Saturday, May 14, 2005

Drug War Questions

I made a reference the other day to Prohibition and the Drug War as being similarly inadvisable. One difference that has puzzled me, though. If the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was required to proscribe alcohol, why were drugs outlawed by a simple act of Congress? Was the Constitution harder to circumvent in the 20's than in the 30's?

Has anyone done a study to the effect that the drug trade is a net gain/loss to the economy? Could the Drug War actually be a jobs program?

My biggest question, the only one that gives me a scintilla of doubt concerning my desire to end the Drug War, is this: People who now earn their easy money by selling drugs would possibly be attracted to other criminal activities when the money dried up. Would they, like the rumrunners, go legit and make an honest profit, or would they go back to the coal mines like moonshiners presumably did. Or would they take up something profitable but socially monstrous, such as kidnapping and slave trading.

I hesitated to bring up this suggestion at all, because it is difficult to believe that the amount of corruption and violence generated world-wide by the drug business could get any worse. I mention it only because it is a puzzle to me. What would these people do if all the easy money disappeared? Have they been irredeemably addicted to crime by years of involvement in it? Are these the kind of people who would have turned to crime without the inducements?

What would the economic impact be? It's hard to use Prohibition as a test case since it was ended at the height of the Depression. Maybe it will be like an industry specific depression. Will all the new cheap labor be absorbed by other businesses? These are people with a certain set of skills that might not be incorporable into other fields. Suspicious resumes might make them unemployable. Maybe they could go into a new business of generating fake employment histories.

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4 Comments:

At Saturday, May 14, 2005 2:30:00 PM, Blogger mal said...

interesting question on legislation vs constitutional ammendment. I believe the 18th ammendment was pushed as a way to absolutely unify and enforce the same alcohol laws on a nationwide basis. Prior to the 18th ammendment it was considered a matter for local and state jurisidiction. Proponents of the 18th ammendment probably considered it a lot easier to push thru congress and 32 legislatures than thru 49 legislatures, governors and who knows how many counties

the question regarding legitimizing the drug trade is a tough one. I wish I knew the answer myself

 
At Monday, May 16, 2005 6:29:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

So, on what basis did they justify the law. Control of interstate trade? For that matter, how do they justify the requirement for prescriptions. We are talking federal laws here.

 
At Thursday, May 19, 2005 3:04:00 AM, Blogger Carol Herman said...

My guess is that drugs were medicinal. Even snake oil sold. And, ether, when it was first discovered to put people to sleep, was used as an "entertainment value" at people's parties.

Alcohol, on the other hand, was one of those things that visibly left people drunk and homeless. So it was a problem in that it was seen on the city streets, obviously.

And, then, women got the vote! So Prohibition came out swinging. What were women gonna do? It seemed like a good answer to a bad marriage.

Drugs, on the other hand, were given to people by doctors. (Remember Eugene O'Neill's stories? His mom was made an addict BY DOCTORS.) We didn't have street people, exactly, selling this stuff. (And, snake oil salesmen were itinerent peddlers.)

Grass, however, was legal. WHen I was a kid in school, I learned that HEMP was a major agricultural plant down South. And, HEMP ROPE is still the best kind. So, this whole thing of how it became "illegal" has to do with the way it jumped from just being used by musicians; to falling into the hands of the kids in the 60s. And, then our government clamped down. Using this issue to put a lot of people in jail.

Anyway, the Supreme Court just dealt a blow to some states that had made it illlegal to ship wine from vinyards, directly to customers. Even though local vinters could sell direct.

We're not exactly free of entanglements. While the HEMP industry went down the toilet. (And, where do you think large shipping companies get their ropes from now? I have no idea. But ships are tied to docks. And, the ropes that are best, as I said, are made from HEMP.)

My son went up to Whistler, in Canada, to snow board. And, he said they had shops that sold HEMP CLOTHES, and stuff like that. Different governments have different rules, ya know.

And, the major pharmaceuticals have really been urging our Congress, through lobbyists, to be very tough on drugs, because they don't like the competition.

Have you gotten any other information back yet? Your question is very interesting, ya kno?

 
At Thursday, May 19, 2005 1:53:00 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

I found a long and interesting Scientific American article online from 1991 that says marijuana was controlled by means of a stamp act. Since there is no constitutional means of controlling the use of such drugs, the stamp act was passed on the basis of the constitutional power to regulate interstate trade. The government then banned marijuana by the simple expedient of refusing to issue the stamp. To me this seems appealable on a constitutional basis.

 

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