Libertarianism definition: “a political philosophy that advocates only minimal state intervention in the free market and the private lives of citizens.”
I think libertarianism is a very important benchmark. I agree with it insofar as the onus is on the government to justify the silver linings of their policies. This is in spite of the inherent use of coercion in any collectively implemented plans. The platform of legalising all drugs is a useful and self-consistent reference point in the debate.
I think the difficulty arises when someone wants to ban a particular drug but they only focus on the supply side, namely drug dealers. We must address all of the root problems including the aspect of demand. If the market is strong enough, up-and-coming drug dealers will indeed simply take the place of those who are caught and sent to jail.
An extreme comparison would be how removing terrible Saddam Hussein inadvertently ended up creating a whirlwind of other internal violent disputes and controversies. Except the drugs war is on a dispersed and international scale.
I think we first need to disentangle drugs from other crimes. To solve the problem of drugs we must remember not to conflate it with other misdeeds. For instance a very small number of thieves might commit separate crimes like assault as well. This may be down to them having a general criminal mindset. A person might perhaps get consecutive sentences for each crime category. But obviously not everyone who engages in petty thief is a big criminal.
Likewise selling drugs should be treated as a standalone issue. There’s no point giving big jail sentences to a few defendants as if all drug dealers were part of a major drug cartel. Aiding and abetting violence is a different crime!
From a public relations perspective, I think it would be beneficial if the drugs war tried harder to lose the residual nanny state undertones. The sole purpose of the drugs war is to help drug addicts. It’s not exactly to protect innocent teenagers who decide to experiment with a drug. Even if you just took a dangerous drug once, technically you are still a drug taker!
Drugs may cause antisocial behaviour but that is really a distraction. Someone can still drive dangerously without having consumed any alcohol. A person could commit a violent crime devoid of any drug. Effective drug policies should therefore only consider the effects of the drugs on the addicts themselves. Other societal problems are secondary to the task at hand. They instead fall under the purview of social welfare or other police initiatives.
Parts of the drugs war do scientifically seem a bit ad hoc. Unlimited alcohol and cigarettes are available. The buyers of drugs are spared criminal responsibility yet it’s reversed for prostitution where the it’s the buyers who are criminalised. I’m not necessarily saying that it should be different.
I just think more effort is needed to help people who suffer from these addictions. There’s little point in apportioning excessive blame towards drug dealers. As I said before if you want to legalise all drugs, I understand your argument. Don’t criminalise anyone in that case. But if someone else views the problem like a “war” and drugs as some sort of explosive weaponry, then to some degree both buyers and sellers would bear responsibility for this “arms trafficking”.
I’m not in any way at all trying to stigmatise people who are addicted to drugs. I just think policies need to be consistent in order to be sustainable. Otherwise it will eventually fail.
I find the topic of legalising specific drugs like cannabis to be quite interesting. I’m not an expert! There could be holistic advantages with a particular drug depending of course on the risk of adverse side-effects. With the concept of rehabilitation though I found the following quote informative:
“All psychoactive drugs modulate the existing neurochemistry of the brain: either by mimicking specific neurotransmitters or by causing the neurotransmitters themselves to be more or less active... Hence, whatever one has seen or felt after ingesting LSD is likely to have been felt by someone somewhere without it.”
<p>Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness. We form friendships so that we can feel certain emotions, like love, and avoid others, like loneliness. We eat specific foods to enjoy their fleeting presence on our tongues. We read for the pleasure of thinking another person’s...
So rehabilitation could also be about finding safer natural alternatives to drugs like the meditation example in the link.
Coerced abstinence for drug consumers in some situations might be a proportionate idea given that society is opting to give drug dealers these very long jail sentences.
“Coerced abstinence is a drug rehabilitation strategy which uses frequent monitoring and immediate punishment to reduce drug use among participants... Because the program ascribes neither to the disease model of addiction (which requires drug treatment) nor to a moral-model (which mandates long and hard sentencing), it may simply be too ideologically neutral to be a successful part of a political platform.”