On Drug Toxicity And Policy

On Drug Toxicity And Policy


sleipner, one of our more frequent commenters on Donklephant had this to say on my recent post about drug toxicity

Obviously, direct toxicity is obviously not the only measure of danger for a drug. In addition to that, some drugs have an additional psychological or environmental risk of death or injury, either to the user or to those around them due to behaviors they induce. It would be interesting to see if that sort of data was included in this study.

I’m guessing this chart is probably from the study published recently in the Lancet magazine where Professor David Nutt of Bristol University said that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than several other common party drugs, in particular marijuana and ecstasy.

Though I have no desire to increase regulations on those two substances, given the result of the last prohibition (the Mafia and organized crime), I do believe this study provides ammunition for the effort to decriminalize and regulate the less physically and socially dangerous drugs. We should be using real science and actual data to determine what should and should not be off limits, rather than hysteria and prejudice.

In addition, decriminalization and regulation of certain of the more popular, less dangerous drugs would provide a far safer source for those wishing to partake in such activities, who currently buy from shady dealers with bathtub manufacturies that often produce and sell toxic poisons that are billed as ecstasy or other such drugs. The legal system is currently overwhelmed with meaningless marijuana and ecstasy possession or dealing cases that do nothing but cost society a fortune in legal fees and clog up already overcrowded jails. As a side benefit, we would eliminate the massive and extremely toxic chemical releases these manufacturies often flush into our sewer systems or even directly into local waterways or groundwater.

By removing the profitable mass market drugs such as ecstasy and forcing dealers to sell only the more dangerous drugs, we can concentrate the “war on drugs� to those drugs that really matter and cause far greater societal harm, and starve many of the dealers into a different profession. Thus we would have a far greater chance of success in reducing the negative social consequences of those drugs.

Well said.

  • Joshua

    If only the “war on drugs” weren’t actually just another culture war (if not the mother of all culture wars) in public-health-and-safety drag, this might actually stand a chance of getting past Congress.

  • sleipner

    The biggest problem is the first time a little girl gets run over by someone who was doing *any* drug, the media will jump all over it, MAAD and other such organizations will scream to the heavens, and all the lawmakers who voted in a more lenient drug policy will be lambasted as baby killers and driven out of office.

    Not that I think any kid dying is a small matter, but unfortunately it happens all the time, and not just because of alcohol or drugs. To take a single (or statistically unlikely) incident and blow it into a “your child is about to be run over by drug crazed lunatics” meme is irresponsible and inflammatory.

    Not to mention that people are doing many drugs all the time already, but without the safety that regulated dosages and contents would provide in controlling their intake and intoxication levels.

  • Lewis

    I dunno. I had a great time in the seventies but then there wasn’t urine tests back then. What I did see then and it’s even more apparent now is that with youth, pot and other drug users screw up their lives before they are old enough to know better. Many do recover and turn things around but many, especially young men, do not.

    And that’s the real problem with recreational drug use. The I don’t give a crap and irresponsible attitude that is so closely tied to the behavior. Then we wind up with a bunch of undereducated and underemployed young people who are a burden on those who did work hard and contribute their fair share. It’s not right for the hard working folk to have to provide for those who partied all the freaking time and are too damn lazy to take care of themselves.