I’ve been vehemently opposed to drug abuse for decades. I’m equally opposed to the so-called “War on Drugs“, which has brought so many abuses and violations of civil rights in its wake, but that doesn’t mean I have any tolerance for the abuse of drugs and alcohol in general. I regard it as one of the core signs of a society’s health. If drug abuse is widespread, that society is in trouble. If widespread drug abuse is not only tolerated, but legalized, that society is in really bad shape, IMHO.
Aesop has produced the best summary I’ve yet seen of reasons why drug abuse is not the “victimless crime” it’s so often claimed to be by advocates for legalization. Here’s an excerpt.
I’ve spent nearly a quarter-century working in emergency medicine, and an honest 25% of my patients any given night are there because of chronic alcohol abuse, and the sequellae. That’s 6-years-plus, I’ve got quite a ways yet to go until retirement, and I’m only one nurse. Pile other drug abuse on – all of it flat-out illegal for most of that period – and we’re at between 1/3 and 1/2 my professional career just dealing with life’s ****-ups and their substance problems.
And you want to make all that **** legal, because it’s a “victimless” crime???
You’re. ****ing. High.
Cases in point, from all the way back to both nights this past weekend.
Two guys, stoned off their ***es on opiates, necessitating an entire light task force (six firefighters, two paramedics), four EMTs, two ambulances, four cops, six nurses, two doctors, two radiology techs, three lab techs, and the administration workers to deal with for most of four hours. Saving the lives of two total ***holes, higher than kites, stoned out of their mind to the point of near respiratory arrest and hypothermia, who then proceeded to sign out against medical advice as soon as they were competent and able to do so, and will, in fact, pay for exactly not one ****ing cent of the $20,000 of emergency response and medical care that saved their lives, to include any of the taxes that made it possible in the first place.
Every minute I and my colleagues are dealing with their bullshit, we’re not working on your grandmother’s stroke, or your child’s asthma or septic fever. And they brought part of their dope bindle with them, which along with any needles are a hazmat exposure nightmare to every one of twenty people who handled and cared for them. When a firefighter ends up in ICU from carfentanil exposure, or some minimum-wage EMT has to deal with HepC and liver failure in his 30s because of those wastrels, define for me what part of that crime is “victimless”.
And considering that a fine in court of $1000 in this state is a felony-level crime, these two pieces of human feces will see not so much as a ticket, let alone prosecution, because they aren’t worth the trouble.
. . .
What should happen? … Let’s start with six months at hard labor, in a chain gang, shoveling snow in the winter with a child’s sand castle plastic beach shovel, or six months slinging hot tar in the desert sun all summer. Cold nasty gruel breakfast and dinner, protein only if you can catch bugs or rodents in your cell at night, and a daily beating of ten stripes, delivered by the former NFL linebacker kicked out for being too aggressive and violent, every day of that six months. That’s for a first offense.
Pass that law, and legalize any damned thing you want, as long as they never impact anyone but themselves.
DUI? Same penalty.
Impaired in public? Same penalty.
Any other crime under the influence? Same penalty.
Too stoned to pay alimony or child support? Same penalty.
Bounced a check? Missed a tax payment? Same penalty.
Not feeding, sheltering, and/or adequately parenting a minor child? Same penalty.
So effed up in public or private that someone had to have your ass dragged to the ER? Same penalty.
Because when you’re that ****ing addicted, you’re going to let it affect your entire life, and quickly, and it will. You’ve just violated every argument in favor of legalization.
And the minute it does, you’re not committing a victimless crime.
So, you pass laws that punish those that can’t keep that addiction in their pants, and we can talk. Make sure the judicial daily beatings are included without fail, and I’ll even pay you $1 for every second offender you can find. I suspect at the end of six months of that, I’d still have change from a $5 bill.
Third offence: LWOP. Chain gang for life.
We’re going to have the cleanest roads and beaches in the country five minutes after that day, and the smallest drug problems.
. . .
The problem isn’t a War On Drugs.
It’s the total lack of one.
And the correct solution isn’t doing even less, and multiplying the problems.
Oh, and exactly as I suggested in 2016, you can’t just legalize; you’re going to have to give the **** away free, otherwise the cartels get a vote.
Which means spending my taxes to pay for giving dope to dopers.
O Hell No.
. . .
So, to be absolutely clear, you’re against government going after Al Capone or Pablo Escobar for wantonly violating laws enacted by the directly-elected representatives of the people in a republic, including murder, because that militarizes the police, but you’re in favor of using the IRS to demand, at gunpoint if necessary, and on pain of prison or death, that I pay taxes to provide unlimited drugs to whomever should wish them, from out of the fruits of my labor?
You’ve simply swapped one criminal enterprise for another, waved your magic wand over it, and called it “better”.
There’s more at the link. Highly recommended reading. Click over there and absorb the whole thing.
Speaking as a former prison chaplain, I can only agree with every word Aesop says. I’ve encountered cartel drug bosses who’ve ordered (not to mention personally committed) the most sickening, obscene offenses, in order to intimidate rivals, expand their operations, and create a new generation of victims. I’ve spoken with inmates who’ve committed the most foul crimes imaginable while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, and are now behind bars for lengthy terms as a result. They never accept personal responsibility for their actions – no, it’s always “the booze” or “the drugs” that made them do it. Made them, mind you, as if the drug itself was riding herd on them with rawhide whips, forcing them to rape, beat up and murder others. That’s not true, of course. All a drug (or alcohol) does is lower one’s inhibitions. There’s a reason the phrase “In vino veritas” (“In wine lies the truth”) has become a byword. The way one behaves when one’s inhibitions are lowered really does reveal the person that one really is, one’s true character. That’s why inmates blame the booze or the drugs rather than themselves. They don’t want to admit that. That’s also why most addicts blame the thing they’re addicted to for what happens to them, rather than their own choices.
Drug abuse is not a victimless crime. It’s the enabler of many other crimes, and in my book, that makes it a crime in itself. Yes, I include alcohol abuse in that. I agree with Aesop: the instant a drug abuser’s habits impact others, he or she should be held criminally liable for that, and given a sentence sufficiently punitive to deter them and others from doing the same thing again. If they can’t or won’t learn from that, lock them away for as long as necessary to protect the rest of us – but don’t legalize their problem. That’ll only spread it to others.
$HOUSEMATE volunteered as a paramedic for many years (when it meant more time in court than on-scene, he quit) and is *grudgingly* for general legalization. It's NOT a "great idea".. it's just likely to be less damaging than the failed 'War on Drugs.' And some things ought to stay illegal… such as PCP – it's just THAT DAMNED DANGEROUS.
Which drugs aren't "that dangerous"?
Benadryl and the other antihistamines will make you drowsy all by itself.
We've seen how people handle alcohol and driving over the last 118 years.
So now you think we could safely add pot and what else to that mix?
Only since pot became legal in this state, we've seen 2-5X the numbers of ODs from it, because what's being sold now is orders of magnitude more potent than the scraggly weed kids were getting in the 1970s.
And the patients are 12-70 years old.
Because now kids find mom's pot stash.
Five years ago, I never saw someone for marijuana use. Now there's one a night, even in the smallest ERs.
I'm fine with medicinal use: just specify a dosage, and have it filled at a pharmacy, by a licensed pharmacist.
That's medical use.
Not by the brownie bag pound at the local weed "dispensary".
And how are you going to stop PCP, except by another "failed 'War On drugs'"??
Ban it all. Hammer the users and dealers alike.
Try having a war on drugs, instead of a slap-fight.
When we militarily execute dealers on the spot, and we're sending B-52s to Arc Light cocaine fields in Bolivia and Columbia, that's a war.
I'd like to figure out some kind of compromise. Like if you do drugs you have to wear an "opt out" bracelet or something letting medical personnel know not to bother with you.
Or if you rack up a hospital bill, you're flagged from buying drugs until you've paid.
Then again nothing society can ever do will work when the families and communities are in enough disarray. While those are broken, things will only get worse. (Also why I believe socialized medicine won't work.)
Have you read Life At the Bottom?
And yet our new DA announced on TV news that they will no longer prosecute "non-violent" crimes such as drug use. Does the phrase "Hell in a handbasket" fit our direction?
When the DA or the State says they will no longer prosecute 'non-violent' crimes, well, "Game over, man. Game over."
Like broken windows in a neighborhood, non-violent crimes are, heh, the gateway 'drug' to greater crime. Much in the same way that beginning animal cruelty as a child/youth/teen is one of the predictors of sociopaths and serial rapists/murderers.
Though it is an 'effective' way of reducing crime stats. Just stop reporting them. Poof, crime stats drop. Much the same way that certain 2nd world nations don't report a lot of child deaths before 2yoa.
Not that I have all that much agreement with any of the mid-level insanity that is invariably attendant upon The War On (Some) Drugs, but –
In point of fact: There simply is, in Real-World terms, NO SUCH THING as "Victimless" Crime – If a crime is actually committed, there are always victims, one way or another.
Unknown: If a crime is actually committed, there are always victims, one way or another.
I jaywalked a couple of times across an empty street. Please identify the victim(s).
People are 'for' legalization until there is a direct negative impact on them… THEN they are against it because 'they' become the victims.
Jaywalking and the like aren't crimes, they are ordinance violations. Municipalities would like you to believe that they are crimes, but they aren't.
tweell: municipalities use ordinance violations as a gateway to criminal charges. Non-payment of fines or excessive violations are bumped up into the misdemeanor category, and if either enough time elapses or more penalties added, then bumped up into the felony category. So, well, yes. Originally they are ordinance violations..
You quote Aesop thusly: "So, to be absolutely clear, you're against government going after Al Capone or Pablo Escobar for wantonly violating laws enacted by the directly-elected representatives of the people in a republic, including murder, because that militarizes the police, but you're in favor of using the IRS to demand, at gunpoint if necessary, and on pain of prison or death, that I pay taxes to provide unlimited drugs to whomever should wish them, from out of the fruits of my labor?"
He sets up a straw man, something I did not say. Did not mean. DO NOT BELIEVE. Then he knocks it down. I don't know why.
Here, cut and pasted, is what I said, while talking about why the Volstead act was a failure, "Government intervention in the form of law and law enforcement raises prices, make selling more profitable, brings in criminals willing to take the associated risks (Al Capone being one example), but never succeeds in eliminating the activity. This creates a larger law enforcement presence, sometimes higher penalties, and a greater burden on the citizens paying the taxes to support the ongoing efforts."
I believe that. I believe our efforts to stem the tide of recreational drug use is such a failure that we should do something else. We create the conditions that allow ruthless criminals to make huge profits and accrue power. The cartels in Mexico have made things worse. South America is worse. The U.S. inner cites are worse than they were 50 years ago.
I know my view is a minority among conservatives, I do not expect anyone to agree with me, but I do not want to be misquoted and misunderstood.
I will posting this and more on Borepatch shortly.
Anybody that claims abusing drugs is a victimless crime hasn't been exposed to it in any kind of degree.
As a former drug user and dealer, I've seen kids go without food so Mommy and Daddy can get high. Cars and homes are broken into for drug money. People are robbed for drug money. People shoplift for drug money.
And people die because of drugs, leaving untold sorrow for their families that remember that little boy or girl when they had hopes and dreams, before they became strung out junkies.
I don't think that the use of drugs constitutes a 'victimless crime', I just think that the societal costs of Drug Prohibition are high and we could do with at least trying to find out if the societal costs of legal drugs might be lower. It isn't as if drugs weren't getting through, and having territorial disputes handled through advertising and the law courts has to be an improvement.
An awful lot of the various drug 'crisis' talk I have heard in my life has turned out to be some federal agency or another trying to get more funding.
RE: ordinance violations.
Don't want to count jaywalking as crime? Fine. How about possession of an unregistered machine gun. Just possession, not use.
Identify the victim.
Natural selection. When the inevetable overdose happens, let them die! Problem solved. Hard, but problem solved.
As always, you are thought provoking and you speak from the heart.
I reply at somewhat Borepatchian length here: https://borepatch.blogspot.com/2019/01/similarities-between-war-on-drugs-and.html
You're trying to quibble terms – and, although you're not doing at all well with it…o.k., I'll play a round – then, I've got some actually-useful stuff to do –
"…How about possession of an unregistered machine gun. Just possession, not use.
Identify the victim…"
The "victim" is, of course, YOU – by deliberately (apparently) "acting" in a manner that is quite blatantly and clearly contrary to Federal statute (which is, in reality, not materially different from deliberately violating Fed or State regs RE: Possession of "controlled substance(s)" without legal permission/licensing/other documentation, y'know…), thereby placing yourself "at risk" of arrest, fine(s), imprisonment, etc. When you violate the legal provisions governing "simple possession" of certain things, under certain circumstances, you have made yourself, prima facie, a felon (upon proper conviction, of course) – and you have changed your life (at least, for some time to come), for the worse.
That is: Unless you somehow imagine that being a convicted (and likely-fined and/or imprisoned) felon, and losing some substantial portion of your personal rights and/or freedom, is "…hey, no problem-o, no biggie, dude!…"
That may seem kinda-"quibbly", but – there is always a victim – even if/when the victim is YOU!
Enjoy your day…(8-D)
Good post and discussions, all on the topic of whether drug abuse is a victimless crime. People claiming it is use that as justification for reducing sentences or eliminating the laws entirely. A related issue is the "failed war on drugs". Because it has "failed" like Prohibition 90 years ago is given as a reason to give up on it. My answer to that is always along the lines of we still have laws against murder, rape, etc., yet people keep doing them. Are we to eliminate those laws because they have failed to prevent people from doing them?
under that definition, jaywalking is absolutely a crime, where the "victim" is again yourself.
Most people understand "victimless" to mean "no other victim." In any free and just society, you should be free to do with yourself as you damned well please. If the mere existence of a victim makes a crime, and I can be my own victim, then failing to properly tie my shoes could be a crime insofar as I'm at risk of tripping and falling.
There are two general categories of "crimes:" malum prohibitum, "bad because it is prohibited," and malum in se, "bad in and of itself." Malum in se is where there's another person harmed by your actions; murder would be a perfect example. Malum prohibitum is the unregistered machine gun: it's sitting in the safe, not hurting anybody, but still prohibited because a bunch of jackwagons in DC decided to take a vote on it.
Only one of these is legitimately criminal in a free and just society. What kind of society do you want to live in?
Part of the problem here, or so it appears to me, is that "drugs" is such a general term. I notice alcohol and tobacco go unmentioned—and as the son of two chain-smoking alcoholics, I can assure you that both of those are capable of doing immense damage.
And the War On Drugs has done immense harm. Chronic pain patients beg their doctors for pain relief that the doctors fear to prescribe, for fear of the DEA. We put up with government prying into our private affairs that would have driven our ancestors into rebellion. We throw our weight around, killing inconsequential brown people or destroying their crops, to "eradicate drugs"—and then when we get blowback from those people or their countries we are all SOOOO surprised.
I could also point out that use =/= abuse. Back in the day, a ragged drunk spewing in the gutter outside a sleazy tavern was a dandy Exhibit A for the Anti-Saloon League…but an urbane gentleman having a quiet drink in a pleasant saloon, then going his way none the worse, was a pretty piss-poor Exhibit B for their case, so they never mentioned it. And before drugs were illegal, they were used, but abuse was generally not a big problem.
I like a glass of wine or beer a couple times a week. I don't drive after doing so, nor do I do so to the point of needing medical intervention. Who is harmed? If I go to my now legal local marijuana dispensary and pick out a THC product, and I follow the same rules, again, who is harmed?
I'm hearing some claim that I'm harming myself in the long run. Do I or do I not have a right to do so?
If we want to be honest, as damaging as narcotics, medical or otherwise, have been to our society, the costs pale in comparison to those from tobacco, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup. I know of no moves to ban the sweet stuff.
What should happen? … Let's start with six months at hard labor, in a chain gang, shoveling snow in the winter with a child's sand castle plastic beach shovel, … every day of that six months. That's for a first offense."
Maybe not the beatings. But hard physical treatment and conditions and public humiliation are grossly neglected in our current "justice" system. These days prison is a graduate school for criminals. Put them to WORK. There are bridges to be scraped and painted, trash to be picked up, etc., etc. They should go to bed dog tired every night, too damn tired to riot or anything else. No phones, no TV. They want some recreation, give them books. In English, only. I would support teaching them how to read if they don't know. Their hands should be calloused from hard physical work. Don't want to work? In the hole. Attack another inmate? In the hole.
Rehabilitation? Rehabilitate their desire to go back to jail. Rehabilitate their work habits so that they learn to get up on time, get ready, work hard all day and get to bed early enough that they can do it again the next day. Put them out in public in orange jump suits with armed guards so that everyone sees them – the people who they offended against sees them get punished and the people who think about joining gangs realize that they'll end up humiliated in public. Maybe put them in the stocks once a week so people can mock them and abuse them verbally. Make prison someplace they never want to go back to.