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Making drugs legal won't solve anything


The problem of enforcing drug laws and the lack of general policing in NZ has started off yet another discussion on how it would be better to just legalise drugs to get around the problem.

I like Ruth's comment on this:
You do not legalise evil.

No one has the right to destroy other's lives. There are many sites on the internet where adult children tell of the horror of being brought up by parents addicted to narcotics. Drug use is not a victimless crime. It has a ripple effect on families and communities.
Libertarians tend to forget that freedom to do evil is no freedom at all.

Related Links:
It's enough to drive you potty ~ No Minister
Supply and demand ~ Not PC


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks Lucyna.

    I don't know why Libertarians are so hung up on the drugs issue. I have some ideas, but I won't say...

    Anyway Mrs du Toit wrote a great essay on drugs and other things a few years ago here which you might agree with.

    But, to be fair, those on the decriminalize side of the issue argue that drugs would be much cheaper if left to the free market. But that only reduces the problem. It doesn’t eliminate it. There would still be a need for a heroine addict to feed their habit. There will still be a need for a crack cocaine habit to buy the drugs. I don’t care how much the cost is reduced. The problems are not going to miraculously disappear. It is not uncommon for a prostitute to be on the street to earn the money for booze and cigarettes, both cheap and both legal. The problems associated with their use are not going to go away by decriminalizing the activity.


    The idea, however, that drug or alcohol use is a risk only to the user is false. The alcoholic is a burden to society, in the costs of broken homes, pain and suffering caused by driving while intoxicated, and the agony of the families forced to live with an alcoholic or drug user.

    I have always maintained that drug use is not a victimless crime, and no libertarian has put up a good argument to the contrary that is grounded in reality.

  3. "I have always maintained that drug use is not a victimless crime, and no libertarian has put up a good argument to the contrary that is grounded in reality."
    Exactly. The sight of young people getting smashed on alcohol and behaving like little animals Is evidence enough that making a drug legal doesn't do a damn thing to fix the problems.
    (and I speak as one who used a lot of drugs in his youth, and had a lot of fun doing it.)

  4. KG - the sale and consumption of Alcohol is a regulated illegality. It is not "legal" as such. Those who sell it need a licence. Those who buy it have to be over a certain age. There is legislation committed to regulating the supply of it - "The Sale of Liquor Act". In fact, section 4 is quite clear:

    "The object of this Act is to establish a reasonable system of control over the sale and supply of liquor to the public with the aim of contributing to the reduction of liquor abuse, so far as that can be achieved by legislative means."

    That sounds pretty good to me.

    Ruth, drug addicts are not criminals. They have illneses. They have a health problem. It's important to distinguish between drug prohibited crimes and drug related crimes. Drug prohibited crimes are your burglaries, car thefts, aggravated robberies, all committed each year in order solely for the offenders to obtain cash to purchase prohibited drugs on the black market. The prohibition of drugs, whether they’re called recreational or whatever label attaches, not only does not work, it in fact makes society more dangerous and unsafe.

    In Canada over the last 30 years, the supply side of illegal drugs increased hugely yet the number of addicts stayed relatively stable: the increase in the amount of drugs did not result in more drug problems. Of course that is because individuals are able to decide for themselves that drugs are bad news and the increase in their supply didn’t mean humans weren’t able to choose not to use them.

    The 'drive' to take drugs is, I think, innate and therefore there will always be demand to match the supply. The LeDain Report, a Canadian Government commissioned report in 1972, was the most extensive report ever undertaken in Canada on the prohibition of drugs whose thesis was that the criminal law is the least effective way to deal with drug issues.

    A better example of the way prohibition has conclusively and demonstrably failed is the USA. One of the most morally righteous countries in the World decided to “get tough on drugs” during the Nixon era [1968-1976]. The odd reasoning behind it was that drugs are bad for you, your health and well-being. Nothing to do with crime there. The USA decided to “deal” with the inevitable health problems caused by drug abuse by invoking the criminal law. It has spent between then and now approximately $US 1,000,000,000,000.00 [One Trillion dollars] on the issue. The Drug Enforcement Agency budget in 1971 was $75 million dollars. In 2001 it was $1.6 Billion. As a result of this “war on drugs” drug arrests quadrupled and the percentage of prison inmates committed for drug offences increased from 26% in 1973 to 56% in 2001. Yet the drug ‘problem’, and of course related crime problems, have got worse. Prohibition has failed.

    What prohibition does is this:

    1. It creates a black market – approximately $500 Billion per annum worldwide and gives enormous profits for the drug cartels;
    2. Property crime, violent crime and other violent crime (all known as drug related crime) increases;
    3. There is no quality control over the drugs being taken: who knows what that white pill contains;
    4. It is a tremendous drain on police, court and justice resources.

    In short, the cost of prohibition is exorbitant. It is unnecessary. It is draining.

    The use of the criminal law can only achieve so much in dealing with drug prohibition crimes. Prohibition is an abject failure. It is simply a populist criminal solution to an endemic health problem.

    Let's get some personal responsibility back into people's lives. Let's face it, if 'P' was decriminalised and its supply regulated overnight would you go and buy some tomorrow? Of course you wouldn't because it's bad shit.

    The ones who would can be helped through medicine, not handcuffs.

    Apologies if this is to verbose.

  5. "In short, the cost of prohibition is exorbitant. It is unnecessary. It is draining. The use of the criminal law can only achieve so much in dealing with drug prohibition crimes. Prohibition is an abject failure. It is simply a populist criminal solution to an endemic health problem."

    This is all unsubstantiated crap. The problem is laws are not enforced. They do it right in Singapore, where everything you say cannot be done is done. Quite successfully.

  6. The same argument about legalizing evil can also be applied to abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage and prostitution. All of those also do harm to society

  7. "Libertarians tend to forget that freedom to do evil is no freedom at all".

    With all due respect, this is an illogical and self contradictory statement.

    Furthermore, God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to do evil, and if it's good enough for God it's good enough for me. If Adam and Eve did not have the freedom to do evil their obedience would have meaningless because they would have been robots that could not disobey.

    The alternative to having the freedom to do evil is having the state decide what is and is not permissible: then you have no freedom at all.

    The anti-smacking law is an excellent example of this. 83% of NZers believed that giving a child a swat on the rump steak was fine, but the state believed that it was evil and the freedom to smack was taken away from 100% of the population. Thus 100% of the population was closer to Obedient Robot status.

    People such as Ruth believe that it is the job of the state to fix the problems of this world and are willing to forgo their freedom to see this happen.

    Ruth mentions the sad and deplorable effects of drug-taking on families and believes that the state should prevent this. Compare this with God who allowed Adam and Eve to do evil that would effect the entire human race for thousands of years. Life isn't fair and the state can't make it fair, despite what the Socialists/Marxists say.

    Many people forget that advocating for the freedom to do evil is not the same as advocating for the doing of evil.

    My arguments regarding drugs can be found here:

  8. In claiming that prohibition, not the drugs themselves, is the problem, Nadelmann and many others—even policemen—have said that “the war on drugs is lost.” But to demand a yes or no answer to the question “Is the war against drugs being won?” is like demanding a yes or no answer to the question “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” Never can an unimaginative and fundamentally stupid metaphor have exerted a more baleful effect upon proper thought.

    Let us ask whether medicine is winning the war against death. The answer is obviously no, it isn’t winning: the one fundamental rule of human existence remains, unfortunately, one man one death. And this is despite the fact that 14 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States (to say nothing of the efforts of other countries) goes into the fight against death. Was ever a war more expensively lost? Let us then abolish medical schools, hospitals, and departments of public health. If every man has to die, it doesn’t matter very much when he does so.

    If the war against drugs is lost, then so are the wars against theft, speeding, incest, fraud, rape, murder, arson, and illegal parking. Few, if any, such wars are winnable. So let us all do anything we choose.

    Don’t Legalize Drugs
    Theodore Dalrymple

  9. Gooner quotes:

    "The object of this Act is to establish a reasonable system of control over the sale and supply of liquor to the public with the aim of contributing to the reduction of liquor abuse, so far as that can be achieved by legislative means."

    All together now, say after me in a loud voice "NANNY STATE".

    Obviously this Act is a roaring success.

  10. KiwiPolemicist, all your arguments in your post you link to here are completely demolished by Theodore Dalrymple in the article link I give.

    Nice attempt, though.

  11. Also, Adam and Eve did not have "freedom to do evil". They were told quite categorically that they were not to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, and they obeyed that command until tempted by the Devil. In other words, they broke God's law. And He took the whole thing incredibly seriously, don't you think?

  12. I will just add that freedom and ability are two different things. While a person may be able to do evil, they should not be free to do so.

  13. I would simply ask why people feel the need to take drugs. Answering that might do more good.

  14. Lucynda: perhaps I did not adequately define "freedom to do evil".

    The fact that Adam and Eve were able to do evil shows that they had freedom to do evil. i.e. there was nothing to physically prevent them from doing evil.

    The state attempts to physically prevent people from doing evil, e.g. by removing drugs from shops. Compare this with God, who made the forbidden fruit easily accessible.

    I don't have time to study the Dalrymple article now.

    I have to depart from Blogland nwo.

  15. For me there are two simple points. Why is it good for someone who is said by most of those who want to keep drugs criminal, for the user to be criminalised? Why put an addict in prison, which effectively ruins their life even more? I HAVE known addicts, I have also known people who have spent short periods of their lives consuming illegal drugs and harming nobody - but the chattering classes argue (rightfully) that criminalising alcohol would be more destructive than good.

    It is wholly immoral to incarcerate someone because of what they ingest. What they DO under the influence is different.

    Secondly I'd ask advocates of the status quo this - would you support zero tolerance and the full force of the state to incarcerate all those who have ingested drugs? Knowing that it might include a few family members, the odd friend, or even yourself in a youthful dabble - or is it far better to let the Police focus on the underclass, since they are unlikely to raid your nephew or your daughter because they once had a few joints or took E at a rave.

    So lets send the Police into dawn raids at student flats.

    The drug problem is enforcing real crimes from what people do, it is the culture that says escaping reality is preferable to enjoying it, the welfare state that sustains people for being useless, the health system that doesn't face people with the consequences of their choices and a middle class hypocrisy over alcohol. Other symptoms of this cultural tragedy are the misuse of alcohol, the misuse of food, careless breeding and reckless nihilism. Throwing people into prison for doing something that may not hurt anyone is like prosecuting for promiscuity - it might cause immense harm, but frankly unless it initiates force or fraud it isn't your business!

  16. Are Alcholics treated as criminals?

  17. Mr Tips, it's innate. Why do some people feel they have to eat more? Why do some people have the urge to smoke cigarettes? Why do some have other urges? Not all people are like you and I. I don't take drugs. I have *inhaled* some years ago but that's where it ended. I rarely drink also. But I accept we are all different and some people don't have my discipline or DNA makeup. These people shouldn't be criminals because of this.

  18. So Gooner, you choose to ignore that Singapore's success in the 'war against drugs' confronts everything you have stated. Ain't reality sometimes such a bitch to liberals??

  19. "Why is it good for someone who is said by most of those who want to keep drugs criminal, for the user to be criminalised?"

    As usual, the little gay boy can't even express himself coherently. WTF does that mean???

  20. That's what really annoys me about this debate is that age-old comparison with drinking and smoking.

    The drugs that are currently illegal are not the same as legal drugs.

    If they were the same, why would people take the illegal ones?

    Obviously there is a difference in effect.

    LibertyScott, I am quite happy for drug-users to be incarcerated in a place where they don't have access to drugs. It's a disincentive to take them in the first place, and when it comes to the effects of the drugs in question any disincentive is good.

    However, our slack attitude to drug taking ensures that the user can continue to get access to drugs in prison.

  21. "Libertarianz" are only such vocal supporters of, and so focused on legtimizing drug use because its such a large part of the homosexual life style. Once again, they demonstrate they in the thrall of indiscriminate and irresponsible hedonists.

  22. I would simply ask why people feel the need to take drugs. Answering that might do more good.

    Because they're fun.

    This has been another installment of simple answers to stupid questions.

  23. "This has been another installment of simple answers to stupid questions."

    Completely about face I reckon. Stupid answer to a simple question.

    Fun? Drugs are "fun"??

    You sad moron.

  24. Redbaiter
    Danyl doesn't actually care about the issue; he would rather take cheap shots. I guess its his drug, so he gets ignored.

    Gooner: its innate? So what drives that innate desire to take drugs? Most addicts admit after detox that they did it to blot out something else. And I would suggest that is where the real problem lies.

  25. Your question is a good question Mr. Tips, and what helps me to be certain of that is that liberals attempt to make fun of it.

    I once drank quite unnecessarily and profusely, but decided to stop. Soon after that I was obliged to spend considerable time in the Middle East, and while there I socialized with the locals. (Arabs/ Muslims mostly)

    Went to parties, weddings, all kinds of social events. Guess what. People were actually enjoying themselves, laughing joking, generally having a good time, and 99% of the time, not a drop of alcohol or any other kind of drug to be seen.

    Observing that these people were having "fun" without resorting to mind altering substances made me think more about my decision to stop drinking and caused me to ponder why in most Western countries it is considered impossible to experience similar simple enjoyment of other people's company without partaking of some kind of communal drug.

    That's why your question is so good. Its the core of the issue, its reality, and that is why as usual, the pro self medication drug users and sundry liberals can't deal with it.

  26. "While a person may be able to do evil, they should not be free to do so"

    How can someone be able to do evil but not free to do so at the same time? The two are mutually contradictory.

  27. It's really simple, KP.

    You could murder the person next to you - not much would be able to physically stop you from doing so. However, you are not given the freedom to murder as the consequences would be (among other things) being locked up for life. Therefore you are not free to do evil (murder), even though you are capable of doing so (you have free-will).

  28. Lucyna: what you describe is different to the way that anti-drug laws work.

    Drugs laws attempt to physically stop people taking drugs (by removing them from shops etc), rather just applying consequences to the taking of drugs as you describe in the murder example.

    As I said earlier, God did not attempt to physically stop Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, rather he made it easily accessible and made consequences follow the eating. That is what I mean when I say that they had the freedom to do evil, and that is why I believe that we should have the freedom to do evil.

    If God had removed the forbidden fruit from the garden then I would support laws that remove drugs from shops.

    I see where you're coming from with "While a person may be able to do evil, they should not be free to do so" but I do not separate freedom and ability as you do. I prefer to think along the lines of freedom/ability and consequences.

    As an aside, many christians expect the state to make illegal what they oppose and make legal what they agree with, i.e. they expect the state to impose their morality upon the population. That may be done with the best of intentions, but it is a double standard when someone accepts the state morality in some cases but not in others. State-imposed morality is a package deal, and to accept it is to accept a bunch of pagans (with a few exceptions) setting and enforcing the moral standards of the country.

  29. "KG - the sale and consumption of Alcohol is a regulated illegality. It is not "legal" as such. Those who sell it need a licence. Those who buy it have to be over a certain age."
    Gooner, I don't give a damn what you do for a living--that's utter garbage.
    If a substance may be sold and consumed, subject to regulations, then there's nothing illegal about it unless it's sold and consumed outside those regulations.
    The regulations merely serve to define where, when and by whom it may be consumed.
    By any reasonable interpretation of the law, the vast majority of people consider alcohol to be a legal drug. The fact that it may not be sold or supplied to people under a certain age doesn't change that.
    A twelve year-old may not drive a car--but driving a car is a perfectly legal activity.
    Save your pompous quasi-legal hairsplitting for those who may be impressed by it.

  30. I have posted a reply to Dalrymple's argument at my blog.

    Redbaiter, you really are the most objectionable person. Can't you use your not inconsiderable powers of reason to control your emotional responses?

  31. As stated on Lindsay's blog, her reply is only a reply to the small portion of Dalrymple's argument posted here - not to the entire article.

  32. Alcohol abuse costs Australia $15 Billion a year and it's legal.

    Every weekend in Australian hospitals, people are treated for alcohol abuse and guess who picks up the tab.

    Unless the proponents of drug-taking demonstrate that there is some sort of magical way to ensure that drug-abuse will not cost the taxpayer and also innocent victims when drugs are legalized, i certainly won't be back any moves to legalize drugs. Alcohol has been legalized and we are still paying through taxes and through other ways.

    By the way, the singapore example is a good one Redbaiter.

  33. MK: you have touched upon one of the major problems of Socialist health care, i.e. that all taxpayers bear the cost of fixing those people that abuse their bodies. If health care was fully privatised each person would bear the cost when they abused their bodies.

    It's all about bearing the consequences of your actions, rather than everyone else bearing the consequences of your actions.

  34. It's all about bearing the consequences of your actions, rather than everyone else bearing the consequences of your actions.

    No disrespect intended, but you think like an individual, and that is part of the problem.

    The people that bear the consequences are the families and more broadly, the communities.

    It's one thing to lock up a father or refuse him medical assistance unless he buys his own, but the real victims remain - his wife and children.

    Smoking is privatised in the sense that the person pays for their own ciggies, but they still are not taking responsibility for their actions if they continue to smoke in a home with children.

    I'm not suggesting state intervention, but just pointing out that consequences and responsibility are still bigger issues than the individual.

    IMHO, the family perspective must be considered in this conversation.

  35. This is a very interesting discussion, with lots of good points from both sides. I think it is important to remember that the Bible says little about drugs. There is no clear "Christian" position on this, which is why we have some Christians arguing to ban almost everything, others like Kiwipolemicist arguing to legalise everything, and pretty well every position in between. Our drug laws are not based on Christianity, but rather on pragmatism - does it cause less harm to society to have a certain substance legal or illegal.

    I do feel that if we were to loosen the laws much, there would be an increase in use. We would need to adjust medical funding to ensure that society was not bearing the cost of the stupidity of individuals, but as ZenTiger points out this will not save society from bearing any cost.

    I think the Singapore example shows that if we do want to actually control drugs, we would need to adopt far more stringent punishments. There is no way we'd be able to get caning and capital punishment democratically reinstated in NZ, so I don't see that we can actually control drugs like Singapore does.

    Further thoughts here:

  36. "IMHO, the family perspective must be considered in this conversation."

    Mine too, freeing us from paying for their healthcare is only part of the deal.

  37. Perhaps we have to simply accept that drugs are part of society and work out better ways to educate kids about the harm and to minimise the damage.
    After all, people have been using drugs of one kind or another for thousands of years which indicates that banning them just isn't feasible.
    I'm very wary indeed of arguments based on 'the good of society' because we've seen where that track can lead, in the past.
    Who gets to define the kind of society we want and the punishments and controls necessary to achieve it?
    Perhaps there just isn't a simple answer to fixing the problem.

  38. I agree kg. That was why I also said "I'm not suggesting state intervention"

    It is a difficult topic, and I think the solution...ah, I don't have time for this right now...must not get distracted from my work and family reponsibilities.

    These blogs are like drugs :-)

  39. So what drives that innate desire to take drugs? Most addicts admit after detox that they did it to blot out something else. And I would suggest that is where the real problem lies.

    Oh that's VERY good. The typical effects of smoking cannibis are laughter, relaxation and a general feeling of happiness, so obviously people are abusing this drug because they want to 'blot something out'. Clearly fun has nothing to do with it.

  40. Clearly fun has nothing to do with it.

    Clearly, there are more drugs than just cannabis, and more reasons than just fun.

    In terms of harm to self and others, the discussion may be more fruitful considering the harder drugs and the more destructive reasons that replace whatever fun was had before addiction set in.

    And in a nutshell, that becomes the essence of the debate. There are harder drugs, dangerous addictions and serious consequences, and in attempting to curb those, we run the risk of stopping some-one else's fun.

    In today's society, surely the most heinous of crimes?

  41. As Gooner points out, most of the crimes committed due to drug use are crimes of prohibition rather than drug use. We figured out the connection quickly enough with alcohol, but other drugs clearly lack the necessary numbers of enfranchised consumers to get a similar result.

    And as Redbaiter points out, prohibition would work if we were all happy to live in an authoritarian society in which you do as you're told or face draconian punishments (this from the man who constantly quacks on about "liberty!") Unfortunately for this approach, Westerners tend not to get enthusiastic about living in a police state, no matter its GDP.

    And as Danyl points out, for most of us it's fun, not a squalid descent into addiction. Religious people tend to have difficulty with this concept, but it's by no means unusual, as anyone who's enjoyed a few drinks with their mates can attest. It may be true that making drugs legal won't solve anything, but making them illegal certainly hasn't solved anything either.

  42. According to the bible, cannabis was good enough for Jesus. What do you think goes into holy annointing oil? The recipe is listed in Exodus 30:23, and includes 250 shekels of "sweet calamus."

    Bless that sweet sweet calamus!

  43. I was in a car accident last week, hurt my back and neck.

    I can't swallow pills. I'm stuck with Childrens neurofen.

    Why exactly should I be threatened with criminal sanctions for consuming something that is by and large safe to get rid of the pain.

  44. Oh can can the next post be:

    Making sex outside of marriage legal won't solve anything?

    Its the same principle.

    Now, go back to using criminal sentances to push your stone age morals on everyone else.

  45. What "age" are the morals you try and push on everyone Mike?

  46. ..and here's another question for you- whose "morals" are at play in this disgusting scenario?

  47. They're not my morals redbaiter, nor, I suspect,are they yours.

    But it worries me that MK (and perhaps you) see the solution to violence is more violence.

  48. What are you? The Dahlai llama?? What's your "solution". Better be better than the one he has for Tibet.

  49. "But it worries me that MK (and perhaps you) see the solution to violence is more violence."

    Sigh....sometimes, the solution to violence is more violence. That's so self-evident I can't even be bothered giving an example. There are people out there who will only respond to violence or a credible threat of violence.
    And you, billyborker are kept safe by those who recognise that fact.

  50. Sorry KG, but in your deluded mind it may be self evident, but how about you provide chapter and verse. If you can.

  51. It's not my job to educate drooling idiots. In the same sentence you tell me I have a deluded mind and then demand I provide "chapter and verse" for the obvious.
    Go screw yourself.

  52. The moron is too lazy to even argue his brainless mantras KG. What would you have done Billy, left Europe under Hitler's totalitarian rule and allowed him to eliminate every Jew therein? Don't answer that question. Its rhetorical Billy, and I really don't need to hear anything further from an obviously half educated ignorant of history peacenik idiot like you.

  53. aaah.. bed calls. Work very early tomorrow.
    My apologies for the blunt language in your post comments Lucyna.
    And it's good to see you in Crusader, RedB. :-)

  54. Thanks for sharing that link Redbaiter, nothing upsets the left like calling for the violent and evil to be disposed of quickly once found guilty does it. it's amazing how they get all huffy and puffy when we want those who violated a human being in the most brutal of ways and scarred her for the rest of her life to be strung up from a lamp post. Yet if that were an unborn baby that's due to be delivered anytime now, they'd would suddenly take an intense interest in their navels if the mother wanted to kill the baby off. Eye brows, ears, hackles and all that would be raised if someone were to try and save the baby though.


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