idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Yeah. I also be that you'll find almost all heavy drug users fall within the subset of drinkers (or even heavy drinkers). We don't ban alcohol because we worry that it makes someone "more likely" to use heroin.
All you've done is present a correlation. Yeah, I bet the vast majority of people hooked on heroin are open to smoking pot, have smoked it, do smoke it, etc. Doesn't mean smoking pot leads to it.
Is someone who smokes pot statistically more likely to do hard drugs? Sure. But that's not necessarily interesting in any particular way. It's as unsurprising as the fact that meat eaters are statistically more likely to eat dog than vegetarians are.
In my opinion, you're pointing at a symptom, not the cause. I don't think smoking pot leads to doing heroin. I do believe that something that could lead someone to smoke pot could lead them to do heroin. But I don't think making pot illegal would help there. Particularly because I seriously doubt fear of "the law" is going to be sufficient to ever stop someone on that path. Chances are (imo), someone who is on it already feels so alienated from society that the concept of law itself isn't something they're going to invest themselves in.
What I think making pot illegal does is force them to get used to hiding from society on the path to a worse addiction, making it even less likely that they'll seek help when they actually need it. The only thing I see the war on drugs doing is alienating people who desperately need help more and more, by ensuring they're as terrified as possible to seek treatment.
Let me start by saying that I agree with legalization in principle, but I disagree with this particular argument. If this was true, then no one would ever smoke pot because alcohol is legal. Clearly, people choose to use illegal intoxicants even when there are legal alternatives available. So the idea that by legalizing pot, we'd somehow reduce the number of people moving on to heroin (or whatever) is badly flawed. All we'd accomplish is to move the bar of what is legal a bit. So the guy who decides to try an illegal drug instead of legal alternatives (like alcohol and marijuana) would now move directly to cocaine, or meth.
At the end of the day, we do kinda set a somewhat arbitrary bar in terms of what is legal and what is not. There's a decent argument that setting that bar as low as possible means that for someone to get involved with the most harmful substances would require more "steps" involving illegal acts. Assuming we can agree that people don't normally progress directly from drinking a beer to shooting smack, then this is a valid argument. Knowing that what he's doing is illegal should provide some disincentive to progressing down a drug use track. I happen to believe that illegality absolutely does play a huge role in people's choices in this regard.
IMO, what would be far more helpful in this regard would not be legalizing the next step (marijuana currently), but decreasing dramatically the age at which the currently legal substance(s) may be purchased and consumed. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that very very very few people first start taking drugs in their 20 or 30s. Most people start in their teens and then progress to harder drugs. Often, this happens because it's easier to obtain illegal drugs than legal alternatives when you're under the age at which you can purchase those legal alternatives.
In my experience, what usually happens is that when people get into their 20s, one of two things happen. They either realize that they can drink socially and legally and go "wtf am I risking jail to do these other substances?" and thus quit using, or they're already so into the drugs their doing that alcohol just gets added to the list and they continue using. I just think a lot of addicts could be prevented from becoming addicts if they were able to scratch that itch earlier in a legal and relatively safe way. If you've been drinking since the age of 15 (or even earlier, and not in hiding), by the time the opportunity to use anything else comes along, there will already (hopefully) be a bit more responsibility adopted with regards to such substances and the choice between getting drunk legally and getting high illegally will not be made as often.
If such a change were made (and yes, it would involve social changes as well) then we can and should talk about looking at other substances. Again though, it requires looking at where that bar should be set and then making a decision as a society. I just think that a lot of people choose to bypass the real questions about this issue and just toss around half true "facts" about whatever substance they happen to think should be legalized. I think that's a silly way to approach the issue, and ultimately will lead to a slippery slope type result.
As for the poor issue, statistically white middle class+ people are vastly more likely to use and sell all drugs than the poor and minorities are.
I'd really love to hear where these statistics come from. I don't think that's true at all.
1. Space. Most minorities and poor live in small homes, possibly with extended family, and have no where they can go in the house to take drugs in secret. On average, a black kid isn't going to be able to light up a joint at home without his mom finding out. This leads to FAR more drug usage outside the home, in public areas, which drastically increases the chance of detection.
2. Increased police density. My town has a fair number of people (still fairly small--high school classes of 350 or so), but there's a lot of land. Kids here all smoked in the woods (and a lot of adults do too, to be fair). So besides the occasional cop who'd go in to check for kids, it was relatively safe to smoke. You light up in a city alley, and you have no clue how close you are to the nearest cop.
These could both certainly be factors, but I suspect that other socio-economic factors may be more significant here. Increased sense of lack of purpose or possibility of success in life tends to correlate with drug use (especially heavy drug use). Increased presence of gangs and their penchant to recruit the youth in their areas is another huge factor. Lack of alternative means of gaining money tend to make selling drugs appear more attractive. A dealer in a middle class neighborhood is much more likely to simply know a guy who has a supply, buys some, and then sells it to his friends, never ever dealing with anyone he doesn't know personally (making the possibility of arrest very near to zero). A dealer in a poor neighborhood is much more likely to be part of a larger drug distribution system, competing for customers (cause of the whole "no other sources of money" issue), dealing on the street, and willing to deal with pretty much anyone who walks up. I've known a few "dealers" living in middle class neighborhoods. None of them ever did it for the money. Edited, Nov 1st 2012 6:24pm by gbaji