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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

the war on some drugs

In "Debunking the Drug War", John Tierney points out that its the "war on drugs" itself that is the cause of the problem:
Amphetamine pills were easily available, sold over the counter until the 1950's, then routinely prescribed by doctors to patients who wanted to lose weight or stay awake. It was only after the authorities cracked down in the 1970's that many people turned to home labs, criminal gangs and more dangerous ways of ingesting the drug.
Not everyone is pleased, though. Mark Kleiman fires back with "Meth gets a coat of Tierney whitewash". Although Kleiman makes some good points about Tierney's use of statistics, he basically concedes Tierney's main point above:
As a snorted/smoked/injected drug, meth is highly addictive (which means a conversion rate of somewhere between a fifth and a third of those who try it more than casually) and highly toxic to lots of organs, including the brain. A couple of years' steady use of meth leaves marked and lasting cognitive deficits, which is not true for any other recreational drug, including even alcohol.

That's entirely consistent with the fact that oral methamphetamine, used under medical supervision, is a reasonably safe and highly useful drug for nacolepsy, ADHD, and increased alertness for people who absolutely must stay alert for long hours, such as combat pilots.
So what's Kleiman's real beef? Apparently, if only dummies like Tierney would shut up, dedicated drug warriors like Bill Bennett would listen to smart people like Kleiman who would lead us to a wise and compassionate drug policy.

Yeah, I'm sure that's what would happen.

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