Peaches and heroin

And now two little boys will grow up in the shadow of the knowledge that their grandmother and mother died of heroin abuse.

A fresh parcel of pain, all of their own, to nurture down the years.
And people still make excuses for drug users and campaign to decriminalise drugs? That is what really doesn’t make any sense.

Err, yes. Because legal drugs would come in clean, known, dosages thus making an overdose somewhere between unlikely and never happening.

46 comments on “Peaches and heroin

  1. Err… No. Clean, known doses would remove the doubt about an accidental overdose. Alcohol comes in clean, known doses, but hardened drinkers still drink themselves to death. A deliberate overdose would still be possible.

  2. A deliberate overdose would still be possible.

    Only for the suicidal. Most drug users want to enjoy what they’re doing, not top themselves.

    You could put it another way – if people are overdosing so much now, what the hell is the prohibition achieving?

  3. “You could put it another way – if people are overdosing so much now, what the hell is the prohibition achieving?”

    The efficient removal from society of the worthless..?

  4. Julie M
    Alas, not from the gene pool.

    With memories of the TV god-botherer, do wonder about only two generations… He looked like he was on something.

  5. BinS

    But he wasn’t actually her dad, was he.

    Et al

    Clean safe dosages wouldn’t just take out the suicidal. Psychological addiction will drive you onwards to your own death.

    Sorry, but not this time Tim. These drugs are evil. There is no freedom argument here because there is no free choice once you are addicted.

  6. Matthew L – “what the hell is the prohibition achieving?”

    If drugs weren’t illegal, everybody would rush out to their local Tesco to get off their faces on skag or something. That seems to be the premise anyway – that Joe Public can’t be trusted not to inject heroin directly into his eyeballs.

    So we need drug tsars, drug strategies, police, courts and prisons to save us from our own stupid selves.

    Otherwise the whole of society would look like the bleaker bits in ‘Trainspotting’. Because it’s not as if the average responsible adult could turn down a delicious broken lightbulb of crystal meth.

  7. Ironman – “there is no free choice once you are addicted.”

    Just drugs, or does that apply to other types of substance addictions too?

    Cos I have to say, as a former splendid drunk, the idea that you’re helpless in the face of addiction just doesn’t ring true. Most people drink/smoke/toke/inject because they like it, not because they can’t stop.

    You might tell yourself (or your concerned friends and loved ones) you “can’t” stop. You will certainly feel very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you do stop, and that is often an excuse for not stopping the habit. But that’s just rationalising your vices.

    I’m unconvinced by the idea that people lack free will just because they’ve developed a chemical or psychological addiction to something. The booze doesn’t magically pour itself down your unwilling throat. Heroin doesn’t cook up and inject itself.

    Drugs aren’t evil. Human decisions are.

  8. Legalise the lot, control the lot, tax the lot,. At least we would have some funds available to deal wit the consequences.

  9. @ironman
    Well I never! Hughie Green, eh? Never knew that.

    Who was an alky & strung out on barbs.
    I rest my case.

  10. Steve

    I’m not an expert on adiction, any more than an ex-drunk is. However, there are oen or two things I do know… and anyone does really

    Addiction isn’t binary, it’s a continuum, it has gradations, it can be fought, or it can’t, depending.

    The more addictive the substance, the more the addict cedes control over his decisions. But it isn’t simply in his hands, a matter of exercising free will. Believe me, if I thought it were so, I would be the least sympathetic person imaginable. As it is I am not the most sympathetic.

  11. Sorry, but not this time Tim. These drugs are evil. There is no freedom argument here because there is no free choice once you are addicted.

    Nope. With Steve on this one. Much as many on the Left* would love to remove individual agency and human willpower from the equation, there they still are.

    I don’t know about heroin, which I always stayed away from (see! Free will!) but William Burroughs knew a bit about it, and he reckoned that you had to try pretty hard to get addicted to it. And then try relatively hard to stay addicted, too.

    And my experience of other – perfectly legal – addictive substances suggests that you can pick them up and put them down too, if you want to.

    *perhaps this is unfair. Perhaps they are mostly on the Left. But I daresay anyone with an ideology (that requires the subjugation of individual freedom) to peddle is happy to get in on the act.

  12. Steve – “If drugs weren’t illegal, everybody would rush out to their local Tesco to get off their faces on skag or something.”

    I would have. I still might. It is really fun I hear.

    “Because it’s not as if the average responsible adult could turn down a delicious broken lightbulb of crystal meth.”

    Everyone knows smoking kills. It is not even that fun. It is only a minority pastime because it is so expensive. Yeah, in the face of advertising and peer pressure, the average responsible adult can’t turn down crystal meth. China has done this experiment. Legalisation did not improve their position one little bit. Shooting dealers did.

  13. There’s no such thing as addictive drugs. There’s addictive people. And people can get addicted to a range of substances & behaviour irrespective on whether they’re legal or not.
    One common addiction is to endorphin & adrenaline highs. But that’s competitive sports for you.

  14. Matthew L – “Only for the suicidal. Most drug users want to enjoy what they’re doing, not top themselves.”

    Most drug users are psychotic nut cases who know they are doing themselves huge harm and they don’t care. Peaches sure looked suicidal to me. The problem is that heroin is a powerful drug and it interacts with other drugs in interesting ways. It is hard to over-dose if you smoke it but if you inject it – and if you are using other drugs – there is a real risk. And there always will be no matter if it is legal or not.

    “You could put it another way – if people are overdosing so much now, what the hell is the prohibition achieving?”

    Are they over-dosing so much? Doesn’t look like it to me. Largely because of methodone when they do. If a tenth of the population was injecting heroin it is reasonable to assume the death toll would be much higher.

  15. bloke in spain – ““Most drug users are psychotic nut cases …”

    :)”

    Hey, I did say I would be using if it wasn’t illegal.

  16. The thing about heroin (and all opiates, including the medically-prescribed ones) is that the body builds up a tolerance so that more and more is needed to achieve the same effect (alcohol does the same but to nowhere near the same degree).

    So someone with a terminal illness who has been on heroin for a while to control the pain will be getting small dollops of pain relief from doses that would kill you or me stone dead instantly.

    The problem is that this tolerance is quickly lost, too.

    Accidental overdoses tend to occur when someone who has been clean for a while decides they need another hit, and injects themselves with their old dose: something with which their body can no longer cope.

    Having the doses clean and known will not stop this happening: someone who knows what dose they took last time, when last time was six months ago, will still have to guess at what dose will do the same job now; and if they err on the safe side and guess high (because they want the hit or what’s the point), then they are quite likely to end up dead even though they know exactly what the dose was that killed them..

  17. G

    That is very interesting and I didn’t know that. I always assumed that ODs came about because people underestimated the purity of what they were using, but thinking about it, rich people presumably have the wherewithal to lock onto a reliable supply, and your explanation makes a lot more sense.

    Every day’s a school day.

  18. Getting something unexpected pure can happen, but note how often when someone famous dies of an overdose people queue up to say, ‘He had been clean for ages.’

    Bizarre as it may seem, he probably had. And then he decided he wanted one more hit, and discovered that while clean his body had been busy losing its tolerance.

  19. G – quite right. Seems to be what killed Peaches Geldof, and was what killed Janis Joplin.

  20. (This also makes it dangerous even if you don’t stop, of course, because as you feel the hits becoming less and less at your current dose, you have to decide when to up it and by how much: and there is little margin for error in that calculation. This, again, applies even if you have a clean, regulated supply at known purity: doctors, who have such a supply, are always very conservative with the doses they prescribe to their patients (to the point where patients often complain that the doses are too small: they are, because the doctors are playing it safe). Someone picking their own dose is far less likely to be careful (because again, you want the hit and you want it to be good or what’s the point)).

    Heroin is a drug where there is a small difference between ‘dose that gets you what you want’ and ‘dose that kills you’ — far smaller than, say, alcohol, were you need to drink a couple of litres of vodka to actually die. And alcohol has a sort of built-in safety cut-off in the time it takes to consume: unless you are a hardened drinker you probably don’t be able to take a fatal dose in one session, you’ll pass out first.

    Heroin is dangerous, far more dangerous than alcohol. It’s got nothing to do with addiction (I, like those above, believe in free will) but is simply due to the fact that it is a very dangerous drug to use safely because working out the correct dose is trying to hit a constantly-moving target dead on, with an incentive to err on the dangerous side because if you guess too low you’ve wasted the hit, and if you get it wrong you die.

    Legalisation and regulation will not change that: the supply can be measured and purified and whatever all you like, and there will still be accidental overdoses because heroin is simply a very hard drug to use safely.

    (You would probably also see an increase in suicides: the suicide rate goes up when people have ready access to a convenient method (such as guns in the US, and note how the suicide rate in the UK dropped off sharply when non-toxic natural gas replaced coal gas so the ‘head in oven’ trick would no longer work) and if heroin is to be sold in quantities useful for regular users, then it will be fairly easy for a non-user to build up a fatal dose and their quietus make).

  21. Nothing in the comments even remotely justifies to keep drugs illegal.

    People are already dying for it, and for all the arguments about doses, who knows how many deaths would be prevented if it was possible to openly discuss it with your doctor.

    Any way you try to disguise it, it always comes back down to “I know better than you”.

  22. Lastly, if you’d spend 10% of what prohibition costs (directly and indirectly) on preventig and treating, there is no way in the world we would not be better off as a whole.

  23. Worth adding that there seems to be a now proven wierd (good scientific terminology there) effect of things like opiates, whereby taking the same dose in a new environment can have the effect of a much stronger dose, or more probably, of the actual strength with the tolerance removed. This seems to imply the tolerance is environmentally specific.

    Hence a lot of overdoses occur for users who have lost their home or the like, or (as perhaps here, to speculate wildly) when someone uses heroin at home when they would normally not do so.

    This is incidentally an argument for legalisation – trying to take into account uncertain environmental effects and purity is far more difficult than simply dealing with one variable, so regulated purity is required. If you can ensure addicts are taking doses in sensible measures in sensible environments (I would legalise, but keep heroin controlled – available under supervison (albeit without record) and with help to come off it available).

  24. monoi – “Nothing in the comments even remotely justifies to keep drugs illegal.”

    Really? Did you read them?

    “People are already dying for it, and for all the arguments about doses, who knows how many deaths would be prevented if it was possible to openly discuss it with your doctor.”

    No people are not dying because of the drugs or the prohibition. They are dying because they are sticking needles in their arms. They choose to take the risks. They sometimes pay the price. It is possible to talk about it openly with your doctor. There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone doing so. Confidentiality and all that. There is even an off chance the doctor will give you a prescription for heroin. People would still die, but they would die in small numbers perhaps – until the number of users rose.

    There is another way to avoid such deaths. They could smoke the heroin instead of injecting it. They would then pass out before smoking enough in most cases. But that wouldn’t be as much fun and it would be more expensive. So they don’t want to do that either.

    “Any way you try to disguise it, it always comes back down to “I know better than you”.”

    Indeed. As do murder laws for instance. Most murderers think they have very good reasons for killing. But for some strange reason society does insist that it knows what makes any one killing justified or not.

    monoi – “Lastly, if you’d spend 10% of what prohibition costs (directly and indirectly) on preventig and treating, there is no way in the world we would not be better off as a whole.”

    The experience of China suggests not. Besides, preventing and treating what? Treatment does not work. Because it is a moral issue, not a health one.

  25. Worth adding that there seems to be a now proven wierd (good scientific terminology there) effect of things like opiates, whereby taking the same dose in a new environment can have the effect of a much stronger dose, or more probably, of the actual strength with the tolerance removed. This seems to imply the tolerance is environmentally specific.

    That is very weird.

    However…

    (I would legalise, but keep heroin controlled – available under supervison (albeit without record) and with help to come off it available).

    This will not work, or at best it will only work partially. Why? Because the need to maintain supervised premises and qualified staff will increase the cost to a user.

    Inevitably when regulation increases the price of a good, a black market springs up (see the market in untaxed cigarettes, for example) in order to avoid the regulation.

    So legalisation-with-control may help the rich users, who can afford to pay the fees for ‘dope clubs’ where they go to get high in opulent surroundings with doctors on hand i case anything goes wrong, but the poor will still shoot up when and where they can, and judge their doses themselves.

  26. Please understand me, I really am someone who believes in allowing people to exercise free will. This is the fundamental basis for my views on alcohol sales & smoking (your funeral). It is also why I am so infuriated by the lefties’ (and the UKIP deputy leader’s) calls for betting shops to be kept away from “poor areas”. Those calls are predicated on the “poor” being unable to exercise judgement – moral or intellectual – and control.

    But addiction is real, people do get hooked and some substances are more addictive than others and physically more dangerous. Sometimes people are vulnerable, even if they are entriely responsible for making themselves so.

  27. As usual, the government involving itself with people’s business just makes matters worse. Making “drugs” illegal creates irrational pricing in the marketplace. A damn weed, marijuana, sells for $2000 a pound. People could grow their own, like tomatoes, if it weren’t for laws. Poppy extract drugs would cost pennies if government wasn’t involved.

    Government drives up the prices. It is this pricing that creates most of the evils of drugs. Murderous Mexican drug cartels would collapse overnight if drugs weren’t illegal. They have killed tens of thousands of people, which seems to be of no interest to the conscience of the prohibitionists.

    It is the artificially high prices that create an incentive to get people hooked. It is the artificially high prices that lead to burglary and other crimes to get money to pay for it. Their burglary is a real threat to ME, even though I have absolutely nothing to do with illegal drugs.

    If dealers couldn’t make any money on drugs, they’d leave people alone, and maybe find a real job. They couldn’t make big money without the help of government.

  28. “Indeed. As do murder laws for instance. Most murderers think they have very good reasons for killing. But for some strange reason society does insist that it knows what makes any one killing justified or not.”

    Do I really need to tell you that a drug user only kills him/herself? Do you spot the difference with a murderer?

    I mean, really?

  29. @Ironman

    I almost always enjoy and agree with your contributions, but for once I can’t agree here.

    If I want to take heroin, that should be my business and mine alone (in my opinion).

    (The only caveat is that we would also need to do away with the NHS, and make people responsible for their own health, but that would be a great thing to do.)

    It is absolutely not true that addiction removes free will – otherwise, as others have said many times, the GIs who came back from the ‘Nam thoroughly hooked wouldn’t have been able to give up overnight, which most of them did.

    (Withdrawal is unpleasant but nothing like as bad as popular culture would have us believe.)

    No, the fact is, people take heroin because they like the feeling – exactly the same reason other people drink claret.

    @SMFS

    I almost always enjoy your contributions, too, but I quite often disagree with them and here’s another time.

    Heroin use is no more a moral issue than cider use. It’s illegal. So what? Most of your contributions to this blog lament the idiocy of those who make the laws. What’s so great about this particular law?

    I can see a very good case for breaking busybody laws as an act of rebellion – where the law concerned circumscribes nothing but one’s own behaviour, in one’s own home, the moral approach is probably to break it, not cower in the corner living by it.

  30. Ironman – “I’m not an expert on adiction, any more than an ex-drunk is.”

    Ex splendid drunk. There is a hierarchy of alcoholics, I’ll have you know. Those of us who enjoyed getting smashed on the finest single malts every day can’t be lumped in with mere Kestrel drinkers or guys who slurp super lager under a bridge.

    The more addictive the substance, the more the addict cedes control over his decisions. But it isn’t simply in his hands, a matter of exercising free will. Believe me, if I thought it were so, I would be the least sympathetic person imaginable. As it is I am not the most sympathetic.

    I don’t think you need be unsympathetic to people because they have vices. You can be sympathetic to people without seeing them as pathetic helpless victims with no free will.

    You’re right that some substances are harder to kick than others. When I gave up smoking I found it far harder than avoiding the drink – and getting off booze was rough as hell.

    Now that I think of it, the fact that nicotine withdrawal was more subtle than alcohol withdrawal probably made it easier to backslide. After you’ve been crying in the shower due to alcoholic withdrawal symptoms, you’re more invested in staying the course. Nicotine is more insidious.

    I’ve never tried any illegal drug harder than weed (which I very much enjoyed, but not the headaches afterwards) so I can’t speak from personal experience on heroin addiction.

    But I do know about the psychology of the addict, how telling yourself you “can’t” give up is a self-serving lie to justify feeding your addiction. There may be people who are somehow incapable of not injecting their veins with heroin, but I doubt it’s common. I hear drug addicts give the same old excuses I, and my drinking buddies, used to fervently insist were true. “I can’t stop”. “I’m cutting down”. “I’ve had a tough day/week/month.” “It’s my birthday/Christmas/holiday/the cat’s birthday, I deserve to celebrate.”

    Most addicts just really like their favourite fix and their behaviour and excuses flow from that. Like the fatty who cries that he can’t stop guzzling chips, it’s fundamentally selfish behaviour.

    The awful truth most addicts want to hide even from themselves is that when you decide to get blotto every day, or shoot up in a den of vice, you’re making a choice to put your own gratification ahead of the people who care about you. It doesn’t make you an awful person, just a weak person.

    Weakness can be overcome if you are committed to doing so. We didn’t become the dominant lifeform on this planet by being a bunch of mindless animals who are slaves to our every fleeting desire.

    So I believe drug addicts can change and are responsible for their choices, not because I’m judging them, but because human beings are remarkable creatures.

  31. Heroin IS illegal and she still got it and still killed herself by design or accident.

    If drugs could be bought at the chemist then the rest of us wouldn’t have to put up with drug crime or gang war shootings or the ever increasing tyranny of the state under the War on Drugs (=war on freedom) bullshit brand.

    SMFS–Your “shoot the dealers” plan would achieve sod all apart from upping the price and creating more crime as addicts tried to pay the higher tariffs. Did it work for the Chicoms?–so they say–I wouldn’t trust those murdering bastards for a time-check, never mind tall tales of how they have succeeded where everyone else failed.

  32. @So Much For Subtlety

    “Because it is a moral issue, not a health one.”

    Indeed it is – people should be free to put whatever substances they want into their own body. That’s the moral.

    “Indeed. As do murder laws for instance. Most murderers think they have very good reasons for killing. But for some strange reason society does insist that it knows what makes any one killing justified or not.”

    There is a difference between harming others and harming yourself. If one wants to take heroin then that person should be free to do so. They are after all free to go free solo climbing or to cover themselves in chum and go diving off the Great Barrier Reef or to take a toaster into the bathtub.

    As for society: since when have those guys gotten the laws correct?

    “They could smoke the heroin instead of injecting it. They would then pass out before smoking enough in most cases. But that wouldn’t be as much fun and it would be more expensive. So they don’t want to do that either.”

    Which rather kills off Ironman’s “no free will” point, doesn’t it?

    @Ironman,

    “These drugs are evil.”

    According to Christopher Snowden the most “evil” drugs are a product of prohibition and the “war on drugs”.

    “There is no freedom argument here because there is no free choice once you are addicted.”

    Presumably it is possible to quit, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people who are sober addicts. On the other hand nobody ever forced anyone else to take heroin, except maybe in prison.

  33. @steve,

    “But I do know about the psychology of the addict, how telling yourself you “can’t” give up is a self-serving lie to justify feeding your addiction.”

    I wouldn’t go that far but then I’m no expert on addiction, having been unable to acquire any illegal narcotics. Isn’t the key point that unconstrained free will doesn’t exist at all in any of us, but no one has to take drugs in the first place?

  34. Bloke in surrey – “Isn’t the key point that unconstrained free will doesn’t exist at all in any of us”

    I dunno. The nature of free will has been debated by philosophers for centuries. Perhaps freedom of action is more relevant to the drugs issue.

    ” but no one has to take drugs in the first place?”

    Absolutely agree.

    I also think you’re right that the reason all drugs should be legalised is the government has no business policing what chemicals a consenting adult in a free society may put into his own body. Making drugs illegal has no more place in a free society than criminalising homosexuality or punishing people for their religion.

    The utilitarian argument is less fundamental, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that several decades of public policy trying to stop the sale and use of drugs has been a failure on its own terms. Some people will take drugs. Some people will never use drugs. Both groups would be better off if drugs were sold by legitimate, legally accountable businesses like any other product.

    The main beneficiaries of the war on drugs are criminal gangs and G4S.

  35. Ironman – “Those calls are predicated on the “poor” being unable to exercise judgement – moral or intellectual – and control.”

    Isn’t that, you know, one of the major reasons they are poor?

    Gamecock – “As usual, the government involving itself with people’s business just makes matters worse. Making “drugs” illegal creates irrational pricing in the marketplace.”

    Sorry but why is that irrational? We want less drugs and fewer people taking them. We drive up costs. Thus there is less floating around and fewer people taking them.

    “It is this pricing that creates most of the evils of drugs. Murderous Mexican drug cartels would collapse overnight if drugs weren’t illegal. They have killed tens of thousands of people, which seems to be of no interest to the conscience of the prohibitionists.”

    No they wouldn’t. As the Mafia didn’t. As Chinese gangs didn’t. They would find other avenues of work. It is not the pricing per se that causes anything. It is the fact that some people don’t mind making a lot of money off the suffering of others. Those Mexican cartel members would be murderers if they made drug profits or not. Those deaths are not on the conscience of the prohibitionists. They are on the hands of those who consume the product.

    “It is the artificially high prices that create an incentive to get people hooked. It is the artificially high prices that lead to burglary and other crimes to get money to pay for it. Their burglary is a real threat to ME, even though I have absolutely nothing to do with illegal drugs.”

    It is amazing what people will do to other people for even small amounts of money. It is the moral failings of the users that causes them to steal. They do not have to steal. They can just say that other people’s happiness is as important as their own. So they would stop breaking into your house. But they are selfish sociopaths and so they do not. They would remain selfish sociopaths with or without the drugs.

    “If dealers couldn’t make any money on drugs, they’d leave people alone, and maybe find a real job. They couldn’t make big money without the help of government.”

    Or they would force teenagers into prostitution or some other line of work. Scum remains scum regardless. If anything drugs help us identify the people who ought to be in jail. A public service.

    monoi – “Do I really need to tell you that a drug user only kills him/herself? Do you spot the difference with a murderer?”

    I don’t know. Do you feel the need to change the subject, move the goal posts and make a new argument because your old one was so crap? I think you might. Drug users do not only cause harm to themselves. As anyone who has lived in inner cities will tell you. As their relatives will tell you. And it is irrelevant.

    Interested – “Heroin use is no more a moral issue than cider use. It’s illegal. So what? Most of your contributions to this blog lament the idiocy of those who make the laws. What’s so great about this particular law?”

    It is entirely a moral issue. We ought to obey the law even if it is a dumb law. We should especially obey the law when the product that is banned causes people to be shot by paramilitaries, people’s legs to be broken by gangs, when it funds terrorism and death squads. The drug business is a vile business. Drug users look at all that and say they don’t care. Their two minutes of joy is more important than all the victims of the cartels and the Taliban in the world. They know what they are funding, they do not care. They know what the law is, they do not care. Because their pleasure is more important. Sociopathy in other words.

    And that is true whether the law is sensible or not.

    “I can see a very good case for breaking busybody laws as an act of rebellion”

    Why? I can see a very good case for arguing against the law but none for breaking it.

  36. Steve – “The awful truth most addicts want to hide even from themselves is that when you decide to get blotto every day, or shoot up in a den of vice, you’re making a choice to put your own gratification ahead of the people who care about you. It doesn’t make you an awful person, just a weak person.”

    This. Except the last bit. When Peaches decided that she enjoyed heroin so much she was willing to leave her sons orphans or alone while she did jail time, she was doing something fundamentally wrong. Not just weak but actually awful.

    Mr Ecks – “If drugs could be bought at the chemist then the rest of us wouldn’t have to put up with drug crime or gang war shootings or the ever increasing tyranny of the state under the War on Drugs (=war on freedom) bullshit brand.”

    But we would still be living with the same psychopaths. They wouldn’t go away. They would still be willing to kill each other and do much worse over fairly trivial sums of money. Drug users are choosing the life of crime. This is what they want to do. They would not become accountants if they couldn’t do it.

    The tyranny of the state will increase no matter what we do. The liberal society is dead because the basic idea is beyond our Elders and Betters to even grasp. It just depends on whether we will lose our remaining rights fast or slow.

    “Your “shoot the dealers” plan would achieve sod all apart from upping the price and creating more crime as addicts tried to pay the higher tariffs. Did it work for the Chicoms?–so they say–I wouldn’t trust those murdering bastards for a time-check, never mind tall tales of how they have succeeded where everyone else failed.”

    The more they had to pay, the fewer of them could afford it, the more of them would have to find some other line of work. It is not my plan, but there is no denying it worked in China. I wouldn’t trust them either but there is no way to hide a society where 10% of the population is using. Since the Rolling Stones, we have basically stopped enforcing the drug laws. It is not working for us.

    Bloke in surrey – “Indeed it is – people should be free to put whatever substances they want into their own body. That’s the moral.”

    That is *a* moral. It is not the relevant moral here. I am not sure it is true either. But if it is it is not relevant.

    “There is a difference between harming others and harming yourself. If one wants to take heroin then that person should be free to do so.”

    Taking heroin manifestly harms others. It funds a lot of vile people for instance. It causes others to use. It leave your children and people who love you alone.

    “As for society: since when have those guys gotten the laws correct?”

    Almost always. But we live in a free society. Bounds by laws. Those laws apply to everyone. Or they ought to. We cannot live in a society where people pick and choose which laws to obey. As our vibrant multicultural Muslim communities show only too well. If we don’t like the law, we change it. But in the meantime, we obey it. The rule of law must apply to everyone. You can’t say I don’t like the laws against FGM and so I am going to ignore them.

    Steve – “Making drugs illegal has no more place in a free society than criminalising homosexuality or punishing people for their religion.”

    You know, I might agree with that. But with a slightly different phrasing.

    “The utilitarian argument is less fundamental, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that several decades of public policy trying to stop the sale and use of drugs has been a failure on its own terms. Some people will take drugs. Some people will never use drugs. Both groups would be better off if drugs were sold by legitimate, legally accountable businesses like any other product.”

    I don’t see it has been a failure. Not that we have been trying to enforce the laws. We have contained the problem. That is probably enough. It is true that some people will take drugs. No matter what. And it is true that some people will never take drugs. No matter what. But most people lie in the middle. They look to society for clues about what they should do. If drugs are illegal, they don’t use. Much. If they were legal they would.

    We would all be worse off if 10% of the population was shooting up regularly.

  37. @So Much for Subtlety

    “That is *a* moral. It is not the relevant moral here. I am not sure it is true either. But if it is it is not relevant.”

    It is not only relevant but the most important moral, given that disregard for it has basically been the cause of every misery humanity afflicted on itself for the last couple of centuries. It is the true basis of a liberal society.

    “Taking heroin manifestly harms others. It funds a lot of vile people for instance. It causes others to use. It leave your children and people who love you alone.”

    Those harms look fairly indirect, and certainly more remote than murder.

    Taking heroin in itself no more harms others than a number of legal activities. And many of the harms that come through taking heroin are a consequence of it being illegal. Plenty of your tax monies will go to funding vile people. Although I concede maybe there can be a moral case for not paying taxes. Buying something off gumtree or vivastreet could fund a vile person for all I know. As for the children, there are plenty of other legal activities that could leave them bereaved. If you’re of the view that things should be banned to stop hurting the kids then you’re going to kill the liberal society a lot faster than your Elders (although it seems you think its death can’t come quickly enough).

    “Almost always.”

    That’s wrong. The annals of human history is a story of releasing that the previous generation were basically horrible people.

    “But we live in a free society. Bounds by laws. Those laws apply to everyone. Or they ought to. We cannot live in a society where people pick and choose which laws to obey. As our vibrant multicultural Muslim communities show only too well. If we don’t like the law, we change it. But in the meantime, we obey it. The rule of law must apply to everyone. You can’t say I don’t like the laws against FGM and so I am going to ignore them.”

    That’s not a free society, that’s just a society built on the respect for the law. And a law that comes from the state. But the “rule of law” as you describe it can be (and is) compatible with the most horrendous laws. The rule of law is a prerequisite of liberty, but can in no way be a sufficient guarantor of it.

    Also you have the relationship between obedience and law making the wrong way round – people don’t act in certain ways because of what the law says, but because they’ve internalised the norm that is the basis of the law. People thought murder and theft were wrong before the state even existed. And if enough people are flouting the law it can be a sign that people don’t regard the law as just. FGM is actually a good example of this. Most people in the UK abhor it.

    “Not that we have been trying to enforce the laws.”

    Oh, hello Peter 😉

  38. “We would all be worse off if 10% of the population was shooting up regularly.”

    We would also all be worse off if (god forbid) more than 10% of the population voted for Labour ….

    Although a Labour party official would probably say the same thing about the Tories, UKIP or Libertarians. Its probably best if everyone looks after their own interests and doesn’t worry too much about the lives of remote strangers who live on the same island. You’ll get a spontaneous order.

  39. So when will cream cakes, Mars bars and donutes be banned.
    Obesity has something to do with these type fodder and makes the population – especially females – overly rotund..

  40. “It is not only relevant but the most important moral, given that disregard for it has basically been the cause of every misery humanity afflicted on itself for the last couple of centuries. It is the true basis of a liberal society.”

    And that’s not putting substances into one’s body, but the right it comes under – the right to self ownership/personal autonomy/ individual liberty etc.

  41. Bloke in surrey – “It is not only relevant but the most important moral, given that disregard for it has basically been the cause of every misery humanity afflicted on itself for the last couple of centuries. It is the true basis of a liberal society.”

    That is a rather interesting view. Not one that I agree with or one that I think the historical record supports. But that is sort of beside the point. It is true that the general attitude of leaving people alone is the basis of a liberal society, but I am not sure drug use falls into that “just short of someone else’s nose” category. Harms to others are fairly direct.

    But even if all that were true, it is still irrelevant here. Drugs are illegal at the present. How we deal with that is what matters.

    “Those harms look fairly indirect, and certainly more remote than murder.”

    No one is arguing it is less remote than murder. Although I think Ms Geldoff has left two young boys who may want to quibble over how remote it is. But now you’re shifting the goal posts from no harm to remote harm.

    “Taking heroin in itself no more harms others than a number of legal activities. And many of the harms that come through taking heroin are a consequence of it being illegal.”

    Many of them are. A lot of things need a context to be understood. Heroin is no different.

    “Buying something off gumtree or vivastreet could fund a vile person for all I know.”

    For all you know. When you buy drugs you do know. There is a difference between a remote chance and a certainty. Drug users don’t care. If they were produced from baby seals clubbed by teenage run aways who were all later tortured to death slowly, they wouldn’t care. They would use anyway. Because they are sociopaths.

    “As for the children, there are plenty of other legal activities that could leave them bereaved. If you’re of the view that things should be banned to stop hurting the kids then you’re going to kill the liberal society a lot faster than your Elders (although it seems you think its death can’t come quickly enough).”

    There are a lot that could leave them bereaved. But by and large they don’t. By and large parents of small children do not do those sort of things. Nor should they. When they do, people tend to be a little critical. As they should be with heroin users. I am not sure things should be banned just because there is a good chance it will hurt a child. Certainly discouraged.

    “That’s wrong. The annals of human history is a story of releasing that the previous generation were basically horrible people.”

    Actually no. We have slowly been working our way towards living with others in peace and mostly harmony where no one gets hurt. The laws are a massive and long running experiment on what needs to be done to minimise pain and hardship to most people. People are basically horrible and if left to themselves, would be doing really horrible things to each other – which is I suppose what the drug gangs are doing once they reject the control of society’s norms. We are getting nicer.

    Or were until government went off the rails recently.

    “That’s not a free society, that’s just a society built on the respect for the law. And a law that comes from the state. But the “rule of law” as you describe it can be (and is) compatible with the most horrendous laws. The rule of law is a prerequisite of liberty, but can in no way be a sufficient guarantor of it.”

    That is by definition a free society. Or at least a condition of a free society. Freedom is not possible where everyone is free to wage war on everyone else. Respect for the law is one of those things that is even more important than actual democracy. Sure, you are changing the goal posts again. The German civil servants worked hard to send millions to the gas because they were committed to that idea of a law-bound society. It was their duty to obey the laws. Didn’t work out so well. But it does not change the fact that respect for the law is a fundamental premise of a free society and the law says drugs are illegal.

    “Also you have the relationship between obedience and law making the wrong way round – people don’t act in certain ways because of what the law says, but because they’ve internalised the norm that is the basis of the law. People thought murder and theft were wrong before the state even existed. And if enough people are flouting the law it can be a sign that people don’t regard the law as just. FGM is actually a good example of this. Most people in the UK abhor it.”

    People did not think murder and theft were wrong before the state even existed. As Homer shows only too well. As the Islamists do today. We had to work towards convincing them of that. Maybe most people think the law is unjust. The correct solution is to campaign to change the law. Not send your daughter off to Somalia. Where, of course, she will not be harmed, but actually helped, improved!, by FGM. There is no shortage of people capable of rationalising their own selfish desires as universal laws. Which is why the law is often a better guide than individual conscience.

    As for laws, I am not sure. I think that actually it works the other way around – people accept what the law says is unjust. Abortion used to be abhorred. Then the Great and the Good said it was kind of groovy actually, and everyone agrees with them. Homosexuals used to be jailed – if they worked at it. Then the Great and Good say otherwise. The law changed. And now we jail people for saying what everyone else on the planet thought up to about 1965 or so.

    “Oh, hello Peter ;)”

    Ciao, Baby!

  42. Bloke in surrey – “We would also all be worse off if (god forbid) more than 10% of the population voted for Labour ….”

    Well that is the point of immigration after all. And perhaps the solution we will get around to will involve no one voting for anything. But we will see.

    “Its probably best if everyone looks after their own interests and doesn’t worry too much about the lives of remote strangers who live on the same island. You’ll get a spontaneous order.”

    No you don’t. There are plenty of societies marked by very low trust which have not evolved towards spontaneous order. Italy would be a good example. Everyone knows the Mafia is looking after their own interests and not worrying too much about the lives of remote strangers who live on the same peninsula. That is why they dump chemical waste off shore or in shallow trenches all over the South. They don’t care. China is another good example. Farmers water down milk. So milk companies test it for protein levels. Farmers discovered that chemicals used to make plastics test positive for protein. So they add it to their watered-down milk. Said chemicals kill babies.

    Britain has a spontaneous order because we have had 1000 years of little immigration or even population movement. Everyone knows everyone else in the same village. And everyone has to acknowledge the local Lord of the Manor/Justice of the Peace. That has created a community. It was not natural and it was not spontaneous. Immigration is destroying that, of course. So we are slowly becoming a society where farmers will poison the milk. But hey, the theory is what matters, right?

    john malpas – “Obesity has something to do with these type fodder and makes the population – especially females – overly rotund..”

    Don’t give them ideas.

    Bloke in surrey – “And that’s not putting substances into one’s body, but the right it comes under – the right to self ownership/personal autonomy/ individual liberty etc.”

    A noble aim. Not sure if it is practical. But there you go. Not relevant here. Because drugs are illegal. And people like Peaches should not be using them.

  43. So Much for Subtlety
    May 2, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    “Sorry but why is that irrational? We want less drugs and fewer people taking them. We drive up costs. Thus there is less floating around and fewer people taking them.”

    Read what I said. MORE people are taking them because of YOU!

  44. A very large majority of recovering addicts supports drug legalisation, including people addicted to things that aren’t illegal. I don’t think I’ve ever met a former addict who said, “thank god my drug of choice was illegal, otherwise I’d have been much worse.” Addiction is a very complex phenomenon – physiologically, psychologically and spiritually – and any approach to it is going to have pros and cons. But on the whole, I think the simplest case for legalisation is this: it will likely result in either harm reduction or no net change, while increasing the sphere of personal autonomy and reducing the flow of money to criminal scum. The idea that the violence of the cartels is down to the fact they’re staffed by psychos and if it weren’t for selling drugs they’d still be out machine-gunning people and hacking their heads off is simply hallucinatory. Quite apart from anything, if it wasn’t for the vast sums of money they make dealing drugs, they wouldn’t be able to afford machineguns.

    And there’s a lot of nonsense talked about heroin. Withdrawal from it is unpleasant but not life-threatening, unlike withdrawal from severe alcohol or barbiturate dependency, it’s a lot easier to kick than nicotine, and very, very few users overdose accidentally. Methadone, the stuff that’s meant to wean you off, is much more dangerous. Heroin isn’t even close to the worst from a physical standpoint, either. Cocaine is far worse. Powder cocaine will wreck your life and crack will likely end it. Meth is way more harmful. They’re both a lot harder to kick, as well. But people do recover from addiction. Sometimes they relapse, and it’s very sad to see.

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