For decades, the war on drugs has raged its way across the world, taking a particularly strong hold in America. With politicians from Reagan to Biden fathering policies that have incarcerated millions and killed many more, the world is beginning to see the disastrous effects of drug prohibition. For one thing, it actually can increase deaths from drug overdoses; when Portugal decriminalized all drugs, their addiction and overdose rates plummeted. But another drug, ketamine, offers solutions to the opioid crisis and many other medical problems.
By Jason Bracewell | United States
It’s no secret that tobacco consumption is linked to cancer and other health issues. The question is, though, does the government have a role to play here? Activists for Tobacco 21 think so. Their goal is simple: to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21. Their movement is picking up steam recently, and six states (California, New Jersey, Oregon, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Maine) have already raised the purchasing age. 340 plus localities have followed, including New York City and Chicago.
Tobacco 21 is a nonprofit that first started in 1996, and is officially called the “Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation”. They actively push for an age increase to 21 for buying tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
The American Heart Association, American Medical Association, and more have all endorsed the group. Despite their fairly long tenure, they’ve only recently begun to break through in their fight against tobacco legalization for the 18-20 age bracket.
In American society, young people begin legal adulthood at age 18, of course. However, politicians have been pushing more age requirements to 21 as time progresses. Alcohol purchases, for example, require individuals to be 21, as do certain firearm purchases. Moreover, the Credit Card Act of 2009 made it increasingly difficult for adults under the age of 21 to obtain credit cards.
Good intentions exist with each of these laws. But in reality, they simply encourage people under these age requirements to seek alternative methods for obtaining the prohibited items. Now, the organization is hoping to send tobacco down the same road.
Tobacco 21 is mostly pushing this agenda in Democratic states and cities but is still gaining ground. This April, the Illinois state legislature passed legislation to raise the tobacco consumption age as well.
Many legislatures are expected to bring similar bills to the table in 2019. This could eventually culminate a federal age increase in the near future.
This may not seem the most pressing issue in America, but it is a part of a much larger problem in
American politics today: the restriction of personal freedom in the name of safety. From gun bans to health regulations, the government is starting to turn Orwellian. This is just one more
battlefield for individual freedom.
As further-left social democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Bernie Sanders gain popularity, Americans are increasingly depending on the state for protection. The DEA, SNAP benefits, and the PATRIOT Act all serve as prime examples. Most politicians, but especially social democrats, would only increase this, especially in the area of social programs.
The concept of tobacco restrictions polls high with voters. In 2016, the Texas Medical Center Health Policy institute conducted a poll of over 5,000 respondents. 80% of them viewed an age raise for tobacco purchases positively.
In this survey, Republicans viewed the ban more favorably than Democrats. However, the age restrictions still had clear bipartisan support. Even 18 to 21-year-olds olds showed a 69% support rate. While troubling, it is no secret that the two parties are more alike than different, further showing a combined effort to stifle individualism.
These numbers show an increase in Americans wishing to legislate their beliefs onto others. Worst of all, it reveals a desire for government to further restrict our natural rights as individuals. These restrictions will not stop at tobacco. As the state expands more, its grip will go beyond trivial consumer issues, eventually infringing on more civil liberties than ever before seen in American history. The time to stop this, though, is now. Tobacco 21 represents a dark step forward and rejecting it may finally set the precedent of liberty.
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By Andrew Lepore | United States
For thousands of years, Aboriginal people have been using natural hallucinogenic substances to induce altered states of minds, for spiritual and medicinal purposes. Despite a growing counter culture, and with Western medicine finally starting to recognize the legitimate medical benefits, these substances are still stigmatized by a large part of the population.
Scientific research from recent years showing the ability to treat and even cure ailments From PTSD to addiction to anxiety. Some substances have even been proven to stimulate NeuroGenesis (the growth of brain cells). With promising new research coming out seemingly every day, and the proven benefits for ailments across the board, why are these substances so stigmatized?
A stigma and fear of these substances has existed in the west for hundreds of years, and its roots can be traced all the way back to the colonization of the new world. When the first westerners encountered and conquered the cultures who used these substances as religious ceremonies, the missionaries followed. These missionaries, backed by the power of the state, were attempting to convert the aboriginal people, forcibly if necessary.
They wanted to use religion as a means to corral the various tribes. When the missionaries witnessed the strange rituals undertaken by the locals and heard of their ability to “contact” the gods and dead ancestors through the consumption of substances, they were viewed as heresies and abominations.
The goal of the church also was to be the medium between the individual and god; if the natives believed they could contact the gods simply through the medium of a substance, there would be no need for the church. As the state and the church were intertwined, the interest of the church is the interest of the state; therefore resisting the church was resisting the iron fist of the state.
“Missionaries who followed the explorers into the new world inevitably tried to stamp out local religions and replace them with Christianity. When the Spaniards first encountered Peyote in the new world, they associated it with the aztecs bloody sacrificial rites and called it ‘the devil’s root.’ The holy office of the inquisition enacted the first anti drug policies in the new world, and the use of Peyote was condemned as being superstitious behavior contrary to the Christian beliefs. In attempts to stop use of the Cactus, the Spaniards tortured and killed many natives. Though In some cases, the natives were able to resist the missionaries and some non-christian religions remained.”
Excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances: Magic In Bloom
This played out in many theatres across the globe, From North and America to Africa. in most cases, the Missionaries got what they wanted. Thousands of years of accumulated knowledge on native substances were wiped out with the extinction of certain peoples and their culture.
Though some cultures were, at first, either inaccessible to westerners or resisted conversion and the traditional use of these substances continue for them to this day. These are the cultures which have provided us the knowledge on the substances which we now know most about, such as the South American cultures who use Ayahuasca, the African Bwiti tribe who use Iboga, and some Native American religions who use Peyote Cactus.
This stigma surrounding hallucinogenic substances has taken many forms since the times of colonialism. In the early stages of the United States and in the 1800’s, the use of these substances was associated with Native Americans, who at the time were viewed as “savages”.
Aside from conquest, the West had little contact with hallucinogenic substances. This was until the 40s and 50s when there were breakthroughs in the understanding and cultivation of these substances, namely the discovery of the hallucinogenic effects of LSD and isolation of psilocybin from mushrooms.
These discoveries led to the growth of the counterculture 60’s and 70’s that glorified the use of hallucinogens as party drugs, and the substances quickly started becoming associated with hippies, drug abuse, and doing dumb stuff. This added stigma resulted in the sweeping psychedelic bans of the late 60’s when consumption and distribution of many of these substances was made illegal.
The cause of the stigma is no longer due to religious implications, or differences in culture with those we are conquering, but has manifested itself in the form of drug prohibition. Most people don’t know this, but drug prohibition doesn’t just stop people who are using hallucinogens recreationally from getting it, it makes any treatment and most research on the effects on humans illegal. This long-lasting stigma has had a lasting and impacting effect, as even hundreds of years later, mainstream western medicine is only recently coming around the corner to recognize the benefits.
Over the last decades, some amazing abilities of these substances have been coming to light.from their unique ability to stimulate neurogenesis (the growth of the brain cells is cells) and the formation of new neural pathways. To their ability to treat, even to cure addiction. And to their ability to reboot the brain in depressed and anxious people, even to the point of curing PTSD.
With more and more promising research coming out of the woodworks, many are starting to look past the stigma that has surrounded these substances for almost 500 years. The stigma surrounding these substances is not only logically unjustified but morally unjustified, as it has led to the imprisonment of thousands of innocent people simply for the possession of benign substances.
By Andrew Lepore | United States
Drug prohibition is the attempt to do the impossible through the mechanism of violence. Drug prohibition is The attempt to quell the vices passions of man do the iron fist of the state. The Tyranny of the drug war has Ruined millions of lives, torn apart families, destroyed communities, built the largest prison population in human history, and in the process, cost taxpayers billions.
Despite its inefficiencies and impossibilities, those factors are not the underlying problem of drug prohibition. As it’s supporters will say “Are just going to legalize violent crime because it’s impossible to fully stop?”
No, the main problem with the drug war is the total immorality of it. A great hypocrisy of the state is that what would be done by individuals or by the private sector that would be seen as immoral when done by the government or the public sector is seen as not only justified but fully moral. Drug prohibition is a prime example of this phenomenon. Given some critical thought, anybody can see that the war on drugs is unapologetically immoral.
The entire war on drugs is based on the assumption that we do not own our bodies, and we are not directly responsible for the consequences of our actions. The very nature of the drug war assumes that we need some politician or bureaucrat to write a law telling us what we can and can’t put in our bodies.
If you ask any person on the street if they own themselves, and the consequences of their actions, 99% will say yes. So why is it that most people support drug prohibition? Why is it that people will like acknowledge self ownership and direct responsibility for self action, yet believe that there should be a strong centralized government around to throw people in a cage that make risky decisions?
Another pure moral hypocrisy of drug prohibition is the underlying mechanism of enforcement. If you ask any individual on the street if initiating violence is a moral means to achieve in end, most people will say of course not. Yet again most people support drug prohibition which uses this underlying mechanism, the initiation of violence.
A sovereign individual using the substance of his or her choice, regardless of its Unfavorability, is not hurting anybody else. Now of course if that person goes out and Hurts another individual or steals another individual’s property, that person has now initiated force and has become a different story. But the action of simply using a substance is a peaceable action, and attempting to forcefully stop that by enforcement of the law is an initiation of violence and morally unacceptable.
Imagine if such action was engaged upon in the private sector. Imagine if some individual or company went around and started arresting people and throwing them in cages for eating at McDonald’s. Better yet, these people were saying it is for the benefit of the people they are arresting because McDonald’s is extremely unhealthy.
What if they started arresting McDonald’s employees for distributing unhealthy food and locking them in human cages for decades on end and claiming it was for the betterment of society. Would this be morally acceptable? Only if carried out by the state Because it’s okay for only it’s employees to use violence I guess.
People must stop believing that use of force when carried out by the state is absolutely any different than when carried out by private individuals or groups. The drug war is just one area, be it a large one, that this problem plagues the opinions of the population.