Come for the Argument That Casual Drug Use Shouldn't Be Treated Differently Than Alcohol, Stay for the Spirited Comments

I posted a column
at arguing that casual drug use
shouldn’t be seen as categorically different than casual alcohol

The news hook, of course, was Rep. Trey Radel’s pleading guilty
to cocaine possession after getting nabbed in a Washington, D.C.
drug sting (great use of police resources, by the way, nabbing a
guy buying a few grams of coke in a Dupont Circle bar from an
undercover cop).

I document in the piece that exceedingly few people who use
currently illegal drugs go on to become regular users of those
substances, much less addicts. Even Radel, a conservative
Republican from Florida, didn’t say he was a cocaine addict –
instead, he blamed his decision to buy coke on his alcoholism.

Here’s a snippet from my article:

Prohibitionists typically deny the very possibility of
responsible or voluntary use of currently illegal substances. They
argue that drugs such as coke, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine and
even marijuana are verboten precisely because they simply can’t be
used casually. Any use either already constitutes abuse or quickly
leads to it. “Drugs are not dangerous because they are illegal,”
former drug czar William Bennett and former Health, Education and
Welfare Secretary Joseph Califano wrote in a 2011 Wall
Street Journal
 op-ed, “they are illegal because they
are dangerous.”

Nearly 50% of people have tried an illegal drug at least once,
yet most don’t repeat the experience. With cocaine, most who have
tried it not only don’t go on to became addicts under even the most
expansive possible definition of the term, they don’t even go on to
become regular users.

According to the
latest National
Survey on Drug Use and Health
, 14.5% of Americans ages 12 and
older have tried cocaine at least once, but just 1.8% report using
the drug recreationally in the past year. And just 0.6% have used
it in the past 30 days, which would seem to be the minimal
definition of a casual user.

The same pattern is true for heroin, which is typically talked
about as magically addictive. Fear of the drug is surely one of the
reasons why just 1.8% of Americans have ever tried it at all. But
only 0.3% report using it in the past year and just 0.1% in the
past month. That pattern simply shouldn’t be possible if these
drugs were as addictive as commonly thought.

Read the whole thing here.
 And check out the comments
section, where a thoughtful and full-blooded discussion is taking
place over the question of whether drugs should be illegal and
whether people can in fact use these substances responsibly.
Gifting the market in narcotics to ruthless criminals,
foreign terrorists, and corrupt law enforcement officials is
seriously compromising our future,” writes one commenter, while
another says, “
You’re only addicted when you can’t
afford it.”

Opponents of legalization are well represented too, but I think
it’s a sign of the times that is not only open to running
articles titled “What’s So Bad About Casual Drug Use?” but readers
are seriously debating the merits of a major change in federal

from Hit & Run

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