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Things we won’t miss

Nick Gillespie has a nice piece in Time: 8 Things We Won’t Miss When Pot is Legal Everywhere

Legalizing pot won’t create a problem-free country any more than tearing down the Berlin Wall solved all the problems in East Germany or ending de jure segregation fixed race relations in the U.S. But it would reflect the will of an increasing number of citizens who realize the government has better things to do than tell us what we can and cannot put into our bodies. And it will also consign many terrible things about contemporary America to the dust heap of history.

We could probably add a few to the eight he lists.

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Can we help NIDA with its drug-free goal?

The government is once again seeking the elusive “drug free” fantasy.

National Institute on Drug Abuse:

Please share: It’s Red Ribbon Week (Oct 23-31). Be part of the creation of a drug-free America by taking the Red Ribbon pledge:

Drug-free America? Really? How?

I asked them for their definition of “drug free America,” but they haven’t responded.

How would they even answer that?

After all, our bodies create drugs that are necessary for our survival, so achieving a true drug-free America would require an act of genocide so horrific that it would dwarf the holocaust. Perhaps Homeland Security’s SWAT teams should pay a visit to the NIDA offices to see what they’re plotting.

But who knows… maybe NIDA has some other, secret, definition of drug-free that doesn’t actually include being… drug-free. Maybe they mean that they want America to stop taking drugs, ie, external drugs as opposed to bodily processes.

Of course, that would mean going after caffeine, so why isn’t NIDA campaigning against Starbucks? Or having meetings with Pfizer and the other pharmaceutical companies and asking them to stop making drugs?

Hmmm… I guess drug-free may be an even more restrictive definition to NIDA. Let’s see what else we can discover.

From their link, we find: “We will set a good example for our children by not using illegal drugs or medicine without a prescription.”

It’s certainly not drug-free, but it’s a more specific goal — aimed at the use of an arbitrary list of drugs that have been deemed illegal. But while individuals could live up to such a pledge, there’s still no way that America would stop using all such drugs, so a pledge won’t help them achieve a “drug-free” (under their definition) goal.

But wait — maybe we can help! If the goal is to achieve an America where nobody uses illegal drugs, that’s actually possible.

All we have to do is legalize all drugs.

It’s simple and effective.

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May seem like a simple number, but it’s very big.

New Gallup Poll

58% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana
39% oppose

That’s a 19% differential.

Tipping point passed.

Gallop Poll Marijuana

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Fighting terrorism, or drugs, or something…

Very interesting, though not surprising…

Accidentally Revealed Document Shows TSA Doesn’t Think Terrorists Are Plotting to Attack Airplanes

… apparently a clerk at the 11th Circuit appeals court forgot to file the document under seal, allowing them to find out what was under the redactions… Included in there is the following, apparently quoted from the TSA’s own statements:

“As of mid-2011, terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports; instead, their focus is on fundraising, recruiting, and propagandizing.”

Elsewhere, the TSA appears to admit that “due to hardened cockpit doors and the willingness of passengers to challenge hijackers,” it’s unlikely that there’s much value in terrorists trying to hijack a plane these days (amusingly, that statement is a clear echo of Bruce Schneier’s statement criticizing the TSA’s security theater — suggesting that the TSA flat out knows that airport security is nothing more than such theatrics).

So we’re using tools that bend (or break) the bill of rights under the guise that they’re preventing terrorism. Right.

Amazingly, it appears that the government forced Corbett to redact the revelation that the TSA’s own threat assessments have shown “literally zero evidence that anyone is plotting to blow up an airline leaving from a domestic airport.” Corbett argues that this shows why the searches are not reasonable under the 4th Amendment. Corbett also points out that about the only thing the machines seem useful at catching are illegal drugs — but, as he notes, that’s “irrelevant to aviation security.” Sure, the government may like the fact that it catches illegal drugs with these machines, but the TSA can’t argue it needs the machines for “terrorism” when it knows that’s not true, and then tries to keep them just because it finds some narcotics…

As so often is the case, the war on terror and the war on drugs are not about their stated purposes.

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Marijuana taxes

Jacob Sullum thinks proposed marijuana taxes will be too high. Mark Kleiman thinks they’ll be too low.

I’ll let you read the two competing pieces and see where you think reality will land. I haven’t studied the tax proposals enough to have a prediction. I will say that I’m not personally opposed to a cannabis tax, in large part because it’ll make it harder to reverse legalization once governments get a taste. But it’s important that taxes be low enough to encourage people to quickly switch to legal channels.

In trying to decide between the two, you can’t really be faulted for questioning the reliability of Kleiman’s arguments, given the petty and petulant way Mark deals with people who have a different opinion.

Once again, Mark trots out the tired and offensive “you must be smoking” ad hominem:

“Anyone who’s worried about the price of cannabis is spending far too much time stoned.”

[Update: Mark explains his use of this argument in comments. Though not obvious, I can see how it could be read that way.]

It’s a ridiculous argument device that he uses to a bizarre extent.

Later on, he tries to “refute” Sullum in advance by attacking libertarianism in general.

Naturally, true-believing libertarians insist that cannabis legalization be done in the way likely to generate bad outcomes. Taxes BAD! Regulations BAD! “Commercial speech” is SACRED! The free market FOREVER! And of course drug abuse is a merely imaginary problem, so cannabis is just an ordinary commodity that the market will handle perfectly.

Again, a common Kleiman technique – refer to differences of opinion regarding how policy will work as opponents’ desiring a bad outcome. I’ve never heard a libertarian say that drug abuse is an imaginary problem – they just disagree with Kleiman regarding the best way to deal with it.

The slogan at the “Reality-Based Community” is “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” What they don’t say is that Kleiman treats his opinions as if they were facts.

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