I was recently interviewed by Matt Nappo on MindDog TV. Matt was a gracious and insightful host. A large part of our discussion was on the subject of drugs and the law. Matt’s son died of a drug overdose, so it was a subject near and dear to his heart. You can check out our conversation here. I apologize that in some ways I didn’t present well in this video. I thought it was going to be a podcast and didn’t know it was going to be a video broadcast until I got online.
When I was doing the research for the first Cal Rogan book, Junkie, I talked to a number of people in government, law enforcement and medicine, and I also talked to a lot of addicts and former addicts. I came to the conclusion that what we have been doing about drugs for the last fifty years is 100% wrong. This was brought back to the forefront of my mind by the story of the unnecessary death of Matt’s son.
Some of the results of the last fifty years are:
- Fifty years ago, there were a few crime families who were millionaires. Today, there are drug cartels run by billionaires who distribute drugs through thousands of multi-millionaire drug gangs. This is because the profits from point of manufacture to sale on the streets are huge. A 4,000% markup in the case of heroin.
- Fifty years ago, it was unusual for there to be a drug addict in someone’s extended family. Today, it’s commonplace;
- Fifty years ago, if someone died from a drug overdose it would make the headlines. Today, it’s an epidemic;
- In search of more profits, drug gangs have created ‘designer’ drugs like crack cocaine and crystal meth. They have laced pot with heroin and heroin with fentanyl. This has resulted in deaths and irreversible brain damage to thousands, if not millions;
- In the last fifty years governments across the globe have spent literally trillions of dollars fighting ‘The War on Drugs’ with absolutely no lasting effect. Things have just got worse and worse, year after year;
- Drug habits are expensive. Many drug users have to resort to crime to support their habits. Myself and just about everyone I know have been victims of some petty crime.
Compare this to tobacco. According to the American Lung Association, smoking rates among adults have declined from 42% in 1966 to less than 14% in 2018. A decline by a factor of 3. Death rates from tobacco have fallen even more!
Among youth, the drop in tobacco use is even more dramatic: from a high of 36% in 1997 to less than 9% in 2017.
As an aside, tobacco is more addictive than heroin. If you don’t believe it, ask someone who has given up both.
To me the solution seems obvious.
- Legalize and control the sale of all drugs except for the few that are either deadly or disastrous to a user’s health. (e.g. fentalyl and crystal meth);
- Licence established corporations (e.g. manufacturers of food, alcohol, pharmaceuticals and/or tobacco) to manufacture the drugs under strict regulations with respect to purity, dosages, and packaging;
- Distribute and sell them through retailers who currently sell alcohol and tobacco, enforcing the same standards with respect to sales to minors;
- Price them so that addicts don’t have to steal in order to support their habits. The prices could be 10% of current street prices and still allow a very handsome profit for the supply chain, plus provide significant tax revenue for governments;
- Make it compulsory that packaging must have contact information on organizations that help addicts recover from their addictions.
There is one objection to legalization I often hear. Namely, that legalization will make it easier for kids to buy drugs. This is incorrect. Currently, drug gangs have teenage dealers in schools. It is easier today for a kid to buy illegal drugs in school than it is to buy alcohol or tobacco. This has been validated by several experiments made by social scientists.
I would love to hear your views on this, especially if you disagree with the idea of legalization. You can contact me here and also sign up for my email newsletter.
Very best wishes,