When it comes to guilty pleasures – Twitter for me is a mix of bittersweet toxicity. While it’s true, there’s a lot of interesting takes and opinions by millions of interesting characters…it’s also a never-ending pit of people shouting at each other.
While this inherently isn’t a bad thing if you’re into getting into digital shout-offs, to me it’s a colossal waste of time.
As a writer, I try to find interesting angles, unique perspectives, and to keep my finger on the pulse of the collective chaos of humanity in order to write, create, ponder on things most people take for granted.
When it comes to cannabis, the War on Drugs, Prohibition, the history of drugs, etc – I’ve spent more than a decade of my life distilling information into articles which I published on multiple platforms. My pseudonym, “Reginal Reefer” has thousands of published articles – some of them serious, others absolute insanity.
However, even when I write about things that seem incredible, I always to keep an “anchor” in reality. My job is not to convince you whether something is or isn’t, but to merely spark the imagination on the “possibilities” associated with a concept.
And then came a birdie…
I was mindlessly – yes, mindlessly – scrolling through Twitter and saw a tweet about global drug decriminalization, of which I responded, “We should rather enshrine the right to bodily autonomy as an inalienable human right”…or something along those lines.
Some people agreed.
This is a story about one who “didn’t” and instead of me engaging with the user on the platform, I decided to utilize a technique I use to stay creative.
You can call it a sort of “emotional alchemy” where you take a digital response from a stranger, and turn it into a greater work that provides more value to the world.
For example, some rando responds to my tweet and for some reason triggers an emotional response – instead of putting up my dukes and trying to outwit the twit, I rather take a few giant steps backwards and write about it…as I am doing right now.
This allows me to take the emotion – which is motivating me to take action, and reframe it in a more positive direction. One could also call it a kind of emotional Aikido.
This is what I intend to do.
Before continuing however, I’m not going to mention the name of the person nor his handle as this is not the point of the article.
I need his words, not his identity.
The reason I bring this up is because in one of our exchanges where I excused his opinion based on the anonymity of his account, saying, “If you don’t have the balls to stand by what you say…”
Of which he replied;
You think im gonna ID myself for some leftist that spews a narrative they clearly don't fully grasp? Im sure you are well versed in the "natural" side of drug use, but clearly dont understand things like modern synthetics and their devastating impacts.
We’re already off to a good start. The nameless person assumed I have a political “side” where I lean towards. Little does he know I’m the one sitting on the side lines watching the two sides battle it out as their corporate masters bet on the winners.
However, instead of prolonging the debate, I wanted to address a specific point that the anonymous writer tweeted about, and I think it actually has some real value.
I’ll try to summarize the sentiment of Mr. Anonymous below;
So by your logic, needing Narcan (danger to themselves) one time is enough to intervene? Also, if they want to stay an addict, fine; but society doesnt have to fund for that lifestyle either.
What was my logic?
Unless the "addict" is breaking a law and posing a danger to themselves or others - the addict should be allowed to be addicted and should be provided means of escaping the addiction if he or she decides to do so.
Coffee Drinkers are addicts but we don't jail them...
But why did I say this in the first place? It was actually a response to his comment;
Addicts do not make rational decisions. When drug use is so severe, someone else needs to make some decisions to interrupt the behavior.
And this is where we begin our exploration of the concept of giving addicts drugs for free.
However, I understand if you’re confused at this point, so let me summarize the sentiment of “Mr. Anonymous” to help establish the premise of our article;
Claim: Addicts do not make rational decisions and therefore if one is addicted severely then someone else needs to make the decision for you to interrupt your behavior.
Welcome to the Grey…
While the claim seems logical. If someone is suffering from severe addiction, someone else must override their autonomy and set them on the straight path.
Except, at what point does addiction become problematic? As I said earlier, “coffee addicts are severely addicted…” yet one wouldn’t consider that a “problematic addiction”.
If that’s the case, we need to create a distinction in addiction. “Socially accepted non-destructive addiction” and “socially abhorred destructive addiction”.
However, we already have rules for that. Meaning, if you break these laws, your addiction has “stepped out of bounds” of what is socially accepted and permitted. If you mug an old lady to buy drugs – you committed a crime of assault against another person.
However, the act of using drugs should not be considered a “crime” in that scenario. Because by designating “drug use” as a category of criminal behavior, it means that by default all addicts of illicit drugs are criminals.
Under this definition, the state can rightfully revoke their freedom and turn them into property of the state…which is what has been happening under the guise of “drug prohibition” for over fifty years.
So the first thing we have to understand in this debate is that we have a fundamental issue with drug prohibition that stands in direct contrast to human autonomy. Furthermore, the selective nature of drug prohibition also creates fundamental clashes with how prohibition is enforced.
Why is it that you don’t criminalize alcohol consumption, or to be more technical, “The consumption of ethanol”, which is a mind altering substance that not only claims lives due to excess consumption, is linked to 40% of all violent crimes according to the FBI data?
This drug gets a free pass. It’s not even on the Controlled Substance Act.
But why? Could it be that they tried to prohibit it in the past, realized that drug prohibition was a colossal failure that only reaped death, corruption, and violence? I wonder if that had any parallels to the sheer amount of carnage left in the wake of the War on Drugs?
When Mr. Anonymous said, “Last time I checked, coffee drinkers generally are not robbing and stealing to support their habit, staying up for weeks at a time, and swinging machetes around.”
When pointing out that using the term “addicts” would include coffee drinkers, he pointed out that coffee drinkers don’t engage in violent or detrimental behaviors. Which is true for the most part.
However, alcohol drinkers do. They get behind wheels of cars, they crash and kill people. They get drunk and violent. They rape, steal, and murder.
Therefore, under the logic of Mr. Anonymous – we should prohibit alcohol as it qualifies all of the metrics designated by him.
However, we know that this won’t happen.
Alcohol isn’t even regulated by the DEA. It got lumped with another agency regulating Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms and Explosives. Why they are regulating alcohol, tobacco and fire arms as a singular category still baffles the mind – but this is how bureaucracy works.
Nonetheless, we can see a complete incongruence when it comes to how drug regulation works from a general policy perspective. There’s obvious special interests involved and this is by design.
The “Legal drugs” are controlled by Pharma.
The Illegal Drugs are all “suppressed” by the DEA.
For years, in conjunction with the FDA, NIDA and government sponsored propaganda – The war on Drugs effectively established a drug monopoly for Big Pharma.
Alcohol & Tobacco were given exception due to their influence within the government prior to the drafting of the 1971 Controlled Substance Act signed into law by Richard Nixon. The same Nixon that took the US off the Gold Standard and created the corporate Clusterfuck, which is our current reality.
But I digress.
To summarize my point here is that unless we have equity in drug enforcement or a unilateral application of policy on all drugs – then to prohibit “some people” because their particular drug create undesirable outcomes – that would literally be discrimination.
Now I’d like to point out – getting hooked on Meth – the drug Mr. Anonymous used as his reason for supporting his opinion.
I agree with him, that people hooked on meth and that are creating havoc due to their addiction would probably need some intervention, however, unless they are physically breaking laws other than consuming a drug – then we should technically leave them to their own devices.
This – for better or worse – is the fundamental principle of bodily autonomy. You have a right to your own body – meaning, you can fuck it up all the way to your own death. Will some people fuck it up? Most certainly – but this is a fundamental right to individual liberty that if we give the power to the government – you cease to have that right.
If saying “this drug” gives me a right to remove your personal liberty because of “these reasons”, yet those same reasons apply to other accepted drugs – your argument fails to have substance due to the hypocrisy of enforcement.
Therefore, unless you are absolutely on board with banning alcohol in the same capacity as other “dangerous drugs” – you’re not actually upset about the negative consequences of drug use, but rather the negative outcomes of certain drugs and its impact on society.
Why giving Meth to a Meth head could be the best way to deal with a Meth head…
Here’s a question. When is a meth head most dangerous?
The answer is, “When they don’t have drugs and no means of getting more!”
When their addiction becomes overwhelming, they typically turn to theft and on occasions, assault. Once they buy their drugs, they return to the sweet faux-comfort of their perpetual misery. Their temporary alleviation from their turmoil.
One way to address this situation is to force a junkie into reforming their life. You can arrest them, send them to a drug court, mandate rehab that has to either be funded privately or publically, and hope it sticks.
However, the evidence isn’t really in favor of this working. As this Healthline Article outlines;
A 2016 report by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that people who were involuntarily committed were more than twice as likely to die of an opioid-related overdose than those who chose to go into treatment.
Another 2016 study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found little evidence that mandatory drug treatment helps people stop using drugs or reduces criminal recidivism.
“There appears to be as much evidence that [compulsory treatment] is ineffective, or in fact harmful, as there is evidence that it is effective,” said study author Dan Werb, PhD, who’s also an epidemiologist and policy analyst at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD).
Most of the studies reviewed by Werb and his colleagues looked at involuntary drug treatment centers outside the United States, many of which are rife with human rights violations.
“What we’ve seen across the world — in Mexico and Southeast Asia and China — is that ‘treatment centers’ that are mandated can effectively turn into internment camps,” Werb said.
A 2018 study done in Tijuana, Mexico, by Claudia Rafful, a doctoral student in public health at UCSD, found that involuntary drug treatment is also associated with an increased risk of nonfatal drug overdoses.
Part of this may be due to loss of tolerance to the drugs when someone suddenly stops using them. This happens not just with mandatory treatment, but also when people end up in jail.
Across the board, forcing people into rehab isn’t showing much effectiveness.
In fact, it seems that it could be doing the opposite, increasing fatal overdoses and not reforming anyone.
These forced rehab clinics are often funded by taxpayers, meaning that even though they are paying for it – they aren’t getting the returns they are seeking.
So if straight up drug prohibition doesn’t work, and forced rehabilitation doesn’t work – what options do we have?
Give them the drugs for free!
In an ideal world, everyone would be able to engage with anything and hold themselves accountable. Unfortunately, this is the real world and some people will develop habits that aren’t “up to par” with the rest of society.
They will get addicted and some of them will turn to theft or violence when they are faced with the “hunger” of addiction.
But the real question is, “When does the junkie’s drug use become a problem for society?”
The answer is, “when the junkie turns to criminal behavior to sustain their habit”.
If a junkie were to steal or mug people for resources, this would create a chain reaction. First of all, the perceived safety of the given area begins to diminish as the odds of getting robbed or mugged increases.
This in turn increases police activity, which has a social cost as we’re paying wages with our taxes. The policing will inevitably lead to arrest which then activates the whole legal system economy. Court appointed lawyers, paperwork, food, water, etc…all of the extra things will be paid by the taxpayer.
At the end of the day, maintaining the current system “costs” a lot of money to society with very little benefit.
The taxpayer is paying for the treatment, the police activity, etc – and the junkie doesn’t recover.
Conversely, producing heroin cheaply if legalized would be very possible. Not to mention, you’d have control over purity – same for meth. You’d be able to provide the meth head with a similar addiction, but cleaner – for free.
This would remove the incentive of the junkie to resort to criminal behavior. Why rob someone, face potential jail time, have a record – when you can walk to a center, which will give you drugs for free.
Some might think this as a crazy idea, however – it’s one of the only ideas that have real world effectiveness.
In places like Portugal and Switzerland, they have programs where all drugs are decriminalized, and centers of drug consumption. In Switzerland, they have a center where people can consume heroin.
The addict walks into the front door, asks for a dose – after filing some paperwork and signing liability forms, they are escorted to a comfortable room, where they are handed as much drugs as they want without inducing a fatal dose – and then they trip.
When they are ready to walk out of the front door – they can.
Nobody is forcing them to go to rehab, no one is forcing them to stop doing drugs. All they are doing is removing the hazardous elements of severe drug addiction.
They are removing the incentive to rob or turn to violence. They are removing the element of bad hygiene in terms of sharing needles and so forth. They created a controlled space where hardcore addicts can trip, and simultaneously reduced the “harm and violence” associated with severe drug use.
They saw a drop in crime, disease, violence, across the board. The same happened in Portugal when they stopped treating drugs as a “thing to be stopped” as opposed to “helping people cope”.
The average age of a junkie rose to over 30, meaning that younger people weren’t as motivated to consume drugs under this model. Perhaps, it’s because you remove the incentive for the black market to compete with a “free market”.
Perhaps it’s because socially, drug addiction is seen as a health problem, and thus – the youth distances themselves from use…who knows.
What we do know is that it’s providing more positive results than negative ones. More importantly, it treats addicts as humans, it gives them the option to quite, but also makes it safer for the consumer and society as a whole.
Sure, not every country is the same and potentially you’d need to create specific demographical conditions – but it seems to me that after 50+ years of prohibition and decades of forced rehabilitation – perhaps it’s time we change strategies.
Perhaps it’s time we rethink drugs altogether, remove the monopoly that Pharma has on drug production and distribution. Maybe we take science and rework the framework on how we interpret “problematic drug use”, and create policies that actually benefit society.
Why should we pay the junkie their drugs? Because it reduces the overall burden on society in terms of violence, crime and economy.
Drug use is here to stay…
The truth of the matter is that there will always be a portion of the population that will consume drugs and get severely addicted. They aren’t bad people. They typically come from broken, fatherless homes – they have little perceived support and have little self control.
But it’s important to understand that this is a small portion of drug users. This isn’t the norm. The vast majority of drug users, whether they consume cannabis, psychedelics, or other drugs – do not develop an addiction.
The vast majority of drug users, save highly addictive ones (that I argue we should give for free), they can consume and leave it without a problem.
Yet, we decided to punish everyone for the faults of a few. If this is the case, then we should also ban fast food for the obese, since this is the number one killer in their demographic and they too are addicted. They too cost the taxpayer billions annually…but if we go down that road – can we call ourselves a free society?
Our job is not to control other people’s behavior, but empower them to make better choices. We do this by accepting their condition, by providing safer alternatives, and saying, “If you want out of the addiction cycle – you can walk this way and we can help you…but it’s your choice!
I believe this is the only way to deal with dangerous drug addiction, while reducing the influence of the black market on drugs in general.
More importantly, removing the Drug War mechanisms that have only served as a cancer on society is of paramount importance if we ever want to achieve a state of actual liberty. We need to recognize that people will use drugs, and that is their choice…and that’s okay as long as they aren’t hurting others.
And that’s what I believe after 15 years of writing on these topics…