AOH :: DOCTOR.TXT|
A Doctors perspective on this war against people.
Ä  NORML (1:375/48) ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ NORML Ä
Msg : #3738 
From : Travis Beard 1:343/96 Mon 17 Jan 94 07:32
To : All
Subj : The Drug Laws 1 of 2
* Originally By: Don Kimberlin
* Originally To: Travis Beard
* Originally Re: The Drug Laws 1 of 2
* Original Area: Law and Disorder >>Fidonet<<
* Forwarded by : Blue Wave v2.12
This message was from IAN GELDARD to ALL,
originally in conference F-EU-USA
and was forwarded to you by DON KIMBERLIN.
The following article was first published in 1993 as an occasional
publication of the Libertarian Alliance (Political Notes No. 82)
The Drug Laws: A Case of Collective Psychosis
By John Marks
I am a consultant psychiatrist in Widnes, northern England and
prescribe hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Ironically I may
not prescribe hasheesh, nor opium nor coca. This is like being able
to prescribe cognac but not wine. Nevertheless this policy has
eliminated drug deaths, there is no H.I.V. infection, and a police
study of our programme shows a 15-fold fall in drug-related
acquisitive crime. Most interestingly, the incidence of addiction
has fallen 12-fold.
Harm Maximisation And Inhumanity
Daniel Roche is a citizen of Widnes. In adolescence he experimented
with drugs. He gained a liking for cannabis. Avoiding the black
market, he grew his own cannabis on local unused waste sites. He
supplied himself, in this way, peacefully, for eighteen years. He
was a cable layer, working for a large electrical company. He paid
taxes. He had his own house. He was married, with children
successful at school.
In 1988 the police seized his cannabis, and he was fired from his
job. He couldn't pay his mortgage, so he lost his house. More
cannabis was found growing in his garden. He was sent to prison and
his family split up. He is now still in prison in Liverpool. I call
this policy "harm maximisation."
John Montgomery of Oklahoma is a paraplegic. He lives with his
mother, who buys his hasheesh, the only thing that relieves his
muscle spasms. Earlier this year Jim Montgomery was sentenced to
life imprisonment when two ounces of hasheesh were found under his
pillow. I call this policy "inhumanity."
If all government expenditure on warnings against tobacco are
divided by the total number of deaths from tobacco and similarly for
alcohol, heroin and cannabis, we get #30 per tobacco death, #300 per
alcohol death and #1.5 million per heroin death, which illustrates
the `overkill' against heroin. But the ratio for cannabis is
infinity, because the denominator is zero.
Dangerous Because They Are Forbidden
Prohibition has its origins in a fundamentalist religious belief
that drugs offer independent and *therefore dangerous* solace. The
bizarre belief of prohibition, that forbidding drug use avoids the
harm from using drugs, not only prevents citizens learning how to
use drugs while avoiding their harms but also gives the erroneous
impression that things not prohibited are harmless. A knife is
arguably more dangerous than a drug and it is clear from this
example that it is the uses to which knives or drugs are put that
determine whether they are dangerous. In fact the opposition to
drugs is ideological, usually religious. Drugs are not forbidden
because they are dangerous but dangerous because they are forbidden.
Undoubtedly the way drugs are taken may be dangerous, but to claim
that an inert chemical, rather than what one does with it, is
dangerous is not merely nonsense; it is the thirteenth chime of the
clock, which casts doubt on all that has gone before, and diminishes
the effects of the health propagandists' more sensible work. It is
well that there are organisations such as the World Health
Organisation which seek to draw our attention to the dangers of drug
taking, but it is not at all well that the members of such
organisations should behave as though drug takers are `hostes humani
generis', or as though the rules of evidence do not apply to those
who campaign against drug taking.
Some ways of taking drugs may be dangerous to life, the individual
or society, but the drug taker who thus misuses her drugs no more
represents the totality of drug takers than the alcoholic derelicts
in the gutter represent the totality of alcohol consumers. It is
generally agreed that there is a link between some forms of drug
taking and certain unpleasant medical conditions. Obviously I do not
deny that claim and I do not recommend the practice, and if someone
- one of my children say - were to ask my advice on the matter, I
would make a considered and, I flatter myself, eloquent case for not
taking drugs such as to become dependent on them. But three things,
when I contemplate the anti-drug propaganda, stick in my throat.
The least important is the twisted argument it leads prohibitionists
into. For example it is often said of such cases "If she hadn't
taken drugs she'd not have died so young", to which I'm inclined to
reply that if she hadn't been born she wouldn't have died of
anything and that if we'd some eggs we could have some bacon and
eggs if we also had some bacon, or even that if my grandmother had
wheels she might well be a bicycle.
The second, worse, trait of the anti-drug prohibitionists is their
intolerant fanaticism. The language they use about drug takers is
the language of hate; to call it totalitarian would be very little
of an exaggeration and will soon be none at all. Nor are they
content to ensure - and a very reasonable claim it would be - that
as far as is reasonable, drug taking should be restricted to private
homes or specially licensed premises.
No: they insist that all drug taking shall be stamped out by law,
that the world and every citizen's private home shall be exclusively
for the use of non-drug takers and that more and heavier penalties
shall be inflicted on those who take drugs, including life-
imprisonment for the paralytic who smoked cannabis to relive his
spasms, and penalties are even provided for those who fail to report
a fellow citizen, or in America a family member, who is taking a
drug. Have we forgotten Soviet Russia so soon?
Good By Compulsion
But the third and worst failing of the anti-drug propagandists is
their inability to see, or if they see to admit, that what they are
advocating is an assault - a serious assault - on the individual's
freedom to lead his or her own life in whatever directions,
including dangerous ones, he or she chooses. To choose whether we
take drugs is part of a great right - the greatest, really - the
right to govern our own lives, and not to have others govern them
Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of
its victims may be the most oppressive. To be "cured" against one's
will of conditions we may not regard as diseases is to be put on a
level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason and
never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic
animals. All societies which have tried to make the citizen good by
compulsion have come to grief, and the grief has almost invariably
been that of the citizens, not the leaders.
Dr John Marks is a Consultant Psychologist at the Chapter Street
A list of publications produced by the Libertarian Alliance may be
obtained from the LA at 25 Chapter Chambers, Esterbrooke Street,
London SW1P 4NN. Enclosure of an A4 SAE will help speed delivery.
--- Blue Wave/TG v2.12
* Origin: The Blind Pig, Seattle WA (1:343/96.0)
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