Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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I never imagined it would be edible.

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Drug User's Licence

Allow anyone at all who wants to use any drug at all to sign up for a very de-romanticised licensing process, and potentially gain permission to use that drug in a controlled manner.
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I would add to that summary a contract between dealer (the State) and junkie to the effect that the junkie makes his or her mind available for study (in an ethical way), in return for the privilege of being allowed to tune in, turn on, and drop out (or whaddever).

For brevity's sake, I'll just assume it's obvious that the illegality of narcotics has had all the beneficial effects, and more, of the Prohibition. Things need to change.

Here's where the claim of novelty comes in for this idea. Instead of accepting that there's a choice between "freedom and control/safety", and no other, acknowledge that there really are problems with drug use (grant the case for control). The problem is the current "solution" (actually it's just a simulation of a solution) doesn't work. Also there are freedom issues. If I want to get smashed out of my skull tonight, that's my right - in spite of all the very good arguments the Temperance movement made.

So how do you respect the right to be wrong, and yet at the same time gain some Real Control over the problem? Even if my answer is wrong, I'm pretty sure I'm at least on the trail of the right questions here. So I'll leave these motivations inchoate, and go on to the most radical form of the idea, as I imagine it in practice.

So your 12 year old wants to try out heroin. You are older and wiser, so you say No. End of story. Or it would be, in a perfect world, but you know that there's a psychopath down at the Hauptbahnhoff (or wherever) willing to say yes, and there are some classmates busy visiting at this very minute, who know just how clueless you are. You know the end of the story.

The problem here is there's a Lack of Control. By making drug use illegal (for anybody) you lose all control of the manner in which people will use it. I don't know how much control of the problem is humanly possible, but it's quite clear that we don't have to move far from the current zero to make progress.

Step 1 is controlled legalization. Maybe you can just treat something like marijuana as a freedom issue, but what about cocaine? To control the entrance gate to cocaine, you first have to make it possible for people to enter there; but you probably don't want everything left to the individual, any more than you want to leave busy intersections to driver freedom. So I think the state needs to become a drug dealer.

Step 2 is dry, dull factuality. Yes, your 12 year old can sign up to try out some narcotics; no, she can't just demand them. A process of establishing fully informed free choice has to be gone through (ia old addicts need to make themselves available as indicators of what the effects might be). So the system would try to prevent your 12 year old from impulsively following through, by all possible honest means - but some would persist.

Would that be any different to the number who now persist? I would imagine that just circumventing impulse buying would head off a few more than currently think better of it. And the environment in which any subsequent drug use took place would be orders of magnitude better than ruined buildings that double as non-flush toilets.

That's enough (or less excessive than I might've been).

A slogan might be : Don't (just) legalise it; Control it better. (I'd better leave copy writing to the experts, hein?)

skoomphemph, Apr 24 2014


       Yes, the positive alternatives need to be one of the few parts of the application process that applicants enjoy. The process could force everyone involved to face the underlying issues. One of these would be the addicts (to alcohol, for instance) who are actuallly self-medicating depressives or schizophrenics taking stuff that doesn't help. Keep the door open, the way I'm suggesting, and you might catch some of these nice and early. A stitch in time saves nine.   

       Although to be fair to opium, we wouldn't have Kublai Khan without it. (Not that the habit did Coleridge any good.)
skoomphemph, Apr 25 2014


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