Should All Drugs Be Legal? A Soho Forum Debate

Should All Drugs Be Legal? A Soho Forum Debate

So if ownership includes the right to decide what substances we’re going to swallow, snort, smoke, or inject, my body my choice. We are in the middle of a population wide experiment here that we have not thoughtfully considered. Pretty much every objection that you can raise against an illegal drug can be raised with equal or greater force against alcohol, yet alcohol is legal. This is a crime, a risk, and societies have the right and the duty to try to mitigate those crimes. By what principle of justice do you lock someone in a cage for doing something that violates no one’s rights? As a society we have a right and a duty to protect people around people making terrible decisions. Now for the main event arguing for the affirmative Jacob Sullum. Jacob please come to the stage. Again tonight’s resolution reads that Jacob will be defending except for laws prohibiting the sale of drugs to
minors and driving while impaired all laws that penalize drug production
distribution possession and use should be abolished along with special sin
taxes on drugs taking the negative Alex Berenson Alex please come to the
stage Jane please close the voting Thanks thanks Jane I know at some point I’m
gonna spill this water it’s a bit tilted all right see a few
years ago police in Habersham County Georgia broke into a home in the middle
of the night they were looking for a man who had allegedly sold methamphetamine
to a confidential informant a few hours before the drug dealer was not there but
his uncle aunt and four cousins ranging in age from 1 to 7 were sleeping in the
converted garage having moved there after their house in Wisconsin burned
down as Feliz stormed into the room one of them tossed a flashbang grenade a
blinding deafening explosive device that is supposed to distract and disorient
suspects so they are less likely to resist the grenade landed the youngest
child’s crib where it exploded in his face and nearly killed him causing
severe burns and a deep chest wound the toddler spent several weeks in a
medically induced coma followed by multiple surgeries aimed at
reconstructing his face and repairing the damage to his chest now several factors contributed to this
horrifying incident including a questionable search warrant and reckless
military style tactics that never should have been deployed against a home where
innocent adults and children were living but the underlying cause was a policy of
using violence in situations where violence is not morally justified the
event that precipitated this disastrous raid was a peaceful voluntary exchange
between two adults one had money the other one had a psychoactive substance
that legislators had arbitrarily decided to ban such bans legalize police conduct
that would otherwise be universally recognized as felonious including
breaking and entering burglary robbery grand theft kidnapping assault
manslaughter and murder the rationale for legalizing those
crimes is that forces necessary to prevent people from using drugs that
might otherwise cause problems for them but that rationale violates the
classical liberal principle that people are sovereign over their own bodies and
minds according to that principle we have a right to control our own bodies
as long as we respect the corresponding rights of other people self ownership
includes the right to decide what substances we’re going to swallow snort
smoke or inject my body my choice when politicians violate that principle bad
things happened starting with the violence that is necessary to enforce
their pharmacological prejudices sometimes the scale of that violence
makes it impossible to ignore the anti-drug crackdown in the Philippines
for example has killed more than 12,000 people since the current President took
office in 2016 but even in our own country
police periodically killed people in the course of enforcing our drug laws
several years ago in New Orleans police broke into a marijuana dealers home and
shot and dead the officer who filed the lethal shot
said he thought that the unarmed dealer was threatening him with a gun just this
last January in Houston police broke into a home of the home of a middle-aged
couple without warning and immediately used a shotgun to kill their dog which
set off an exchange of gunfire in which both of the home owners were killed and
the warrant for this raid claimed that the couple was selling heroin but police
didn’t discover any evidence of drug dealing and in fact it turned out the
warrant had been falsified another way in which drug prohibition fosters
violence is by creating a black market where there are no peaceful legal ways
to resolve disputes whether between competitors or between buyers and
sellers one good example of that is what we’re known as crack related homicides
back in the 80s there was a study that looked at all of the murders that were
classified that way and it found that contrary to the impression you might
have gotten from politicians in Journal these are not murders that were
consisted they were committed by people under the influence of crack these are
almost entirely murders that grew out of black-market disputes that sort of
violence combined with violence between the government and drug traffickers
figured in the Mexican drug war that has believed to have killed about 60,000
people between 2006 and 2012 the black market that generates violence also
generates artificially high profits since drug traffickers can earn a
premium by dealing in contraband a recent RAND Corporation estimate figured
that Americans alone spend about a hundred fifty billion dollars a year
just on four drugs marijuana heroin cocaine and methamphetamine the
worldwide market is probably worth three or four times as much profits from that
business strengthen murderous criminal organizations and foster corruption
throughout the law enforcement system such corruption is rampant in countries
such as Mexico and Honduras where drug lords can’t escape capture and break out
of prison with help from the same officials who are supposed to be chasing
them down and locking them up but you also hear pretty frequently about
drug-related corruption in the United States I just give you a few recent
examples so this is just within the past year or so DEA agents had a drug
trafficker buy a nice $43,000 truck so that the agent could turn around and
seize it for his own use another case involved the Customs and Border
Protection agent who was paid for 10 years to facilitate drug smuggling he
would leave certain gates unlocked yet another case involved police officers in
Baltimore and Philadelphia who would seize drugs and then turn around and
sell them and then you have a perennial problem of correctional officers who
smuggle drugs into prisons as it did during national alcohol prohibition that
sort of corruption tends to undermine respect for the law so does the sense
that police are arbitrarily targeting a small percentage of lawbreakers because
that’s all they can manage to do for arrest and Punishment especially when
enforcement has a racially disproportionate impact one glaring
example of that is the difference between federal penalties for
the snorted and smoke forms of cocaine up until – starting in 1986 it up until
2010 the mandatory minimum sentences for cocaine powder kicked in at weights a
hundred times as high as the cut-offs for crack cocaine as a result low-level
crack dealers who were overwhelmingly black tended to get more severe
sentences than higher-level powder dealers who were more likely to be white
or Hispanic and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 changed that ratio from 101 to
18 to 1 so if you do the math you’ll see that’s exactly 82 percent less insane also we saw stark racial disparities
when the NYPD cracked down suddenly on cannabis consumers during the Giuliani
and Bloomberg administrations these low-level marijuana possession arrests
had averaged less than 2500 under the mayors that two mayors have preceded
Giuliani after 90 1996 they skyrocketed peaking at more than 50,000 in 2011 and
blacks and Latinos that year accounted for 84% of the possession arrests on his
face this was very puzzling the surge in pot bust because New York supposedly had
decriminalized marijuana possession back in 1977 but it was still a misdemeanor
to possess marijuana that is burning or open to public view and defense
attorneys frequently complained that police would Pat down young men
ostensibly looking for weapons which they almost never found and then pull
out a joint or pull out a bag of weed now it’s exposed to public view now I
can arrest you another trick was to say you know if you have any contraband on
you you probably turn it over to me it’ll work out better for you it did not
work out better no because that’s now a misdemeanor you can be arrested for so
when you combine that sort of tricky with the with the that sort of trickery
with the routine hassling of young black and Latino men that prevailed under the
stop and frisk program you can start to see why police are widely viewed as the
enemy in neighborhoods they’re supposed to be protecting and those disparities
that you saw in New York are seen throughout the country the ACLU asked him
it’s that nationwide black people are about four times as likely to be
arrested for marijuana possession as white people even though the rates of
cannabis consumption and the two groups are about the same
altogether police in the United States made more than 660,000 marijuana arrests
in 2018 more than 9 out of 10 for simple possession so this is not dealing it’s
not manufacturing most people arrested for possessing small amounts of
marijuana are not going to spend a lot of time behind bars but there are these
long-lasting ancillary penalties make it harder to obtain an education get a job
find housing altogether including all drug offenses police in the United
States made 1.7 million drug arrests in 2018 at any given time they’re about
half a million people or locked up in jails or prisons for drug offenses drug
offenders account for about half of federal prisoners and about 15 percent
of state prisoners arresting all of those people for conduct that violates
no one’s rights unjustly deprives them of their liberty and impairs their life
prospects it also hurts their families and communities and it frequently
entails draconian penalties including sentences of years decades and even life
for nonviolent offenses now prohibition obviously makes life worth
worse for drug users by exposing them to the risk of violence and the risk of
arrest but you also have the problem that when you’re in a black market you
don’t know what you’re buying if you buy a bottle of whiskey you can be pretty
confident how much alcohol isn’t that not the same when you’re buying when you
buy black market products you don’t really know what’s in them for a
dramatic demonstration of that was the crackdown on pain pills after which
opioid related deaths or in an upward trend that not only continued but
accelerated why because people who have been using opioids that were delivered
and legally produced reliable doses we’re suddenly using black market
products instead and these are widely variable in terms of purity and potency
and unpredictable more likely you’re gonna make fatal errors fentanyl has
only compounded this problem because it’s increased the variability and this
is also phenomenal it’s driven by Pro a bitch
because prohibition drives drug traffickers toward more potent
substances that are easier to smuggle you also have the motivation to inject
drugs that are artificially expensive which leads to and combine that with
rules that obstruct access to clean injection equipment you’re now spreading
AIDS and hepatitis you have soft tissue infections as a result not having
sanitary equipment and one of the really notable things about these burdens is
that for the most part they’re falling on people who do not benefit from them
because the people are being punished are the ones were defying prohibition
the people that you imagine you’re helping are the ones who are deterred by
prohibition from making poor choices that they would otherwise make and I
think that is is really morally questionable even if you believe in
paternalism as a rationale for government intervention which is not to
say that the burdens prohibition fall exclusively on people who like illegal
drugs the rest of us all pay I shouldn’t ask everyone else pays in the form of
squandered taxpayer money diverted law enforcement resources theft driven by
artificially high drug prices and eroded civil liberties that the war on drugs
has been the main reason why the supreme court for decades has been whittling
away at the Fourth Amendment’s band on unreasonable searches and seizures just
a few examples the court has said it’s ok to rummage through your trash without
a warrant you can surveil private property from
low-flying aircraft without a warrant you can impose mandatory drug testing
and public school students you can get search warrants based on anonymous
informants who may or may not exist and they often do not exist and you can
justify a search based on a cop’s report of a dog signal the war on drugs is also
the main excuse for the system of legalized theft that’s known as civil
asset forfeiture where they can take money or other property claiming that it
is connected in some way to drug offenses then if the burden is now on
the owner to get it back it often costs more Jay get back the property and the
property is worth we could avoid avoid these disastrous consequences if the
government decided to respect the individual’s right to control his own
body including the substances that enter it
the government would still have a role as does with alcohol and enforcing laws
against fraud protecting the public from reckless behavior such as impaired
driving and defending parents authority by imposing age restrictions on drug
sales but it would otherwise leave adults free to make their own choices
thanks I did not spill my water I want credit for that
Alex Barnes in for the negative Alex take it away Wow I want to thank Jacob
for that also Jean thanks for having me Jane thanks for setting up I think David
already won our debate but uh so it’s sort of funny that I’m up here because
until a few years ago I was a reporter for The New York Times who mainly
covered the legal pharmaceutical industry and for the last few years I’ve
been writing spy novels and then this year at the beginning this year wrote a
book about cannabis which attracted some attention and I think that’s why I’m
here but it is sort of strange that I am one of the seemingly leading voices in
the nation now about why we should keep cannabis or not not legalized cannabis
why we should keep it in at most a decriminalized state and and now I you
know I seem to be broadening that to talk a little bit more about drugs in
general but the reason that is is that there are so few people out there who
are willing to talk about why drugs should remain illegal there is a
tremendous infrastructure to fight the drug war but all of those people are
fighting tactical battles they’re all trying to whether they’re doctors trying
to treat addicts or whether they’re law enforcement officers trying to make
arrests it’s as if we have forgotten the reason we do this and there are very
very important reasons to keep almost to keep drugs illegal and we cannot we
discuss decriminalization versus prohibition what those terms mean but
why it is as a society that we should have bans on drug use you know Jacob and
a the libertarians and on on the other side you know
liberal policy groups have have really seized them the philosophical high
ground here and they’ve been making the same arguments over and over and over
again for 30 years what was so striking to me about Jacobs conversation was that
he could have said it 30 years ago actually or 20 years ago or 10 years ago
and yet so much has changed in the last 30 years that really puts the lie to a
lot of those arguments um you know the the the drug legalizes
you know sometimes they call themselves drug reformers and and I admire Jacob
for having the guts to say it you know to call himself a legalize er um they
they really make the same arguments over and over again there’s sort of an
inherent amount of drug use in society we can’t change that we we can own we
can’t reduce that we can you know it’s gonna rise or fall on its own we can
only manage it and manage the consequences um we can’t stigmatize use
that that just hurts people who are using that just discourages them from
getting help and drives them underground the harm of the use is mainly to the
individual and that’s where we should you know that’s where we should focus
our attention I’m Jacob said problems for them problems for the user let’s
let’s focus on the user and his or her problems let’s not worry about the
people around the user and the problems that that use may cause um the harm to
society as James said explicitly comes from the drug war not the form of
pharmacological consequences of drug use and and thus obviously the drug war is a
mistake some people will go so far as to say the pharmacology of drugs does not
drive addiction that that you know addiction comes from trauma growing up
that you know that most people who use heroin even do not get addicted which is
true by the way most a majority of people who use do not get addicted and
therefore we shouldn’t we shouldn’t think of the drug as the problem the
drug is the solution the user is treating – he’s using to treat some
other problem in his or her life Oh another another point legalize herbs
like to make is that all drugs are basically the same
you know caffeine is alcohol is methamphetamine is heroin everything is this
and therefore they all deserve to be treated under the same legal scheme
Jacob used the word arbitrarily to discuss efforts to introduce
distinctions there and so and so the legalize herbs have made these arguments
over and over and over again for 30 years and they’ve basically won they’ve
certainly won in the media they’ve won in academia and and you know
there’s there’s almost nobody out there who’s who’s willing to say you know
actually well you’ve been making these arguments real life has gone exactly the
other way so let’s let’s look at some of the public health changes in the last 30
years we stigmatize tobacco use tobacco kills more people than any other
substance and we decided we didn’t like that and we stigmatize juice and the
vaping crisis notwithstanding we have driven tobacco use way down in the
United States and all over the Western world
we’ve stigmatized drinking and driving very successfully and drinking and
driving this are down in the United States and all over the Western world we
stigmatized drinking during pregnancy and fetal alcohol syndrome went down you
can change patterns of use if you tell people people don’t really want to hurt
themselves you you can tell them things truthful things and they will listen to
you and they will change their behavior on their own at the same time we
embarked on a giant giant experiment involving medically prescribed opioids
the amount of medically prescribed opioids in the United States went up
about six-fold between 1995 and 2010 and Jacob is wrong
when he says the deaths were not soaring in the decade of the Ott’s long before
we started to try desperately and basically unsuccessfully to discourage
this the United States still has five times the amount of opioid prescriptions
as it did in the mid 90s there has been no change in our health that would drive
that that is a result of of doctors and drug companies unfortunately making bad
decisions and these remember these are medically prescribed they’re usually
insurance paid and they have led to the worst public health crisis
in modern American history half a million people have died from opioid
deaths since 2000 and many of those people were taking medically prescribed
opioids not fentanyl not heroin these were people who became addicted and
couldn’t stop and died and many of them died very quickly the standardized
mortality ratio for somebody who’s an opioid addict a heroin addict I should
say I’m not entirely sure what the number is if you’re an oxy addict is
about 20 that means you’re 20 times as likely to die in the course of a year if
you’re a heroin addict you’re about five times as likely to die
if you’re a cocaine addict that’s not because the drugs are illegal it’s
because being addicted to these drugs is dangerous
it’s dangerous for you and it’s dangerous for the people around you
so again if the problem is drugs and not the war on drugs I don’t understand why
oxycontin has killed all these people so so the legalized errs have a solution to
the problems that legalization causes harm reduction harm reduction means
trying to fix addiction generally trying to fix problematic use and how do we do
that we do with rehab we do with empathy for the user we do with support for the
user unfortunately none of those things actually work the only thing that there
are only two ways to soon as we’ve convinced people quit using drugs one is
for them to put on their own and the other for opioid addicts is to give them
what the harm reduction community euphemistically likes to call medication
assisted treatment medication assisted treatment means giving somebody who’s an
opioid addict a different opioid that you hope won’t kill them so you give
them subha suboxone or bewp and those drugs are less likely to kill you than
heroin or fentanyl doesn’t make you less of an addict you still need the drug to
function but that is the only harm reduction strategy that really works
that or quitting so so so what what the legalized er say is let’s let everybody
use let’s not discourage it it’s a moral it’s you know it’s a moral neutral it’s
neither good nor bad and we’re just gonna try to fix we’re gonna try to pick
up the problems that inevitably result from use unfortunately
this was true in China in 1850 and it’s true in the United States in 2019 it’s
very simple the larger the population of people you expose to dangerous drugs the
the greater the harm it’s like giving people cars that can drive 200 miles an
hour okay there is there no matter what safety measures you put on there you’re
gonna kill more people than if they’re driving at 75 the inherent extra risk
cannot be mitigated by harm reduction it can only be mitigated on the way in
by discouraging use and that’s what you have to decide to do as a society and
societies can do this um Jacob Jacob tried to argue that adults
should be allowed to use um if so we ban texting and driving for example we ban
drinking and driving um you can you can drive 50 miles drunk or on your phone
and be pulled over by a cop thirty feet from your house
why because drinking and driving or texting and driving are crimes of risk
we ban those things not because we know they’re gonna harm somebody but because
they increase the inherent risk and it is the same with drug use that is the
correct way to think about drug use it is a crime of risk doesn’t mean that
everyone is going to be hurt it doesn’t mean that everyone is going to do
something terrible to his or her family or to the people around them or commit
crimes to the finances or his or her drug use it means that this is a crime
of risk and societies have the right and the duty to try to mitigate those crimes so obviously I know more about cannabis
then these than other drugs and one of the interesting arguments that legalize
there’s like to make about about legalization is that somehow prohibition
drives up potency and because dealers want to sell more potent product and in
this they they talk about prohibition that was certainly do true during
prohibition but there’s a big difference between alcohol and every other drug
which is that alcohol is dosed by you know the gram or the ounce or you know
in in the case of beer it’s they’re kegs it’s a big heavy drug to smuggle a lot
of it actually it does make sense to give people more potent products with
cannabis / THC and with other drugs that’s not true these drugs are dosed by
the microgram the milligram the gram and the fact is what drives use and potency
and danger is the user demand for more potent drugs and that is the the
American experiment with cannabis legalization proves that beyond a doubt
everybody who was in favor of legalization said you know people are
gonna there’ll be people who want higher CBD products we’re not gonna see a big
increase in THC exactly the opposite has happened basically dispensaries are
selling 25 or 30 percent THC cannabis flower cannabis when 15 years ago the
standard was 5 or 6 percent and a lot of users for a lot of users even that isn’t
enough they want near pure semi synthetic extracts that are basically
THC user demand drives potency more than prohibition so that is that is another
myth that legalized Irsay so what do you do when you have all these problems you
deny them and J and you and you focus on on an unfortunate an unfortunate few and
I will say police crimes because you know the conduct Jacob described he
certainly sounds criminal to me cases where the drug war has gone too far
where where you where police have acted
unethically or illegally and you and you ignore the fact that the vast majority
of child deaths in the United States the vast majority in the United States has
far more child deaths than any other industrialized country and I’m talking
on a per population basis come at the hands of people using okay we are the
the legalization community has focused our attention very successfully on the
harm that users face and it has somehow distracted us from the fact that it’s
actually the user is actually benefiting from his chemical euphoria and on some
level the real the real harm the truest harm comes to the people around the user
the innocence who have to deal with addiction and innocence most of all
children whose parents are using and can’t take care of them and and for
every case that Jacob mentioned I could unfortunately tell you ten of pair of
parental drug users who did horrible horrible things to their kids okay so so
so we have a right and a duty as a society to discourage drug use now we
can discourage it legally you know we call that prohibition we can discourage
it through ad campaigns we can call that stigma I would lump all of this as
prevention and we can make distinctions between different drug classes and we
can make distinctions between the harm that they caused and we can and should
do that as a society we should not just say this is this is a this is a moral
neutral and we can’t control it and all we can do is clean up the after-effects
because that’s not true and it leads to higher use and higher use inevitably
results in more harm and more death thank you the bottle from Jacob you want to take
this bunny yeah sorry when I explain why I say the drug laws are arbitrary not
that all drugs are the same or have the same costs and benefits but for example
pretty much every objection that you can raise against an illegal drug can be
raised with equal or greater force against alcohol yet alcohol is legal so
the laws are arbitrary in that sense they’re not based on a scientific
evaluation of the hazards of each substance which leads to a decision
about the legal status Alex mentioned several things positive things that were
accomplished without prohibition decrease in smoking which has gone down
dramatically over the last few decades decreases in drunk driving decreases in
heavy drinking during pregnancy we didn’t ban alcohol we didn’t ban tobacco
in terms of opioid prescriptions and opioid related deaths certainly it’s
true that people were dying after using prescription pain pills typically by the
way in combination with various other drugs the data out of New York City
indicate that 97% of so-called overdose deaths are actually actually involve
combinations of drugs drug-related deaths have been going up since the late
50s actually and this is all happening under prohibition this is a long-term
trend and you’re looking at people engaging in reckless drug behavior
possibly getting more reckless for sure the availability of pain pills has
something to do with the fact that pain pills you know we’re used but it doesn’t
mean that none of this would have happened in the absence of the increase
in prescriptions and in fact as I mentioned when it prescriptions were
brought down by the government you actually saw an acceleration of the
trend why is that the acceleration of the upper trend in opioid related deaths
the open the the deaths death rate among heroin users is roughly eight times as
high as the death rate among illy illegal or non-medical users of pain
pills it makes it more dangerous not less to crack down on paint
ALX Prabhu the idea of giving people substitute Oh opioids that are in
controlled doses that are less likely to kill them I think that’s a good thing
that they’re less likely to die if we’re worried about people dying we should try
to reduce the harms associated with druggies it doesn’t make sense to take
somebody who is used to using a certain drug every day and throw them into the
black market where the drugs are far more hazardous I would point out
availability doesn’t automatically translate into higher addiction rates addicted related deaths or drug related
deaths are actually going down prior to the Harrison narcotics Act prior to the
beginning of drug prohibition in the u.s. the fact that that you legalized
something doesn’t necessarily dalts especially not by the way children which
is interesting we I didn’t even expect that it was counterintuitive but what
we’re really interested in is the harm associated with drug use increasing use
in itself is a benefit that means more people are getting satisfaction they
wouldn’t otherwise get what we’re interested in are they hurting
themselves are they hurting other people and is it better in a prohibition
situation I would argue it’s not and the one final thing about the violence there’s violence inherent in the war on
I mean that’s why they call it the war on drugs so this is not just a few yes
these some of these cops growing ethical and especially reckless it’s true but it
is a necessary part of drug prohibition that you use force to enforce it you
create these situations that have all sorts of potential for going wrong even
if every cop is conscientious about doing his job so you will have people
being killed and if these you know somebody’s not falsely this is this guy
in New Orleans was actually a marijuana dealer as far as I know wasn’t he wasn’t
falsely aclu’s accused it was on the trumped up case had he actually had a
gun that would have been considered justifiable justifiable use of deadly
force by the cop even though on the face of it he’s defending his own home
against armed intruders so violence is inherent in the war on drugs you can’t
eliminate it even if you you know all cops are conscientious five minutes we bottle I would just say
I do think I do agree with medication assisted treatment I think it’s the only
thing that works I think it’s unfortunate that opioids
once you become addicted to them have such a hold on you whoever you are
whether or not you have childhood trauma you know whether or not you have a
family they are pharmacologically devastating
and they’re so devastating that for many people the only answer is a substitute
addiction which is less dangerous why on earth we would want that product
to be widely available that a product that anybody could walk into a store and
buy I have no idea and and so you know Jacob didn’t really dispute the numbers
that I gave you about standardized mortality alcohol
aside from people who are heavy users has no or a very limited increase in
standardized mortality well what were talk about ratios of 1.1 maybe 1.2 and
then as you start to use more as you become addicted it becomes an
appreciable number but you know most the alcohol is is not as dangerous as these
other drugs the reason there’s a lot of harm with alcohol is because so many
people use alcohol okay if if heroin or cocaine use approached anything like
alcohol use if even first time use approached anything like alcohol use
because of the the propensity of people become addicted we would have a
devastated society okay cannabis use right now in the United
States is only in terms of casual use the number of people who used last year
in the United States is about 42 million okay more than four times as many people
used alcohol but because people don’t realize how addictive cannabis is the
number of daily users of cannabis is almost as high for cannabis as for
alcohol okay these drugs do exist on a spectrum
and although cannabis use is more I’m sorry although alcohol use is more
physically toxic than cannabis use I think anybody who reads the studies with
an and mine is gonna realize that cannabis
use is extremely neurotoxic okay there there aren’t too many drugs that can
produce psychosis in people after a single use and cannabis you cannabis can
not permanent psychosis but you know when you when you have your edible and
you wind up in the ER because you think your friends are aliens you’ve had an
episode it’s true it happens you’ve had an episode of cannabis induced psychosis
okay so so and cannabis is less dangerous it’s less dangerous than
cocaine it’s less dangerous than heroin it’s less dangerous than the opiates
it’s less dangerous than methamphetamine it’s still a dangerous drug we are in
the middle of a population wide experiment here that we have not
thoughtfully considered okay and and in terms of alcohol what we should be
trying to do with alcohol because a lot of people can use it casually is is to
discourage the people who are heavy users and probably do that with higher
taxes on it and you know and and penalizing people who are you know who
are inebriated in public or who are drinking and driving who are clearly
using in an unhealthy way we can’t ever prohibit alcohol we tried it it didn’t
work there far too many casual users but that doesn’t mean that we want other
drugs to fall to follow the same route as alcohol oh one one one last point um
Jacob I think would certainly agree that the war on drugs has been aggressive for
a long time um crime in the United States decreased dramatically between
1999 and 2014 we successfully apparently prosecuted a war on drugs reduced crime
rates nationally reduced homicide rates reduced rates of serious violence and
somehow we did all this while fighting this horrible war on drugs now in the
last couple of years we’ve sort of taken the we’ve taken the breaks or we’ve put
the brakes on the war on drugs a little bit we’ve taught you know marijuana
arrests are actually down the the legalization Lobby is increasingly
powerful in cities like Philadelphia and Dallas there’s
open you know there there are prosecutors who are openly in favor of
legalization and guess what in the last couple of years
both homicides and aggravated assaults have started to go up again the
pharmacological effects of drugs are the same whether they’re legal or not and so
we should discourage their use thank you thanks for spirited debate between the
two of you we now go to the Q&A section of the evening people can line up and
ask questions at any time the rules are and any time you can each ask the other
a question and if you’d like to exercise that prerogative right now then do so if
you’d like to or we can wait for questions and you can use that
prerogative later on I’m gonna do I you you get you get as many as you want all
right then you must pick up the microphone that’s the rule here Jake who
do you think should pay for the treatment for addicts are you willing to
kick in you know is that a serious question no I mean I think it’s it’s
analogous to the question who pays for addiction to lieu of the drugs are legal
or illegal you know who pays for alcohol addiction
it’s the same analysis I mean libertarians are more skeptical of
forcing people to pick up the tab that’s everything then then you are obviously
but since you since well I wanted to press you on the point about alcohol
actually so you said alcohol is not as dangerous as these other drugs you
conceded that it is physically like heavy drinking is physically more
deleterious than heavy pot smoking correct absolutely
okay so also in terms of affecting driving ability that is not
clea marijuana versus I think it okay I guess I disagree or not I think it’s
very clear that alcohol has a much more dramatic effect on driving ability you
should you should look at the statistics from all US states
well that but that doesn’t go to the relative effect on driving ability
that’s established at laboratory studies where they look at how how people’s
performance is affected but okay so that’s what I’m saying is that that is
another difference if you look at addictive liability I mean it studies
typically indicate the addiction rate for alcohol is higher than with
marijuana it actually is higher than in surveys I mean what do you buy this idea
that exposure to opioid pain pills in itself causes addiction or is it a
function of the circumstances and I think I think it causes addiction I mean
there are gonna be people who are more vulnerable but if you expose everyone in
this room to a you know to a course of oxycontin for a month or a week some of
those people will become addicted some bastards already not yes the majority
not I I don’t know if I’d say we call we can argue about I mean how many people
here have used opioids opioid pain pain pills okay show of hands yeah let’s turn
on the lights okay we can see okay and how many of you after your pain was gone
had trouble giving it up and and became addicted okay I don’t see any hands so
that’s a hundred percent we’re not addicted they’re actually walk
throughs there wasn’t no no but actually if you if you look at there was one end
okay so but if you look at the data on on drug use disorder right among people
who use whether for non met for medical or non-medical purposes it’s about two
percent any given year versus less something like nine percent of alcohol
you know drinkers who are have alcohol use disorder in a given year which again
suggests that alcohol is worse or more dangerous in that respect so I mean
there ways I’m sure which alcohol is better too but it’s it’s tastier for one
thing but so I I just yeah I I think it goes to the point of
the the distinction is drawn by the drug laws aren’t really based on an objective
evaluation of the rest question to us was that you do not want to legally
prohibit alcohol use and the answer’s no no I do not think we should do that and
but I also think that if we’re going to talk about and the best the best way to
look at this is propensity become addicted after after exposure which is
certainly higher for both heroin and cocaine than for alcohol and marijuana
no it’s not true it is true it is about one in six for anybody who drinks and
about 1/3 for everybody here I’m sure you have others but this is based on
data from the National comorbidity survey okay
so alcohol comes in higher than cannabis or prescription analgesics it comes in
higher than M fetta means it is slightly lower than cocaine did you say cocaine
heroin or banned and we’re the biggest one you know what the biggest one is
though the highest rate of addiction tobacco okay so goes to the point that
that the these distinctions don’t dictate what the laws say and and the
other aspect of this is a me mentioned you know bringing down smoking is that
you have to you have to distinguish between addiction and the damage that
addiction does because addiction in itself is not necessarily damaging
people can be addicted to coffee as you mentioned it generally does not cause
people much of a problem thirty ticketed caffeine because they can get it readily
it doesn’t have serious health effects it doesn’t disrupt their lives and then
you can separate nicotine from the smoking which of course we’ve done with
these cigarettes you have something that people can use throughout the day it’s
not going to have a serious harm and certainly much less dangerous than
smoking and so you’ve reduced the impact that’s harm reduction right okay Alex I
yeah that was a long question from from Jacob do you have any answer you want to
give do you want to give it you have a question I don’t know if that was a
question or the question of comment works
as an old professor of mine like to say questions comments or short speech okay
all right question for the audience just ask a question as a question don’t no
need to identify yourself right so Alex would you prohibit marijuana medical
marijuana that has not been brought up which kind of surprised me and then for
Jacob are there any studies empirical studies where drugs have been legalized
such as Colorado or Portugal and what are the results has drug use increased
or decreased okay so so so this will probably be my most unpopular answer of
the night I don’t really think there is any such thing as medical marijuana if
you look at the studies around cannabis aside from a couple of very very narrow
conditions randomized clinical trials have never shown that cannabis worse the
treat nearly any of the conditions that it’s said to treat and that by the way
even applies to pain okay you can imagine what the market for a legalized
for a legal prescription non opioid painkiller would be in this country
right now it would be it would be somewhere it would be five or ten or
fifteen billion dollars a year a company called GW Pharma which is a cannabinoid
pharmaceutical company based in the UK for years tried to produce a th C CBD
blend that it was going to get FDA prescription approval for to market as a
painkiller that effort collapsed in 2015 and 2016 when the largest clinical
trials of Sativex against placebo not against opioids showed no benefit in
pain for four reasons that actually are even a little bit unclear to me cannabis
does not really work in pain the the conditions the THC and cannabis are said
to work for again there’s almost no evidence CBD and possibly other
cannabinoids may work in other conditions CBD is epidural x is
prescribed DEA approved it’s a prescription drug to treat epilepsy and
children that’s great I’m all in favor of that I’m glad insurance companies are
covering it but that does not mean that medical
marijuana is a thing it’s not a thing I would actually be in and Andy Andy and
the efforts to encourage people to use marijuana from mild psychiatric
conditions are among the worst parts of what the cannabis Lobby has done in last
15 years if I had to choose I would choose full recreational legalization
over medical legalization because at least then we would be talking about
this as a drug not a pretend medicine as as a as the head of a cannabis company
said to me a couple weeks ago the condition it treats is called not being
high do you want to adjust that question Alex before yeah just briefly I actually
sort of agree with Alex that the medical benefits of marijuana have been oversold
we can agree on that I am a little bit more impressed by the
evidence I mean the FDA has approved THC to treat nausea and restore appetite and
that initially for for cancer chemo cancer chemotherapy and then later for
aids wasting syndrome so there’s good evidence on that point when the National
Academy has looked at this they found substantial evidence for a few
indications you’re right it’s not nearly as many as some states skip that no to
harmony and then go on to the question mark Skousen puts you about the record
of legalization in other countries well I mean Portugal didn’t really legalize
but they aggressively decriminalized such that use was no longer an offence
and they have suasion committees they instead of arresting people putting in
jail they have treatment available they seem to have had some success overdose
deaths went down transmission of communicable diseases I believe went
down there hasn’t been any obvious increase in social social disruption but
that is by no means legalization I mean just to be clear it’s it’s a form of
harm reduction and I think it as far as it goes it’s been pretty successful in
terms of Colorado or other states we as I mentioned you see increases in use by
the which I take to be mostly a benefit I’m
sure Alex disagrees but but to the extent that it’s not causing obvious
problems it’s a benefit I mean people are getting satisfaction they wouldn’t
otherwise get I am pleasantly surprised to see that underage use did not go up I
was not one of those people who are saying there’s no way that’s going to
happen because what happens when you legalize is that on the one hand it’s
true if you displace the black market that people the black market are not
checking IDs and they are serious about checking IDs in the in the state
licensed businesses but of course you have leakage from illegal markets so if
you have an older brother who’s 21 or older he may get pot for you you may
swipe it from your parents in the same way that alcohol leaks from the adult
market so that was perfectly plausible to me that that would happen it’s kind
of amazing that didn’t happen or hasn’t happened so far and in fact it’s gone
down slightly teenage marijuana use in Colorado and possibly there’s something
to this idea that when you legalize it and your parents are using it it’s not
cool anymore I’m not sure but that that’s sort of
interesting in terms of other indicators one thing that was legitimate another
thing that was legitimate to be concerned about was an increased in
stone driving people would argue this is just gonna add to the problems created
by alcohol it is possible that it might that it could reduce the property of
alcohol to the extent that marijuana is a substitute that remains unclear
whether it’s actually serving as a substitute if people are drinking less
as I mentioned alcohol isn’t much more dramatic effect on driving a building so
yes if you have more stone drivers versus rather than drunk drivers that’s
in debt improvement for public safety it’s not clear what’s going on in states
like Colorado yes you do have an increase in people testing positive for
marijuana but it does not and who were involved in crashes it does not mean
they were under the influence at the time of the crash or that the marijuana
use caused the crash so it’s very hard based on those data to figure out
whether marijuana’s actually you know causing accidents of their what
otherwise would not be so III have to push back on this because that’s just
completely untrue basically all the stuff about driving here’s the truth and
you can go to the Colorado diety and look this up you can go to the
Washington diety and look this up overall driving this in the states that
legalized first are up about 35 to 40 percent since 2014 now that’s more than the national
increase in driving this even if you’re just for vehicle miles traveled and
population it’s significantly more that’s a be driving desk where people
were under the influence of THC and you can distinguish it is not true that you
cannot distinguish between active and inactive metabolites of THC they do it
in tox screens driving deaths in which people were under the influence of the
active metabolite of th e it’s called Delta 9 THC not THC COOH which is the
inactive metabolite those deaths have approximately tripled in Washington
State they have approximately I believe doubled in Colorado I’d have to check
that there are a couple things at play here people generally will not chug
vodka while they drive they will vape and drive and some people who’ve a pass
out when they vape and that is obviously dangerous when you’re at speed on a
highway it is also not true that the lab studies show that stone driving is safer
than drunk driving and nor does the data from the CD ot and the Washington do t
so we are all entitled to our own opinions about legalization but the
facts about what’s happened on the roads are clear and they are not that that
legalization has made the road safer the roads are demonstrably less safe in
Colorado in Washington right now all right so I question this equation of
testing positive for THC is not the same as being impaired people can test
positive at the cutoff which is used in Washington or or in Colorado for
presumptive level of impairment it’s not the same as impairment I mean you people
especially people who are regular users will will drive perfectly competently at
levels that are above the legal cutoff so what it doesn’t it’s not equivalent
to being impaired you can’t and you can’t just assume based on the THC blood
level in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has made this very
clear you cannot equate THC blood levels to impairments so unlike with alcohol it
just does not cause I particularly love this argument because if the alcohol
industry if the spirits industry said you know heavy drinkers probably can
drink two or three times as much so they’re BAC
levels for impairment should be three times as high they would be tarred and
feathered but the cannabis industry will make this argument with a straight face
well it’s the question of whether people are actually impaired not and and and I
actually think that argument has also has some merit that in other words is
the alcoholics who are gonna be the best drivers under the influence it’s true
it’s vice vice ya know it’s not how we do this true they should probably get
some dispensation but I are you for me yeah but I have to you know again I’m
gonna differ anyway I just I wrote a very long you know feature story about
marijuana impaired driving and I looked very closely at the research about the
effects marijuana has versus alcohol I interviewed a bunch of experts they all
agree now many of them are concerned about stall driving a question but they
all agreed that that alcohol is a far more dramatic effect on driving I think
that’s very well established but we’ll leave it at that
next question hi I have a son who was arrested seven years ago for growing
marijuana in a Kansas field he was sentenced to three years in the
penitentiary of Leavenworth now I can’t vote now I can’t do all of those things
for growing marijuana do you think that that’s an equitable punishment for that
crime Jacob I why did you say first I do not there actually are people there
aren’t a lot but there are people serving life sentences for growing
marijuana to serve the recreational market which is now a legal business and
in ten states so it’s kind of astonishing Alex um it’s it’s hard for
me to answer without knowing was he growing one plan was he growing a
hundred plants a thousand plants was he you know was he how many plants there’s
good okay over 500 plants so you say so your son was not growing for personal
use he was he was a drug dealer or a drug trafficker really is three years
inequitable sentence for that I don’t know I do
think by the way that in general and this is a whole different topic your
your crime should be your time should be your time in other words once you get
out you should not face not being allowed to vote you should not have to
disclose that certainly for non violent felon
this is nonviolent felony so so that’s it’s a different issue but that’s it
that’s a criminal justice issue I think sometimes people get confused that
ending marijuana prohibition or fully legalizing marijuana I should say
because we’ve really ended marijuana prohibition but fully legalizing
marijuana would somehow and these broader issues with the criminal justice
system and the social justice you know social justice issues and that’s not
really true there’s a you know there’s a tiny number of people who are in who are
serving long prison sentences or really in prison at all for marijuana I believe
the number in Pennsylvania you know which has about I think 10 million
people and has 48,000 prisoners and State Penitentiary’s is about 80 so you
know this is this is not something that a lot of people are in prison for I’m
not saying people don’t get arrested and I’m not saying there aren’t racial
disparities in those risks but when you look at who’s actually in jail I mean in
prison it’s it’s not very many people I mean I I guess I questioned the idea
that if you decriminalize you know possession of small amounts that that
means you repeal prohibition during alcohol prohibition it was legal to
possess alcohol if you had accumulated alcohol before prohibition you were
perfectly entitled to have that alcohol and to drink that alcohol they even
created loopholes for supposedly non-intoxicating fermented beverages or
from ouu so that would be like growing your own pot so but there was no
commerce in it that was legal except for the male medical purpose medical
purposes which you probably like that example yeah you can get a prescription
for alcohol there call probation yeah or if you were lucky enough to be Jewish
you had a an exemption for sacramental use not very good wine but still it will
get a buzz on so just the question but yes yes my question my question is I
sense that you don’t think people should be arrested or face criminal penalties
for using marijuana or having marijuana that’s absolutely okay so my question is
how do you justify morally saying the thing we want to prevent is the
marijuana use that’s the real crime and and but the person who does the actual
thing we want to prevent is not going to get arrested but the person who merely
how them do that by growing marijuana Fran
for example is gonna go to prison it seems I mean ordinarily aiding and
abetting is not punished more severely than the crime you’re aiding and
abetting so how do you justify that distinction so I mean you are correct
that we cannot have a scheme where where the drug is not legal where we aren’t
punishing a producer and a trafficker in it so I mean that ultimately that is
true so the question is whether or not the the user the individual who who
chooses to use a small amount for him or herself or you know or on a daily basis
for him or herself we’re gonna punish that person as a practical matter or not
there’s 40 you know 40 million people used cannabis in 2018 we’re not gonna
put them all in jail nor should we that doesn’t mean that we can’t have
laws against the large-scale you know farming of marijuana the trafficking of
marijuana and if we’re gonna have those laws you’re right they have to have some
teeth are you saying else Michael question you’re saying that heroin users
cocaine users any user of an illegal drug is not committing a crime we’re
talking specifically about Kim in other words cannabis users they’re okay but
users of the other drugs they go to prison I’m okay I’m not saying that they
go to prison okay okay they could go to prison I am saying yes
they could go to prison that’s right for your report for possession and use of
these of these more dicey okay all right actually okay just a clarification if
we’re gonna be serious about this and talk you know specifically obviously
those people should be sent to drug court first they should have and you
know multiple chances but at some point if the laws against us are going to mean
something for these drug if we are gonna make distinctions which to my mind are
non arbitrary and are based on the danger of the substance then at some
point we might say this drug is dangerous enough that your continued use
of it is a crime not just you know not just something where you’re you know
gonna be sent to drug court it’s a crime actually next question
thank you both for debating tonight Alex you’ve been arguing that drugs or risk
to society and that that’s why they should be banned if you ever tried to
buy life insurance you know that your premiums go up if your smoker so given
the proven health risk to society that tobacco causes why should that be legal
and after that woman who reminded me of my mother and I can only imagine you
know I’m in jail for growing some pot shouldn’t all the why shouldn’t all the
tobacco growers be thrown in jail as well for producing a harmful substance
thank you so so I think you misunderstand a little bit the it’s not
so much the harm to society it’s the harm to people around the user okay and
tobacco doesn’t cause psychosis or or violent behavior um alcohol can that’s
true but if you draw a line okay and you put caffeine and tobacco on one end as
least likely to cause psychosis and methamphetamine the hard stimulants PCP
LSD on the other and as most likely to cause psychosis and you track that line
you will see that societal disapproval of those drugs roughly tracks that line
because people don’t like psychosis they’re scared of it they’re scared of
the violence it produces okay the opioids are sort of in the middle they
actually don’t cause psychosis that often they they have other problems but
that’s actually and that’s one reason why the cameras lobby hates my book so
much because it says you’ve been saying that the that cannabis is down here and
the truth is it’s much much higher than you think and that makes a difference to
how we legally so so there’s the tendency of drugs to cause violence and
then there’s the tendency of drugs to cause the specific kind of violence that
psychosis produces which is more random and more likely to be targeted at people
who had nothing to do with the with the with the user but and that is scary for
society and it should be but you still make an exception for alcohol
you said alcohol tends not to produce psychosis except in late-stage users
again it does it does produce but but I mean I’m not saying alcohol doesn’t
produce violence I’m saying that it doesn’t produce psychotic violence as
much okay comment about that question well I know I don’t
you can you can pick any particular concern violence is one of them and it
will not track very well with the distinctions that the drug drug laws
have drawn III don’t know if we’re gonna get into your book very much fuck the
experience I mean the experience of most people is that marijuana is not a drug
that tends to make people violent the studies which I know you questioned but
the studies of the effects of marijuana do not suggest that it is associated
with a violent crime not true the studies that you dismissed I’m talking
about the well in other words when the
operational Drug Control Policy commissioned a report from in 2000 and
corporation they say and they flatly stated that marijuana does not lead to
crimes of violence you disagreed with that but it is a study nevertheless
eight years old and most of the studies that I say in my book have been
published since then if you give a bunch of people who’ve been screened against
any psychotic tendencies or any history of psychosis small amounts of cannabis
in a lab setting you don’t find that cannabis produces violence that’s not
where cannabis produces violence cannabis produces paranoia and psychosis
in a small but real minority of users and when those people have mental
illness or even if they don’t some of them get extremely violent
that’s where cannabis produces violence I mean let me press yet on a couple of
things about Anslinger I’m not about the racist stuff I understand you don’t like
that I will throw that part out but but I you see you seem to be claiming that
he recognized what you are now recognizing all right many societies
have read that that Egypt recognized when do you reckon let me let me get to
the point which is that you know he recognized this connection in other
words between marijuana use and violence but at the same time you say you say
that law enforcement officials typically do not report this but or haven’t until
recently and the reason is that Mara you had a wait till marijuana I got really
potent for this to become obvious so my question is how was that Anslinger back
in the 20s and 30s was observing this thing that
requires potent marijuana when the marijuana was not very no no I mean
there’s been a connection between cannabis and violence that societies
have recognized the the you know people in India recognized that in the 1890s
Egypt recognized it by the way the notion that Harry Anslinger is
responsible for worldwide cannabis prohibition is nonsense the Egyptian
government in 1925 was the government that pushed for prohibition of cannabis
because it had experience with hashish fueled violence so so cannabis even
weaker cannabis can produce violence if you consume enough of it or if you
happen to be somebody who unfortunately you know has a tendency to paranoia and
psychosis that that the drug brings out what what Anslinger did what he was a
genius about doing was talking up this and finding ultra cases just as you
found some very good cases about why the war on drugs is a mistake he was a
propagandist he was not a scientist but he happened to be right about the
science all right so just along those lines since the the 90 the early
nineties or so marijuana use has gone up substantially potency has gone up
substantially yet crime has prices fall has fallen and a half absolutely crime
is multifactorial yes but you wouldn’t you expect expect a different result if
wider use of marijuana leads to more violent crime no no crime is
multifactorial already next question boy I really want to go watch reefer madness
right now I feel like you’d like it Alex if you haven’t seen it um my question is
for you who’s you who’s for Alex okay so about enforcement of the drug war
so in 1933 during the prohibition on alcohol the government tried to
crackdown on industrial alcohol alcohol sold to manufacturing companies by
putting methyl alcohol in grain alcohol rendering it lethal
subsequently 10,000 people died is this justified I’d never heard that before no
it’s not justified that was what happened
yeah industrial alcohol was allowed for industrial purposes but they
deliberately poisoned it so that it wouldn’t be diverted but it wasn’t
diverted and the bootleggers didn’t always remove all the methanol and
that’s yes that’s that’s for real but that’s I mean this may not be your
perspective but people today prohibition is some of them seriously will make the
argument that you don’t want drug used to be safer you don’t want to reduce
harm you want to maximize harm the better to deter people from using drugs
and so for example the governor of New Hampshire vetoed a bill to make naloxone
more widely available because he said we don’t want it to be widely available you
do all we don’t want the reach to give people the reassurance that if they
overdose they might be saved we want them to think that there was no moral
hazard is a real problem but I think you have to allow that so on right all right
both those things can be truly we agree on that right next oh okay also for Alex
so you made the argument that drugs are bad we should discourage drugs and then
all of a sudden at the end it jumps in like the whole government should fight
the drug war to prohibit them it’s that last bit that I’d like to understand
better what’s theirs crimes of risk you had this idea a crime of a risk yes my
question is what is your limiting principle meaning Bloomberg wanted to
ban sugary drinks if I you know I want to do something and you say I say I
don’t believe in climate change and you say you think I’m threatening the
existence of the world do I go to jail like what’s your limiting principle for
crimes of risk so I think you can look you can look at reasonable reasonable
measures of the effects on the user and the people around him or her you know
sugary drinks are not gonna make you hurt your family okay and they’re and
they’re probably only marginally gonna change your standardized mortality ratio
so so you can you can draw non arbitrary distinctions here now you know alcohol
because alcohol in some ways is like the big you know it’s always the big
legalize their argument because alcohol does have risk it has significant risk
but I think legalize errs of other drugs tend to overstate the risk of alcohol
not that alcohol doesn’t have risk but remember 165 million Americans used last
year so so so we can draw reasonable distinctions comment
about the question I mean I think it’s it’s problematic to say crime to risk
because what you mean is that some of the people who do this who engage in
this behavior are going to end up hurting other people
is there no way to distinguish do we have to penalize everyone because some
minority is going to behave their responsibly final question yeah right
okay neither of you addressed the cárcel state in your opening arguments
specifically or an in-depth B on police violence or in your rebuttals and I
would like to know how you weigh the social moral and economic implications
against both your arguments for the drug wars influence in mass incarceration and
I guess is a follow-on question Alex why do you hate fun I knew that what does he
hate what fun I’m designed life man and cut I guess
what your question is basically about incarceration is that what you why why
were neither of you and addressing mass incarceration as part of your arguments
or rebuttals what are your thoughts unlike this social moral and economic
costs they’re of a massive consommateurs I think I did I did talk about
incarceration and why it’s unjust for crimes that violate no one’s rights so
the proper you know penalty for growing marijuana is zero euro time is the
Robert Bentley and so none of those people should be in prison I would note
that anti-prohibitionist soar or legalize errs tend to exaggerate the
role of the war on drugs in filling prisons I met I mentioned the figures
the current figures are about 15 percent of state prisoners and about half of
federal prisoners are there for drug crimes
if you released every single one of them we would still have way too many people
locked up in this country how many people all together approximately you
said half of something a lot in the fifth absolute number the total said
half of the federal prisoners know oh it’s I think it’s around 100,000 and
then 15 percent of state prisoners yes so I mean so you’re talking about a lot
of people like I said it’s about half a million
especially if you include gels half a million people locked up at any given
time for violating the drug laws but you still have a huge number of people who
are there for various other kinds of offenses and if you’re serious about
attacking mass incarceration you not only have to say well this wasn’t so bad
a crime or this wasn’t so violent a crime but talk about what’s an
appropriate penalty for violent crimes and you know the US has this attitude
that you know 30 40 50 years the rest of your life that’s the right penalty and
it doesn’t necessarily it’s not necessarily just it doesn’t necessarily
make sense in terms of a public safety payoff if you look at what happens to
people after they’ve been locked up for four years they become much less likely
to recidivate at a certain point and to keep old men you know locked up for the
rest of their lives even if they did commit what you and I would all we’d all
would recognize as genuine predatory crimes it doesn’t make sense but that’s
if you’re serious about about tackling mass incarceration you have to go beyond
the war on drugs and talk about the punishments that we meet out for
predatory crimes this comment house I mean that’s all true the average
sentence for a murder in the United States is 20 years and people tend to
serve about two thirds so if you kill somebody and you’re convicted you’ll
probably do 13 or 14 years AGG assault serious assaults you do two to three
years but I would just say this so Jacob is right um as to whether or
not the United States has a mass violence problem and I’m not talking
about I’m not talking about you know mass shootings obviously that’s a
problem too but we have 17,000 murders a year we have 800,000 aggravated assaults
a year we have a lot of people in jail because a lot of people commit crimes
unfortunately in this country and that’s a bigger issue than one that the
criminal justice system alone can solve I personally don’t when I look at the
sentences think they’re hugely overstated but I know that’s an
unpopular position these days – but but Jake but I do admire Jake for you know
telling the truth about who’s een okay on that note of admiration I guess we’re
done right yes okay the cue a part of the evening is over Jacob gets a
five-minute summary followed by Alex take it away Jake okay so all drugs have
had risks there’s no such thing as a completely safe drug
certainly marijuana has risks alcohols risk tobacco has risks heroin has risks
in many cases these risks are exaggerated in many cases what we think
of as being a risk of the drug itself is actually a risk that’s created by
prohibition so people for example can take opioids for years and years without
any serious health damage not true of heavy drinking you will see serious
health damage the real problem is the unreliable quality and potency in the
black-market and you know Alex says well drug dealers are supplying fentanyl
because that’s what drug users want it for the by-and-large that’s not true
they will tell you they would rather avoid fentanyl fentanyl is much easier
to smuggle into the country just through the mail in a small package you can get
a huge number of doses it’s about 50 times as potent as heroin so the
economic incentives created by prohibition encourage the emergence of
drugs like phenol then you have drugs are even more potent than fentanyl
fentanyl analogues of various kinds this is something that’s being imposed on
people if they had their choice this isn’t necessarily what they would want
although there may be a few people out there who love their fentanyl for the
most part this is something that’s being imposed upon them by both the
traffickers responding to the economic incentives created by prohibition people
would prefer to know what they’re getting and not you know accidentally
overdose when they do when they take their drug so I we need to separate out
the risks that are inherent in certain drugs from the risks that are created by
prohibition and you have to include in your when you tallying up the cost not
just the unreliable potency and unpredictable potency in the black
market but also all of the ways in which the law penalizes people for using drugs
that’s also a cost is justified to my mind it can never be
justified in principle because you’re punishing these people in order to deter
other people who you imagine will become addicted and and have drug problems if
it weren’t for the war on drugs and I guess I just can’t get over I’d make
both of these arguments and make the moral argument and I also make a
cost-benefit argument and I think that they they complement each other but I
just can’t get past this idea that you are using force and violence against
people or not violate and violating and anyone’s rights and even though Alyx
wants to go sort of easy on drug users at the beginning he says if they if they
keep being bad they’re gonna have to be locked up I just don’t get that by what
the principle of justice do you lock someone in a cage for doing something
that violates no one’s rights that’s the bottom line to me so the the
pharmacological effects of drugs are completely independent from whether or
not they’re illegal or illegal that’s the thing to remember about all
of this and so the question is whether or not introducing a large group of
people to drugs like heroin or cocaine or you know super potent cannabis is
likely to lead to negative societal outcomes overall and we we’ve already
first of all we know that you know introducing a large number of people to
alcohol some of those people get eaten they get swallowed up and that turns out
to be true with cannabis – I I can’t really even imagine what it would be
like if people could could walk into a store and buy heroin or cocaine the the
risks or methamphetamine and and what society would look like because again
the the drug legalization community the drug reform community has successfully
made this about the user when it should be about everyone around the user
because those are the people who suffer the consequences and don’t even get the
high and and most of the time those people are completely innocent and
so as a society we have a right and a duty to protect people around people
making terrible decisions and we and we can try to protect people from making
bad decisions themselves you know obviously there’s gonna be some people
out there who use you know who use cannabis who use alcohol use tobacco who
use hard drugs or I shouldn’t say hard because well who use heroin who use of
cocaine but we can try to minimize and discourage use or we can have a society
where the producers of those drugs are allowed to advertise them on television
and have stores and compete to have the lowest products possible and that will
lead to untold damage again not just to the user but to the people around him or
her and that’s what we should be thinking about and that’s why we have
the right to prohibit these substances or to try to prevent their use is really
a better word because we can’t prohibit them they exist and some people are
gonna use them but we can we can be encouraging in their use we can be
morally neutral and societally neutral on their use or we can actively
discourage their use and we should actively discourage their use thank you
all well thanks to both sides for a very
spirited debate and we’ve we’re opening up the voting so please vote Yes No
or undecided on the resolution while you’re doing that I want to announce
again that the next debate will be Tuesday November 5th Richard wolf who
has been called the leading socialist economist of the country by Cornel West
who has been called by the New York Times probably America’s most prominent
Marxist economist will be defending the resolution socialism is preferable to
capitalism as an economic system that promotes freedom equality and prosperity
taking the negative will be me and this debate is going to be held not here so
please we don’t want any stragglers walking mistakenly here on November 5th
it will be held at NYU’s Kimmel Center at 60 Washington Square South that’s
only about you know eight blocks from here on the sixth floor we’re gonna have
our volunteers directly to the sixth floor the whole is twice as large as
this one we want a lot of socialist butts in the seats for that particular
debate we hope more socialists than libertarians of free-market people will
be there we’re going to do a major promotion with the Jacobins with the NYU
students and with the new school students because a Richard Wolff is
indeed an emeritus professor at the new school and so and then of course we will
as we had in the last so slim debate have Dave Smith out there hopefully not
in as he did in the past alienating to many members of the
audience with some of his jokes so it could be a quite a while looking evening
and I promise to be totally polite to Richard Wolffe he’s actually got two or
three years on me I regard him as sort of my alter ego we both sort of learn
from the same people as I’ve revealed my mommy was economy I learned socialism
even before Richard Wolff did and so it will be a very spirited
all aspects of socialism prosperity freedom and equality and I hope you can
be there November 5th again Kimmel Center at NYU and how are you
doing Jane we need a little bit more time yes
are the social so did I get to go for free
well the socials gonna get huge just uh I don’t know you know whether or not I
won the debate uh and I I just hope that if you’re interested I have books oh
yeah points forgive me Alex Wow did I let you out
come down the job sorry yeah Alex wrote a book about marijuana
it’s it’s sold well balanced by the way of course it has written a lot of books
that have sold really well a very accomplished writer and no matter what
you think of his opinions an engaging writer and I I’m just trying to the mystery writer and lead writer for the
New York Times and so he’ll be doing book signing and sales and what’s the
price Alex low price of $20 yeah just list is 26 and if I sign it it’s $19
okay just in the $20 bill one of these and that’s very efficient to buy the
book and that’s of course what I recommend to everybody just take $20
bills you know it’s so complicated to deal in plastic or a Bitcoin for that
matter so that’s great Alex and thank you very much for saying that I really
apologize for forgetting that in all of the confusion about this $20 bill so and
so when we said I absolutely have to dangle the tootsie roll in fire okay here’s the touchy well I thought
that Jane said it was an absolute sorry thank you
Oh God okay uh yeah we began a yes vote was forty eight point seven eight
percent yes vote in favor of Jacob and he rose to fifty 8.54 he gained nine
point seven six percent of the vote and now cuz you Alex you beyond was twenty
five point six one pretty good initially and you rose to thirty five point thirty
seven if you do the math you to picked up exactly nine point seven six percent
of the vote and and so this is the first a postcard of to zero well congratulations see you both

100 thoughts on “Should All Drugs Be Legal? A Soho Forum Debate

  1. Not sure the initial statement had anything to do with the question, if people were killed to stop or arrest murder/theft would murder/theft be legal. What cops do to enforce the law makes no difference to whether the crime should stand.

  2. It's stupid to talk about it the government taking over quicker than a lot of people thought they would and there's nothing nobody's going to do about it. Have a good life.

  3. Notice Mr.Beneson doesn’t want alcohol made illegal even though he concedes that is has all the same problems. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want armored, masked men, armed to the teeth, busting down his door and killing him while he watches tv. I think that’s all you need to know about how empathetic and worried about kids he really is.

  4. 48:01 It cures doom and gloom! is that not a medical condition? Mild pain is more tolerable but is not less painful… I guess making things more tolerable is not a goal in the medical sciences. BTW, nice straw man on the "is not a pain killer" therefore "it's not meds". Ironically also claims it helps epilepsy in basically the same uttering!!!!??? wth are you bableling in spiral on about there? You just said it's meds then not… Making people high can be a legit medical solution what's wrong with using pot for that? I'm really not sure where there is a line in your mind that both splits pot into medicine and not medicine at the same time… It must be a long and sinuous one…

    However, like you said, legalise it, that trumps the argument(s) and I am fine with that.

  5. Chronic pain patients, like my mother, suffer under the war on drugs. Because she would NEVER buy or use illegal drugs, she has to go to her doctor every month and prove that she is in pain, prove that she is not drug seeking. It is stressful and demoralizing for her, and it makes me angry watching her suffer like this.

  6. Who are these clowns. We have case studies on this. Prohibition is a violation of human rights. Legalization today. 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽

  7. 53:15 My personal experience over my teen years has to agree with you. I think the pro guy may be referencing the study they did in Cincinnati on that radio show… what was it WKRP? (<jk> like if you got the reference)

    Few things can happen, as mentioned you can pass out instantly (joe rogan has an anecdote on that). Your mind might wonder into your own thoughts and not be fast enough to react to a new situation, I have seen people fight trying not to fall asleep, and I have seen people focus on one thing only and not be aware of anything else… and I have seen people drive with immaculate skills and I am pretty sure the immaculate driver is a fluke…

    Don't do it folks

  8. Drugs should not be legalized. Neither of these men mentioned the effects drugs have on the personality of the drug user. You don't see people on crack holding down a job. So they commit crimes, and in the end, their parents will say, "get out" because they have turned into something else. A person can get drunk on Friday, and make it into work on Saturday with a hangover. A user of heroin or cocaine is likely to show up three or four days later.

  9. Have not watched the whole thing yet, but the biggest problems with substance abuse aren't on legalities but are the way they are because of legality. Decriminalizing narcotics will help heal the people vs feeding the corrupted black market which enjoys substance addicts because it feeds on the destruction of those who are addicted.

  10. Criminals do not want to legalize all drugs bc they will lose money. Legalize the use but not the abuse of drugs.🎈

  11. This isn't even a debate. Unless we live in a nanny state, one has every right to do whatever one wants to do with their own body as long as it doesn't impact other people.

  12. In theory, I am for the legalization of drugs. As long as they are able to care for their children, pay for their home, food, healthcare (and all of the subsequent ailments they will have from an unhealthy lifestyle), clothing, etc….with THEIR OWN MONEY….I don't see a problem. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most people that regularly use drugs (legal or illegal)…at least not the ones I have encountered. Also, people with addiction issues have trouble maintaining healthy relationships (marital, employment, with their own family/children). If all of this were able to be managed, without costing EVERYONE ELSE who decides not to use drugs…then sure, they should be legal. I just cannot foresee this being managed.

  13. I am proof that what Alex said about medical marijuana not being effective against pain is untrue! I used opiods (Oxycontin & Methadone) for 25 years for pain caused by a motorcycle accident when I was 25. The pain didn't start until I was 40 or so but it was debilitating at that point. I had neck surgery in 1990 and 2010 & major back surgery in late 1993 as a result. At times I used three Methadone & four Oxycontin a day and even that wouldn't knock out the pain all the time. About three years ago, I decided that I had been taking opiods for too long & against the advice of my doctor I weaned myself off of it over a period of months. After the last opiod I took I had nothing to relieve the pain and OTC products were worthless for me. The state I live in passed a medical marijuana law not long after and when it became available I acquired my medical marijuana license & started using cannabis. After a year of cannabis use I use much less than when I first started and I'm more active, alert and motivated. I drive on a regular basis and have absolutely no problems because I don't get stoned out of my mind. I only use sativa (one puff) once a day & indica (2-3 puffs) at night to help me sleep. My digestive functions have improved dramatically (I was constipated for 25 years) and I've lost weight since quitting opiods. Don't tell me it's not effective with pain because I'm living proof it is!

  14. 55:55 so he didnt have permission to sell a plant. If it was 500 tomato plants, would it be adequate to say he deserved to eat and sleep with violent criminals for 3 years of his life? moral argument here is non existent- like the number of people harmed by marijuana.

  15. "Protect people around people making terrible decisions." Yeah, wait for them to commit a real crime and the lock them up, very simple. Also, the burden of proof is on you that it IS a terrible decision. I can do coke once a year without feeling the slightest bit tempted the rest of the year, and it kicks my brain into high gear for a couple hours. If I broke my leg I'd probably want to take heroin for the pain too. I'm 30 years old, stay the FUCK out of my business! Raise some kids if you need to control people.

  16. Things we stigmatized
    -drinking and driving
    -drinking during pregnancy
    -drug use

    Addicts still do all these thinks you maniac. Drugs have been stigmatized. It doesn't help. But yeah, keep doing the same things with the same outcome

  17. I am harming you for your own good…says the parental state to the childish citizen. Yes, putting a citizen in prison or shooting him dead hurts the state more than the citizen.

    Perhaps there will be less crime and less drug use even if liberty were restored instead of a state that must take care of you, give you free things, keep you safe from your own ideas and preferences, etc. Depression and anxiety arise more from being told you are a victim and a child by the state than the empowerment of liberty and the acceptance of your preferences.

  18. The most potent deadly things for humans: 1) hubris; 2) believing your taste is the only good one; 3) those who disagree are bad. Progressives have this in spades, but neither US political party has to little of this malady. Those who end up doing bad things to themselves are the example to teach good behavior. If you pretend only the state gets to decide what is good behavior, you have a nation I'll fight against to restore liberty and equal protection (marijuana and alcohol in WA state are legal, but others get you imprisoned or killed by the state).

    Stigmatizing is one thing; criminalizing is entirely different. What was the result of Prohibition, the blight upon our amendments and national despotism.
    Those who prefer force to education+liberty in order to bring about their asserted "better world" (without evidence, just their tastes) are just tyrants. You are not my parent. My risk is my risk. Crimes like distracted driving don't land you in prison with no chance of a job or home, and they also suffer by criminalizing some distractions (but not the majority of them — kids in the car, changing music or temp, being tired or angry, eating, etc.) without sufficiently criminalizing the crashes they create.

    If inability to raise your kids is criminal, then poverty is a crime; not reading to your child is criminal; feeding them certain foods is criminal.

  19. I’m on the side of decriminalizing drugs but I will say that most of the people on my side haven’t met a meth head and are pretty ignorant at what it can do to a community. There is always a point where peoples personal choices begin to affect the people around them.

  20. Why do you think a free and educated people will rush to use opioids like they do alcohol? Most who do not use these do not skip them just because they are illegal — they are certainly available — but because they are smart citizens. Imagine free citizens vs. childlike ones that can only act based on the approval of the state. That's absurd tyranny that drives the crimes and desperation he finds to be ills. We have guns, but we don't all kill each other. We have cars, but we don't mow each other down regularly. We have high roofs and cliffs without jumping off them. We have knives without stabbing one another. We have high fat foods without forcing others to eat them.

  21. I may have missed it, but it seems like he just brushes off the higher rates of standardized mortality as being definitely a result of the drugs being more dangerous and not a complicated set of feedback loops induced by prohibition, that involve the pharmacological effect of the drug, cutting agents, potencies, and the socioeconomic conditions imposed by prohibition.

  22. I agree with discouraging their use. Like he said, tobacco usage rates decreased when social stigma was applied, no legislation was needed. Social stigma will keep hard drug rates low regardless of legislation.

  23. All drugs should be decriminalized, and some more should be legal, but not all legal, that’s a fair proposition

  24. Depression causes bad actors. Being depressed should be a crime and depressed people should be jailed.
    You can't just count a percentage of current prisoners, but must include all who ever were imprisoned. Prison destroys most lives going forward, and if they then go to jail later for another crime, you can't just blame the next crime, but the drug crime that put them into the system where they never could escape.
    Using the law to force one adult's behavior because it "may harm" some people who "have a predisposition to psychosis" is no way to run a country. By that measure, all must be illegal because a psychotic person can make a balcony dangerous.
    Speech and religion can bring some people to violence. Some Muslims take the message and kill large numbers of people to terrorize (not to even get justice). All of this is nonsense. Only the commission of violence is bad, not any action that could cause it among some people when exposed to some amount….

  25. It must be good to imprison the homeless. They actually infringe on the rights of others; they bring disease and violence and drug abuse.

  26. Alex you're a fuckin idiot. I used meth on a dailey basis for 39 yrs, no arrests, no hospital, no needles, no big withdrawal, quit cold turkey May 19, 2016. Quit smoking after 37 yrs in 99, cold turkey, no cravings. So get fucked, no better yet GO FUCK YOURSELF, ASSHOLE.

    Tripolar cause Mania and Depression aren't Enough.

  27. I would kill every single person who uses hard drugs by the million if you lined them up for me and gave me a revolver. Right in the face, no mercy. I have no sympathy for those pieces of shit.
    Try living in a building with these people and tell me what a great idea it is to let people do heroin or meth.

  28. Berenson is an ass and an idiot. I don’t say this to dismiss his opinion, but to chastise the SoHo forum for picking such a trashy debater. I could have done a better job than him and I’m on the opposite side.

  29. Drug use should be Decriminalized and professional treatment should be available for addicts.
    But, some drugs are just too dangerous to make legal.
    Legalization of a drug promotes the idea that a drug is socially acceptable for use, like sugar.
    And we know what sugar has done to the health of many individuals, including children.

  30. as far as the libertarian perspective goes, it is pretty obvious. they have the right to make bad decisions as long as it doesn't interfere with everyone's lives too much.

  31. No just marijuana should be totally legal removed from the schedule 1 matter of fact should not be a part from any scheduled drug

  32. 24:00 We already have cars that CAN drive 200 miles an hours. More vehicles on the road have the ability to go way faster than the speed limits.

  33. You can walk into a store and buy poison, take it home and put it in your body to get drunk. It'll eventually kill you, but it's legal.

  34. I'd bet that asshole who wants to keep drugs illegal is on drugs. He looks like he's sucked a d or two for meth before the debate.

  35. 16:15
    When Mr. Berenson said we should "keep cannabis, at most, in a decriminalized state", he contaminated any hope he had of making a principled argument against legalization.

  36. While I agree that adults should be allowed to "kill themselves" as they choose, not only should society not be OBLIGATED/FORCED to help them, those who are in prison for drug crimes still have no one to blame but themselves. Make it legal…THEN you can use it.
    If you got caught in an act that was a crime when you did it, you have no one to blame but yourself & we're not obligated to wipe it off of your record once it's been legalized. Unless you ONLY performed the act under complete duress, I have no sympathy for your actions, regardless of my views on the act.

  37. Look at San Francisco where I live it is a complete shit hole and people are riding away I mean literally rotting away it’s like The Walking Dead and there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of laws and was fucking city regulation does not work

  38. Whenever someone talks about “protecting people” from bad decisions… be assured waves of bullshit are heading your way.

  39. If drugs were legal in America, %80 of black American males would die almost immediately, %15 would capitalize on the opportunity, while the last %5 would just keep going to work.

  40. 6:49 Imagine if these drugs were legal, of course with an age limit like beer, cigarettes, etc. the costs of these could be reduced so much and we could use that money on better mental health institutions or something to make people not want them in the first place

  41. i smoked weed once and wrote down on a piece of paper I had for notes for a research paper i was writing on weed "it let's you see the future" and said to the two friends i was with it felt like one of them was God and the other was Satan, the devil

  42. yes they should be legalized.

    1. if the reason for the ban on drugs is to release the other 90% of brain power (luci movie anyone) then let the police use snipers to take down problem people.

    2. if it is to prevent (the shining anyone) then install anti psychic shielding in area 51 to prevent drug addicts from tuning into the workers in area 51 or use men in black to dismiss the claims as drug hallucinations.

    3. if it is to ensure the survivability of an industry then find other uses that the drugs are not an alternative source of (ban bidets from american bathrooms to help the toilet paper industry survive instead of banning marijuana ).

    4. use existing laws to deal with the crimes caused by the drugs (property theft and drunk driving)

    5. if it is to justify militarizing american police then why not make the police serve as military like in the middle east or have large armies marching like seen in the news clips of russia where there are military escorting a truck carrying a missile

  43. I own me… That's the real argument.
    Besides, the government has people overdosing in maximum security prisons. They couldn't stop drugs even if they actually wanted to. By all measures, the lobby class prefers the current system because it justifies private prisons and their stock performance. Not that government prisons are any better. In Federal prison camps inmates are fed food labeled not for human consumption and made to work hard labor for $.15(cents) an hour during "Black flag conditions." Slavery is alive, well, and fully institutionalized in our current America.

  44. One point not brought up about incarceration related directly to cannabis use or distribution only covers one facet of people locked up because of cannabis, there is also probation and parole violation of people using cannabis who end up with a longer sentence for using cannabis or even alcohol and going back to prison for 90 days or more. I worked in Ina field where half of the people in an intensive out patient rehab program were there for cannabis violations or even for having cannabis in thier systems at the time of arrest.

  45. Too late. The illegal drug industry has infiltrated the government already. Clandestine black ops of all intel agencies of the world are funded by illegal drugs. They are not going to just kill their golden goose just because you realize illegal drugs are more harmful when banned than when not. It's the war on drugs that has made this world into a virtual marshall law. The controllers want control. This is their ticket to that.

  46. Seems like a lot of people here promoting "freedom of choice" haven't been to any large western city like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, etc. Just go look at the streets and alleyways of any of these cities and see the "free choice" of these poor people. Rampant, open drug use. Homelessness, by choice. Rape, murder, theft etc, to support the drug use. Defecation, urine, vomit all littering these streets in public spaces. Tents, abandoned vehicles etc. used as "homes" and litter everywhere. In many cities these conditions are leading to an uprising of diseases etc.

    This is the end result of allowing hard core drug use. It will happen every time, too. It is the nature of drugs. How am I such an expert you may ask? Because I also fell into this at one point of my life. Praise God, I was saved from worse. Don't get me wrong, I lean Libertarian, but I also am blessed with common sense. I am intimately familiar with the human condition.

  47. Drug legalization is totally fine in a free market, self-ownership and personal responsibility world. The trouble with drugs is that we also have a huge social safety net. In a Libertarian Utopia, everyone is free to do drugs, but everyone must suffer the individual consequences. I believe Libertarians need to focus on selling the message of personal responsibility and free markets first! Jumping 10 steps ahead to the choices available to free people- including the choice to potentially ruin your life with addictive chemicals that may make you lazy and unable to work and take care of yourself and your family- that's a step far, far down the road. A step I am eager to get to in the Libertarian journey, but nonetheless, a far off step.

  48. I trust YOU to be able to decide what do you need.
    I don NOT have the right to tell you what you can or cannot do with your own self. If you wanna kill yourself, I can try talking you out of it,
    But I find it highly disturbing, that some still believe that you can forcefully prevent me from harming myself.
    The totaly hypocrisy of hurting someone in order to protect them from harm.
    And if you decided and harmed yourself, you have my empathy.

  49. Ladies and gents,
    Professor Ex-NY Times:
    "Medical marijuana doesn't help pain, anxiety, nor loss of apetite."
    The fuck am I smoking it for? 😀

  50. the anti drugs argument could be applied to segregation of blacks and gays. You're behavior or phenotype makes you dangerous, what that danger is defined by my feelings, not your actions. There's a risk to you be "black", you being "gay".

    The arguments for prohibition are always done by scared tyrants who have no idea how good or bad a behavior or "thing" is.

    Also, the casualness is waging a war against your population, without understand the consequences there is truly insane. just so insane. prohibitionists have always been irrational and emotional and have extremely narrow vision.

  51. The opening argument was weak… I have supported all drugs being legal for a decade but his angle was terrible

  52. If the point in making drugs illegal is the reduction of potential harm to everybody else around the addict, it seems counterintuitive to employ an enforcement method that introduces another layer of potential harm to all members of a society.

    The innocent people could be hurt argument also applies to enforcement.

    A methed up driver causes a lethal accident. I don't see how that's any better or worse than a swat team shooting somebody in the head in the raid of an incorrect address of a drug dealer. Innocents were harmed in both cases and the meth being illegal didn't stop procurement or use.

    Sure seems like at best, the drug war is a wash but realistically, it's adding another layer of potential danger for everybody else.

  53. Curly does not help his case by pointing out that we brought Tobacco and Alcohol related deaths down through stigmatization while they were both still legal and refusing to admit that such a thing would not simply be the case under a broader drug use regime

    He's also full of crap concerning medically prescribed opiods. The only reason they kill anyone is because people do not use them as directed. When you start playing mixologist with them then yes they can result in death. Which is why the direction is not to do it. You can't blame the prescribed opioid when people use them outside the prescription.

  54. Alex: "Crime has gone down significantly from 1999-2019 because of the war on drugs.

    Also Alex: 1:06:00 "You can't say that because crime is multi-factoral".

    What a hypocrite.

  55. In my opinion big pharma is against legalizing drugs. Alex Berenson, more recently, has covered the pharmaceutical and health care industries. I can't trust his motives.

  56. Barely 10 minutes into this and I can tell that it's going to be…..
    Fact vs. Emotion
    The Pro Legalization position is going to be all about statistics and factual evidence from history.
    The Anti Legalization is going to be essentially, "i'm afraid, it's scary, oh the children".

  57. Alex just discredited his entire argument….he states….
    "There are only 2 ways to convince people to quit using drugs; quit on their own and medicated assisted treatment"
    Keeping drugs illegal would accomplish neither of the above methods and; therefore, as history has shown and the judicial system and criminal justice systems have proven, keeping drugs illegal is NOT THE SOLUTION.

  58. The only logically consistent argument is for the legalization of all drugs. Partial legalization all comes down to opinion of where to draw the line. It's impossible to draw some objective measure. So really the argument he's making is that people should accept his line for no other reason than he thinks it's correct.

  59. I don't consume any mind altering substances no caffeine even, there are a lot of people that don't consume caffeine, tobacco and alcohol products even though they are legal, I hate these people that think just because all drugs become legal that everyone's going to just start doing drugs like cocaine and heroin. There are many many other great reasons not to do drugs besides them being illegal. It's like I always say don't legislate…EDUCATE!!! Alex Berenson is a tool. #adhominem

  60. Alex is operating off of the myths of drugs and not the facts of drugs.
    I'll bet that he's never even had cannabis. He should go back to journalism where lying and being hyperbolic is expected.

  61. I was right…..this boiled down to FACTs vs. FEARs
    Alex doesn't know what he's talking about and isn't paying attention to the historical atrocity of prohibition and the effects of giving a corrupt system yet another revenue stream through violence, force and criminalization.
    He repeatedly argued against himself stating the only things that help addiction are not laws and not incarceration yet his position is to use laws and incarceration?!?!?

  62. I find Alex's lack of factual intelligence as a risk to society; therefore, using his logic, he should be considered lethal to society and thrown in jail.

  63. The war on drugs was not created, nor does it still exist, to help people or prevent drug use.
    It exists specifically to fuel the criminal justice system with a never ending stream of revenue, budget and weapons.
    Prisons, Police and Courts are the only domestic beneficiaries of the war on drugs.
    Cartels and Governments are the foreign beneficiaries.

  64. Missing arguments from the pro side:
    – Government can't even keep drugs out of prison, trying to keep it out of the rest of society is ridiculous.
    – The idea of drugs being addictive comes from experiments with mice where mice in a barren environment would take them to death.
    – But mice in stimulating environments actually didn't care about the drug option, here's one study:

    – In ww1 soldiers where exposed to drugs long term, once back only about 2% became addicted, they also had a lot of social problems.
    – Addiction to anything, including drugs, is a social problem, not an availability problem.
    – Black legislators massively increased punishments for drug possession/use of drugs used in their community. Thinking this would reduce the problems. The results have been an absolute disaster.

  65. please read a book by peter mcwilliams called nobodies business if you do victimless crime and none dare call it conspiracy if you want to be in the know

  66. I don't understand. My body my choice my body my choice. That reason appears to be enough to legalize any and all abortions right up to the point of eliminating the child after birth. So what's the difference with taking drugs. Their body their choice and they're only hurting themselves not and unborn child. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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