Friday, July 12, 2019

Drug legalization

Saw the same basic argument by Aesop on two of the blogs I follow, Borepatch and Bayou Renaissance Man Turns out my fisking of is too long to leave as a comment, so I'll do it as a post here.

...drug dealers and narco-cartels will line up twenty deep to pay their taxes on their newly legalized products, they being such law-abiding and tax-paying folks since forever.

Properly legalized, current dealers and cartels won't be the ones selling.  They won't be able to compete with merely sleazy but mostly legal operations, let alone if "corporate greed" gets involved.  (Note, I'm generally in favor of corporate greed).  Sure, they might control where the majority is grown and produced now, but there are lots of places you can grow the raw materials...if you don't have some government official with a gun you need to bribe or hide from.

...cartels will not smuggle drugs in illicitly, unlike they already do with legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco products, which was your most recent argument for why we should stop trying to stop drugs from getting here.

Does anyone smuggle cigarettes to Missouri?  If we tax drugs at multiples of their free market price there will be smuggling.   Don't do that unless you're trying to fail.

...drug cartels and dealers will not undercut the price of legal, taxed drugs by selling their product for less, exactly unlike they've been doing with pot in Califrutopia since 0.2 seconds after weed became legal here, because they're not capitalists, and will do nothing to maintain and expand their market share, and profits, even by continuing to break the law.

California tax rates are rarely the right answer, no matter what the question. 

...the cartels will not get fifty times wealthier, once getting their product safely into the U.S. will become virtually consequence free once it hits our shores, and thus be emboldened to try to take over this country de facto if not actually de jure, as they already have in any number of nations south of the Rio Grande.

Profit margins will be similar to other products, unless we do something stupid like California-tax them.  With legal competition, the amount of money will not support cartels, especially if they keep their risks and their legit competition doesn't.  That's true even if the legal producers have to grow in less than ideal conditions--if it needs a greenhouse to grow in Texas or Ohio, and it's legal, that isn't much of a barrier.

...drug dealers will never, ever allow minor children to get their hands on drugs, just like that never happens with alcohol and tobacco now.

...they will never expressly market their products to younger users, knowing that the actuarial tables means that as their old clientele dies off from using their products, that's the only way to continue raking in fabulous sums of money, unlike producers of legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco do right now, and since forever.

I knew who to get pot from in about 6th grade, late 70's, a few years later than that for pills. (note.  "knew who" isn't the same as "bought from")    I was driving before I could reliably get beer, which is what I actually wanted.   The dealer was risking jail to sell to anyone, selling to a kid made little to no difference.  A carryout on the other hand had plenty of risk-free customers, the tiny extra profit selling to me wasn't worth it.   There's a really good chance that legalization would make it more difficult for teens to get drugs.  Unless things have improved since the 70's, it can't be much easier.

And MOST of the point of legalization is that there won't be fabulous sums of money to corrupt everything.  Nobody sane is worried about Bacardi taking over governments.  Cartels aren't doing this to get people hooked, they are doing it to sell.  They can't afford to give drugs away until they are illegal again.

...drug users will never shoot up in public, they being such famous respecters of community standards in the public square and public sensibilities since forever.

...drug users will never discard their needles and paraphernalia in public places, they being so well-known for their long-term planning skills, their respect of other peoples' welfare, and being such all around great neighbors.

If you want to rid some places of junkies, which would work better:  1.  Make drug use illegal everywhere, even though that hasn't worked so far   2.  Make drug use legal in private, moderately criminal in public, and very criminal in a handful of places like schoolyards.

...junkies desperate for a fix will not rob, burgle, and thieve any longer, despite not being able to afford a fix, because they are such law-abiding citizens, and so well-provided with long-term planning and financial responsibility skills.

If someone is going to steal to feed their habit, I'd rather that habit be as cheap as possible so they don't have to steal as much.

...police enforcing the collection of the taxes on legal drugs will never bungle the address on warrants for violators of same, and never, ever shoot innocent citizens, which every Dope For Dope argues as a reason to end the War On Drugs now.

Do we really have problems and raids collecting liquor taxes, cigarette taxes, etc?  I've never heard of a bungled beer tax raid.   The idea that drugs will be sold by the same people with the same methods and locations is absurd--it will be the sleazy carryout that used to sell "bath salts" and "tobacco use only" glass pipes.

...ordinary citizens will not see DUIs skyrocket, once pot, meth, cocaine, heroin, and everything else join alcohol as legal drugs to imbibe prior to a quick trip to the store for more.

Or maybe we allow delivery, or Uber.  We aren't going to have a huge spike in use.  Chances are pot use will go up, alcohol down a bit and not much change with other drugs, the people who will take them already do. And we haven't even begun to talk about people in legit pain whose doctors are afraid to proscribe medically appropriate amounts of legal drugs.   God forbid a cancer patient gets a buzz.   And I've yet to see someone seriously advocating legalization of driving stoned.

...employees and employers will see far less people stoned off their ass at work while using power tools, forklifts, semi-tractors, cranes, and every other machine known to man, just like no one now ever comes to work drunk, which will make work a much safer place than now.

Employers would still be allowed to drug test.   I've known more people who say they are clean because of employee testing than fear of arrest.  On the other hand, I don't hang out with known users, my sample may be biased.

...medical insurance prices will plummet once anyone who wants to can get heroin and cocaine any time, anywhere, there being no actual medical consequences to their use, neither once nor serially.

Let insurance companies give better rates based on actual risk--those of us who don't use can get better rates than drunks or junkies.   I'll give up a bottle of pee or a chunk of hair every so often, or every ER visit to get cheaper rates.

...ER wait times will plummet because of the total absence of millions of more drug addicts after legalization, and your father or grandmother having a stroke or heart attack will never have to sit around in the waiting room hoping not to die because every bed in the hospital will not be filled up with the drunk and the stoned in small armies, 24/7/365.

There will be fewer people in ERs just trying to scam some narcotics.
There will be fewer people overdosing on Fentanyl-laced drugs (which EVERTHING I're read says accounts for an overwhelming majority of current overdoses). 
There will be fewer people overdosing because they got a stronger batch than expected.

...the cost to society of even the anemic, hamstrung, and deliberately and corruptly incompetent half-assed current War On Drugs will not pale into infinitesimal insignificance beside the new cost to society and civilization of "Legalize and Tax".

Legalize and lightly tax--tax it like beer, not like California pot or New York cigarettes.  If you tax it so poor people can't afford lose most of the benefits of legalization.  Let police and prisons concentrate on crime that directly hurts or risks decent people. 

Recreational drugs are generally stupid and bad for your health.  Freedom includes the right to do things I think are stupid.  Legalization done right may be bad for junkies, but it's their choice.  Legalization done right will be good for the rest of us.   Prohibition of alcohol was a well-intentioned disaster that we eventually fixed.  The War on Drugs is pretty much the same, except it's taking much longer to fix.  Maybe "legalize everything" is too far (and maybe not) but "prohibit everything except alcohol" is too far the other direction.