Anyone who has any familiarity with the drug game knows that the libertarian claims about drugs are mostly nonsense. Drugs certainly play a role in the degeneracy of the lower classes, but they are not a cause. Poor people make bad choices, have high time preference and a below average IQ. There are exceptions, but that’s always the case with general rules. Drug use is a symptom of other problems, like the unwillingness oft he ruling class to do their duty.
That’s not to say the war on drugs is a good thing or even a necessary thing. In a time of low cultural confidence, aggressive policing of vice is never going to work. In fact, it just adds to the social pathologies that blossom during times of cultural decay. The cops are not hassling drug dealers in the ghetto out of righteous anger. They are doing it for money and the right to push people around in public.
That’s why the tide seems to be turning on the drug war. All of the most glamorous people are now proud of their hookahs and dank tanks. The cultural elite are squarely behind legalization and the political elites are coming around now too.
A 21-member international panel urged a global overhaul of drug policies on Tuesday, calling for some drugs such as marijuana to be regulated, an end to incarceration for drug use and possession, and greater emphasis on protecting public health.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy said traditional measures in the “war on drugs” such as eradicating acres of illicit crops, seizing large quantities of illegal drugs, and arresting and jailing violators of drug laws have failed.
The commission’s 45-page report pointed to rising drug production and use, citing the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime’s estimate that the number of users rose from 203 million in 2008 to 243 million in 2012.
The commission includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan; the former presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland; British tycoon Richard Branson and former U.S. Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker. It was established in 2010 with a stated purpose of promoting “science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.”
The commission’s first report in 2011 condemned the drug war as a failure and recommended major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime. This report goes further, encouraging experiments in legally regulating markets in currently illicit drugs “beginning with but not limited to cannabis, coca leaf and certain novel psychoactive substances.”
It called for “equitable access to essential medicines, in particular opiate-based medications for pain,” noting that more than 80 percent of the world’s population has little or no access to such medications. It also called for an end to criminalizing people for drug use and possession, a halt to “compulsory treatment” for such people, and alternatives to incarceration for non-violent, low-level participants such as farmers, couriers and others involved in producing, transporting and selling illegal drugs.
“The facts speak for themselves,” said Annan, who is also the convener of the West Africa Commission on Drugs. “It is time to change course.”
The facts clearly show the war on drugs to be a failure. Compared to the past, drugs are cheaper, more diverse, more potent, more evenly distributed and more sophisticated than at anytime in history. If prohibition was having any impact on supply, all the metrics would point in the other direction. The best you can argue is it could be worse, but that’s a gratuitous assertion. When you add up the costs, the war on drugs looks like an epic failure and probably a deliberate failure.
Legalization will not be a panacea. In fact, there may be an even higher cost to legalization. Drugs like weed have been proscribed for generations now. No one alive recalls a time when heroin, cocaine and cannabis were legal. More modern drugs like hallucinogens and dissociatives were broadly banned decades ago. That means generations have adjusted to the current arrangements. There will be a cost to breaking up those arrangements.
No one considers that because it is hard and not very cool. Libertarians, like Liberals, see only one side of the ledger. Basking in their new hipness, the drug legalizers are in no mood to think about the other side of the ledger. But, the first time a “dispensary” blows up or the owner is gunned down, everyone will suddenly remember that the drug dealers did not pack up and go away just because weed is legal.
Not that it will matter. The rulers have concluded that it is too much fuss to defend western civilization. The easy choice is to give the mob free drugs so they can sleep through the rest of the collapse. The Romans gave away free grain. The new Rome gives away free weed. I’m sure it will turn out just fine.