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Author Topic: Legalizing drugs
Xaposert
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If we are speaking about practicality here, and our concern is stopping the vast cost of international drug cartels, trying to legalize all drugs in the U.S. is not a practical way to go about doing it, for several reasons. Firstly, the notion that the people would vote to legalize ALL drugs in every state is implausible, especially given a sizable percentage of the population is simply against the idea on moral principle alone. Secondly, even if that were to happen, that'd only cut off the U.S. markets to cartels - there'd be plenty of other first-world countries where drugs remain illegal. The U.S. can hurt cartels if it stopped consuming, but it would leave plenty of other major markets. Thirdly, even if every major economy agreed to legalize all drugs, we'd still have to figure out how to regulate the industry in such a way that the drug trade couldn't be destructive - given that legal things, for instance oil, can cause conflict/corruption in third-world economies just as illegal things do.

I don't see any of that as much more likely than the odds of us being able to physically force everyone to stop using drugs.

If we want to pursue a practical method of limiting the power of the international drug trade, the solution is to stop using drugs. And to change our culture so people better realize what's so harmful about drug use. If people stop wanting to consume drugs, the demand for drugs will go down, which undercuts the drug trade. This change in demand is plausible, as demonstrated by the dramatic decline in cigarette use over the past few decades - which I'd argue is the direct result of a change in attitudes toward cigarette smoking.

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fugu13
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If instead our concern was making life better off for as many people (especially people in our country) as possible, we could look at the evidence available and quickly conclude drug legalization is almost certainly a bargain deal.

edit: damage to cartels, and there would be considerable damage even if only a small set of drugs were legalized in the US, is just a bonus.

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scifibum
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quote:
Firstly, the notion that the people would vote to legalize ALL drugs in every state is implausible, especially given a sizable percentage of the population is simply against the idea on moral principle alone.
Lots of people in this thread, notably The Rabbit, support drug legalization on moral principles. I find your attitude defeatist. People simply need to be educated on how banning drugs may ALSO be immoral.
quote:
Secondly, even if that were to happen, that'd only cut off the U.S. markets to cartels - there'd be plenty of other first-world countries where drugs remain illegal. The U.S. can hurt cartels if it stopped consuming, but it would leave plenty of other major markets.
That it might only PARTLY solve the problem its intended to solve is not a good argument against an action.
quote:
Thirdly, even if every major economy agreed to legalize all drugs, we'd still have to figure out how to regulate the industry in such a way that the drug trade couldn't be destructive - given that legal things, for instance oil, can cause conflict/corruption in third-world economies just as illegal things do.
This is probably your best point, but I'd like for you to explain what mechanisms you think will continue to support criminal activity. I suspect you are wrong, and I think there are probably relatively easy solutions to the wrinkles that might present themselves. For instance, marijuana and poppies can both be cultivated pretty much anywhere, since we know how to make greenhouses and use hydroponics.
quote:
I don't see any of that as much more likely than the liklihood of us being able to physically force everyone to stop using drugs.
I disagree entirely. The likelihood of ending use of currently-illegal drugs is zero, unless we submit to a ridiculous level of surveillance and fascism. I think the likelihood that we can make MAJOR reductions in criminal activity and related social costs is much higher than zero.
quote:
If we want to pursue a practical method of limiting the power of the international drug trade, the solution is to stop using drugs. And to change our culture so people better realize what's so harmful about drug use. If people stop wanting to consume drugs, the demand for drugs will go down, which undercuts the drug trade. This change in demand is plausible, as demonstrated by the dramatic decline in cigarette use over the past few decades - which I'd argue is the direct result of a change in attitudes toward cigarette smoking.
"Just say no." Please give an example of a culture that has eliminated demand for narcotics, alcohol, and stimulants, without giving up civil liberties.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Xaposert:
... which I'd argue is the direct result of a change in attitudes toward cigarette smoking.

Either that or a change in awareness of its effect on health.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Just thinking of the logistics of that:

Barring unusual circumstances, a driver knows if they've consumed alcohol or drug, so driving under the influence is a conscious choice.

But I have know reliable way of knowing what my current response time is. If I'm a little under the weather, has it slowed my reaction time? If so, by how much?

It offends my sense of fairness to punish a driver for doing something they're not aware of. So for me to be OK with that, we'd need to make reliable reaction tests available in every single vehicle.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Please give an example of a culture that has eliminated demand for narcotics, alcohol, and stimulants, without giving up civil liberties.

Mormon culture [Wink]
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Please give an example of a culture that has eliminated demand for narcotics, alcohol, and stimulants, without giving up civil liberties.

Mormon culture [Wink]
I knew someone would say that. [Smile] Mormons arguably give up some liberties, at least to fully belong to the culture. But leaving aside that point (I really meant to ask for an example national culture), good Mormons still get addicted to painkillers and other drugs.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Nope. I do not give up any liberties by choosing to not drink alcohol.
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Mucus
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What civil liberties would a Mormon give up?

Presumably they would need to stop being a Mormon to exercise some of them but are you referring to something more than that?

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
Nope. I do not give up any liberties by choosing to not drink alcohol.

I'm with Porter one that as well.

--------

scifibum: I suggest looking at Nepal, Indonesia, and perhaps Singapore (but then again Singapore is a pretty poor example of a libertarian society.) I also find it interesting that 'hippies' moving to Nepal are blamed in part for drug use actually becoming a noticeable problem in Nepal.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
What civil liberties would a Mormon give up?

Presumably they would need to stop being a Mormon to exercise some of them but are you referring to something more than that?

I think we're getting confused by combining separate systems here. Civil liberties relate to government; Mormons don't currently have an establishment anywhere in the world. What civil liberties do they give up? mu.

So again, the question is under what system of government is demand for recreational drugs eliminated while civil liberties are preserved?

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Noemon
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
It offends my sense of fairness to punish a driver for doing something they're not aware of. So for me to be OK with that, we'd need to make reliable reaction tests available in every single vehicle.

It would be possible to make yourself walk a straight line, touch your nose with your index fingers from a position in which you are standing with your eyes closed and your arms outstretched, recite the alphabet backward, and whatever else cops currently do to check for impairment. I doubt that most people would actually do so, but they could.

How do cops check reaction times when they pull someone over for suspected drunk driving, anyway? Or do they?

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kmbboots
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I'm contemplating the use of video games in cars where one has to exceed a certain score to turn on the car.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I think we're getting confused by combining separate systems here. Civil liberties relate to government; Mormons don't currently have an establishment anywhere in the world. What civil liberties do they give up? mu.
...

Thats precisely what I was referring to though [Wink]

The first time you asked culture, Mormons are a culture that fit the requirements without giving up civil liberties. Obviously government would be different, at least one thats governing a nation with a variety of cultures.

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scifibum
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"The first time you asked culture, Mormons are a culture that fit the requirements without giving up civil liberties."

Except they don't even fit the requirements. [Smile]

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mr_porteiro_head
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Noemon -- none of those test reaction time -- they test other effects of inebriation. Effects that do not accompany the other forms of impairment that you are advocating banning driving with.

AFAIK, reaction time is generally not tested.

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Mucus
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scifibum : I don't really see how.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Xaposert:
quote:
The laws have not been effective at reducing availability or abuse of the drugs
Drug use has gone down over the past three decades.
Its not that simple. Drug use has declined over the past 30 years but actually increased slightly over the past 20 years.

Furthermore, the abuse of legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco) has declined at virtually the same rate as the use of illegal drugs. Declines are similar in European countries where drug laws are less severe.

The bottom line is that there is no convincing evidence that this decline has been the result of drug laws and their enforcement.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
scifibum : I don't really see how.

You don't see how Mormons don't fit the requirement of "demand for recreational drugs has been eliminated"? I thought it was pretty clear:

Drug abuse and illegal drug use exists among Mormons. It is discouraged, but not non-existent. (And, you might already know, abuse of certain legal drugs is higher in Utah than in many other places with a lower population of Mormons.) Tresopax (or his looking glass doppelganger anyway) was claiming that we can eliminate the demand for recreational drugs. I was saying "nuh uh." I don't think Mormons prove me wrong.

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BlackBlade
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scifibum:
quote:
Drug abuse and illegal drug use exists among Mormons. It is discouraged, but not non-existent.
But that does not seem to be a reasonable requirement. If drugs simply did not exist in a predominantly Mormon culture I would not be surprised if another factor explained the absence better.

quote:
And, you might already know, abuse of certain legal drugs is higher in Utah than in many other places with a lower population of Mormons.
But again that does not necessarily show that Mormonism as a variable does not significantly decrease drug use, merely that there are Z variables that are coming into play.
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fugu13
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I'm reminded of someone I sat next to on my airplane flight to Japan a bit ago. From Utah, attends an LDS church, identified as a jack mormon, and drank several beers on the flight.
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Mucus
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scifibum: Oh, I didn't know you were using such a high bar for elimination.

Using such a threshold, then the answer to your original question, "Please give an example of a culture that has eliminated demand for narcotics, alcohol, and stimulants, without giving up civil liberties" would be none but not particularly for any reason having to do with civil liberties. But simply because no government has been able to eliminate demand to the point that it is "non-existent", period.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Please give an example of a culture that has eliminated demand for narcotics, alcohol, and stimulants, without giving up civil liberties.

Mormon culture [Wink]
I knew someone would say that. [Smile] Mormons arguably give up some liberties, at least to fully belong to the culture. But leaving aside that point (I really meant to ask for an example national culture), good Mormons still get addicted to painkillers and other drugs.
I would believe that Mormon culture had 'eliminated' drug demand and drug use just as easily as I would believe it had eliminated unmarried sex, which is to say, not at all.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I'm contemplating the use of video games in cars where one has to exceed a certain score to turn on the car.

Because I don't run late enough in the mornings already?

"One sec guys, one sec! We can go as soon as I kill this alien!"

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Epictetus
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I should begin by saying that Iím in favor of legalizing drugs. I think at the very least marijuana should be legalized and other drugs should be made available through pharmacies or administered by hospitals in a controlled environment.

The only thing I would fear about legalizing drugs would be a possible increase in the lobbying power of whatever corporation decides to distribute them. In other words, I would fear whatever entity takes over the distribution of drugs becoming the new "big tobacco" in the US, doing what they can to hamper government regulation.

It would make sense for the government to control the distribution of some drugs, but if funding were cut for some reason, or suppliers became skittish, I would fear the black market trade would return full force.

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Mucus
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You could try an LCBO-ish system of government distribution:
quote:
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which peddles social responsibility along with shiraz, is becoming a trendsetter.

This is going to take some getting used to. After all, the government-owned retail monopoly isn't that far removed from the days when customers had to sign for purchases that were brought out from a back room. It's got glitzy since then, but it remains a source of frustration to people who enviously eye the private liquor systems in other jurisdictions.

Not for the Scots, however. They admire the LCBO for its ability to influence patterns of alcohol consumption. Indeed, the Scottish government's recent pledge to ban cheap drink owes much to the Ontario agency's 82-year-old policy of mandating minimum prices for beer, wine and spirits. It will be the first jurisdiction in Europe to make the move, but other countries, including England, are considering it.

Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, met with LCBO officials in January to compare notes about dealing with alcohol abuse. They talked about why one jurisdiction with long, cold winters (Scotland) is much more afflicted with hard drinking habits than a place with even longer and colder winters (Ontario). The answer, in Mr. MacAskill's mind, is that the LCBO's strict monopolistic pricing has created a different culture from that in the auld country.

link
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I'm contemplating the use of video games in cars where one has to exceed a certain score to turn on the car.

Because I don't run late enough in the mornings already?

"One sec guys, one sec! We can go as soon as I kill this alien!"

I was thinking this as well, not to mention that if I initially failed because of a slip of the finger I'd get angry and do progressively worse in the game.

Hmmm...maybe this would create a noticeable drop in road rage, I think that's something we can all get behind.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Hmmm...maybe this would create a noticeable drop in road rage, I think that's something we can all get behind.

Doubtful.

"It took me five tries to blow away the slime monster, but I bet I can take YOU out first try!" CRAAAASH!

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Hmmm...maybe this would create a noticeable drop in road rage, I think that's something we can all get behind.

Doubtful.

"It took me five tries to blow away the slime monster, but I bet I can take YOU out first try!" CRAAAASH!

*mach 5 jump!*
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Sterling
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I could see legalization of marijuana in some form. And I think that might well do away with at least some of the problems that are broadly lumped together under the heading of "the problem with the war on drugs."

But frankly, there are some drugs I just don't want to be easily accessible to anyone. The idea of crystal methamphetamine being widely available is terrifying. "Yaa baa", a meth variant popular in southeast Asia, was apparently responsible for a million new teenage addicts within Thailand in past five years, at least as of this 2002 BBC report. If the little clump of teenagers smoking outside my highschool every day or the handful of idiots who got dances closed down through drinking was unfortunate, I don't want to think what popularized meth could do.

And that does raise one important point. Some drugs don't do awful things to people and communities just because they're hard to get. They do so because they're addictive as hell and incredibly destructive of the user.

I share a concern Senoj mentions- we already pay some unquestionably high costs for alcohol and tobacco, even if you only count the hospital bills incurred by their users. Do we really want to add cocaine-related heart attacks, heroin overdoses, and the like to our hospital rooms?

There may be a way to make this work through a combination of regulation and treatment, combined with a significant overhaul of our health system. But I think we might need a major change in societal attitudes as well. Straight, across-the-board legalization without serious planning sounds like pulling the bottom brick out of a pile without considering what it might be holding up.

At the very least- not that I get to set policy or anything- I'd want to say, "Could we try legalizing the relatively innocuous pot first and see how that goes before we turn the whole thing on its ear?"

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malanthrop
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Please give an example of a culture that has eliminated demand for narcotics, alcohol, and stimulants, without giving up civil liberties.

Mormon culture [Wink]
I knew someone would say that. [Smile] Mormons arguably give up some liberties, at least to fully belong to the culture. But leaving aside that point (I really meant to ask for an example national culture), good Mormons still get addicted to painkillers and other drugs.
I know a good Mormon who used to be a coke feind and now won't keep evil mouthwash in her house.
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katharina
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I have no idea what you are trying to say there.

Although, from the limited information you have given, it sounds like she goes to extremes in whatever she is doing. That's a personality thing, not a religous thing.

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DarkKnight
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quote:
I don't care so much about the money wasted, I care about the communities being destroyed by drug related crime. I've also seen the ravages of drug addiction first hand, I have no desire to see that problem increase. But right now I'm living in a country ravaged by the international drug trade. It's definitely changed my perspective. The damages caused by the illegal trade of drugs are indeed a hundred times worse than the damages from the drugs them self. You'd have to persuade me that drug addiction was going to be a hundred times worse if drugs were legal for me to even consider it a break even.
How would the distribution work? Would we have only American farmers growing pot and cocaine to sell to Americans? Could you grow your own? Can I make my own meth and sell it (paying applicable taxes) at a college? Can I smoke crack and/or pot in a restaurant? Would the drug cartels be able to sell their product legally in America? I would think the drug cartels would be able to produce high quality drugs very cheaply, much cheaper than we could. I also suspect they would be able to make even more profit than they are now from increased usage. How cheap do we set prices to be? If your goal is to eliminate crime from drug use then we would have to make it freely available to anyone who wants it. Would there be any limits on how much heroin you can buy in a day, week, month?
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King of Men
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quote:
Can I smoke crack and/or pot in a restaurant?
Point of order: Most places you can't even smoke tobacco.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
Straight, across-the-board legalization without serious planning sounds like pulling the bottom brick out of a pile without considering what it might be holding up.
Hence my previous post, about distinguishing between the illegality of the drug, versus illegality of the negative behavior that is associated with the drug.

With prohibition they pretty much turned their back on the problem, and it took about 50 years before law enforcement caught up and developed some teeth. As I see it, pushing drugs is the single worst of these behaviors, and if it's legal, then the 1st amendment says you can advertise it.

Here is my ideal scenario (note that this is stringent enough that it pretty much discounts the possibility of legalization).

Before a date is set to legalize (any particular) drug:

1. The constitution would have to be amended to make it illegal to promote the use of the drug for any reason that is not medically recognized. That means no advertising of any sort, even peer pressure would be criminal.

2. Laws establishing the legality of behavior while under the drug's influence would have to be established. Any situation where the user's decision making process could adversely affect others (driving, making medical diagnoses, operating machinery, cooking, etc.) would have to be clearly outlined. Use of the drug in the presence of children would be illegal.

3. Limits of blood or tissue concentration would have to be established and easily understood and testable.

4. Guidelines for purity, dosage, safe packaging, and instructions for use would be established by the FDA

5. Vendors would need a license to sell the drug. This would include private sale.

6. Drug users would need a license to buy the drug. A conviction for drug related illegal behavior would result is the loss of the license. Selling the drug to anyone who did not present a valid license would result in the loss of the vendor's license.

Oh, and this would apply for alcohol as well...

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Samprimary
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quote:
How would the distribution work?
Like alcohol. Regulated. Market-based. From approved distributors that adhere to codes.

quote:
Would the drug cartels be able to sell their product legally in America?
no.
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theamazeeaz
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The problem with regulated distribution is that the illegal supply channels are entrenched enough that they would undercut sales through a licensed and taxed distributor. Reuse a couple of crates of the legal stuff to transport the illegal stuff and life just got a lot easier for the drug smugglers.

Since possession would no longer be illegal, once one bought some pot, it doesn't matter where it came from. It can be consumed in any smoking area just like the legal stuff. Meanwhile, it's EASIER to sell the cartel products because only the transaction needs to be disguised, not the dealer's possession nor the users use.

While the legal stuff would certainly get some patronage, I can easily see sales of the illegal stuff going up simultaneously.

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MattP
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quote:
The problem with regulated distribution is that the illegal supply channels are entrenched enough that they would undercut sales through a licensed and taxed distributor.
Why didn't this happen with alcohol when prohibition ended?
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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:
The problem with regulated distribution is that the illegal supply channels are entrenched enough that they would undercut sales through a licensed and taxed distributor.
Why didn't this happen with alcohol when prohibition ended?
I guess some people wanted their bathtubs back.
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mr_porteiro_head
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It did, to an extent.
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natural_mystic
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkKnight:
Would we have only American farmers growing pot and cocaine to sell to Americans?

Should Americans buy only American cars? This issue is not particularly pertinent to drugs, beyond ensuring that foreign drugs satisfy FDA requirements.
quote:

Could you grow your own?

Sure.
quote:

Can I make my own meth and sell it (paying applicable taxes) at a college?

If you have a license, if it meets the safety requirements and if the buyers are over 21.

quote:

Can I smoke crack and/or pot in a restaurant?

Presumably this would be decided on a state by state basis (as for cigarettes). I assume that the majority would say no. The restaurant would probably also be required to have a license.

quote:

Would the drug cartels be able to sell their product legally in America? I would think the drug cartels would be able to produce high quality drugs very cheaply, much cheaper than we could. I also suspect they would be able to make even more profit than they are now from increased usage. How cheap do we set prices to be?

The cartels are highly profitable in a large part because they can charge very high prices because of the danger involved. This would no longer be the case. Furthermore, though they might have some advantage insofar as they already manufacture the drugs, they will still have to make sure that the drugs conform to the FDA requirements. Furthermore, they have no patents etc. so it's really hard to believe that a pharmaceutical company would not catch up very fast.

quote:

If your goal is to eliminate crime from drug use then we would have to make it freely available to anyone who wants it. Would there be any limits on how much heroin you can buy in a day, week, month?

If by freely available, you mean available to adults over 21 who purchase it, then (in my opinion) yes.

If drugs were legalized, it would be astounding to me if drug use did not increase. However I think that the correlation between drug user and failed citizen is heavily influenced by the illegality of drugs- I think we will find that removing the high cost of drugs and the need to deal with unsavory characters in order to get drugs will mean that productive citizens can support a drug habit. Given the many, many bad things directly attributable to the war on drugs, I think it would be worth testing this.

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Katarain
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I think it is pretty far-fetched to suggest that people would continue buying their pot through illegal sources if there was a legal alternative. I also think it highly unlikely that people would even bother growing their own if they could just go down to the drugstore and buy some, even if growing is cheaper and isn't taxed.

People can grow their own food, but most of them don't. It's easier and less of a hassle to buy it from the store. Buying pot would be the same thing. Why go to some shady dealer's house if you can just run into Walgreens for your weed?

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by theamazeeaz:
The problem with regulated distribution is that the illegal supply channels are entrenched enough that they would undercut sales through a licensed and taxed distributor. Reuse a couple of crates of the legal stuff to transport the illegal stuff and life just got a lot easier for the drug smugglers.

Not an established issue. Legal distribution undercuts the profit margins and the demand for distribution that illegal dope depends on.
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fugu13
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m_p_h: how much of an extent, roughly?
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MattP
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quote:
I guess some people wanted their bathtubs back.
I realize you're being silly, but I'm asking you to support your claim that "entrenched" distribution networks would ensure a continuing black market and that said market could undercut legal markets.

Bathtub booze is not what drove wealthy, criminal bootlegging operations. Why didn't these operations provide black market liquor at prices that undercut legitimate vendors after alcohol sales were legalized?

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mr_porteiro_head
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I know that there are still illegal stills up in the hills.

But then, people have been making illegal moonshine in the hills for longer that the US has been a country.

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fugu13
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I'm not sure those people are undercutting sales so much as indulging in an activity they enjoy.
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The Pixiest
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http://www.victorianvilla.com/sims-mitchell/local/vis/suttonp/

This guy killed himself rather than report to federal prison for his moonshining.

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fugu13
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That's too bad. Legalizing his distilling activities would have been far better.

I think that article and the other about his death make it very clear he made moonshine out of enjoyment.

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by Katarain:
I think it is pretty far-fetched to suggest that people would continue buying their pot through illegal sources if there was a legal alternative. I also think it highly unlikely that people would even bother growing their own if they could just go down to the drugstore and buy some, even if growing is cheaper and isn't taxed.

People can grow their own food, but most of them don't. It's easier and less of a hassle to buy it from the store. Buying pot would be the same thing. Why go to some shady dealer's house if you can just run into Walgreens for your weed?

When I think of illegal sources, I'm thinking foreign sources, and their associated mafias, not a home garden nor some hypothetical fancy import company from Holland.

I think of the people who are not legally able to purchase their own drugs, or people who find that a dealer is actually cheaper. Or, those who have loyalty to a dealer. I've also heard that some marijuana is laced with other drugs. *That* certainly won't be available at Walgreens.

In an old World Watch, OSC pointed out that people who are underage are not looked down at as criminals, just young. See a 17 year old smoking pot, and you'd think that stores should be carding people, not that the kid is supporting drug cartels.

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