Lots going on around the homefront these days. Been away from blogging longer that I’d like. As usual, David’s given me inspiration to write some more on the topics of Liberty and Tyranny.
I caught an interesting article the other day. The Journal of Psychopharmacology published a study showing evidence that a single dose of LSD significantly improved the chances for people to beat alcoholism.
I’m not a medical researcher or psychopharmacological expert. So, I can’t comment on how the study was performed or if the conclusions were biased. But let’s say for a moment that everything was legit and everyone agreed it was done correctly.
According to the US Federal Government and the DEA, if you’re suffering from alcoholism, you are not allowed to try this drug to help curb your addiction (without risk of imprisonment). Doctors, psychiatrists, and medical facilities are not allowed to offer monitored trials to see if you can be helped. In fact, due to Mandatory Minimum Laws, if a medical facility had more than 1,000 doses of LSD (>1 gram) in their possession, the judge would be required to give everyone 5 years in a Federal Pen for their first offense no matter what the circumstances.
So here’s the question you need to ask yourself. If you were addicted to alcohol (something that we once tried to make illegal but failed miserably and thus it became legal), and you were desperate enough to try something other than a 12-step program to kick your habit – how would you feel knowing that there’s a potentially life-saving drug available but made arbitrarily illegal by some politicians hundreds of miles away?
Then ask yourself. What if, long before the Journal of Psychopharmacology published its findings, there were people that already knew that LSD could help cure alcoholism decades ago? How would you feel knowing that countless alcoholics and their loved ones might have been saved had LSD not been demonized by the DEA?
Now, I know what most of you old school conservatives are thinking.
Well, serves them right for getting addicted to alcohol. I have a drink every now and then, but I never let it get out of hand. They must just be weak willed or not spiritual enough. Besides, what if LSD was made legal? We’d have a bunch of crazed, tripping hippies running around the country jumping off buildings and shooting babies. . .
So all facetiousness aside, let’s pull apart some of the issues here.
At the top you have the definition of addiction. Whenever people have the power to choose anything, society runs the risk that some people will consume more or less than the average. We arbitrarily decide how much is too much of anything, and our definition is ALWAYS changing. Whether it’s food, sleep, coffee, exercise, television, vitamins, collecting, spending, and yes, drugs and alcohol use, there’s a never-ending stream of research and debate on what’s a reasonable amount of consumption.
More importantly, though, is the following dilemma – let’s assume we were able to establish for everything that can be consumed a huge table of what society considers to be “reasonable” consumption. On the list, it might say that it’s reasonable for a 6’ 2”, 50 year old, white man to consume 2 beers a day. What if a man wanted to have 4 today? Or 6? Or 10? How should society react? Will every 6’ 2”, 50 year old, white man react equally to 2 vs. 6 vs. 10 beers?
Hopefully, you’re looking at this dilemma and see the ridiculousness of it all. I’m actually hoping you are outraged at the very thought that someone can determine what YOU, as a grown man or woman, should be allowed to put in your own body.
This is the point where most skeptics will ask:
But what about the greater good for society? What about when someone chooses to drink and drive and kill a busload of preschoolers? What about the guy that gets hooked on meth and robs people? What about the morbidly obese woman that ends up in the ER via a forklift because she can’t walk by herself (implicitly meaning that she can’t pay for the cost of her care on her own and society has to foot the bill)?
And this is my response to the skeptics.
I believe in the virtues of Liberty, meaning adults in a free society should be able to choose what they can consume, how much of it, and accept the consequences of their choices as long as it does not infringe on or endanger another person’s same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Interestingly, Jacob Sullum shared in his speech: In Defense of Drug Use how most illegal drug users are perfectly functional, employed, productive members of society but that prohibition has forced them to go underground and in the closet.
Even so, if you want to sit at home and trip on LSD until your brain turns into Syd Barrett’s mush, that should be your choice. If you, however, get high and go on a shooting spree, I believe law enforcement has a right to stop you from endangering us.
I believe that if I’m suffering from alcoholism and want to try LSD to ease my cravings, if I have cancer and want to smoke pot all day so that I can eat a meal, or I just want to sniff glue to get high – as long as I’m not causing you any harm, you have absolutely no right to stop me.
For those that still disagree, I ask AT WHAT PRICE are you willing to champion the cause of greater good? And how far are you willing to push the definition of the greater good?
If society’s experts deem a Venti mocha frappa caramel extra shot chilato is just too much decadence and caffeine for you to have in one sitting, are you going to sit back and let some agency determine that for you? If the experts want to ban chicken because it can cause salmonella infection, are you willing to abdicate your rights? If enough experts conclude that not only processed sugar, but raw sugar, honey, splenda, nutrasweet, and all artificial sweeteners are causing obesity in kids, are you going to let them ban it?
The only rational, equitable, and moral way to handle consumption is to allow grown men and women to decide what and how much to consume and live with the consequences.