Prohibition’s Friends and Enemies

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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16 Responses

  1. gregiank says:

    WOW Jay dude, you are star, but is it worth the cost.Report

  2. Rufus F. says:

    There could be a guilt-avoidance strategy going on with the drug dealers there- sure, they’re selling cocaine and heroin to people, but after all, those people are already breaking the law so it’s their own responsibility.Report

    • greginak in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Sounds like you are in regular contact with a therapist type. Good point. The other, fairly obvious reason, why heavy drug users/sellers don’t support legalasation is they have close, personal contact with how dangerous drugs those are. Any dealer or heavy user of hard drugs will have seen people whither and die in weeks or months of using or seen how they destroy lives.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to greginak says:

        Yeah, I’m married to one. I was thinking that too about drug dealers seeing the effects of drug abuse up close- certainly, having so many friends fucked up or dead from heroin has made it impossible that I’ll ever take it.But I’m unsure if cops see something different from what dealers see- wouldn’t they be seeing the ill effects of drug abuse too? I also wonder if, were those drugs to be legalized or decriminalized, would drug use decline as drug abuse was more visible?Report

  3. Francis says:

    Every time I think our drug policy has hit rock bottom, our drug warriors manage to dig deeper. “Insane” is too mild of a word. Does anyone have any suggestions for a one-word description of this country’s drug policy?Report

  4. When I was a kid, my parents smoked lots of cigarettes. They would have flipped, though, had I started smoking too. The two drug users against legalization seem to have the same mentality — they seem to fundamentally dislike their own habits and so they want to erect barriers to others becoming like themselves.Report

    • You could make a case that that is extremely rational behavior. The marginal benefit of smoking one more cigarette or one more snort of cocaine or one more cupcake or one more puff of albuterol of whatever quite probably outweighs the marginal cost for most users and this effect increases with chronic use. In retrospect however, most long-term users recognize that they would be better off today had they never started in the first place.Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Christopher Carr says:

        Albuterol is an asthma drug with relatively low potential for abuse. The marginal cost of one inhalation is all but nil. The marginal benefit of one inhalation actually is nil, unless you have bronchitis, emphysema, or, as I do, asthma. Then it’s pretty helpful.Report

        • But albuterol is for emergency treatment during acute asthma attacks. Doctors usually advise chronic asthma patients to minimize albuterol use in favor of more long-term acting drugs like advair or various steroids.

          There is a subset of the asthmatic population that actually sees immediate improvement in breathing after taking albuterol, only for breathing to ultimately degenerate even further as the medicine wears off. This creates a dependency on the medication not unlike drug addiction.Report

  5. DensityDuck says:

    From the article: “Stamper quietly chewed over these thoughts until the early 1990s, when he began to speak out to business and chamber of commerce types. He began arguing that we should legalize all drugs. “The more sinister they are, the greater the justification for regulation instead of prohibition,” he says. “A regulatory model would give the government, imperfect as it is, the first opportunity since the beginning of the last century to exercise some control over the drug trade. In recent years, we have reduced tobacco consumption by roughly half without a shot being fired.” ”

    Ah-heh. Cigarette consumption has been reduced because most places are making cigarettes illegal. It’s not like people are voluntarily deciding not to smoke–the government has just made it so difficult to legally smoke that they don’t try anymore.

    On the other hand, how can we justify making substances illegal in a country where (depending on the state) I can buy whiskey and beer at a gas station?Report

    • > Ah-heh. Cigarette consumption has been reduced because
      > most places are making cigarettes illegal. It’s not like people
      > are voluntarily deciding not to smoke–the government
      > has just made it so difficult to legally smoke that they
      > don’t try anymore.

      Yeah, I don’t buy this. I know a lot of smokers, and I used to be one myself. Nobody quits because it’s inconvenient – smoking is already inherently inconvenient. Very few people in my experience quit because of the price of cigarettes (exactly one claimed to have done so, my great-uncle).

      Mostly, when people quit on their own, it’s because they’re tired of having no wind and having everything they own smell like an ash tray. When people quit because of non-internal factors, they’re usually one of three big whoppers: they’re pregnant (or their wife is), they’re getting married and their engaged spouse really wants them to quit, or they just saw someone very close to them die from lung cancer.

      Cigarette smoking *adoption* is part of a cyclical pattern. Right now, I’d guess that we’re in a trough in use because of that than anything else.Report

  6. Kyle says:

    this was a historical gem:

    The Journal of the American Medical Association published an article announcing, “Negroes in the South are reported as being addicted to a new form of vice—that of ‘cocaine sniffing’ or the ‘coke habit.'” Newspapers picked up the story and amplified it, claiming that cocaine turned black men into rapists of white women, as well as expert marksmen. (See “Negro Cocaine ‘Fiends’ Are a New Southern Menace” from the February 8, 1914 issue of the New York Times.) A 1910 federal report stated that “Southern sheriffs believed cocaine even rendered blacks impervious to .32-cal. bullets (as a result many police departments switched to .38-cal).”Report