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Substance abuse

October 5, 2010

Hello, my name is Jim and I’m an addict.

I was introduced to an illegal substance many years ago, when I was still very young, and I’ve been addicted most of my life. As far as I can tell, it’s done me little harm, and I believe it is my God-given right to imbibe whatever I damn well please.

More on that later, including the flavor of my particular addiction.

This is a conservative website, but my underlying philosophy is more libertarian than conservative. You’ll never see me advocate higher taxes, for instance, even when some Republicans do, and I never met a government program beyond police and national defense that private enterprise couldn’t do better.

It’s an inherent characteristic of government that it does things inefficiently and poorly.

Shoot, the government even screwed up when they owned a whorehouse… the easiest (and oldest) business in the world. How difficult can it be to sell sex and alcohol? When the BLM ended up with the Mustang Ranch in 1999, they made a typical bone-headed government decision: they decided to sell it on eBay… a brilliant idea that netted them $145,100 for a business worth ten or twenty million dollars.

If you’re an American taxpayer, you got screwed at the Mustang Ranch and didn’t even know it.

The worst friction point between conservatism and libertarianism is the war on illegal substances. All of the sense and logic and historical evidence are on the side of the libertarians who insist that government has no role in deciding what people can smoke or inject or swallow. Prohibition served as a giant social experiment which proved beyond any doubt that society is better off with educated citizens making their own choices… even bad choices.
“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” - C.S. Lewis
For some inexplicable reason, people can admit that Prohibition was a mistake and accept alcohol as a commercial product, but refuse to carry the analogy forward and see that prohibition of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and every other illegal substance is the same stupid mistake.

When I still lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, they built a new museum with a big carousel situated right out over the edge of the Grand River. Like a lot of people, I took my kids down to see the new museum, but while the carousel got most of the publicity I ended up intrigued by something else. They had a turn-of-the-century (1900) Grand Rapids street set up, which included a turn-of-the-century drugstore.

Did you know that Americans back then could walk into a drugstore and buy opium, cocaine, or whatever else they thought they needed or wanted across the counter? No doctor’s prescriptions required, no government bureaucrats interfering, no laws at all about what a person could buy and use.

I’ll bet those Americans would have been aghast at the notion that their drugstore purchases were any of the government’s business, and I’ll bet there was considerably less problem with addiction before the government decided to protect us from it.
“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs: when he first appears he is a protector.” - Plato
The war against illegal substances rends our society. The financial drain caused by interdiction, arrest and prosecution of users, arrest and prosecution of traffickers, injuries and deaths during the process of making those arrests, incarceration of the guilty, and lives ruined forever by those incarcerations, is ludicrous and pointless. In 1996 William F. Buckley said the following about the War on Drugs:
“We are speaking of a plague that consumes an estimated $75 billion per year of public money, exacts an estimated $70 billion a year from consumers, is responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the million Americans who are today in jail, occupies an estimated 50 per cent of the trial time of our judiciary, and takes the time of 400,000 policemen -- yet a plague for which no cure is at hand, nor in prospect.”
People use what they want to use anyway, regardless of whether meddling bureaucrats make it illegal. If there is one lesson learned from Prohibition, it’s that one. Within a mile of where I live I can buy any drug, prescription or street, that exists… and it has nothing to do with where I live. I’m sure you can, too.

Beyond the financial drain there is the damage done to our individual liberty. It’s an indignity of the highest order that politicians and bureaucrats in far-off Washington, D.C. – most of them dumber than a box of rocks – can tell free human beings what they may and may not use in their own bodies.
“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.” – Albert Camus
Many of the Americans arrested and persecuted by the authorities are decent and honorable people, small business owners satisfying a demand for products which humans have desired for thousands of years.

Richard Hebron, for instance, is a small-time dealer in southwest Michigan who was stopped on a highway near Ann Arbor by state cops. Mr. Hebron runs a small farm co-op and seems to be in every respect a good man, except that his truck that day was delivering an illegal substance to users in the city. The cops knew this because they had infiltrated his operation with an undercover officer.

You have to wonder where the harm exists when buyers and sellers are voluntary parties to commercial transactions, and how the Michigan State Police can justify spending money on an undercover operation to stop Mr. Hebron. After all their time and effort they stopped one small shipment of one illegal substance from being delivered, and dealt a financial blow to one businessman. Whoopee.
“Tyrants have always some slight shade of virtue; they support the laws before destroying them.” - Voltaire
It happens in Canada, too. Michael Schmidt is a middle-aged man in Ontario who has been supplying to area residents for 35 years. He’s never had a complaint or heard about a bad health effect in all that time. He works alone and is remarkably unthreatening and open about what he does, but Canadian police invaded his home and business with dozens of armed agents in flak jackets. Mr. Schmidt said it “looked like the invasion of Afghanastan.” They confiscated his business equipment and destroyed his products, regardless of whether it was illegal.

I wonder how many rapes and armed robberies took place in Ontario that day while the police were busy putting Mr. Schmidt out of business.

Some illegal substances are legal in one state but illegal in the next state, that’s how crazy things are. On October 15, 2009, Georgia state troopers stopped and confiscated a substance which was legally purchased in South Carolina. They made the owners destroy their own stuff, and impounded their truck, and filed the usual criminal charges.

I wonder how that stuff became magically harmful to the American public the second it crossed the Georgia state border.

The government loves to push its weight around by attacking small-time dealers with outlandish demonstrations of force no matter who the dealer is and how non-aggressive he might be. The government is a bully. That’s what it does best. Dan Allgyer and Mark Nolt are Pennsylvania family men, farmers, who describe the terror of full-blown raids on their homes by large numbers of state troopers and other government officials with guns drawn, who separated family members and held them hostage while they carted away personal property.

“Is Daddy going to jail?” asked one of Dan’s children.

Dan is Amish. Mark is a Horse and Buggy Mennonite. Not exactly Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, ya know?

All of the examples I’ve mentioned were people who sold the substance I use and can’t seem to live without. It started when I was less than 24 hours old, when my mother gave me her breast to suckle. All of these people were in the business of selling raw milk, which is the kind of milk my unpasteurized mother produced and the kind many people need or prefer.

Big Brother government has decided that raw milk, God’s creation for the nourishment of babies, might be dangerous to our health and has therefore prohibited its sale.

Puts a whole new spin on the illegal substance issue, doesn’t it?

Hopefully the odd notion that families are raided by armed government thugs and their property confiscated because they sell fresh milk will call into question the idea that government should be in the business of outlawing substances. Of any kind.
“Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” – Thomas Jefferson
Oh, by the way: maybe I exaggerated about being addicted, but I do have a Chunky Monkey on my back when it comes to ice cream, you betcha.

Read about Richard Hebron’s arrest here.
Watch the raid on Michael Schmidt’s farm here.
Watch the road-side stop in Georgia here.
Read about the raid on Dan Allgyer’s farm here.
Read about the raid on Mark Nolt’s farm here.
A defense of raw milk by Mark McAfee, founder of Organic Pastures.

From Reno, Nevada, USA

November 8, 2010 - Hi Jim, It's been a long time. Hope things are going well for you. I enjoy your web site. Not just because your comments are so well written, but because I agree with 99% of your view points. In browsing through the site however, I did come across your recent article on substance abuse and I felt compelled to write to you about it. When arguing the subject of the legalization of marijuana, cocain, heroin, and other such drugs prohibition is always a subject of debate. The reason that prohibition failed is simple. Alcohol was a product that was legally used in our society for years, and people saw the use of the product as a right, prior to the government taking it away. This is not the case with illegal drugs. The bigger argument for the legalization of these drugs is the staggering costs of the war on crime. However, when one steps back and truly looks at the subject, these are not the numbers that should enter into the debate. This is a debate about life and death, and these numbers are quite staggering as well. Alcoholism kills approximately 80,000 people per year. This is more than all the deaths deaths caused by illegal drugs (approx. 15,000), and those caused by violence (approx. 20,000) combined. Now any medical doctor will tell you that ths is because alcohol is one of the most powerfully destructive drugs available. It is destructive because over time it attacks almost every major organ in the human body. It's power, and it's danger however, comes from it's acceptance in today's society. Thus to place other drugs into society, increases the likelyhood of addiction and more death at a much faster rate. While alcoholism does kill, it kills at a much slower rate it seems that many alcoholics are able to function longer, and eventually seek out help for their addictions before too much damage can occur. In addition, the majority of alcoholics tend to stay with alcohol as their chosen drug. Marijuana on the otherhand tends to serve as a gateway drug into other much more harmful drugs, that can be destructive to the body at a much faster rate than alcohol. This would lead to many reaching the final stages of addiction and death at much younger ages. Well gotta go. Just agreeing to disagree, and still your friend. - Matt, Ohio

October 9, 2010 - J.P. I just want to let you know that you can still purchase Raw Milk in Connecticut and Washington State which explains why these are the only two states I would consider living in. Raw Milk is the only milk a person should drink and the Weston A. Price Foundation was founded to protect our rights to consume 'whole' foods. [Raw mik purchase points in your own state can be found here.] But again, too much government interference in our lives. When are you going to comment on the forced flouride consumption through our water supply? Just asking..... - LiAnne, Connecticut
J.P. replies: I should write about flouride, you know why? I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the first municipality in the world to flouridate it's drinking water. Between flouride in my water and PBB in my meat, eggs, & milk it's a wonder I survived.

October 7, 2010 - To Katherine regarding "impaired, brain damaged, or addicted." - As a former Bar owner in a state Capital allow me to tell you that not only are addicts able to function they function everyday in our Higher Government Offices in the capacity of Elected Officials. They in my opinion are impaired, brain damaged and addicted yet we continue to vote them in year after year after year after year after year... to the point of nauseum. They call it alcoholism which is very legal. The point in this column was/is who do they think they are dictating which substance we impair ourselves with and which substance is exceptable and which isn't. Most if not all politicians are nothing more than a pack of domineering control freak DRUNKS!!! and if this is what you call functioning then yes not only can I imagine life in a society full of impaired, brain damaged addicts, [I'm] already [living it]! - LiAnne, Connecticut

October 6, 2010 - Tell Mr. Godofredus he's full of crap. He says he's seen the damage from secondhand smoke? Where, in a dream? Nobody has seen the damage from secondhand smoke. Not one single scientific study has shown anything more than a statistical inference that secondhand smoke might be harmful... and you and I both know that statistics can be made to show anything you want them to show. Liberals love to invent psuedo-scientific nonsense to justify tighter government control of our lives, and secondhand smoke is an example. - Gary I., Florida

October 5, 2010 - For once Mr. Travis you are making sense, as far as it goes. There is a problem, however, when it crosses the line, and damages other people. I know you don't believe in second hand smoke, however I do, and have seen the damage done. Scratching that, however, I do believe in the damage done by alcohol and/or drugs and automobiles to the innocent and that is truly lethal. Other than that, I see no problem in open selling of at least grass and maybe some other drugs, and maybe age restricted? And after all, we don't sell arsenic in large quantities, and opium. heroin, and some other drugs can be equal powerful poisons. Do you regard needing a permit to buy dynamite an interference? Same way, I believe in buying guns, rifles, automatic weapons, cannons, what have you, no waiting periods, no controls, no checks, nothng, but I do think they should be registered just like cars since they are such objects of theft. I do believe in non-criminal prostitution, (that is different than legalization) as well as non criminalization of homosexuality. But if you believe in that (queer toleration) then what happens to don't ask don't tell, or queer teachers? If you believe it's OK for a woman to sell her body, is OK for a teacher to be a part time whore to augment her income? See what kind of problems you run into once you demand tolerating of raw milk? Real slippery slope. Regards and good luck - Godofredus, Illinois

October 5, 2010 - Good Job Jim! Jim where are those "cool" glasses you wore at Central High School in the 1970's,when you played - Julio V., Michigan
J.P. replies: You know doggone well I wore nothing cool in the 70's. None of us did.

October 5, 2010 - Raw milk? Any reason why they would ban raw milk? It doesn't make any sense to me. - Samantha, Michigan
J.P. replies: There are bacteria in milk, most of them beneficial to digestion as you would expect from a food source God designed for babies, but some of them pathogenic, like listeria for example. With modern hygiene and methods of detection listeria is not much of a problem, and if you look at the record of raw milk dairies in states where raw milk is legal, it's nearly spotless. In fact, if you look at the big outbreaks of milk-sourced listeria over the last quarter century, they've all come from big pasteurized dairies.

October 5, 2010 - First time I've ever disagreed with you on anything. You think drug enforcement is expensive, try functioning in a society where many of your fellow citizens are impaired, brain damaged, or addicted. - Katherine B., Reno
J.P. replies: We already have fellow citizens who are brain damaged – they're called liberals. ;-) Seriously now, in the Buckley speech I quoted he goes on to address the cost of legalization and reluctantly concludes that an educated population with access to drugs would be less costly to society than the current situation. And when you look back a century to when the federal government made no effort to control substances, was the addiction rate higher?

October 4, 2010 - I clearly believe that just like boxing, skydiving, bull riding, running from the bulls, bungy cord jumping, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, driving fast cars, luging in the Olympics, fencing, crossing busy streets without looking, having sex without a condom, eating margarine (full of trans fats), eating a diet mainly of chocolate covered donuts washed down with Pepsi/Coke, all of us including those of us who smoke marijuana, consume corporate prescription narcotics, consume street narcotics, or who participate in any other kind of dangerous activity, have the right to die on our own terms provided we are not violating the rights of others. I often wondered when the stoners of the 60's were going to grow old enough to become Senators and change the state of things. What happened? Did they buy stock in Seagrams? As a former Cocktail Lounge owner I can attest to the fact that alcohol companies are the ones who have the problem with people enjoying themselves on anything other than alcohol. They worry only about their profits. For those of you who choose to use drugs other than the liquid one made legal again after prohibition obviously failed and made millionaires out of thugs, good for you. You should have the right to imbibe what you choose without interference from our government. I took a test and I am Centrist/Libertarian and proud of it. Enjoy/kill yourself on whatever you choose. We should all be able to live our lives on our own terms. Just saying.... This column is spot on. - LiAnne, Connecticut

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