Monday, April 10, 2006

 

Drugs are Bad...mmkay...

Upon reading Jacob Sullum's book Saying Yes, I felt the need to do a little more research on the topic of drug use. So...I picked up Season Two of South Park and watched the Ike's Bris/Mr. Mackey drug episode.

After watching the episode and pointing out the reason that drugs are bad (mmkay) is because (1) If you do drugs you are a hippie and hippies suck and (2) There is a time and place for everything and its called college (you just forgot to stop). The latter is used by both Chef and the woman at the Betty Ford Clinic.

I came across a passage in Sullum's book that matched with these sort of anecdotal arguments that really are used in modern day commercials and other anti-drug propaganda:

..."For the individual," the report said, "harm resulting from the abuse of a cannabis may include inertia, lethargy, self-neglect, feeling of increased capability, with corresponding failure, and precipitation of psychotic episodes...The harm to society derived from the abuse of cannabis rests in economic consequences of the impairment of the individual's social functions and his enhanced proneness to asocial and anti-social behavior.
(This is from a 1965 World Health Organization study. More info here)

Sullum goes on to talk about other expert's studies showing drugs primarily as an escape from society and in asocial and anti-social activities. And although, this is primarily a continuation from my previous post, it sheds light on the reality that modern day prohibition is based primarily on the false premonition that society looses as individuals choose not to participate in 'social' activities. In all reality, this is a very statist and many times nationalistic argument.

Anyone want to comment on the declining marginal contribution to GDP from increased drug use or increased quantity of drug users?

Comments:
It's like, paternalism, dude.

I think it would be enlightening to consider the extreme case, like heroin or methamphetamine, as a test of whether or not we're OK with drug legalization.

I'm not sure I'm OK with full legalization, for the same reason I feel weird about letting 16 year-olds drive without seat belts. I know those are libertarian ideas, but it bothers me that a small mistake as a teenager could end your life.

What is the libertarian take on small-mistake-proofing young adults?
 
Perhaps we should feel bad for individuals that make mistakes or simply just screw up. However, when we look at the whole population and weigh the associated costs and benefits, it is hard to see that the benefits of a prohibition could ever outweight its costs.

I suppose that subsidizing information would assist in this endeavor, but assymetric information seems to work out pretty well in the Long Run.
 
Well, it is certainly a paternalistic attitude, like Travis said.

And i have a difficult time figuring out whether I agree prohibition in certain cases or not (heroin, crack, etc.).

I think Chris might be right in the sense that a prohibition of the scale we have now might not be cost effective, but I think limiting the ban to heroin might actually have net benefits relative to costs.

But even if it didn't, is that so bad? Should government follow the compass of conscience or the benefit-cost bottom line?

Utilitarians prefer the latter, moralists former. I am still confused on where I stand.
 
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I think most people's perception of drug use is skewed by the samples taken from commericals, DARE, school, news, and other sources. We only hear the bad aspects of drug use and the criminality associated with it. If we had the ability to take a random sample, then I think most people's opinions would change.

The closest thing to it was done my a fellow at UCLA and a couple of others that stated that what we tend to perceive as the "normal" drug user, likely only represents about 5% of total usage.

It's one for thought. I like the t-shirt from the one kid on the SP cartoon:

Legalize Everything!!
 
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