LESSONS LEARNED #37: “The Decriminalization of Drugs. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 28th, 2010

Drugs are Killing Some of our Kids’ Cool Celebrity Role Models…and Some of Our Kids

Kids going through adolescence look up to role models.  Celebrity role models who look cool.  So they can aspire to that level of cool.  To have more friends.  Be popular.  To be popular with kids of the opposite sex.  And nothing does that like behaving like a celebrity.  Dressing like them.  Smoking like them (Joe Camel didn’t make kids smoke; movie stars and musicians did).  Having sex like them (in public like Alanis Morissette sings about in You Oughta Know).  And getting high like them.

Black Sabbath fired their front man Ozzy Osborne for his excessive drug use.  Steven Adler was fired from Guns n’ Roses for his excessive drug use.  Adler used the same drug cocktail that killed John Belushi, Chris Farley, River Phoenix and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to name a few.  One of Adler’s speedballs, though, gave him a stroke and left him with a speech impediment.  Osborne?  It’s hard to see or hear him and not think ‘drugs’.  Keith Richards, too.  (Some claim that it’s a miracle that either has lived so long.)  Amy Winehouse’ irregular heart beat resulted from a long use of cocaine.  John Entwistle died from a cocaine-induced heart attack.  Ol’ Dirty Bastard died from a cocaine & prescription drug induced heart attack.  Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of a prescription drug cocktail (oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine).  Bradley Nowell died from a heroin overdose just before Sublime’s major label album debut (which included three hits).  Danella Westbrooke lost the cartilage in her nose (and her profile) due to the massive amounts of cocaine she sniffed.  And there are a host of other celebrities whose past drug use is catching up to them in their old age.  Such as David Crosby’s liver disease.  His liver transplant resulted from his many years of drug abuse.

These are some expensive black market drugs.  But this isn’t a problem if you have a lot of money.  If these drugs were decriminalized, they would be cheaper.  And much more plentiful.  Meaning that they wouldn’t be limited to the rich and famous.  If they were less expensive, kids starting their drug exploration wouldn’t have to limit their exploration to the less expensive stuff (stealing from their parents’ medicine cabinet, sniffing butane, smoking marijuana, etc.).  They could broaden their horizon.  And why not?  They’re going to do it anyway.  And not everyone becomes an addict.  Or dies.

The British East Indian Company Used Indian Opium to Fix Their Balance of Trade with China

In the 19th century, mercantilism ruled.  It was all about balance of trade.  Nations wanted to export their goods.  And import gold and silver that paid for those goods.  Both Great Britain and China pursued these policies.  This became a problem for Great Britain whose people grew very fond of Chinese silk and porcelain and other Chinese exotic goods.  But the Chinese weren’t buying anything British.  Great Britain was importing more than she was exporting to China.  This meant there was a net silver flow from Great Britain to China.  And this wasn’t good mercantilism.  For the British.  It was very good mercantilism for the Chinese.  The British needed something to sell to the Chinese.  Something that only they could sell so the Chinese would have no choice but to buy from Great Britain.  And the British East India Company had just the thing.  Indian opium.

And it worked.  It reversed the balance of trade.  Silver was leaving China at an alarming rate.  But it was also turning the majority of Chinese males near the coastal cities into junkies.  Business suffered.  The civil service suffered.  With less available to buy the standard of living fell.  A dysfunctional civil service compounded that problem.  Rampant opium use was undermining Confucian values.  The Chinese begged the British to destroy the Indian poppy fields.  The British replied that, with the huge Chinese demand for opium, if they didn’t sell it, someone else would.  It would only cost the British their lucrative trade.  It wouldn’t solve the Chinese opium addiction problem.

Well, that led to war.  Two of them.  The Opium Wars.  Neither of which ended well for the Chinese.  They lost a lot.  Chinese coastal cities became virtually British.  Hong Kong became British.  Trade favored the British and other foreign nationals.  It led to much bitterness and resentment.  And to the Boxer Rebellion in 1898 to throw the imperialists out of China.  Which didn’t work all that well either.  But the British did help the Chinese to break their opium addiction.  If the Chinese worked from within to reduce consumption, the British would cut back on their opium importations.  Opium use declined in China.  As did opium imports.  With the decline in consumption, no new sources of opium rushed to fill an unmet demand.

The Americans and the Russians to Collaborate over Afghanistan’s Poppy Fields, The Netherlands Making their Legalized Marijuana less Legal

Well, there are still poppy fields in Southwest Asia.  And a high demand for heroin not too far away.  In Russia.  And it’s killing them.  Literally.   Some tens of thousands die each year from overdoses.  The collateral damage (broken families, lost jobs, the spread of AIDS from shared needles, neglected children, etc.) from drug addiction probably touches 10 times that number.  And the drug trade crime kills who knows how many more.  From the poppy fields in Afghanistan through the Central Asian states into Russia herself, there is an explosion of violence for this lucrative drug trade.  How bad is it?  Russia may return to Afghanistan to help the Americans in eradicating these poppy fields and shutting down the drug laboratories.  (For those who do not know, the Russian/Soviet war in Afghanistan was Russia’s Vietnam War.  And, let us not forget that both of these wars became proxy wars between America and the former Soviet Union.  So America and Russia working together in Afghanistan is a big thing).

Russia is even advising America against the ballot initiative in California to legalize marijuana.  Viktor Ivanov, Russia’s top drug official, went to Los Angeles to campaign against the ballot proposal.  He warned that legalizing marijuana will start a downward spiral into drug addiction.  We can understand heroin.  But marijuana?  A soft drug?  The Netherlands have long had legalized marijuana there.  It works there.  Why not in California?

Well, Netherland has had its problems with its marijuana coffee shops and cafes.  There’s been trouble in their border areas.  Tourists coming in just to get high.  And a lot of people have been going there.  Business is booming.  High demand.  Which have brought in crime as people vie to supply that demand.  There have been problems with school kids so they’ve banned these coffee shops/cafes within certain distances of schools.  And they’ve been selling a more potent cannabis, which is knocking the casual user on their ass.  Or impairing their motor skills.  And, with the rising amount of trouble from the drug tourists, they’re restricting sale to Dutch citizens only.  One other note.  Drug enforcement has been stepped up at Schiphol airport.  Why?  To counter a rising cocaine traffic coming in from the Caribbean. 

Drugs, Drug Wars and the War on Drugs Take their Toll as they Kill and Destroy

Kids are experimenting with drugs.  They’ll start with the softer stuff.  Like in the Netherlands.  But they’ll probably move on to something more potent.  Like in the Netherlands.  There appears to be a progression.  From less dangerous drugs to more dangerous drugs.  You can bet that John Belushi, Chris Farley, River Phoenix and Jean-Michel Basquiat, et al, started their drug use with something less dangerous than cocaine-heroin speedballs.  And look at them now.  Of course you can’t because their dead and buried.  But you get the point.

Epidemic use in China destroyed a millennium-old culture.  Ended a dynasty.  Caused multiple wars.  They finally kicked the habit.  With the help of the British (who helped give them the problem in the first place).  But the poppy fields just found new users.  In Russia.  And elsewhere.  It’s so bad that former enemies are joining forces on a former battleground to fight a new common enemy.  And the Russians are warning Californians not to legalize marijuana.  We’ve certainly come a long way from the days of the Cold War where the Soviets would have helped that initiative pass to help bring down their one-time enemy.

Drugs are a problem.  A big problem.  They kill and destroy.  Drug wars kill and destroy.  As does the war on drugs.  Damned if you do.  Damned if you don’t.  So what to do?  Well, imagine two worlds.  One where drugs are plentiful and cheap.  And one where no one uses drugs.  Which world you’d rather live in?  Which world do you want your children to live in?  I thought so.  And there’s your answer.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #37: “The Decriminalization of Drugs. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 26th, 2010

Like Father like Daughter – Even after You’ve Quit Drugs and Gone Conservative

It was about the 7th grade when kids I knew were getting into drugs.  I can remember being at a McDonald’s once after a high school football game (I went to that game with my brother and his friends).  Some of my 7th grade classmates were there.  When one saw me he pulled a joint out of his jacket and waved it in front of me, saying, “Do you want a doobie?”  He was an old friend.  He became a burn out.  I didn’t.  So he made fun of me in front of his new stoner friends.  Incidentally, a couple of these stoner friends are now dead.

One of those guys was a pretty good friend of mine.  I turned him on to Monty Python.  He could do all the voices.  And the skits.  Had them all memorized.  Funny guy.  He became a stoner in high school.  He tried to get high off whatever he could.  He came to school with a busted lip once.  His father punched him.  When he caught him sniffing gasoline in the garage.  His father tried to help him.  Knock some sense into him.  Maybe he did.  For when he died in a car crash (he was doing something like 80 on a 35 mph street and tried to pass someone.  Clipped the guy’s rear bumper and flipped his car over and over again), he wasn’t driving stoned.  He was driving drunk.

I once worked with a guy who was a reformed burn out.  He was a hardcore stoner in middle school.  Skipped a lot of school to get high.  Then he had a kid when he was in the 11th grade.  He then quit school, quit drugs and pumped gas.  Changed his life.  He became super dad.  He was a conservative and father of 5 when I met him.  Sometimes when he was talking to you he’d stop in mid-sentence, lost.  He’d then laugh and say something about all those lost brain cells he’d like to have back.  He had dreams of sending his daughter (an honor student) to that conservative college in Michigan.  Hillsdale College.  He wasn’t happy that she wanted to go to a party school instead.  But, at least, she was going to college.  And she did.  Until she got pregnant.  And dropped out.  Like father like daughter.  Well, sort of.

Sex, Drugs and Hip Hop – ‘Cool’ Equity for the Responsible Drug User

Once upon a time it was sex, drugs and rock and roll.  Now it’s probably a little more hip hop than rock and roll.  But it’s still the same.  Young kids engage in risky behavior.  They don’t practice prudence in their choices.  For them, it’s all about the id.  The pursuit of pleasure.  And the avoidance of things unpleasant.  In other words, childlike behavior.  Even though we should know better.  Pleasure now.  Pain never.  We’re only here for a short time.  And it would be a shame that if you died young you didn’t have a lot of pleasure first.

A lot of kids get pleasure from getting high.  Drugs are a part of sex, drugs and hip hop, remember.  Not only is it fun, but it says cool all over it.  Rebellious.  You get some ‘cool’ equity with the ‘in crown’.  Until someone dies.  But after a suitable period of mourning, life goes on.  I mean, the kid who dies, why, they were just stupid.  Those who say that will say it can’t happen to them.  Because they get high responsibly. 

But there are addictions.  And there are fatal overdoses.  There’s AIDS passed via shared needles.  Heart attacks from cocaine rushes.  Neglected children as a parent gets high in the next room.  Violent crime by someone whacked out on PCP who can feel no pain.  Organ failure (we exclude drug addicts from transplant lists because their drug use will only kill their new transplants, too).  Broken marriages.  Lost families.  Dead children.  Ruined careers.  Stroke.  Diminished motor functions.  Etc.  Of course, these people all wanted these things to happen.  Because all drug users who haven’t yet had these things happen to them say these things never will for they are responsible drug users.  And as my daughter often says, “Yeah, whatever.”  The carnage of drug abuse begs to differ with the responsible users.  There is a social cost to drug use.  And it’s a pretty hefty price at that.

Sex and Drugs Make Happy Pimps

Not yet mentioned are the costs we incur because of the illegality of drugs.  Victim crimes.  And, of course, victimless crimes.  When something is illegal, it becomes expensive.  Very, very expensive.  And one of the downsides of being an addict compounds the problem of trying to pay for these expensive drugs.  Drug addicts have erratic lives.  They live from high to high.  Which doesn’t mesh well with an 8-hour work day.  Some can.  For awhile.  But eventually the addiction takes control and they lose their jobs.  So, to support their habits, some become thieves.  Do a little breaking and entering.  A little pock picking.  A little car jacking.  Eventually ending up in jail for the same reasons they can’t get regular work.  The addiction takes control.  And they make dumb mistakes.  And get caught.

And then there are those who are not stealing but selling.  Sexual favors.  Desperate for their next fix, they walk the streets looking for a john.  The pain of withdrawal will make them take great risks.  Some johns may beat them up.  Rob them (for what little they may have).  Kill them.  They may receive a sexually transmitted disease.  Or pass one on.  They may get pimped out buy someone who pays them in their drug fixes.  Until they’re no longer marketable.   In which case their pimp may throw them back onto the street.  Or worse.  And if she dies?  So what.  There are always more where she came from.  Sex and drugs.  What pimp could ask for anything more?

Addiction is a powerful thing.  People will do things they never thought they would for their next fix.  Combine that with the illegality of drugs and it’s a very profitable enterprise.  Not for the uses.  But for the dealers.  Who get a very high price for their product.  And an addicted customer that must keep buying. 

John Lennon and Nancy Reagan May Have Agreed to ‘Just Say No’

America’s southern border is bleeding.  The U.S. demand for illegal drugs is a coveted market.  And drug gangs are very protective of their territory.  Drug violence is appalling.  Much like it was in the days of Al Capone during Prohibition.  Even worse.  In Capone’s day, they may have sent a message to a cop by shooting him.  Today they behead a cop and send the severed head back to police headquarters to get their message across.  And the violence is spilling over into civilian life near the border.  Kidnapping.  Ransoms.  Murders.  It’s so bad that the federal government has posted signs on American soil advising Americans that they are not safe on that American soil.

So there are two sides of the decriminalization of drugs coin.  The one is the social costs of drug use.  They’re illegal now and the social costs are staggering.  Decriminalizing drugs is not likely to reduce addiction and all that comes with it.  On the other hand, illegal drugs are expensive which makes addiction that much more costly.  Which makes some users resort to crime to support their habits.  And it empowers drug gangs.  It would appear neither choice is very appealing.

Of course, there is one option that would get rid of both problems.  Like Nancy Reagan said.  Just say ‘no’.  And if people just said ‘no’, that lucrative U.S. market would disappear.  No addiction.  No drug wars.  Imagine that.  A world in which there were no drugs to kill or die for.  Even John Lennon, a recovered heroin addict and peacenik, could appreciate that.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,