supernerd222

Which drugs should be legal?

27 posts in this topic

Justin Trudeau - our totally dreamy Prime Minister up here in Canada - was elected on a platform of legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana. Meanwhile, Washington and Colorado beat us to the punch and seem to have had a lot of success with their own legalization initiatives. Should other states and countries follow suit and legalize marijuana?

If marijuana should be legal, should that be the last drug to be legalized? Where do you draw the line on which drugs should be legal, or do you think that all drugs should be legal?

If you think that all drugs should be legal, how do you picture that working out? Do you think that the government should take a total hands-off approach and let the free market sort it out? Or should the government step in and regulate the production and sale of some drugs? Should any of this have any effect on prescription drugs that are commonly used recreationally? How do you feel about the inevitable designer recreational drugs from pharmaceutical companies?

Conversely, if you think it's the duty of the government to decide what people can put in their bodies, what's your justification for that, where do you draw the line, and are you optimistic about ever eliminating drug abuse?

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None. Recreational drugs serve no purpose other than to destroy people's lives.

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If I was in a position to dictate drug policy, experiment 1 would look something like:

Examine existing literature that evaluates relative harm of various legal and illegal drugs and assign each currently illegal drug to regulation comparable to the least harmful legal drug more harmful than the illegal drug. I.e. any currently illegal drug that has been determined to be less harmful than tobacco would at most be regulated to the same extent as tobacco, and only drugs evaluted as more dangerous than all legal drugs would have any chance of remaining illegal.

Naturally, even drugs evaluated to be safer than caffeine would still have to follow general standards regarding avoiding comtamination, using approved fillers, and labeling amount/concentration of active ingredients.

Also, I'm all for making involuntary in-patient treatment for substance abuse part of the standard sentence for any crime worthy of jail time committed under the influence(and mandatory out patient treatment as part of probation).

I also favor taxation on the sale of recreational drugs going towards public funding of drug rehab.

In general, I believe the negatives of a good or service can be better addressed through appropriate regulation rather than an outright ban.

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10 hours ago, Spurgle said:

None. Recreational drugs serve no purpose other than to destroy people's lives.

I assume you therefore support banning alcohol, caffeine, junk food, and tobacco, right? And probably also porn and video games without artistic merit and gambling, right? Or do you think the status quo is perfect: alcohol and tobacco are fine, but pot and shrooms are evil? Either way, why do you think that part of the role of government should be to tell people what they're allowed to do to their own bodies?

3 hours ago, Jeffery Mewtamer said:

If I was in a position to dictate drug policy, experiment 1 would look something like:

Examine existing literature that evaluates relative harm of various legal and illegal drugs and assign each currently illegal drug to regulation comparable to the least harmful legal drug more harmful than the illegal drug. I.e. any currently illegal drug that has been determined to be less harmful than tobacco would at most be regulated to the same extent as tobacco, and only drugs evaluted as more dangerous than all legal drugs would have any chance of remaining illegal.

Naturally, even drugs evaluated to be safer than caffeine would still have to follow general standards regarding avoiding comtamination, using approved fillers, and labeling amount/concentration of active ingredients.

Also, I'm all for making involuntary in-patient treatment for substance abuse part of the standard sentence for any crime worthy of jail time committed under the influence(and mandatory out patient treatment as part of probation).

I also favor taxation on the sale of recreational drugs going towards public funding of drug rehab.

In general, I believe the negatives of a good or service can be better addressed through appropriate regulation rather than an outright ban.

That's a reasonable position and I can't really disagree with much that you said.

But how should the danger of drugs be graded? For example, LSD is completely benign in terms of physical effects on your body, but you'd probably agree that it's not in the same category as caffeine in terms of danger. It's hard to quantify the danger though, and it depends a lot on the person. Or what about things like mdma or ketamine or even cocaine, which are reasonably safe if used moderately, but life-ruining if used habitually in the long term? Where's the point of outright illegality for you?

Also, I disagree with the idea of involuntary rehab. It should be offered, maybe they could even lighten your sentence if you complete the program. But there's no point in making it involuntary. If someone commits a crime on drugs, gets caught, and then turns down rehab, forcing them to sit through it isn't going to help anything. Maybe they don't think they have a problem, maybe they don't want to stop using drugs, maybe they do want to stop using drugs but know that traditional rehab wouldn't work for them. It could even make it less likely that the person will go to rehab later, if they see rehab as their enemy or as a punishment. It's also a waste of money and a waste of space in a program with limited seats. You can't force someone to stop being a drug addict, they have to choose for themselves.

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Recreational marijuana is now legal in California. So that's a thing. I don't partake myself, but I'm still all for it. Now we can finally cool it with the expensive police boondoggles in finding users, and the government can tax it. Also there might be some semblance of standardization, not just in quality but in safety (laced with who knows what, etc.). Beyond that, I have a "pothead" friend, and he's one of the nicest, hardest-working guys I ever met. And from my cursory research, it doesn't cause physiological harm either, so... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Normally I'm not political but I figured this was momentous enough to be worth putting in my two cents.

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25 minutes ago, EthanDaOmoWIz said:

None, drugs killed more people then guns this year

The thing is, would legalizing them save more lives than restricting their availability, leading to drug-related violence and other related criminal activity? Not the really bad ones, I guess, but the real issue is where the line is drawn.

It's strange to think about how we can modify so many aspects of ourselves by tweaking some chemical reactions. There's a TNG quote: "If it feels awkward to be reminded that Data is a machine, just remember that *we* are merely a different variety of machine - in our case, electrochemical in nature." 

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Regarding drug deaths:

With the black market, there are no standards. Nothing requiring that equipment used for refining chemicals be clean and made of non-reactive materials. No universally agreed upon fillers for diluting things that can't be safely handled in a pure form. No standard for labeling purity/strength of a given batch. No standards for safely handling volatile chemicals. Probably other things I can't think of at the moment.

I know nothing of how one turns Coca leaves into powdered cocaine, but in a black market setting, you have no idea how sanitary the lab used to extract cocaine from the coca was, you have no idea if the batch you're buying is 30%, 70%, or 100% cocaine and no idea what the other 70% or 30% is. In a legal market setting, You might buy a bottle of cocaine tablets produced in a sterile lab, are labeled with the exact Cocaine content of each tablet, and includes a list of inactive ingredients very similar to what you would find on the labels of over the counter medications. This would go a long way towards eliminating accidental overdose and illness caused by tainted product as the user could be reasonably sure there getting the exact same quality with every purchase.

Not to mention that a legal meth lab would be as likely to explode as a legal brewery is to go up in flames. I.e. not very likely because there are actual safety guidelines in place.

Expanding outward to drug violence, a legal distributor has no need for armed security ready to fight off a police raid, and police have no reason to launch a paramilitary raid on a legal distributor, cutting down on violence between drug dealers and police. Plus, if legalization is done right, drug dealers would be given strong incentive to go legit, and those who refuse to go legit would have trouble competing with legal sources(look at alcohol: how many people bother with making/buying homemade wine or moonshine instead of just going to their local supermarket or liquor store?). Granted, you'd probably have some using legal drug dealing to fund illegal activities, but I suspect most in the drug trade would either abandon their other illegal businesses to go legit with drugs, abandon drugs for things that would still be profitable on the blackmarket, or go out of business entirely as drug dealing was their entire business but their too small to go legit(it would probably be mainly street dealers in this last category, though some might get sales positions in the stores that would likely replace street dealing in a world of legal drugs(assuming the legalized drugs didn't find their way into supermarkets and ABC stores like the big two of already legal recreational drugs have). Depending on where the new equilibrium lands, widespread legalization could even lead to drugs being removed entirely as a contributor to violent competition between street gangs, especially where dealing is a street gang's primary source of funding and distribution rights was the main reason for turf wars between rival factions. Admittedly, this is a bit more speculative than the "legal producers following health standards makes drugs safer" point.

Regarding danger:

I'm no pharmacist, but I think a good starting point for evaluating the risk a drug poses would be to consider the following dimensions:

1. Health risk to the user.
2. Health risk to those exposed to the user.
3. Risk of altering the user's behavior in undesirable ways.
4. addictiveness.
5. Widespread societal effects.

Caffeine is overall very low risk as while it's highly addictive(to the point most Americans can't function without it and aren't even aware of their addiction), it poses little health risk to the user except if ingested in extreme amounts, has no effect that I know of on those exposed to a user, and usually the worse behavior change is jitters and being a bit on edge, and that's usually only with mild overdose.

Alcohol is fairly safe for the user in moderation, but overcumsumption can have severe negative health effects in both short and long term. Being exposed to a drunk is not itself risky, but alcohol can have unpredictable behavior altering effects. Not sure about addiction.

Tobacco brings us to the point that method of consumption is important. Dipping or chewing tobacco carries much fewer risks compared to smoking, and while second hand smoke can be as hazardous as actually smoking, there is no exposure risk hanging out with a chewer. The stuff is highly addictive, but to my knowledge, poses low risk in the behavior altering category.

Marijuana has fewer risks if smoked compared to tobacco, and very few risks through other delivery methods. It is a strong behavior modifier, but tends towards fairly benign(I've heard of angry, mean, and violent drunks and crack heads, but I've never heard those adjectives used to describe a pothead).

Granted, the above evaluations are just the musings of a layperson, so feel free to correct me if I got anything wrong.

That said, it would probably be a good idea to re-evaluate recreational drugs every few years since it's hard to predict how a change of regulation will affect society level risks. To keep things sensible, I'd probably grandfather in caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol as recreational drugs that have been around long enough to say they have a stable equilibrium as legal substances. I.e. if a substance that was place in the Alcohol regulation class based on it's pre-legalization evaluation is re-evaluated to be less dangerous than predicted once the legal market has a few years to reach equilibrium, it migh t be considered for being moved to the tabacco class. On the other hand, if legalization ended up backfiring, it might be considered for de-legalization. Of course, even initially, it would probably be a good idea to shift drugs from the illegal class to a legal class in stages.

Also, even for drugs that I would evaluate as too dangerous for legalization, I'd probably adopt a policy that users should be left alone as long as their being responsible and don't commit any crimes, and that if caught for a unrelated violation and found in possession of an illegal substance, that the punishment be limited to confiscation of the illegal substance unless there is evidence of production or distribution. My reasoning being that the government has no business telling people what they do with their own body and that focusing on end users does nothing to hinder supply, and the legal system is cluttered enough without having to process people who aren't bothering anyone.

As for rehab:

I'll admit there's a strong chance forced rehab could backfire, but I still think there are people who would never voluntarily seek help, but for whom a forced intervention would be beneficial. Of course, the government shouldn't consider such an intervention except in cases where drug misuse has lead to criminal activity or is interfering in a government employee's ability to do their job. Of course, if psychological evaluation was a standard part of sentencing criminals, maybe we could reach a point where courts have a fairly good track record when it comes to determining which drug abusers should be committed, which should be incentivized to commit themselves, and which are only offered drug rehab upon request. After all, people are different, and one man's stick could very easily be another man's carrot or vice versa, and while it's often impractical, if not impossible to find the optimal solution to every circumstance, the better a system can adapt to varying circumstances(in this case, the better the legal system can adapt to different psychological profiles of convicts), the better the results tend to be.

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5 hours ago, EthanDaOmoWIz said:

None, drugs killed more people then guns this year

So?

The CDC made some estimates about the proportion of preventable deaths among the leading causes of death in the USA. If the government's goal is to keep as many people alive for as long as possible, then it looks like the best way to do that would be to ban junk food, tobacco, and alcohol, and maybe force everyone to work out for a few hours every week. Notice that drugs barely factor into this list: they're low in the list of factors leading to unintentional injuries - itself a relatively minor cause. Even there, it's with a big asterisk that a lot of drug-related accidents involve the misuse of prescription drugs, which you can't solve with prohibition. If all you want is more people living longer lives, drugs should be pretty low on your list of priorities. In fact, all the money we spend on drug enforcement would probably be better spent on junk food enforcement, and building enough gyms for the mandatory forced exercise sessions.

Also, I'd like to point out that this year, drugs were still illegal. So when they killed more people than guns, was that an example of prohibition working?

2 hours ago, Jeffery Mewtamer said:

Also, even for drugs that I would evaluate as too dangerous for legalization, I'd probably adopt a policy that users should be left alone as long as their being responsible and don't commit any crimes, and that if caught for a unrelated violation and found in possession of an illegal substance, that the punishment be limited to confiscation of the illegal substance unless there is evidence of production or distribution. My reasoning being that the government has no business telling people what they do with their own body and that focusing on end users does nothing to hinder supply, and the legal system is cluttered enough without having to process people who aren't bothering anyone.

If we're going to leave the hardest drugs illegal, but then not bother people who are using them, why not just make them legal?

In Vancouver, we have a thing called InSite. It's illegal, but at the same time it's funded partially by the provincial government. If you're into heroin, you can take it there, and they'll give you a clean needle, alcohol swabs, distilled water, and a little booth. Then, if you OD, they have people to give you medical attention. I think it's a pretty good compromise at this point in history, and I'm going to guess you think it's a good idea too.

But it's also as good as it gets with the turn-a-blind-eye approach. In Vancouver, we have a huge problem this year with fentanyl, which is an opiate with such a low active dose that it's very hard to consistently not overdose. And it's not like fentanyl is the popular drug that everyone wants. It's cheap because its small and easy to smuggle, and it's all that's available. I understand that even if you find some heroin, it's probably tainted with fentanyl. InSite could provide free purity tests for the drugs people bring in (actually, I'm not sure if they already do), but opiate addicts probably aren't going to decide not to ditch the heroin they scored because it's not pure. The next step of harm reduction is to legalize heroin and other opiates, and take control of the distribution.

That's why I don't draw a line. I think that prohibiting any particular drug leads to worse outcomes than legalizing and regulating it.

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18 hours ago, supernerd222 said:

I assume you therefore support banning alcohol, caffeine, junk food, and tobacco, right? And probably also porn and video games without artistic merit and gambling, right? Or do you think the status quo is perfect: alcohol and tobacco are fine, but pot and shrooms are evil? Either way, why do you think that part of the role of government should be to tell people what they're allowed to do to their own bodies?

Enjoy your "pot and shrooms".

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When I try to think of drugs that I'd actually call too dangerous to risk legalization, I mostly come up with things straight out of a mad scientist's laboratory or chemical weapon research centers. Things more likely to kill you outright in the most agonizing way rather than induce an altered mental state that would make them appealing for recreational use.

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I'm not sure if "legalized" is the best term, but I'd rather that all drugs become decriminalized. Mainly because drug addicts would be more willing to get help for their problems if they weren't seen as criminals.

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1 hour ago, Spurgle said:

Enjoy your "pot and shrooms".

You clearly have strong feelings on this topic. I'd love to hear about why you feel this way. Please, engage me in some kind of discussion so that I can understand your position.

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This should be decided based on the cost to society. I wouldn't want to ban alcohol, but it's crazy how it's legal and cannabis is only just getting there. There are a lot of really safe drugs out there that are illegal everywhere (where law applies, that is) while the ones we culturally approve of are killing lots. Legalizing them would take away needing to go to a shady dealer, so a little experimentation with safe drugs doesn't lead you to things like heroin through your dealer. Also, stores selling drugs can have quality control, something missing right now. With the right drug information supply as soon as you step into such an establishment, a lot of deaths can be prevented. 

I'm thinking of cannabis, mushrooms and DMT (generally the more natural stuff) when I think about legalizing drugs. Those also have the capacity to open some people's minds to more options than the idea of truth that's embedded in our guts, which many definitely need. 

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I favor decriminalization and eventual legalization of all drugs.

The most fundamental argument for legalization is personal freedom. A victimless crime is no crime at all. What someone chooses to ingest, so long as it doesn't harm anyone else, ought to be their choice. It's not the government's business to protect people from themselves. We already allow all sorts of dangerous activities, like extreme sports and unhealthy diets, which not only pose harm to the user but frequently also cost society money once that harm takes effect.

That argument isn't going to convince any hardline anti-drugsters.

There are many less principled and more pragmatic reasons to legalize drugs, founded on the principle of harm reduction. People always have and always will use drugs. The only question is, how are we to deal with it?

The unregulated market funnels billions of dollars into criminal activity that is unrelated to drugs - theft and violence.

The unregulated market makes no assurances about the purity or identity of street drugs, leading to accidental overdoses. The criminalization of common recreational drugs like LSD, MDMA, sedatives and stimulants creates a market for semi-legal designer drugs which, unlike the aforementioned drugs, have little to no history of human use and whose risks and dangers are completely unknown.

The very illegality of drugs creates risk for the sellers, and to compensate they jack up prices to often astronomical levels. This drives addicts to further crime in order to finance a habit they could easily afford if they bought their wares at a price more commensurate with the cost of production. The lack of taxation on drugs also sucks away a large pool of money the government could have used for harm reduction and treatment.

The general stigma against drug use prevents accurate harm reduction advice from being spread, in favor of propaganda based on false information. It also makes it much harder for problem users to seek help, and for responsible users to take the appropriate precautions. Putting drug users in jail only serves to further marginalize them from the rest of society, and makes it harder for them to reintegrate into straight society. Many users get ought of jail and immediately OD as their tolerance has decreased but their cravings have not.

A taxed, government regulated market, with pure drugs at fair prices, easily available harm reduction advice and a low threshold for seeking help would greatly improve the world. Forced treatment won't work because the greatest predictor of successful cessation of use is personal motivation, not the whip or baton.

The most harmful drug in society is alcohol, according to scientific assessments by Prof. David Nutt et al, chiefly because of the harm to others (a few other drugs like crack, meth and heroin are more harmful to the user, but cause overall less danger to bystanders).

The war on drugs is a sadistic, misguided attempt to solve a perennial problem, and after forty years of failure, it's time for new thinking. We're finally seeing some research into the medical applications of drugs like LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and cannabis, and maybe at some point we'll actually see them legalized for personal use as well.

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On 2016-12-16 at 3:44 AM, satyr said:

I favor decriminalization and eventual legalization of all drugs.

I  agree with everything you said, and I think you said it very well.

Since we're on the same page with regard to legalization, let's talk specifics. Something I've been thinking about lately is whether a line between pharmaceuticals and recreationals should exist post-prohibition, and the implications of each option. Requiring a prescription to get access to a drug is like halfway prohibiting it. It would be a bit absurd to think about a world where you can go into a store and buy crystal meth, but if you want to abuse xanax or adderall, you still have to buy it illegally or lie to a doctor. On the other hand, prescriptions exist not only as a barrier to getting drugs, but also as a way to make sure that a doctor knows all the stuff you're taking and is responsible for making sure you don't mix two drugs with bad interactions or take too much. But then again, even if it was legal to buy any prescription drug you want at the store, responsible people would still go to the doctor and listen to their advice anyway.

So it seems tempting to just open it up and allow anyone to buy whatever drug they want. I see problems with that approach too, though. If all drugs are legal by default, there's suddenly a massive market for designer drugs. Imagine the insane new hallucinogens we'd have if the big pharma companies paid phd chemists to invent fun new recreational drugs. I start to feel a little bit put off, though, when I start imagining these guys converging on the perfect soma, advertising each iteration with TV spots and sponsorships for music festivals and stuff. I'm perfectly fine with adults having access to even the most dangerous and addicting drugs, but I feel weird about setting up a world where incredibly powerful corporations are incentivized to invent drugs that more people want to use.

So what do you do? Whitelisting the prescription drugs that are ok for recreational sale would collapse into soft prohibition. If you didn't let pharma companies invent new recreational drugs, they'd market their designer drugs as remedies for joint pain. I don't have a good solution, do you have any thoughts on it?

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I'm not convinced your average MD is actually that well-versed in drug interactions, and my experiences suggest some doctors have a bad habit of ignoring what other doctors are doing for their patients who see multiple doctors. My mom was once committed to a mental hospital for what was ultimately determined to be a severe case of overmedication, and has had at least one pharmacist since voice concerns of conflicts in her perscriptions that her doctors brushed off, and while it's my understanding that not all pharmacists are full MDs, drug interactions are actually part of their specialization, so I'm inclined to trust the opinion of a pharmacist over a MD when it comes to drugs and their interactions. It's also my understanding that there are unscrupulous drug companies that will take an existing generic medication, alter it just enough to file a patent while making no significant improvement in safety or effectiveness, or even making it worse, and then have their marketing department do a good job of convincing MDs to switch to prescribing the new drug instead of the older, cheaper generic that works just as good in most cases, and these are problems that are only likely to get worse if designer drugs became mainstream and incentives encouraged rather than discouraged such abuse.

It might be okay to keep, for lack of a better term, "natural" drugs(mainly unprocessed plant material) free enough to be found in tobacco barns and liquor stores, but I think it would be a good idea, at least in early stages, to restrict refined and synthetic recreational drugs to pharmacies where a pharmacist can be on hand to help explain risks, side-effects, and potential interactions of both medicinal and recreational drugs.

As for drug companies trying to market recreational drugs as medicinal drugs, I think such should be outright illegal and treated as the worst kind of false advertising. Not saying drugs can't have both recreational and medicinal uses, but claims of medicinal use should be backed up by something other than the producer's word.

I think the FDA needs reforming, and I don't particularly want to get into that discussion, but here is one proposal I might make:
All new drugs are submitted to the FDA for safety evaluation and assigned grades on several factors of risk(such as toxicity, addiction, contribution to major classes of health problem, etc.).
Drugs intended for medicinal use undergo further FDA evaluation to certify effectiveness.
Recreational Drugs must be clearly marked with their FDA Safety grades.
Medicinal drugs may only be advertised to treat conditions they have been certified effective against.

To give an example of grading, Grades for toxicity might look something like:
A: Impossible to overdose. Estimated LD50 is so high that the delivery mechanism isn't fast enough to allow one to reach LD50 concentration.
B. Deliberate Overdose possible, Accidental Overdose Unlikely. A Whole bottle of pills might kill you, but half a bottle would probably only give you a bad trip.
C: Moderate risk of accidental overdose. LD50 is within two orders of magnitude of the recommended dose.
D. High Risk of Accidental overdose. LD50 is within an order of magnitude of recommended dose.
F: Poison. Any deviation from recommended dose could be lethal and some will overdose without feeling any benefit.

With other factors following a similar pattern. The idea being that something with straight-As would be pretty damn close to absolutely safe and anything that would get straight-F would probably never be considered for human consumption.

Over time, regulations on recreational drugs might be loosened to allow the sell of drugs that haven't undergone FDA evaluation, but requiring that unevaluated drugs be clearly labelled as being unevaluated and it being illegal to claim FDA evaluation that has not occurred. Of course, Pharmacies would be allowed to blanketly refuse to carry drugs that haven't been evaluated.

Would probably be a good idea for the FDA to keep a database of drugs they've evaluated, for this database to be readable by the general public, and for pharmacies to have kiosks to access the database. The general idea to make it easier to access quality information on various drugs.

b

Edited by Jeffery Mewtamer
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Joined in too late to read everything, but my opinion is with @Spurgle et al that all drugs are, in theory at least, wrong and we really should ban them all... HOWEVER on a practical front we'll never effectively ban booze, which actually as I understand it was part of our civilisation's development by making a drink that wasn't full of bugs etc, and while we're gradually moving to ban tobacco (blank packaging, increasing stigma and no smoking in public buildings) it's gonna take frikkin ages since it's also become somewhat ingrained in society (I just today stopped after taking it up for exams and work stress!!)... And stuff like caffeine is just too mild to be worthy of concern, which of course begs the question of degree of impact...

As an auditor we have two (OK maybe three) levels of concern, being materiality, (performance materiality/PM) and triviality. So if a drug has a material impact it should be illegal - for example highly addictive substances or those which can cause significant damage. Since PM is generally only a bit less than materiality, anything with impact more than PM would be banned unless conclusively proven otherwise - like LSD supposedly gives random flashback hallucinations throughout the rest of your life, even if it has limited physiological effect... Then anything trivial like caffeine or painkillers doesn't really warrant any regulation at all... Anything in the middle would be regulated/banned based on severity.

As for pot, it does nothing for me (though my prescription meds are apparently just slow release cocaine so pretty sure my body doesn't work the same way as everyone else's!) and I know it fucks up a lot of people's lives, making them highly unproductive so I'd say it's definitely material enough to warrant high levels of regulation if not full ban...

I was going somewhere with this but forgotten where... 

Let's just say that if the Brexit and Trump votes have taught us anything it's that "the people" REALLY don't know what's best for them, but they do enjoy fucking themselves and everyone else over in the process... Legalise all drugs and at least half the population are likely to be high/stoned/dead within the week, and trying to rob/kill the other half for drug money! (legal or not it's still gonna be expensive!!)

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15 hours ago, supernerd222 said:

I  agree with everything you said, and I think you said it very well.

Since we're on the same page with regard to legalization, let's talk specifics. Something I've been thinking about lately is whether a line between pharmaceuticals and recreationals should exist post-prohibition, and the implications of each option. Requiring a prescription to get access to a drug is like halfway prohibiting it. It would be a bit absurd to think about a world where you can go into a store and buy crystal meth, but if you want to abuse xanax or adderall, you still have to buy it illegally or lie to a doctor. On the other hand, prescriptions exist not only as a barrier to getting drugs, but also as a way to make sure that a doctor knows all the stuff you're taking and is responsible for making sure you don't mix two drugs with bad interactions or take too much. But then again, even if it was legal to buy any prescription drug you want at the store, responsible people would still go to the doctor and listen to their advice anyway.

So it seems tempting to just open it up and allow anyone to buy whatever drug they want. I see problems with that approach too, though. If all drugs are legal by default, there's suddenly a massive market for designer drugs. Imagine the insane new hallucinogens we'd have if the big pharma companies paid phd chemists to invent fun new recreational drugs. I start to feel a little bit put off, though, when I start imagining these guys converging on the perfect soma, advertising each iteration with TV spots and sponsorships for music festivals and stuff. I'm perfectly fine with adults having access to even the most dangerous and addicting drugs, but I feel weird about setting up a world where incredibly powerful corporations are incentivized to invent drugs that more people want to use.

So what do you do? Whitelisting the prescription drugs that are ok for recreational sale would collapse into soft prohibition. If you didn't let pharma companies invent new recreational drugs, they'd market their designer drugs as remedies for joint pain. I don't have a good solution, do you have any thoughts on it?

I think the market for designer drugs is almost entirely based on their being a semi-legal alternative to illegal drugs, and their easier availability. Chinese drug labs and reputable pharmaceutical companies alike would have a hard time competing with cheap, time-tested drugs that are out of patent. Very few drug users are serious "psychonauts" who are interested in trying anything and everything. Most people would be more than willing to go for the "standard" alternative in each drug category if offered the chance to do so legally. That would be MDMA for empathogens, LSD and shrooms for psychedelics, straight amphetamines and cocaine for stimulants, ketamine and possibly MXE for dissociatives, benzos, GHB and alcohol for sedatives, tobacco for nicotine... Basically there are non-patented drugs with a long history of human usage in just about every category of drugs. Where is the incentive to go looking for something different? It would be like mass-market beer versus microbrewed craft beer, except craft beer is still basically the same drug, just a different taste. I think in a free market, the major drugs we all know about would win out. Every so often a new drug comes out that actually becomes popular, but that's very rare. The newest drug that I would call a "standard" recreational drug is MDMA, which became popular in the 1980s. Possibly GHB starting around the same time, but then that was legal for a while so a lot of users used it for that, plus it was a bodybuilder fad. Point being, new drugs rarely became the equivalent of "mass market." Hundreds of designer drugs have come and gone since then and very few are missed by anyone but the aficionados.

What is Roche or Chinese SuperLabs(tm) going to come out with that can compete? The pharmaceutical companies will want patents and more money than people can be bothered to spend. Imagine I offered you a "Premium Tobacco" that costs 10x as much as regular tobacco, has basically the same subjective effects, but has potentially never been used by humans and could be ten times as harmful as regular tobacco? Ninety-nine out of a hundred people are gonna buy their Marlboros or Lucky Strikes, they're not gonna chance anything new and potentially dangerous.

I don't fear corporate Soma. I think any new drug on the market has to be either less illegal, more available and/or cheaper to compete with the established ones. In a legalized world, this would be nigh on impossible to achieve with a serious profit.

Consider the case of 25i-nBOME. This psychedelic drug has effects very similar to LSD, and for a while it was legal, or at least "gray area legal" and easily available online. Unlike LSD, where it is physically safe to consume a ten-strip (even if your mind will be fucked), 25i has a much smaller safety window. Even taking two tabs could be enough to kill you, and there have been cases of this, especially when 25i was sold as LSD. In a regulated market, LSD will outsell 25i, its less safe, less well-tested, poor imitation drug any day of the week. 

Oh, and just to comment on the "expensive" part in the post above, which was published while I was writing up mine. Most drugs are dirt cheap to produce. What costs money is research and development, and pharmaceutical companies go to extreme lengths to not only recoup their millions in R&D but make enormous profits. Producing cocaine, MDMA, alcohol, LSD, amphetamine, or oxycodone really isn't expensive. But on the legal front, patents make things much more expensive than they cost to produce (most generic pharma drugs are cheap), and on the illegal front, there are two concerns: 1) the extra risk of doing something illegal means it's not worth it unless you charge extra, and 2) a lot of drugs go through MANY hands before they reach the user, and each level adds onto the price. Pure cocaine fresh out of Peru could be $5/gram, by the time it makes it to Europe or North America, it's at $150/gram at 10% of the original purity.

These problems would not exist in a regulated. free. legal economy.

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Historically attempts to limit access to substances and materials that people want access to has caused more problems than it solved. They keep saying the first step is admitting you have the problem, so we have to admit that the War on Drugs is lost before we can even consider building some sort of workable drug policy. No matter what that policy actually ends up being, or which drugs get the thumbs up and which get the thumbs down.

I will say that as a survivalist, the drug paranoia has made purchasing medical supplies... tricky. And I'm not just talking high end painkillers. The only part of my medicine cabinet that I can easily get comes from a liquor store. Which is kinda funny, when you think about it.

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9 minutes ago, DrBorderline said:

Historically attempts to limit access to substances and materials that people want access to has caused more problems than it solved.

Heh, reminds me of DRM in vidyagames,  but that's a whole different can of worms entirely.

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In all fairness, producing cocaine while adhering to regulations for lab safety and comtamination prevention and maintaining quality standards could potentially drive up production costs and it would likely be taxed heavily, but if Cocaine was legal throughout the US, you could have Coca plants grown by the square mile right here in the lower 48 instead of it being smuggled thousands of miles from South America, and the same goes for any other drug crop that is typically grown elsewhere and imported because you can't hide a worthwhile crop of the stuff here. This alone could potentially cut a supply chain by as much as 90% and without the need for armed protection from law enforcement, could potentially lead to higher profits for everyone on the supply chain while still lowering the market price.

Another thought, with US Farmers growing drug plants that previously had to be smuggled from south America, smuggling becomes a much less appealing business, so not only would you elminate drug smuggling at the US-Mexico border, but you would likely see smugglers who dealed in both drugs and other contraband giving up as the decide smuggling non-drugs isn't worth it without the drugs. In turn, this could free up resources for more efficiently processing legitimate transfers across the boarder, perhaps even improving immigration processing to the point that otherwise law-abiding Mexican-Americans have less incentive to jump the boarder instead of going through proper channels. Granted, much of this is hypothetical, but the war on drugs does mean that much of border patrol resources are being wasted in attempt to cut down on drug smuggling.

I do agree that designer drugs probably wouldn't do well in a culture of legal drugs, and if anything, the main reason demand for designer drugs are as high as they are now is because of the part of the population that wants to do drugs, but doesn't want to break the law and that many designer drugs are at least semi-legal until the government catches wind of them. Also, I have my doubts that legalization would see a huge spike in drug usage. In my experience, most people do what they want, regardless of the law, and as such, I suspect that most people interested in the common illegal drugs are already using them. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of people who try drugs just to be rebels and break the law outnumber those who want to try drugs but refrain because they're illegal.

For the record, I'm anti-prohibition not because I'm a user, and if anything, I'm almost a teetotaler, but because all available data I've seen and heard suggests that prohibition does more harm to society and individual users than the drugs themselves. I rarely drink alcohol, have long since pubxrged known sources of caffeine from my diet, can't stand second-hand tobacco smoke and find the thought of deliberately inhaling any kind of smoke disgusting(though I'll admit to finding the aroma of marijuana pleasant, but I'd vap or bake before I'd ever smoke pot), and in general, I prefer sensory inputs that encourage my body to produce it's own drugs over introducing foreign substances to my system.

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The newest drug that I would call a "standard" recreational drug is MDMA, which became popular in the 1980s.

Salvia has been used by people for a long time, but it had sort of a renaissance around 2008 due to internet culture. Kind of an odd one among recreational drugs in that many people only do it once or twice and never again. It was pretty popular for a bit though. Also bath salts are pretty new lol. Those both probably fall outside of the "standard" category. We haven't had a good new drug in a while. I don't know much about the RC scene, and I figure if there was anything game-changing there, I'd hear about it. But I refuse to believe that all the good drugs have been found.

You have a good point: people would tend to stick to the usual suspects at first. I think they'd be open to new alternatives too, if they were presented right. If a pharma company threw some money at it, they could make a drug that gives you mental effects similar to cocaine, but in pill form, and it doesn't increase your heart rate. It gives you a similar euphoric arrogant glow, but it's all in your head and your energy levels stay the same. People would absolutely buy that. A lot of coke users would say that it goes against the whole idea of coke. But other people who would never try coke due to its physical effects might. I don't even know how you'd approach marketing that, but if they somehow pulled it off and convinced people that there was now cocaine, but safer and legal, I think a lot of people who had never even tried drugs would give it a go just for shits and giggles.

I think as legal drugs become more and more normalized, people will become more willing to experiment. Craft beer is HUGE where I live, and I can see drugs becoming a bit like that. Besides the classics and the new inventions, you might even have little indie operations brewing up Shulgin obscura on surplus lab equipment. Descriptions of what each one makes you experience written in language as floral as the back of a bottle of wine.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. If things are dangerous or addicting, people will hear about it and avoid those ones. I think we're within a few years of a lot of people sort of dropping out and living in VR headsets anyway, so who cares if drug companies also get their cut of the endgame superstimulus market.

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On 12/10/2016 at 11:17 AM, Spurgle said:

None. Recreational drugs serve no purpose other than to destroy people's lives.

The whole point of recreational anything is to make life sacrifices for the sake of living. We do way more energy drinks and uppers than anyone would ever need, we physically strain our bodies with powerful substances for sex appeal, regularly deposit carcinogens into our lungs, and ingest grotesque mockeries of sustenance for recreation and this is considered normal behavior. Unrelated to substance we got dangerous sports, unprotected sex, gambling away your means of living ,and killing animals for fun.

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