Whenever people talk about drug decriminalization or much more radical drug legalization, opponents point towards the crime and sickness that’s in actually existing drug culture today. This is an implicit question they are asking is: “so what is your alternative?” What we should want is a world where recreational drugs are unified under one framework.
What we have today, is a trillion dollar “War on Drugs”, that has seen drugs become cheaper, more powerful, greatly enriched drug cartels, and sent prison budgets and populations skyrocketing. To underscore the futility of Nixon’s war, are the unending waves of new synthetic drugs, often initially created by a legitimate pharmaceutical company or university as part of their medical research. You ban one, two more take its place. The War on Drugs is over; the drugs won; we have failed. We must acknowledge that mankind’s need to alter the state of one’s consciousness is natural.
The natural world is full of examples of other animals that get high. Cats eat catnip (Nepeta cataria) and roll around, bighorn sheep will grind their teeth to dust to get at hallucinogenic lichen (unknown), cattle graze locoweed (some members of family Fabaceae), goats helped us discover coffee beans (genera Coffea), reindeer eat hallucinogenic fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria), kangaroos eat poppies (Papaver somniferum), and monkeys will socially molest millipedes (possibly Buzonium crassipes) together to suck on their defensive secretions to trip balls.
This idea is not impossible; it is achievable. It would be an extension of the regulatory culture and system we already have around the legal recreational drugs and pharmaceuticals.
However let’s not fool ourselves — nicotine, ethanol, caffeine, are drugs. They are legal, over the counter, common, and our social acceptance of them, despite their objectively demonstrated potential for great harm, is what makes them allowed. Cannabis, and a coming avalanche of novel drugs should be legal for consenting adults to partake in.
This is not a pipe dream. New Zealand has gone and actually done this. They’ve passed the Psychoactive Substances Act of 2013 that makes it possible for persons, including legal persons like a corporation, to submit drugs for review not because they cure a disease or treat a symptom, but because they are fun. Drugs that are already illegal — cannabis, meth, etc — will remain illegal so as to not conflict with international treaties.
The law creates the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority under their current Ministry of Health, along with a Psychoactive Substances Expert Advisory Committee. They have a licensing procedure for importation, manufacture, research and sales of said substances. They also have a procedure, where a trial about a new drug is submitted, and the Committee decides whether or not it poses no more than a “low risk of harm” before they approve it for sale. You can’t sell to kids below age 18. This is an actually existing regulatory body, just like our FDA, that will vette these substances.
Uruguay has gone a step farther, given the international treaties on banning cannabis the finger, and passed legislation for the full legalization of cannabis. The state controlled marijuana industry even set the price to just $1 a gram, like how our government controls milk prices, in order to accelerate crushing the drug cartels that currently have a stranglehold on the industry. The cannabis will be tested to ensure the THC content isn’t too high, and there will be a 40g monthly limit along with a national database to ensure buyers won’t break the limit. That’s just like our databases that set limits on how much cold medicine you can buy to prevent meth manufacture.
I’m not saying to put out vending machines for Refreshing Crack Cocaine! brought to you by El Zeta Locos. In fact, by legalizing it, you’ve kneecapped the cartels. Their entire state of being, their power and enormous profits, are because drugs are illegal. A legal farmer co-op can’t round up policemen, and string up their naked bodies. Pfizer can’t pour lethal amounts of veterinary drugs to bulk up and cut their product. The bodega down the street has to ask for ID before they can sell you a pack. Every little satchlet for just one dose of Tylenol has to contain a list of ingredients and warnings on the dangers of the the drug. Go find a dealer who asks for ID, ensures purity, warns you of side effects, and finally checks you out in the database to ensure you’re not buying too much.
You, as an informed adult, should have the choice to walk into Duane Reade, buy a limited amount of FDA approved recreational substance created in an inspected and regulated lab or farm, and then enjoy your evening. The FDA’s drug approval committee already exists. A database for checking whether or not you’re exceeding a limit on the amount of a drug to buy already exists. The habit of asking for a license to verify age already exists. The pharmacist that is happy to answer any questions you have about side effects already exists. Everything is already here, already in place, and already functioning.
I can already hear the critics saying: “Addicts and criminals will just find a way to exploit your system.” Yes that is true, but that is already happening and true of every law we have. Just because some people drive drunk, or break the speed limit, doesn’t meant we should ban cars all together. We already have a legal body, two in fact — the DEA and the ATF — that can handle enforcement of drug laws.
So what of the addicts? The legalization of recreational drugs requires the decriminalization of drugs. Addicts should be viewed as a medical problem. Portugal went through with complete decriminalization. Their existing court system, combined with trained doctors, determines whether you’re an addict and then sends you to mandatory treatment. Portugal now enjoys a much lower drug crime rate with relapses falling.
All of the systems and infrastructure needed to support this “radical” idea are already actually existing. Sure it’s not perfect, but what system is?
Let us repeat the slogan of the 1968 situationalists in France, a total revolution did not come, but their positive spirit still echos to this day: “Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible” or “Be realistic, demand the impossible.”
Backdoor Pharmacist was on quaaludes, “molly,” mephedrone, kratom, benzos, niche hallucinogens, smart drugs, sleeping pills, more sleeping pills and “bath salts.” Backdoor Pharmacist does not want you to rot or OD. Backdoor Pharmacist makes “liver magic” and does NOT drink coffee.