April 28, 2003

War on Drugs: The nature of the beast

If you have read some of my thoughts regarding the "War on Drugs," you will have gotten an inclination that I am opposed to this war. However, I am mindful of the problems to towns, communities and families that can be associated with drugs, as this story so capably points out. However, despite the nightmare that the story vividly paints about the destruction one small community faces as it becomes surrounded by meth labs, the problem stems, to a great degree, from the black market that feeds off of the illegality of substances. As long as the demand exists, someone will supply the demand. It is pure "market place" economics. Almost any person, offered enough money, will provide any product, provided he or she has a source for the product. This is why alcohol, tobacco and coffee are still readily available. There are a myriad of substances that are not good for you or those around you, but some are sold over the counter and some are sold under the counter. It seems we do a much better job of controlling those sold over the counter than we do under the counter. Why is that? Because honest businessmen are willing to abide by regulations. Banning a substance for which there is a huge demand does not make it go away, it only causes it to be sold without sufficient regulations to control the worst of the problems associated with the substance.

Meth is a big problem. As a substance, it is one of most physically destructive of those currently marketed in the drug underground. However, it is also one of the easiest to produce from items that are readily available in the marketplace. I live in a rural area, and meth labs are frequently found here also. I have lost a cousin to this drug, so I am aware of the severe consequences which can occur from its use. I have frequently overheard meth referred to as the "poor man's cocaine." This leads me to infer that most who use meth do so because they either cannot afford or find real cocaine. "Crack" cocaine evolved because it was a cheaper form of cocaine than was otherwise available. If some drugs were available, then maybe it would be easier to convince people to stay away from the more harmful drugs. It could not hurt to try, could it?

The current plan of attack in the "War on Drugs" appears to be to imprison all the users so as to dry up the demand. The penitentiaries are full, and still there seems to be a plethora of users of various illegal substances in every city and town. How many more penitentiaries can we afford to build? How many more of our possibly productive citizens do we need to warehouse? How many more of our tax dollars do we need to invest in supporting a confined population? I suspect that if we invested a large part of the money that was spent on the "War on Drugs" into providing meaningful jobs for this same segment of society, a lot of the drug problem would disappear.

Drugs are a reality altering substance. I suspect that a large percentage of people use drugs because the reality of their lives is unbearable. There are not very many meaningful factory jobs in our society. People cannot survive working for Walmart and McDonald's. Sitting around day after day wondering how to feed a family on minimum wage is a bleak reality that too many people face. No wonder someone wants something to suppress that sense of meaningless and worthlessness about their lives, if only for a brief spell. Make people's reality a bit better, and maybe they will not work so hard to find new ways to alter it.

Posted by Tiger at April 28, 2003 07:16 PM