Dissent Of The Day

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

I used to take psychedelics often, and I understand the appeal of them. I’d probably still be using them if I knew anyone who sold them. But the pro-drug posts on the Dish, with the exception of the marijuana posts, feel like they were written people who don’t have that much experience with drugs. While it’s true that most people just have fun and move on, it’s also true that a lot of people get into pretty serious trouble. Most people who have spent time around drugs know people who have had their lives ruined, or who have been turned into really awful shells of their former selves.

What that means, as a practical matter, is that when I read pro-drug posts, I think of a cocaine addict I used to know who would fly into violent rages at the drop of a hat, or the heroin addict who got hepatitis, or even just the drunk who looked 70 when he died at 50. I’m not saying that those people’s stories ought to drive policy for everyone. Again, most people don’t end up in those places. But if you really know about drugs, you know those people. And since their stories never seem to inform your posts, I wonder where you guys are coming from.

Andrew always says the same thing – people who hate drugs are anti-pleasure. He never addresses any real arguments against drugs – the damage they often do to people.

I love acid. If I had some, I’d take some and hole up this weekend, watching old movies on TV. But the idea that it gives you some deep insight into the world is bogus. It *feels* like it gives you deep insights into the world, but it’s very hard to bring anything back to your day to day life. It’s sort of like after you’ve had a vivid dream, as you are waking up you can feel the events of the dream slip away. People who do real work — who pray or meditate over extended periods of time — have an aura about them. They seem calm, centered. You don’t really get that same feeling from acid heads.

And the idea that you can take drugs and grab ahold of some easy wisdom is really misleading. Maybe I sound like a Puritan, offended by someone finding a shortcut. That’s not where I’m coming from, though. I really wish it were true. But wisdom is hard to come by. it takes effort, and time. People wrestle with their faith their entire lives, in good times and bad. It’s hard, but it makes them deep. The idea that some molecule is going to give that to you over a weekend is similar to the idea that the right penny stock will make you rich, or that some pill will let you lose 50 lbs without exercising or dieting.

I agree with you guys that if you look at our prison population, or at what’s going on in Mexico, or in Afghanistan, our drug policy is really messed up. And it’s not just sub-optimal in some abstract sense. It’s ruining lives and communities, and in some cases, nations. It’s really wrong, and it has to be changed.

But if you’re going to have a real debate about it, you have to get all of the various perspectives to sit down together and hash it out. Simply ignoring all of the negative stuff, and talking about how much fun it is to take ecstasy, or how medical marijuana really helps people, and wow we’d really be living in the age of Aquarius if only those uptight people would take the sticks out of their asses, isn’t going to convince anyone. It’s such an unconvincing (and self-satisfied) argument that it makes people think you don’t have a good argument at your disposal. If you did, why would you deploy such a weak one instead?

If you talk about medical marijuana, and you don’t talk about the rampant fraud among people who lie about symptoms to get prescriptions, then you’re not having a realistic discussion. Some people are helped, there’s no doubt about that. Sometimes the help is life changing. But there’s a lot of fraud out there as well. It’s all part of the bigger story. And it all has to be balanced out.

For the record, the Dish has run a long series of posts on the horrors of crystal meth – here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, for instance. We’ve also aired many dissents over marijuana use – here, here, here, here, and here, for instance.