Prescribing Civil War

Have you noticed the mess we've made of the Pharmacopoeia? There are drugs like aspirin that you can prescribe for yourself, and freely buy. Then there are drugs that you can only buy if authorized by a doctor—except in Mexico, or on the internet, and except that some have recently been freed up. Then there are drugs called "supplements" which you can buy at a health food store. Then there are forbidden drugs, which you can buy down on the corner, if you dare. Then there are drugs which might save your life, but you cannot buy anywhere, because the government is still mulling over what category to put them in.

There is the forbidden drug cocaine, thought to be widely used by movie actors and government officials, but declared likely to ruin your life in one snort. And there is the forbidden drug marijuana, thought to be as widely used as the legal drug alcohol, but declared suitable only for those dying of a wasting disease.

There is the war on drugs, during which street prices for forbidden drugs have steadily fallen as supply increased. If the supply increased because of demand, then the demand has increased along with the population. This would mean that the war on drugs is a civil war—a war by one part of the population against another part of the population.

How did it happen that one part of the population decided to use force on another part of the population, instead of persuasion? How is this immoral initiation of force justified? By calling it the will of the majority, and by citing danger to the young.

The first excuse violates the charter of our country, which was founded in order to put individual rights above the will of the majority. If the excuse is based on religion, then it also violates the separation of church and state.

The second excuse puts government squarely between you and your children. It is not you and your doctor who prescribe for your children, but bureaucrats. It is not only your children considered to have poor judgment, but also you.

An easy observation is that people have free will, and insist on prescribing for themselves whatever medications they choose. Those who prefer cocaine to Prozac are likely wrong. So the war on drugs is a war against being wrong.

If people who are wrong insist on doing what they want anyway, and if drugs are obtainable one way or another, then what does it mean to say that some drugs are illegal? It means that officials may choose at will who they want to send off to prison, at taxpayer's expense. It means that drug warriors may choose their battles for maximum publicity, at taxpayer's expense. It means that one man's foolishness is paid for by another man's labor, at freedom's expense.

Next Essay Previous Essay Essays Index Home