When Rand Paul is being the most reasonable person in your political party…

I don’t smoke pot.  However, I know someone who is most certainly not me who has done so in the past.  He said it made him lethargic and that it wasn’t a whole lot of fun.  And despite delving into the treacherous underworld of narcotics, he turned out to be a pretty decent dude (in my not so humble opinion).

Then there was this other guy from Chicago who admitted to smoking pot and to even trying cocaine.  I hear he turned out to be President.

And didn’t that guy from Texas use pot and cocaine too?  I mean, he lied about it, but that’s what you do when you’re running for President, isn’t it?  You lie about things.

I guess the point is that lots of people try drugs and most of them don’t wind up harming anybody.  They’re not criminals, they just don’t buy into all the misinformation and want to see for themselves what drugs are like.  Sometimes they wind up harming a nation (see the guy from Texas), but I don’t think that was the fault of the drugs.  Anyway, Rand Paul said something reasonable about this the other day.  Here’s the proof:

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Paul said that even the last two presidents used drugs at some point. “Look, the last two presidents could have conceivably been put in jail for their drug use and I really think – look what would’ve happened, it would’ve ruined their lives,” he said. “They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky and they don’t have good attorneys and they go to jail for some of these things and I think it’s a big mistake.”

This is a strange new world.  If the GOP continues along this route, and if people continue to leave religion at their current rates, I may just get to retire early.  w00t!  More time to sit around and not smoke pot.

Speaking of which, while that first person who is absolutely not me doesn’t smoke pot, he has done a number of different drugs in his life.  He’s the curious sort, that guy.  Most of them were a lot of fun, far better than alcohol.  He thinks it’s a pity that drugs like marijuana, LSD, and mushrooms are illegal.  At least he has the experience to make an informed decision.

  • Heather

    I’ve heard (I wish I had the source to back it up) that people who are more intelligent are more likely to try drugs at some point in their life because curiosity tends to pair with intelligence. I guess your friend is also very intelligent. ;)

  • b00ger

    As the saying goes, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” That about sums up my opinion of Rand Paul.

  • pjmaertz

    I just can’t understand how a guy who has such a clear head on the issue of drugs can support a personhood amendment that would completely outlaw abortion and some forms of contraception. It makes me sad.

    • invivoMark

      Well, there is that Steven Weinberg quote about what religion does to good people….

  • ottod

    Charles P. Pierce, on the “Daily Politics Blog” on “Esquire”, often points out that there is a 5 min. rule for anything either of the Pauls say: For the first 5 min. they seem perfectly logical and make sense, then at about 5:03 they drop suddenly down the rabbitt hole. I wonder what he had to say a few minutes later.

    • b00ger

      Oh, that’s good.

  • Drew

    I’m all for legalizing marijuana.

    LSD and mushrooms, I’m not so certain about. From what I understand there is some good evidence that LSD can be useful in psychological treatments, though there is also evidence that long term use of hallucinogens can cause side effects (HPPD for example, and neuronal damage with MDMA use). I would certainly be in favor of some sort of regulated use of them.

    Cocaine and heroin however, I’d still have to say keep them illegal. Though something clearly needs to be done about uneven punishments for minorities.

    • Nate Frein

      Honestly? Legalize them all. Legalize prostitution while you’re at it.

      Regulate, certainly. But legalize it.

      Most of the really nasty problems associated with “drug culture” are primarily caused by the black market nature of the product, and that simply will not go away while the drugs remain illegal. When people want a product they will find a way to get that product (or something similar, which is really why we end up with the truly monstrous crap like bath salts).

      I’m not saying it’s a magic bullet solution. But you’d seriously think we’d have learned this lesson from prohibition: However we may not like our alcohol situation, things were worse when we tried to ban it.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        I think marijuana should be fully legalized, like alcohol or tobacco. LSD is too dangerous for overall recreational use, though it has some potentially good clinical benefits when used in a controlled manner. Not sure how I feel about mushrooms- hallucinogens scare the shit out of me personally, so I don’t know if I can separate out that bias enough to come to a good conclusion on them. But for the “hard stuff” –cocaine, heroin, PCP, meth, there’s a lot of them– I’d decriminalize but not legalize.

        Basically, decriminalization means you won’t go to jail for having or using. You might still go to jail for selling, depending on the details. Treatment is readily available, and I mean scientifically-based treatment not NA or similar 12-step programs. We provide safe places for people to get high (see Vancouver, Canada*), with nurses and social workers there. They provide an interface to services while preventing people from being preyed upon while high and providing skilled medical assistance if someone ODs.

        *http://calorielab.com/labnotes/tags/clinic-allows-illegal-drug-use/

        • Nate Frein

          While “decriminalizing but not legalizing” is a damn sight better than nothing,

          You might still go to jail for selling

          means that all the problems inherent in black market goods will remain. That’s where the bulk of drug violence comes from, and that’s why we keep hearing about newer and nastier drugs hitting the market — people keep coming up with weirder and weirder shit to stay “legal”.

          The shit that tobacco and alcohol bootleggers get up to today is nothing compared to what they did during prohibition. We have our answer to solving our drug war problem. We’re just too caught up in how “dangerous” the harder shit is to realise that legalizing it is the lesser of two evils.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

            I’d prefer selling not be illegal either, but those drugs are … bad. Really, really bad for you and for the people around you. Keeping sales illegal has some of the black market problems you mention and we have now, but it also makes it very clear that we as a society do not condone this. A legalized marketplace (or at least decriminalized one) would allow for quality control and possibly prevent adulteration of drugs, but on the other hand that would require inspectors and inspections. That would cost a freaking fortune to police things we don’t want people to use in the first place. It’s illegal for corporations to pay bribes, even overseas, even if it would get an American corporation a good deal. People who sell certain drugs should be punished.

          • Nate Frein

            I’d prefer selling not be illegal either, but those drugs are … bad. Really, really bad for you and for the people around you

            How much of that is a direct result of the drugs, and not attributable to the black market environment through which they have to be procured?

            Keeping sales illegal has some of the black market problems you mention and we have now, but it also makes it very clear that we as a society do not condone this.

            What is condoned or not condoned is irrelevant. Self harm should not be illegal. A person should have the right to put whatever they want into their bodies as long as they do harm to no one. Hold people responsible when they harm others, not themselves.

            A legalized marketplace (or at least decriminalized one) would allow for quality control and possibly prevent adulteration of drugs, but on the other hand that would require inspectors and inspections. That would cost a freaking fortune to police things we don’t want people to use in the first place.

            And we’re not already paying a freaking fortune to police them? How well is that working, exactly?

            If there is a demand, there will be a supply.

          • invivoMark

            “A legalized marketplace (or at least decriminalized one) would allow for quality control and possibly prevent adulteration of drugs, but on the other hand that would require inspectors and inspections. That would cost a freaking fortune to police things we don’t want people to use in the first place.”

            Two options leap to mind to get around this.

            1) Don’t do QC. As things stand right now, there is no QC for items sold illegally. Selling these items legally wouldn’t change that, but you can bet that the quality of the product would still increase and the danger would decrease. A company is beholden to its customers, and if it produces an unnecessarily dangerous product, its consumers will punish the company accordingly. The ultimate result is that conditions would improve on all fronts, so why get stuck on QC?

            2) Demand that products meet food-grade standards of quality. This would really cost a pittance compared to what we’re currently spending on drug enforcement and prisons. It would require very minimal effort, maybe a yearly or biannual visit from a health inspector. No more than other food companies get, and there’s a lot more food produced than recreational drugs. In most respects, this option is identical to option #1 in that conditions improve for all parties, but there is an additional layer of health safety for a marginal cost.

            After all, the government already lets homeopathic and alternative remedies go to market without regulation. Why not do the same for pot or cocaine?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

            @Nate: in the case of a number of these drugs, it’s not the black market contact but the actual drug itself. PCP, meth, and bath salts (becoming illegal shortly) are drugs that are truly awful in their impact on the human body. There are functional addicts of several drugs (cocaine and alcohol among them), but those drugs especially do not allow people to be functional members of society. They make people straight up unsafe to be around.

            It might also require a recalibration of what drugs are and are not decriminalized and to what degree. We already separate drugs into classes- we could keep doing that. Yes, there will be a supply of illegal drugs so long as there is a demand, but part of the reason the black market is so damned big is there are A) too many illegal drugs and B) once you’ve got a criminal record, you’re so fucked that going back to using/dealing is the easiest option. Decriminalization would take care of both of those problems.

            @invivoMark: I’d rather go with 1) if we had to pick. Option 2) isn’t enough and would have to grow over time. Some drugs are intravenous, and those require a lot of inspection and money to make sterile. There’s a reason therapeutic drug inspections are costly and frequent. However, neither is likely, because if it’s legal it’s not supposed to be adulterated with things not on the label. Even homeopathic remedies and supplements are supposed to be held to that minimal standard, and each year testing reveals several that are lying on their labels. Something you snort up your nose or inject is much more likely to hurt/kill you if it’s adulterated than something you eat. The only way to prevent adulteration is inspections. Which are costly. Thus, the dilemma.

          • Nate Frein

            @Nate: in the case of a number of these drugs, it’s not the black market contact but the actual drug itself. PCP, meth, any bath salts (becoming illegal shortly) are drugs that are truly awful in their impact on the human dbody.

            First, bath salts are a symptom of the current system. They’re not yet illegal. When they’re illegal, someone will come up with something worse that’s “legal” so that they can sell that. There’s no testing, no oversight, nothing. Bath Salts (and everything like them) exist because of the black market environment current drug laws create

            Secondly, what right do you have to dictate what a person can or cannot put in their body? I could apply the same reasoning you’ve given here to religion, but you’d probably be one of the first persons to tell me I was wrong if I advocated banning religion.

            There are functional addicts of several drugs (cocaine and alcohol among them), but those drugs especially do not allow people to be functional members of society. They make people straight up unsafe to be around.

            And drug dealers make entire neighborhoods unsafe to be around. Crimes committed by someone riding a bad meth or PCP high may be sensational, but they aren’t exactly common. The vast majority of drug related deaths have to do with the infrastructure surrounding the habits.

            We are going to have to deal with hardcore users regardless of the legality of the product they use.

            Look at alcohol enforcement pre and post prohibition. To say that alcohol regulati ons are more costly than prohibition is ridiculous. To say that more people die from the bootleg alcohol industry now compared to prohibition is ridiculous. The same applies to the war on drugs.


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