Saturday, 15 July 2006

Richard Goode - New Zealand's national drug policy

Richard Goode on a subject that is a sticking point for many libertarians, and potential libertarians.

Often said by libertarians that people are entitled to make mistakes, and that taking drugs is one of those. RG has a different view: that taking drugs is good.

"Let me explain."

To do that, we have to go all the way back to the Stone Age.

Technologically primitive then. Not so now. Stone, wood, pottery ... now steel, concrete, glass, titanium. Then, not even the wheel .. now the car, the rocket and the Segway.

Many, many examples of enormous advances in technology since the Stone Age. But not in the technology of recreational mood alteration.

Alcohol a blunt instrument, a lot good, and a lot bad. Essential to the selection of Libz office-holders.

Hungover in the morning as if you were poisoned? You have been: with acetaldehyde.

From book 'Life Extension': An ideal solution to the problem with alcohol would be to designa drug like alcohol but without the side effects. Fortunately, such a thing has already been done. Designed by Alexander Shulgin, it emulated the effect of two martinis; taken by test subjects, who enjoyed it a great deal, it became called 'Empathy.' It was prohibited in NZ in 1986.

There are others. All banned.

NZ has had a National Drug Policy since 1988. It has an overarching goal: to prevent and reduce harms caused by alcohol, tobacco and drug use. RG suggests if we are to achieve sucess we must address this 'harm minimisation' approach.

3 drug-related harms:
  1. harms inflicted by people on themselves by choice, or on others by their choice (for example in a smoky bar).
  2. harms inflicted on others without their consent
  3. harms inflicted by governments on their citizens.
Here on this last is where we Libz can can truly engage the debate. To point out the latter harms, and explain that the harms caused by governments in exercising prohibition are far greater than the harms that people voluntarily choose for themselves.
  1. punishments handed out to dealers and users, including sentences of life imprisonment
  2. hands the provision and supply of recreational drugs to the underworld, on a plate.
And arguably, the greatest harm caused by the War on Drugs has been to stifle research into new and better and safer recreational drugs.

Questions from the floor.

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