Alcohol is the only toxin we ingest that is toxic to every single in our bodies. Yet we continue to drink it as if our bodies were made of 70% alcohol, instead of 70% water. Alcohol has been involved in more deaths than all other substances combined. Whether it be an alcoholic's destroyed liver, or a kid playing, plowed down by a speeding drunk driver, alcohol was involved. So we continue to think it is OK to drink, but not OK to do something less harmful. In the United States, every single person will be affected by an alcohol related death.

Society needs to wake up and look at the facts. Maybe if we weren't drunk all the time, we may actually be sober enough to understand this, and maybe even care enough about it to do something. We are too busy fighting all these other substances, when this whole time, we have been avoiding the real battle front.

When was the last time you heard of someone dying from alcohol poisoning, or even from a drunk driver? Probably not that long ago. When was the last time you heard of someone overdosing on marajuana? When was the last time you saw a "Don't drive stoned" ad on TV? Never. When was the last time you heard of someone overdosing on acid? When was the last time you heard of someone overdosing ketamine?

If society wants to clean up the trash, it needs to start within itself first.

Antonio
azpartyboy@aol.com




The war on drugs may be mostly political propaganda, but it is the only thing that is keeping drug abuse on a leash, which in my opinion is most important. To say that leglalizing the drug market would make it easier for the government to control, is a contradiction in two ways. First, if a persons primary concern is who is controling the profits of the profits of the drug market, they cannot be concerned about the families of the persons, and the persons themselves who are users of the drug. Usually when many think of drug abuse, they try to take away from the severity of using drugs such as crack and heroine. In the article written it says that there is no scientific evidence that these drugs among others are illegal, which I find hard to believe. Look into any urban innercity neighbor hood where usage of these drugs are high and then decide if these two drugs among others are addictive or destrimental, not only to the person but also to their families.

Secondly, how can the article say that legalizing illict drugs will obliterate theft crime and all the other points that go along with point four. This statement is another contradiction because how can a society with the majority of the population highe on a highly toxic drug or drugs possibly hope to control or maintain the crime levels. It is appearant that one who would make such a statement has no idea how the brain of a drug user thinks. It is evident to see that a person who would take such a standoffish stance towards such a serious issue has not had to deal with the pains, trial, tibualatios,suffering and agony of trying to help a relative, or friend over come drug addiction. Based on the last two points I would say the major concern for writing this article is not in the interest of those would suffer from such a decision as that of legalizing drugs, but is more concerned with helping themselves.

Quest




I agree with everything everyone has said on this page, except the last one. That is just the kind of total boneheaded, do- gooder, red ribbon wearing fascist drivel that I always hear when the argument of legalizing drugs is made. What people do with their lives is their business, Quest. It is not for you or anyone else be it the government or The Church to tell me what I can do with my body, consciouness or soul. If we have stooped to the Kafkian/Orwellian nightmare of a government telling people that it is wrong to do drugs and immoral and then it is only a matter of time before they have us in every way possible. This argument is NOT about addiction. It is about human freedom! Which is what America is suppose to be about. However it seems that we have become the very thing we spent the last 60 years fighting against. A fascist, socialistic, totalitarian state that wants "productive" citizens to do what their told and not alter their consciousness in any way other than the prescribed methods, (alcohol, pharmaceuticals, cigarettes) which do nothing. That is why it is a war over consciousness, not a war over drugs. For if too many people start taking psychoactives then they will start wanting more freedom and you cant run an empire or a state with too many of those people. SO in essence the "new" United states the new "fascist" United States has its own brand of scapegoat to use to control the masses and blame for its problems. "The Druggie" or The Hippie" Much like the jews of Nazi Germany, the druggie is a victim of a holocaust. Which incidently has happened before in this country. We now call them Native Americans. And it is ironic that they have been told that they cannot practice their religion with peyote which they were doing thousands of yrs before We (as in Europeans) came over here. So much for the freedom of religion. Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave. By the way Quest, have you ever smoked pot? Somehow I doubt it, for if you had I would suspect that you wouldnt be so insensitive to people being jailed, raped and imprisoned for a crime that harms no one but themselves. And the verdict whether smoking pot is harmful is still out. Personally I think its a medicine. That's how it used in Europe for hundreds of yrs and in North America. It is idiots like you that keep this world enslaved by the masters. People who are leading us to ruin with their good intentions. As the saying goes, "Good intentions pave the way to hell." And the so-called good intended drug war is really another hell, supervised by demons and devils. Thanks quest, you really opened my eyes.

Dangerclay




The only way to keep drugs away from teenagers is to make them legal with an age limit.I am 14 years old, it is easier for a teenager to obtain illegal drugs than ciggarettes and alchol. Most people end up using some kind of illegal drug at least once in their lifetime and current drug laws make criminals out of the average person. As far as drugs being a poison personal health is an individuals own decision, and the government should not have any input.

Elena
kaliba629@hotmail.com




Nice letter Elena, probably the most thoughtful on the page. Quest, your points don't hold much water. How can legalizing drugs decrease theft? Easily, much of the theft out there today is related to the desperation of "junkies" to find the money to purchase drugs whose prices are vastly inflated by thier status as illegal (with very stiff penalties -further raising risk and ergo prices). Secondly, inner cities are a mess for a whole host of reasons (poverty, racism, alcohol abuse, et al), not simply the abuse of certain drugs. If you doubt this take a look at rich suburbs all over America where the abuse of drugs like Cocaine, pharmaceuticals, Meth, and yes, even crack are rampant. The probs in these areas are of a different nature from those in the inner city, so one can safely say inner city problems are not simply a result of the abuse of these drugs. I could go on and on, but I will simply leave off with the name of Pablo Escobar who had amassed some billions of dollars before his violent death. Those billions would first of all have been much less, second been taxed, and third have gone to far more responsible and less violent people or organizations had not cocaine been illegal at the time. Even Milton Friedman has advocated legalization...think about it. GW




I am on both sides, in a way i believe they should legalize it because kids are going to smoke it anyway, but for the most part, it should'nt be legalized because smoking weed can also lead to experimentation with other drugs. My father passed away from doing drugs about two years ago, and it started with just smoking a little weed and than it grew into a habit which led to the use of many other drugs. There is no real reason why a normal, healthy teenager or human in general should smoke weed, seriously whats the point? What so you can act like an idiot and make people laugh?!!? In my opinion people who continue to do drugs are really sad and pathetic, I mean if you have to smoke weed and take substances that damage not only your body but your brain just to have fun and have people give you attention, than you really need help, what kind of person do you think you are? I feel really bad for people who have to have something in their bodies to make them feel good about themselves. That's all I have to say, Thank you for listening.

Emily




I agree with leagalising most drugs that don'tdo serious harm within reason. people who smoke tobacco have just as many problems with thier lungs as people who smoke pot. I believe that if a drug doesn't present clear addiction or harm they should legalise them. That way they could spend more time focusing on real crime like corporate scams

raver J




I agree with leagalising most drugs that don'tdo serious harm within reason. people who smoke tobacco have just as many problems with thier lungs as people who smoke pot. I believe that if a drug doesn't present clear addiction or harm they should legalise them. That way the stupid ass po po's could spend more time focusing on real crime




Some drugs, like marijuana, are virtually harmless and should be legal. Marijuana does not hinder a persons ability to function in society, it is a perfectly natural, safe, plant. However, a person in the clutches of a heroin addiction become a problem, within themselves and within society. I've spent time talking with homeless people in my city only to find out that a majority of them choose to be homeless. They are either on drugs, mostly heroin (speed balls) or alcoholics. I'm not attempting to deter from the fact that people with mental dissabilities who cannot work make up part of the homeless population as well. What I'm getting at is that drugs such as heroin are damaging on a larger scale than other drugs. I think heroin should not be legal. A personal experience of mind, my younger brother would be dead if heroin was legal. It was the judicial system that got his life out of the streets (literally) and into programs to help him battle his addiction and battle his inner problems as well. These programs got him clean and saved his life, which he has admitted to me. It's a scary realization to hear your brother say those words. That horrible drug took over his life, among many other people in our society. If the goal of laws and regulations is sometimes to save lives, than the illegalization of certain drugs is perfectly justified. Marijuana is not a drug, but heroin is, and society can benefit from a law that deters people from destroying their own lives.

~Diane~




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