Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

I found this article on New Zealand's Libertarianz site via Libertarianz members Luke and Phil's excellent, if oft neglected...:), Pacific Empire. The essence is a transitional drug policy that would devolve the War on Drugs to something a bit less fanciful, ridiculous and intrusive. The concept is simple and reasonable enough. Divide narcotics into two seperate categories, those that are less harmful than alcohol and those that are more harmful than alcohol. Then, legalize the former and present much more reasonable penalties for possession, sale and manufacture of the latter. A snippet of Richard Goode's article (but you should certainly read the article in it's full):

Libertarianz transitional drug policy is to legalise all drugs safer than alcohol, but the policy package contains a number of other measures. These include a moratorium on arrest for simple possession (or manufacture or importation for personal use) of any drug, and a downgrading of remaining penalties from the draconian to the merely harsh. (All drugs which remained illegal would be reclassified as Class C. This means, for example, that the maximum sentence for manufacture of methamphetamine would fall from life imprisonment to 8 years imprisonment.)
The natural question is, what drugs should be vetted as safer than alcohol and what drugs not? And who decides and designs the defining system? Another snippet:

Who would decide which drugs are safer than alcohol, and how would they decide? In a widely cited paper published in the Lancet earlier this year, David Nutt and colleagues showed that the UK's classification of illegal recreational drugs into three categories of harm (similar to the ABC classification in our own Misuse of Drugs Act) is only modestly correlated with expert ratings of the drugs' actual harms. They asked experts in psychiatry, pharmacology, and other drug-related specialties to (re-)rate a selection of 20 common recreational drugs on three major dimensions of harm: physical health effects, potential for dependence, and social harms. The experts, who showed reasonable levels of agreement in their ratings, ranked heroin, cocaine and pentobarbital as more harmful overall than alcohol, but ranked MDMA ("ecstasy"), cannabis, LSD, GHB ("fantasy"), methylphenidate (Ritalin®) and khat as less harmful overall. I mention this list for indicative purposes only. How to decide the dimensions of harm which ought to be considered and the relative weighting to be given to scores on those dimensions, and, consequently, the final ranking of drugs on the list according to overall harm is yet to be determined, but the methodology is sound. Ultimately, the decision would be left to the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs. For a change, the EACD would no longer determine how to classify new recreational drugs, but determine instead which existing recreational drugs to declassify.
Not a perfect platform for deciding which drugs are "ok" and which are not, but as is stated, the methodology is a sound start. And such a transitional method would be a sound start to ending the destructive American War on Drugs which has served little to stave off drug use among the American populace, rather has brought states like Mexico and Columbia to the brink of collapse as narco-feudalist drug cartels carve out virtual substates and combat state authorities for control of entire cities.

I envy the Libertarianz for more than their political tenacity. I envy them that should they fail to get such measures onto the national legislative platform they will be set back in combating the "Nanny State," and suffer an affront to their own personal ideologies. Being the political terrier's they are they'll simply remount, revamp and try again, little worse for wear, perhaps more driven than ever.

Contrarily, a continuation of the American nonsensical War on Drugs carries much greater consequence. And those consequences won't be (and very much aren't) conveniently sequestered to the "backwater" Latin states south of our border. They are felt in our own cities now and a continuation of tilting at windmills will bring us much, much worse as the consequences of our blind, "noble" policy bleeds it's way north and galvanizes an already worrisome and violent spawn of the lucrative black market trade in narcotics.

Stop fighting fire with gasoline.


Dan tdaxp said...

Excellent post. Great job.

Jay@Soob said...

Thank you.

Unknown said...

Thanks Jay! I really appreciate your comments about Pacific Empire (and I'm currently working on my first post in months) and also about the Libertarianz. Considering how little profile we have in New Zealand, it's great that we have some support in the States as well!

Jay@Soob said...

You're welcome Phil.