I’ll Take “War on Sniffles” for $800, Alex


Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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35 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    If it creates a black market, it will all be worthwhile.

    “Hey buddy. Want some Montreal NyQuil?”Report

  2. Avatar Pat says:

    Don’t worry; they’ll balance it by allowing homeopaths to prescribe.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    I don’t agree with having prescriptions for basic cold meds, but the way you present it doesn’t seem quite fair or to address the issue at hand. Meth is a horrendous drug, that creates dangers for more then just the user. I’m all for ending the drug war, but I think some drugs are too dangerous, for the user and other, to be legal.

    Yes yes I am a horrible Stalinist who wants to run everybody else’s life, blah blah blah.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      It’s like watching someone argue against ending prohibition against beer/wine by arguing against the existence of everclear.

      Indeed, during prohibition, gin/vodka/wiskey were used as reasons to keep prohibition going… and, of course, the criminality of the people who were going into the bad part of town to get trashed in speakeasies that were operated by organized crime.

      Hey, maybe we’re not using enough brute force and, seriously, this is *COMPLETELY* different from last time.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        I know how you feel. It’s like watching somebody stuck in an absolutist position so they can never see how different things could be different. Once somebody has used a piece of logic poorly that argument is forever tarnished and must never be used. Once somebody said a substance was illegal and that caused problems, then it is never permissible to make any substance illegal.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          How’s Prohibition II working out for you, then?

          Better than Prohibition I?Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            ahhhh the sweet smell of strawman in the morning. It smells like………(thoughtful pause) a wanktastic blog argument.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              You said “Once somebody said a substance was illegal and that caused problems, then it is never permissible to make any substance illegal.”

              (I presume you are saying that dismissively)

              I asked “Is what you’re doing this time better than when it was tried last time?”

              Is it your position that this is not a fair question?

              Can we ask about 2nd order effects like “gangs” and “crime” and “shoddy quality control”?

              If not, why not?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Well prohibition 2.0 sounds crunchy like a strawman. Are you suggesting making any substance illegal is equivalent to prohibition? That sounds silly to me.

                Like I said I favor legalization/decriminalization of most substances because people should be able to put what they want in their bodies and due to the nasty second order effects. However not all substances are created equal. I think the hazardous nature of the production of Meth and the toxicity of the drug warrant making in illegal. My position is that almost every substance should be legal is far different from the prohibition position that nothing is legal. Apple meet orange.

                I favor home chemistry sets, but I don’t think it should be legal for Junior to make Chlorine Gas in the rumpus room.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I am suggesting that taking the substances that people take in order to make themselves “high” and making them illegal is, yeah, pretty analogous to alcohol prohibition.

                Do you not see how the arguments against illegal drugs are analogous to the arguments against wiskey?

                Do you not see how the arguments against ending The War On Drugs are analogous to the arguments given against ending alcohol prohibition?

                Do you not see the creation of gangs, turf wars, as analogous to the gangs and turf wars of alcohol prohibition?

                Do you not see the issues with quality control as analogous to the quality control issues seen during alcohol prohibition?

                When you ask “Are you suggesting making any substance illegal is equivalent to prohibition?”, are you seriously not seeing exactly how much overlap there is between the creation of and the second-order effects of this black market?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I get it. the position almost every substance should be legal is the same as nothing should be legal……ummmm yeah right.

                No analogy is perfect. If it was perfect it wouldn’t’ be an analogy, it would be the same thing. Booze can be safely made in large or small quantities and has very few deleterious effects unless taken in large quantities. And even then it often takes many years of large quantities to do serious harm. Meth making can be highly poisonous and dangerous and can quickly lead to addiction and serious physical harm quickly. So the analogy is strained at best. Different things are sometimes different.

                Just because somebody has used an argument poorly does not mean the argument may not have merit is some cases. In fact every sensible, smart, good argument has likely been used in a ridiculous, stupid and wrong way at some point.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, then I’m sure that you will be able to answer the question of whether meth prohibition is working better than alcohol prohibition did.

                Would “meth lab explosions” be analogous to “still blows up”? Would bad meth be analogous to wood alcohol poisoning?Report

    • I’m actually undecided on meth’s legal status. My general feeling is that it exists in the first place due to the War on other Drugs. I was, however, trying to show how the War on Drugs just inevitably leads to fighting more and more specific wars without any actual results and without any regard to unintended consequences and collateral damage. Indeed, with regards to meth, it seems like the more vigorously meth is pursued, the more dangerous meth becomes (see article linked to below).Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        I tend to agree. Meth is killer and meth addicts know it. My feeling, as I said in another part of the thread, is that if most drugs were legal few people would use the obvious killers. Why buy illegal meth when you can get pot, heroin or xanax at Walmart?Report

  4. Avatar Zach says:

    I just spent a few minutes looking and can’t find any academic work on the effectiveness of ephedrin bans stopping local meth production. Scanning the anecdotal evidence, it appears that the bans are very effective at stopping small-scale production. I suppose this makes the task of limiting the meth supply a somewhat more tractable problem, and probably makes the drugs that make it to the market safer. Fewer labs also means fewer kids growing up in their parents’ meth labs and occasionally being killed in explosions.

    Meth demand is somewhat elastic (people have switched to cocaine recently as it’s become cheaper and meth has developed more of a stigma, for example), so this inevitably have some effect on use. I’m just curious how large it is.

    It seems important to distinguish between the goals of limiting use (which I agree is basically impossible although you can nudge people towards safer and less addictive choices) and limiting local production. Ephedrin bans are apparently effective for the latter, which is what you have to balance against the inconvenience of banning Ephedrin.

    My hunch is that whatever effect there is to be had by limiting commercial ephedrin availability is mostly realized with the current limitations, and that requiring a prescription won’t provide much of an improvement.Report

    • Zach – a few months ago, there was an interesting AP article about how ephedrine restrictions were resulting in fewer dedicated meth labs but had also led to changes in the way meth is made such that users could make very small batches in soda bottles. This, however, is still very dangerous, and in some ways may even be more dangerous, according to the article, because it means you get a lot of small explosions in relatively populated areas rather than an occasional big explosion in labs that are in the middle of nowhere.

      Here’s the article:

      • Avatar Zach says:

        Thanks. I’m still amazed that there’s apparently no academic (or even pseudoacademic CompStat analysis) on how effective these bans are. This quote from the article is amusing: “You’re not dealing with rocket scientists here anyway.”Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          I think it is very hard to rigorously determine how effective these bans are since there are so many other confounding factors that affect drug use and manufacturing. Not saying it can’t be done, just that it would be difficult.Report

          • Avatar Zach says:

            At its peak, you were seeing thousands of lab shutdowns a year in Missouri and you could check arrest logs and whatnot as a proxy for the number of users. Different states implemented different kinds of Ephedrin restrictions at different times, so it shouldn’t be impossible to account for changes in the broader drug market.Report

  5. Avatar Sam M says:

    “Meth is a horrendous drug, that creates dangers for more then just the user.”

    Do you mean because of the lab explosions? If so, that hardly seems like a reason for criminalization. Rather, it’s an argument for the regulation of production.

    Not to risk the wrath of your blah blah blah, but criminalization creates dangers, too. You know… like the marauding gangs that murder people by the thousands? I know meth explosions are bad. But are they that bad?Report

    • Avatar Zach says:

      “I know meth explosions are bad. But are they that bad?”

      A Google News search for “meth explosion children” makes me think that the answer is yes.Report

      • Avatar Sam M says:

        OK. I love Google too. You count up how many children have been killed by meth labs. I’ll count up how many have been killed by violent gangs trying to protect drug profits.

        I suspect I will be counting longer than you will.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Yes meth labs are terrible dangerous things. I can see a logic for regulating production to ensure safety for some things. I’m not sure Meth could ever be produced safely. I actually don’t have a problem with saying some things are so inherently dangerous that they are illegal. My guess would be that if most drugs were made legal and produced safely there would be significantly less demand for really dangerous things like Meth.
      I’m for legalization/decriminalization of most drugs.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Can Sudafed ever be produced safely?Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Yes , next question.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Why do you think that meth couldn’t be produced safely if you think that Sudafed can be?Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              Maybe it can. But from what I know of meth labs they tend to blow up real good or poison people. Maybe some of the cigarette companies can find a way to make Meth safely and slap a cartoon camel on the front of the package. I’m sure it would be easier to find a way to make meth safely then cure cancer.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I know about the labs that happen in the bathrooms of the rooms in any given Motel 6 (don’t use the coffee pots in those hotel rooms, for the record) or in a trailer behind another trailer. It doesn’t surprise me that they tend to blow up.

                Better to make the stuff in an industrial lab, no?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Funny I’ve stayed in a lot of Motel 6’s on road trips and almost all good experiences.

                If we can make most drugs legal and then some enterprising entrepreneur wants to spend money on making New Improved Minty Fresh Safe Meth as opposed to curing diseases or cheap solar power or cheap salt water desalination then that is just the bounteous wonders of the free market. Have fun.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                We already know how to make meth. It’s so easy that even toothless hill folk can do it in the bathroom of a Motel 6 using the coffee pot and a handful of stuff they pick up at Home Depot.

                Overcoming death and/or getting silk purses from the ears of sows remains the tall order that such has always been.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Hate ta do it Greg but I have to agree with Jay. If we make meth (or any other insert drug name here) legal then we’ll be able to dedicate all those people who are currently chasing, arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning meth producers and users to more productive pursuits. Plus economies of scale, industrial efficiency and so on and so forth will mean that far fewer people will probably be involved in making the stuff and it’ll be far far safer and at least you’d have someone to sue if it turned out to be poisonous. The drug war just doesn’t work very well and it is costing a screaming fortune.Report

              • Avatar JosephFM says:

                There are several related drugs are currently legal by prescription. Dextroamphetamine was widely available until the 1970s, and is still used to treat ADHD. Mark is right on about meth largely being a creation of the drug war.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I am against the “drug war” but that doesn’t imply that no substance can ever be to dangerous to be illegal. I think the two issues with Meth are the danger with producing it and the significantly toxic nature of the drug If people can find a way to make it safe then that eliminates that issue. The drug remains seriously toxic.

                Jay takes absolutist positions which are all pure and thats just sweet. But would anybody argue that there are no substances that should be illegal? Should anybody be able to buy dynamite or nitro? Should anybody be able to produce Chlorine or Mustard Gas in their garage? Keeping somethings illegal just doesn’t seem that outrageous. Nor does keeping somethings illegal equal “the drug war or prohibition” that seems to be stretching those terms beyond any sense. That is Jonah Goldberg’s territory.

                I would suggest if just about every drug was legal there would significantly less market for stuff like Meth.Report

  6. Avatar Kyle says:

    But this is the classic double down or change games problem we keep encountering in public policy.
    Our actions (the war on drugs) aren’t having the effect we want them to, in fact in certain areas they’re arguably creating new problems or exacerbating certain other ones.

    Yet, there’s enormous resistance to changing games from people wedded for livelihood or ideological reasons to the way we’ve done things before and believe that we’re simply not trying hard enough.

    Interestingly enough the thing that makes me not a conservative – in the Olympia Snowe way – is my preference for wholesale change. Mostly because I think our least successful public policies are defined by being almost exclusively supply-side oriented (Ag subsidies, CAFE, War on Drugs, Edu reform) but still hardly conservative approaches.Report