Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Fighting the Drug War

Pejman Yousefzadeh is asking for opinions on the War on Drugs (marijuana in particular). My opinion is as follows.

I don't think a suggestibility drug such as marijuana should be encouraged.

Common drugs are likely to be more dangerous than rare drugs. If someone uses a rare drug and ruins his life the damage probably won't go much further than that. If someone uses a rare drug and gets over it, he can always find out what he missed and catch up later. If “everybody” at some college uses the same drug and makes the same mistakes, they are not likely to be marked wrong for those mistakes. (Professors are reluctant to mark everybody in a class as wrong.) When they try to catch up later they will absorb each other's erroneous opinions. (Environmentalism explained!)

I suspect that marijuana might be particularly dangerous from the point of view of inducing groupthink. I have not had any direct personal experience but I have noticed that it is defended as reinforcing the approved habits in the social group of the user. In Victorian times it was supposed to suppress the sex drive. Recently it was supposed to do the opposite. When it was used by peace protestors it was a “peace drug.” When it was used by soldiers it induced foolhardy bravery. When it was used in areas with high crime rates it was a “killer weed.” If we put that together we can see that marijuana is a conformist drug—probably because of its ability to make people suggestible. (That might explain the thoroughness of the collapse of trendy drug use in the '80s. Once its use declined, the remaining users would start conforming to the new trend and stop.)

Drugs that are more likely to be used in crowds should be regarded as particularly dangerous.

It is essential to break the link between how common a drug is and whether it is accepted. There is a very simple way to do that: Declare that any drug whose use declines will be legalized. That will encourage drug users to keep their friends off the drug and will eliminate the “everybody does it” defense.

After the Libertarians have legalized all drugs, we can encourage university administrators to only expel students found using common drugs.

Real message: Even us hysterical anti-drug kooks can favor legalization.


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