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!

April 14, 2012

“Legalization is not the answer, Obama said.” Oh, Yeah?

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 4:40 pm
Tags: , ,

Even as the global “war on drugs” trudges into its fifth decade with every sign we are losing, the U.S. is in a state of political denial about recreational drug use. Oh, I realize that President Obama could have said nothing else. If he had said anything else, he would have had zero chance of getting re-elected.

You see, recreational drug use is a moral issue for many. No distinction is made as with the use of alcohol: moderate use is okay, abuse borders on the illegal, any use of recreational drugs is verboten, generally because of the attitude of people whose morality doesn’t stand up to inspection. There, I did it. Gauntlet thrown. The anti-drug crowd’s stand that recreational drugs cannot be legalized is immoral in itself.

Think about the damage done by illegal drug use. The damage done to children whose parents were on drugs when they were in utero is immense. The crime (see Mexico), the killings (see Mexico), and the lost revenue through taxation are immense (see us).

What I would do (were I King) is different. I would have a government lotto. The contest would be to design recreational drugs that have no direct negative health affects (getting dizzy and falling down doesn’t count) and cannot be abused. The prizes would be 150 year patents on the production of the five best drugs. The winner of the prizes would be their only legal producers and these drugs would be sold through drug stores at quite low prices so as to drive down the cost of illegal drugs and put the criminals out of business. These drugs would have government controlled prices and a modest (<10%) tax associated with their purchase.

Drug companies would fall all over themselves coming up with an acceptable drug, find two and they’ll have hit an immeasurable jackpot (think Viagra squared). There are plenty of quite mild euphorics that are available now, the only trick is to make them non-abusable. By that I mean if you take the recommended dose you get mildly high. If you take a little more you get higher. You take even more and . . . buzz kill, either no effect (meaning you wasted your money) or the effect is lessened (you wasted your money and killed your high). All of these behaviors are available in the current pharmacopeia, just not all together in one package.

Think about it. Currently alcohol is legal for those over a certain age (and this I would like to maintain, even for safe recreational drugs, as young people are not entirely in charge of their faculties until they are somewhat grown; for evidence see age and alcohol related accident statistics) but it has negative health effects for those who “overdose” and creates so much distortion of reality that thousands die from car accidents alone because of its effects. Long term abuse of alcohol leads to organ degeneration and early death, preceded by divorce, loss of job, etc., etc.

And this is legal? You betcha! The government represents us and we want a drink now and again. We tried making alcohol illegal and look at what happened. During Prohibition (the experiment was so traumatic, you don’t even have to say prohibition of what) people still imbibed and rampant illegal rum running sprang up. I live in Chicago, the former home of Al Capone, if you need an example of what happened.

Our current recreational drug situation is reminiscent of the Prohibition years. Rampant crime. Prisons full of drug offenders. People doing recreational drugs anyway, etc., etc.

Why not try legalization, but responsible legalization. Create a short list of safe, non-abusable recreational drugs. The drug companies make good money. The government makes good revenue through taxation. The people get mild euphoria safely and without fear of being arrested. Thousands of people (possibly approaching 50%) of those currently in jail for “drug offenses” will not be replaced by new offenders, as safe, inexpensive, legal recreational drugs will drive down the prices of illegal drugs effectively putting the enterprises currently producing and distributing them out of business.

For those who take a moral stand against legalizing drugs, I say “let he who is without sin throw the first stone.”

A Personal Note People reading this will probably think “author is a pot head” or some such thought. Other than enjoying a drink from time to time, I do not use any other recreational drugs. (So, there!)

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