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The pivotal term in your diary, "hard drugs", is undefined. Does your definition include cannabis or not? If "hard drugs" are only those that are punishable (or only those that are severely punishable), then the term becomes so arbitrary - and so variable from country to country - as to become meaningless.

If "hardness" were to be defined as a standard of toxicity or harmfulness, and this were applied to determine whether a "drug" (I prefer the term "psychoactive substance" myself) be permitted or proscribed, then the legal landscape would look radically different: Cannabis would be readily available to adults, and tobacco rigorously banned. Cocaine would probably make the cut, and maybe even opiates, but - with all due respect to the Caol Ila mainliners - alcohol would be at best borderline.

This is one rational standard for classifying the "hardness" of substances; perhaps others are conceivable as well.

Theoretically, I can imagine that a case can be made for prohibiting substance according to a rational standard of "hardness" (although I personally belong to the regulated decriminalization camp). But the current regime which you seek to preserve is irrational, arbitrary and ad-hoc.

And here we come to the subjective difference between drug laws and other types of laws. Laws against e.g. robbery are considered fair and just by virtually everyone. Even the bank robber and his relatives will acknowledge the fundamental fairness of the robber being sentenced to prison. But because substance law as it is currently constituted is arbitrary, inflicting punishment for consumption of the "wrong" substance without providing a rational standard of why any particular substance is "right" or "wrong". The widely recognized, patent unfairness of such proceedings undermines respect for law in general. Given how central law is to all our societies, this is no trivial problem. In that sense, the current prohibition regime is potentially more damaging to our societies than the substance themselves.

You sure started a nice dust-up, though ;-)

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 04:18:15 AM EST

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