Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Frank Schnittger:
You are trying to set me up for an argument I cannot possibly win.

Not I, said the Little Pinko Hen, I'm merely trying to bring some rigor into this discussion so that our terms don't keep slip-sliding all over the place.

Frank Schnittger:

The problem is there is NO RATIONAL WAY of distinguishing between what drugs should be legal and which not.

I had understood you to be in favor of prohibiting certain substances (and allowing others to be used and traded). Do I take it you would be willing to do so even absent a rational framework?

As a thought experiment, we could start by ranking substances in terms of their overall harmfulness, using the criteria

  • toxicity (acute and long-term)
  • physical harm to others (e.g. passive smoking)
  • risk of antisocial behavior or secondary self-destructive behavior

Presumably tobacco (at least smoked) would score very high in categories 1 and 2, and alcohol in categories 1 and 3 (we've all been there, I imagine), making them more "rational" candidates for prohibition than cannabis (relatively benign in all categories), heroin (relatively high in only one category) or even cocaine (moderate to high in two categories). Not that I am advocating (pace Caol Ila Gang) prohibition of alcohol, but this framework would have the advantage of being more transparent, less arbitrary and thus more subjectively "fair".

And, by making these distinctions without reference to the intoxicating properties of the substances, such a system would avoid stigmatizing intoxication as such - IMO a major draw back of all other prohibition regimes to date.

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 12:15:43 PM EST
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