Recreational Drugs

(Topics: Society & Culture | Back to Home)

Until very recently in human history, recreational drugs were a part of everyone's life. People discovered natural substances such as plants, roots, and leaves, that could be used for a variety of medicinal and pleasurable ends. We ate flowers, drank extracts, and applied oils to our skin. Undoubtedly, the most successful recreational drug was discovered through a process we now call fermentation. This is the source of beer, wine, and other spirits. And these beverages have been an inextricable part of society, of religious ceremonies, and of commerce since literally forever.

Today, however, drugs are far more sophisticated. Natural materials are systematically collected and refined, and then measured, finished, and packaged to become a consumer product. And also, there are still plenty of people growing stuff on their own time and eating it, smoking it, or passing it along.

It never made much sense to try and limit this behavior through legal means. To be clear: drug laws are laws that tell people what they can and cannot grow, harvest, or ingest. Said that way, they seem nonsensical. It's as wacky as telling farmers what they cannot grow [1].

But also, drug laws are laws intended to promote public safety, because drugs are dangerous. And perhaps, people involved in the drug trade are tied to other crimes [2].

And that's where we are. And I think it's hard to find anyone who thinks our drug policies are working.

I don't have a good answer for what to do next. But if we all agree that the current way is failing, shouldn't finding better options be our priority? Even if an option is to make fewer things illegal.

We need to consider our choices. This is what government should do.

[1] We don't quite do that, but the government does pay farmers not to grow certain crops.

[2] This is bit of a circular argument and it's important to understand why. Today, more arrests are for drug charges (15%) than all other sources, as are most federal inmates. If drugs were not illegal, these people would be free. And most of them aren't committing any other crime.

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