Failures of Consequence

So I heard this morning that once again our loving dicta… ahem… government wishes to double down on the so-called “war on drugs”. Again.

Which leaves me thinking that the persons making this alleged decision are dumber than the average rock – or even the below-average rock – because the “war on drugs” has been a disaster in so many ways.

Except, of course, in the one way that matters to those who seek power over others: the eroding of our liberties in the pursuit of an allegedly noble goal.

Now, I have no desire to engage in psychoactive drugs more than I absolutely have to – and being narcoleptic with the sleep-deprivation-induced depression that goes along with that means I don’t have much choice if I want to be a functional human being – but that doesn’t mean I see any reason to stop someone who wants to chase whatever mind-bending experience they desire. All I care about is that they don’t hurt anyone who didn’t choose to join them in their personal journey to wherever. And yes, that means informed consent of the sort that children aren’t capable of giving because they don’t really understand consequences. That’s why we have an age of consent for assorted activities, including use of the two main legal psychoactive drugs.

Yes, alcohol and tobacco are psychoactive drugs. Alcohol is a depressant and reduces inhibitions. Tobacco is a stimulant. Both are capable of causing harm, and both are addictive.

Banning damn near everything else someone might use to get high or stoned or whatever has killed a lot of people. It’s damn near killed the Fourth Amendment and done a pretty solid hatchet job on the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth. The Fifth isn’t looking too healthy, either. No matter how much notional good has been done by banning recreational drug use, the harm far outweighs it.

To begin with, by making the mere possession of certain items that grow naturally (including but not limited to hemp, the opium poppy, and the coca bush) either prohibited or subject to strict regulation, the government sets up a no-win situation, removes presumption of innocence (whoops, there went a crapload of due process of law), and deprives the unfortunate person who happens to have one of these growing on their property of any kind of justice. Need one mention that one of the many names given to hemp is “weed” because it grows like one? It doesn’t take much for a hardy plant with the ability to grow fast to establish itself in any halfway  welcoming environment and grow like a… well, weed.

Then, by banning the stuff, the government creates itself a nice little black market, rather like the crime wave that followed Prohibition. And yes, this is another form of Prohibition with rather less justification than the original version. That at least was enacted by constitutional amendment, and subsequently repealed by another. The drug laws are not – but the likelihood of a court ruling that they’re unconstitutional is somewhere south of zero, particularly with the Supreme Court’s history of finding flimsy justifications to allow blatantly unconstitutional actions and making up rights out of whole cloth, independent of political leaning.

All those murders committed by the assorted drug cartels? Those who pass and refuse to relax drug laws are complicit in every death. The cartels like drug laws. They give them an easy, relatively low-risk source of income and a pool of new members. They work hand-in-hand with the neo-Puritans who are so terrified that someone, somewhere, might just be having fun they don’t approve of that they’ll dance on the grave of their own principles to stop it.

Of course, that money goes places, including into the slush funds used to keep drug laws where the cartels like them. Buying one’s own laws is a relatively cheap way to maintain power, after all, and why should that be limited to the legal cartels? How much drug money do you think went into the last election? I suspect the amount is rather higher than most people would like to think.

If that and the corruption that goes right alongside such a regime isn’t enough, let’s consider the fourth, fifth, eighth, ninth, and tenth amendments, shall we?

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Violated by:

  • Civil asset forfeiture (no probable cause, no warrant, no description of the place to be searched, the person to be arrested or the thing to be seized), especially before or without trial.
  • No knock raids (no security of person or house when police barge into a house without showing a warrant describing what is to be sought and where)
  • Stop and frisk (no security of person)

Not that this is a complete list, but it’s a start. It’s almost as if someone thought reasonable searches meant “anything the government says is reasonable” not “anything an unbiased adult would find reasonable”

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Violated by:

  • Civil asset forfeiture (where is the just compensation for cash taken in a random stop? There isn’t any)
  • Any law prohibiting possession of anything (Laws like this make people criminals without them knowing anything about what’s happening. That’s almost as vile as making someone a criminal because their parents were Jewish or something.)

Again, this isn’t a complete list, just a starting point of rights that have been eroded by the drug war. Without that erosion, the extra damage of the two Patriot Acts and the multitudinous regulations imposed since then wouldn’t have been accepted as calmly as they have been.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

When someone can wind up imprisoned for life for possession of a frigging plant that counts as excessive and cruel and unusual. If the neighbor grows weed and some of it finds its way into your backyard, you’re facing exactly that because the law only cares that you have it, not whether or not you’re using it to do harm. Think about that a little. It’s no different in principle to the idea that just having a darker skin tone makes someone a criminal. Or that being Jewish makes them evil. Or any other equally moronic notions.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Yeah, right. Thanks to the drug war, the government takes the view that anything not explicitly permitted is prohibited. Amendment Nine explicitly states that anything not explicitly prohibited is a right of the people. Us. Meaning that without a constitutional amendment to the contrary, the government does not have the right to ban any action that doesn’t interfere with someone else’s rights. This one’s taken a beating and may be dead.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

And just in case you missed it, we get it even more strongly. If it’s not explicitly listed in the Federal Constitution or your respective State Constitution, you have every right to own it or do it provided you’re not interfering with anyone else’s rights. And yes, this has also been trampled down. We don’t have the right to make tacky jokes in airports any more. We don’t have the right to grow poppies. We don’t have the right to grow plants that look even a little bit like hemp.

The list is freaking endless, and the consequences are worse than that – but the idiot politicians keep trying to tighten their grip because they don’t have the ability to see past their own desire for power.

It has to stop. Sooner or later it will stop.

What worries me is that if sensible people don’t force it to stop by speaking out, it will be stopped in the worst possible way, with bloodshed and mindless violence.


Quotes from The Bill of Rights Institute



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