The Shotgun Blog
Saturday, October 25, 2008
John Frary: Reconsidering the war on drugs
We're big fans of professor John Frary, the Republican challenger in the second district of Maine. We've posted an overview of his campaign here, his campaign videos here, and even conducted an interview with him, where we discovered that he was already familiar with the Western Standard. He said he checks us out "quite regularly" and that we give him "much satisfaction."
We're happy to say that his campaign is one we've been following, and it's given us much satisfaction as well. In no small part, it's because Frary shares some gut-level pro-liberty positions with us at the WS.
So we've decided to publish Frary's opinion piece wherein he says Mainers, and the rest of us, need to reconsider the war on drugs.
The economics of the drug trade are clear. Demand remains undiminished. The cost of production remains low. Arrest a horde of producers, smugglers, wholesalers and retailers and all that can happen is that the profit margins go up. That is what must take place when supply diminishes while demand remains steady. Higher profits brings more recruits into the trade.
More: When the flow of one drug is reduced, alternative drugs seem always to spring up to take its place. I suppose you could round up the millions of users and execute them, but I think the public might be a little hesitant to resort to such extreme measures. I know I am.
Frary's not the only conservative to have re-thought and re-examined the war on drugs only to decide that it isn't worth the struggle. He mentions a few:
I'm in some very good company with prominent conservatives in questioning this policy -- Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley, to name just two. And this year the drug enforcement people are upset because they are finding fewer plants in northern Maine. It seems that the number of helicopters available to search is down, because they have been transferred to Afghanistan."
Personally, I prefer pursuing Osama Bin Laden to pursuing some Maine organic farmer.
You can read the whole column here. Frary promises us that he'll send us more of his writings in the future, and we promised him that we'd publish it. (And if you're reading this, and you're from Maine -- Vote for John Frary already. It'll make a bunch of liberty-loving Canadians happy.)
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Move over, Budoracle; you have company. Another shameless self-promoter with a glittery vanity page trying to ride the coattails of a controversial issue into the halls of power. And a university professor, of course. The only part of the mould that doesn't fit is that he's running as a Republican.
His arguments are more of the same from the anti-prohibition crowd--no success in sight; quagmire; "trillions" wasted; millions "uprooted"; so on, ad infinitum. The problem with this argument is that drugs had already been prohibited for decades before they even became a problem, suggesting that whatever may be responsible for the explosion in drug use, restricted access is not one of them. And I have yet to see one of these liberal types explain why we continue to fight crime in general, given that every single one of the negatives they cite in the war on drugs is also true of the war on crime, or that matter, the war on pollution.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-10-25 12:17:32 PM
I'm not sure if your reference to "liberal" is supposed to include Frary, but I want to assure you that Frary is no liberal. Neither was Milton Friedman. Or William F. Buckley. Or MP Scott Reid. Etc. etc. etc.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-10-25 12:46:37 PM
The word "liberal" is somewhat misused, P.M. It used to mean something akin to "libertarian"; that is, someone who valued individual liberty over government power. Since the 20th century the baby boom generation that began life as liberals have morphed into perhaps the most reactionary group in recent history, yet since they retain their Leftish views, they are considered "liberal." Also, that's not the primary point being discussed--shame on you for trying a diversionary tactic.
In any case, there is nothing the good professor brings up that hasn't been brought up--and debunked--elsewhere. Since drugs have never been legal since the advent of the modern druggie culture, we do not know whether legalizing them would make things better or worse.
I do know that prohibition did not increase drug consumption when it was implemented; the spike came three decades later. So that deals a fatal blow to the argument that mere prohibition automatically produces higher consumption. I also know that just because we've had spikes in general crime, most notably in the 70s and 80s, didn't mean we fired all the cops and opened up all the jails on the grounds that law enforcement was a "failed strategy" with "no victory in sight."
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-10-25 2:16:06 PM
Good lord, Shane, it wasn't a "diversionary tactic." I just wanted to make sure that you were aware that Frary is no "liberal" in the contemporary sense of the word.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-10-25 2:41:16 PM
You're still talking abut it instead of the other points I raised.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-10-25 3:56:08 PM
Wow. When faced with such a stinging, all-encompassing rebuttal such as that, what is there left to say?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-10-28 3:16:41 PM
Even a Republican can have liberal views--Mr Feary displays a strong liberal approach to dealing with drug prohibition..abnd he may be hardline on other issues,, We note that Elmer Fudd has redeeming spiritual values beyond fixarions on wabbit hunting... Fine-
now perhaps lets move on to the consequences of this liberal ( aka softie accomodating approach to drug prohibition ) and let the tears fall as they may..
and lets have some hardball debate before the wipeheads zombies wander in here and stray off topic..
They do every other time the magic word "Drugs" appears on the
We know that one catches more flies with honey than vinegar but we note there is no shortage of flies swarming the crap pile
Posted by: 419 | 2008-10-28 4:55:50 PM
Sorry, I meant " Frary "
Posted by: 419 | 2008-10-28 5:00:23 PM
The dangers inherent in this drug should be not be understated and need to be dealt with. But individuals like Shane Matthews don't seem to care that they are significantly amplified by our laws. The other, corollary dangers of prohibition, are shrugged aside as somebody else's problem.
Caring so little about the factual effectiveness of these laws, their keenness to enforce them can only be attributed to selective puritanism.
First, much of the money goes to organized crime. In a market where there is no legal recourse for fraud or theft, violence becomes the ruling principle. Our laws give a multibillion dollar livelihood to some of the most dangerous associations in Canada. Marijuana laws continue to be a pillar of organized crime.
Secondly, "The Dose Makes the Poison". Discipline of use, regularity and dosage, have everything to do with the damage or lack of damage caused by drugs like marijuana and alcohol. Consider the limited effectiveness of minimum drinking ages: When the use of alcohol is guided by responsible elders, youths are less likely to binge drink. When the context of their exposure is illicit, their usage is likely to be less modulated and forms more dangerous habits.
It is terribly foolish to understate the dangers of marijuana. But the policy of selective puritanism has proven itself to be destructive and irrelevant to all it's stated aims.
Posted by: Timothy Zak | 2008-10-29 2:20:19 PM
Drugs have always been around and always will be.
It is not a new problem but one that has existed in one form or another since Ancient times
Prohibition is not the answer nor is 'faith-based' addiction services. The problem with these services is often you get no help unless you are willing to convert. When I was homeless in Halifax, we used to refer to this as 'singing for your supper' because in order to eat at the salvation Army soup kitchen on Sundays you HAD to attend their church service first. No church, no food
The solution needs to be society based and needs to offer help for addicts without any preconditions being put into place first.
Cure the body, then worry about the soul
Prohibition also supports criminal organizations by feeding their coffers.
Leagalize the drug, then tax it. This will add money to the coffers of government that must deal with the fallout from drug use (Ie: Crime, health issues, etc) while at the same time reduce the revenues for criminal organizations by removing them from the marketplace.
A few years back Ontario had a huge issue with illegal tobacco coming off the reserves. Did they solve it by locking up all indians? no, this would have been dumb. Did they raid reservation after reservation confiscating drugs and punishing people? No, this would also have failed.
They lowered taxes on Tobacco and removed the need to go to reserves for bootlegged tobacco.
Then the problem was greatly reduced and today only a couple of reservations are still an issue.
Posted by: RobinHood | 2008-10-30 12:55:15 PM
Robin Hood, on the one hand, you state that the best way to control marijuana is to legalize and tax it. Yet you also state that when tobacco was overtaxed, people went and bought illegal tobacco. On the one hand, you want to raise taxes on marijuana (from zero), but on the other hand, you point out that high taxes also contribute to illegal activity.
As for help without any conditions, dream on. You can stop reaching for the brass ring, because in this life, there's no free ride, however much you want there to be. People will only invest in you if they think the investment is likely to show a return. Otherwise it's cheaper to shoot you, or else just ignore you.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-10-30 1:13:31 PM
Prohibition doesn't feed organized crime, Timothy. Users do that. Think about it. What does it tell us about the character of those who are willing to pay off violent criminals rather than make a minor change to their lifestyle?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-10-30 1:15:00 PM
Ya all this " stop drug prohibition" talk " and tax it " is unworkable.. first of all primary plant drugs- coca and opium are presently grown on pirate plantations who they won;t quit if prohibition is lifted, they will continue to flood the stoner market with their untaxed wares.. drugs like cannabis will continie to be produced by pirates and flood any legal market that would ever be established..so write thatone off
Police servcies would still be fighting illict production even if all prohibition was removed.... society would receive tiny or zero tax revenues. Anyone caught with untaxed drugs would face sactions as harsh if not harsher than exists today. So there would be no easy street stonerism.. And you want this massive retooling of societal priority, that promises to spill even more blood than it does now just so you can be ripped ? How about NO
the idea of humans weaning themselves off drugs and starving out the pirates is well worth considering.Drug prohinition is more important than sorting your trash to save the planet People throw their empty pop bottles in a box to restore the balance of nature , maybe personal drug detox to save the planet is next- what subject deserves to be dealt with more than shutting down the world drug circus
..buying drugs and being stoned can now be considered " anti life ", - or at least definately counter productive to human existance
Quit while you're a Head
Posted by: 419 | 2008-10-30 4:02:12 PM
Shane and 419 make good points... look at how the legalize and tax practice has worked with alcohol, all of those tax-free stills flooding the market with untaxed alcohol!
Do you think growing weed is expensive? It is - but only because it's ILLEGAL. An ounce costs about $180 around here, but costs MUCH LESS to grow. If the gov't legalized and taxed the drug it could undercut the illegal market VERY EASILY and provide a lot of new tax money to the gov't.
I know there is no way to convince Shane or 419, but the truth of the matter is that legalizing and taxing marijuana would solve a lot of the problems they seem to have.
Posted by: Joe Agnost | 2008-10-31 9:50:38 AM
Most of Canada's weed is destined for export, Joe. Even if it were legal to use it here, it will still be illegal in the U.S. for the foreseeable future. Since growth for export is organized crime's specialty, that means the dope will continue to go south while the guns continue to come north. In fact, since Canadian smokers will be able to grow their own or buy it from legal sources, organized crime could easily compensate by shipping their entire product south, potentially bringing even more guns north.
Legalizing weed in Canada while it's still illegal in the U.S. is a non-starter. To say nothing of a violation of several drug-control treaties signed between the western nations. How do you propose to overcome all that?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-10-31 10:24:32 AM
We rightly blame thieves for taking things from our cars, but we still lock our doors. Why? Because it is more effective. Laws should try to remove the opportunity for criminals to profit, not strive in the vain hope that man's fallen nature will change overnight.
Pot smokers are to 'blame', but so do our our policies lend financial support to gangsters. There are many factors in this mess, and you're right that it's not going to be easy to extricate ourselves. The question is whether we choose to attack the public or the gangsters. The status quo is in my humble opinion not an option. Let's start hanging pot users, or leaving them alone.
As to the drug treaties, I can't pretend to have all the answers. I don't share you assumption that we would be less effective against the export market if the cultivation of marijuana could be regulated, and the income of criminal organizations was reduces.
It's illegal to smuggle morphine, but it seems equally absurd to start arresting pharmacists.
Posted by: Timothy | 2008-10-31 2:28:42 PM
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