Uncommon Sense

February 21, 2013

Winning the War on Drugs and Fixing the Debt Problem? No Problem.

The so-called War on Drugs has been an abject failure. This I have written about before so I won’t provide the details again, but in summary we have spent billions of dollars to turn huge numbers of our mostly young people into criminals and the price of drugs has gone down as they have become even more available. If there is one positive outcome from said war, I cannot identify it.

At the same time, we have accrued a bit more debt as a nation than is desirable and that, too, is a problem. Most who offer solutions suggest that recreational drugs be legalized and regulated and taxed and that, indeed, would solve both problems. The illegal drug market would shrivel and the taxes collected from drug sales could be used to pay down the national debt (quickly). But there are problems with this solution. It offends the moral sensibilities of some and doesn’t address the health issues associated with the use of current recreational drugs.

So, what to do, what to do? As a chemist I suggest . . . better living through chemistry. Rather than having the government do any work I suggest a competition. The prizes? A 99-year patent for the sale and distribution of legal recreational drugs. The prices charged will be government controlled because there will be only one provider of each (so there will be no competition to set prices) and the winning corporations will volunteer to not lobby the government on their drug as a condition of accepting the patent. (No hanky-panky allowed, please.)

The contest is to design recreational drugs that are non-abusable. With all drugs, dose is critical, so these drugs these must be very cleverly designed. To be nonabusable this means that a small amount of the drug gives one a slight buzz, a little more, a little more buzz, up to a point where additional drug administration either results in no effect (acceptable) or, better, a buzz kill.

The top five drugs get their patents. Drugstores will sell the stuffs, taxes will pay down the debt. Illicit drug purveyors will basically go away (not completely, we are a perverse people) and scads of money will be saved by law enforcement agencies who no longer have to bust pot smokers, prisons will be evacuated, generations of our youth will no longer be criminalized.

The only moral objection will be from those who do not like to see people enjoying themselves and we can dismiss them as crotchety old farts.

It’s brilliant, I tells yuh!


  1. I concur. Regretfully, it’d take decades for such an idea to warm…. meanwhile X-number of people die from alcohol and tobacco abuse. Go figure.


    Comment by john zande — February 21, 2013 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

    • All it would take is one billionaire and a demonstration project. Prove the concept and then sell the idea. Someone like Richard Branson could do it. (And if you did you’d have a leg up in the contest.)


      Comment by stephenpruis — February 21, 2013 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

      • I think Branson would LOVE to do it, but wouldn’t because it’d taint the Virgin brand. I’m more optimistic though of late regarding the drug war. Here in South America pot is being legalised, and from what I’ve heard the Mexicans are just itching decriminalise trafficking. Perhaps, just perhaps these outside factors/forces will drag the US to the table.


        Comment by john zande — February 22, 2013 @ 3:31 am | Reply

  2. That’s quite an imaginative idea. The time to legalise drugs is long overdue


    Comment by Robert Nielsen — February 21, 2013 @ 6:17 pm | Reply

    • The trick is to legalize acceptable drugs. One can get cancer from smoking marijuana as quickly as one can from smoking tobacco. Pulling the sting of drug abuse could well do the trick.


      Comment by stephenpruis — February 21, 2013 @ 8:50 pm | Reply

      • Exactly. If we legalised the safer drugs like cannabis that would reduce demand for the more dangerous ones like heroin


        Comment by Robert Nielsen — February 22, 2013 @ 8:27 am | Reply

        • But canabis is not all that safe. I would like us to create perfectly safe drugs, if this be possible. Heroin is not all that dangerous, but it is abuseable. There are also stigmas associated with all of the current drugs, so why not start fresh?


          Comment by stephenpruis — February 22, 2013 @ 8:37 am | Reply

          • New drugs? That’s something I haven’t given much thought. Cannabis is (as far as I know) pretty safe (can’t overdose, limited addictiveness etc) but the advantage of legalisation is that you could make it safer though research etc. If it was possible to create new controlled drugs that would have many advantages but I lack enough knowledge of chemistry to know how feasible that is.


            Comment by Robert Nielsen — February 22, 2013 @ 8:54 am | Reply

            • I was a professor of chemistry for 35 years and I think it is possible (but not yet proven) to create non-abusable recreational drugs. Cannabis has been shown to be more carcinogenic than smoking tobacco, so hardly safe.


              Comment by stephenpruis — February 22, 2013 @ 9:25 am | Reply

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