Monday, February 11, 2008

The Drug War

"Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power." -P. J. O'Rourke

I was hoping, yes, and even praying I would not succumb to this year's influenza strain. Well, that is exactly why I am so late today in posting. Everything I have hurts, including my beard. I am feeling kinda loopy from a low grade fever, and I have this strange, foul taste in my mouth. In short, I feel like crap. My sister, a physician, was kind enough to give me some Tamiflu samples and is on the way over to drop them off. It is rather nice to have a doctor in your immediate family, otherwise I would have to go to my general practitioner, give him a copay, sit in the waiting room for God only knows how long, and then have to pay a small fortune for a patented med. This got me thinking about perhaps the second stupidest idea our elected officials have come up with. They apparently learned nothing from alcohol prohibition. I am talking about this retarded drug war and its consequences.

Having some experience with medicine (some medical school and coming from a family of physicians) I went to the website for this medication and peeked at the physician's info sheet. This drug does have a few side effects, but nothing that will send you to the E.R. or the grave. I don't mind the expense of it (after all, the pharmaceutical companies are not in that business primarily for charitable purposes - it costs hundred of millions to get a drug to market - and patent laws give a very short period to recoup the costs of R&D), I just loathe the inconvenience. It doesn't take a vet to recognize a horse, and I am well aware I have all the symptoms of a viral infection. In a rational world, I could just go to the drug store or grocery, pick this stuff up and go about my business, instead of ruining the whole goddam day in pursuit of some relief. The FDA says otherwise. I think the first class in medical school should be "MD 101 - Why the government, politicians and attorneys will always know way more about the practice of medicine that you ever will."

The RAND institute, an non-profit policy research center, has long been researching the drug war from an objective standpoint. They are not some "legalize pot" bunch of hippies. Nowhere in that site will you find anyone saying that illicit drug use is beneficial. What you will find is the staggering amount of your money that state, local and federal government wastes on a war that cannot be won.

American society has become more punitive and puritanical as time goes on. Most of us are not really aware of the pharmacology of scheduled substances, especially those in the C1 class. It is true that some of these are outright dangerous, but should it not be your choice what you put in your body and what you don't? After all, who owns you; you or the government? Some substances on this list, such as ibogaine, can actually help stop drug and alcohol addictions. The only reason that I can conclude why it remains illegal in the United States is that the drug war zealots are afraid some patients might have a good time. Researchers are suggesting that MDMA (ecstasy) could prove beneficial in treating depression and post traumatic stress disorder. In Britain, the terminally ill patients are given heroin to alleviate pain. Sure, they might become addicted, but they are dying anyway - who cares?

A few years back, the state of California decriminalized cannibis and allowed physicians to prescribe it as they saw fit. Peter McWilliams, author of Ain't Nobody's Business if You Do - The Absurdity of Consensual Crime in a Free Society, certainly no fan of the big government or the war on drugs, and was diagnosed with cancer. Chemotherapy often produces nausea so severe, the patient cannot only eat, they are unable to swallow pills, thus Marinol is useless. He was brought to court in a wheelchair to contest the federal government telling California "no" to the idea that really sick people could smoke pot, even the terminally ill. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is apparently usless these days. They succeeded in taking away Mr. McWilliam's marijuana, when soon afterward, he died by choking on his own vomit as a result of the nausea produced by other medications. I guess we showed him!

After reading several articles on the matter, I can conclude that the drug war has been successful in some areas. First, obviously, the drug traffickers. Our punitive drug laws have hyperinflated the cost of these substances and made millionaires, in some cases, billionaires out of some of the most filthy, rotten thugs on the planet. They are criminals, thus they have no regard for ANY laws. Furthermore, I am not aware of one drug user who ever considered "Gee, its illegal. I guess I won't do it then." Secondly, since the plurality of our prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses, it costs money to keep 'em all locked up for their own safety (never mind that drugs are just as easy to get in prisons as they are on the street). Many prison "services" are handed out to private contractors, such as SODEXHO (a division of Marriott), that would suffer great financial loss if we were to treat this drug "problem" in an objective manner. Third, the legal industry is reliant upon defending offenders of our drug laws, at least those who can afford private counsel. The CATO Institute, a free-market, classical liberal think tank, has some interesting ideas, observations and statistics in this area.

Estimates of the drug war cost (in all areas) range from $40 billion to over $50 billion. It has been going on for decades. I would think with this price tag that the war would have been won long ago. There are those among us who consider government, not the individual, to be the final arbitrer in matters of personal morality. They would not in the least mind if all casual, weekend pot smokers were executed on sight. Government does one thing well, and that is waste money with reckless abandon. This drug war hysteria is a perfect vehicle for that, given a fearful, superstitious, uneducated and judgemental populace. Some, like Nicole Bush, are insulated from the consequences others of less affluence, such as Richard Paey, face for the same transgressions. Note that Bush and Paey live in the same state. Lenience and sympathy for one, the book thrown at the other.

Well, enough of this rant. Sis is here with my "dope". God have mercy on me if Tamiflu gives me a buzz.

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