Friday, 29 June 2007

BZP ban violates first law of street economics

Ban things, and you create a black market. It's the first law of street economics. It's so simple even gangsters know it.

Sadly, it's not simple enough for politicians .

Ban drugs, whatever the drug, whatever the reason, and the people who celebrate loudest are the dealers. Every time an American president declares a War on Drugs (TM), cocaine suppliers in Medellin celebrate because their prices go through the roof. Every time an American president bombs Medellin and takes out a supplier, the other dealers in Medelling celebrate because they have one less competitor ... and their prices go through the roof.

With Jim Neanderton's announcement today of a "ban" on BZP-based party pills, honest suppliers of party pills will be lamenting, but dishonest suppliers won't be. Those bastards will be rubbing their hands with glee: Neanderton has just restricted their competition, and given those who remain in the business a license to print dirty money. Neanderton has made himself their benefactor. Here's why:
  • Prohibition doesn't get drugs off the street. The government can't even get rid of drugs in the controlled environment of a prison, so they certainly can't get rid of them from the relative freedom of our streets -- and in trying to get rid if them they only succeed in curtailing that freedom in the process.
  • Outlawing drugs doesn't make them go away; it simply puts them in the hands of outlaws, and in the hands of the soft targets on whom the outlaws focus.
  • Prohibition limits demand a little, but it limits supply a lot -- as every economics student knows, this pushes up prices a lot, and gives remaining dealers a profit on a plate.
  • Prohibition means people don't stop consuming drugs they just change the drugs they're consuming. BZP-based party pills are safer than both alcohol and tobacco. The drugs party pill users will replace them with won't be.
  • Prohibition makes buyers less interested in quality, and more interested in "the high"; it makes dealers less interested in quality and safety, and more interested in making as much as they can to make up for the risk. Hence Milton Friedman's Iron Law of Prohibition: "Prohibition encourages dealers to produce and provide the stronger, more harmful product. If you are a drug dealer in Hackney, you can use the kilo of cocaine you own to sell to casual coke users who will snort it and come back a month later – or you can microwave it into crack, which is far more addictive, and you will have your customer coming back for more in a few hours. Prohibition encourages you to produce and provide the more harmful drug."
  • Prohibition puts the quality and safety of the drugs your children are consuming (your children are the dealers' soft targets) in the hands of criminals and corrupt police. These people don't care who their consumers are, or what they're consuming.
The people celebrating the most at the announcement that BZP based party pills are being banned will be the dealers. They've just been guaranteed an enormous profit, and Jim Neanderton has ensured that the quality and safety of the drugs people will still consume are in the hands of scum.

You'd think he would learn from history, that prohibition achieves precisely the opposite result to that intended. (Yes, it's our old friend the Law of Unintended Consequences yet again.)

Prohibition: Learning from history

As always, The Onion makes learning from history easy by making the lesson itself so blindingly obvious. (Click on the page to read.)
The Onion - 18th Amendment

You'd think the message would be sufficiently obvious enough even for the likes of Jacqui Dean and Jim Neanderton, wouldn't you? The message is simple enough even for the likes of them:

Never has.

UPDATE: Lindsay Perigo gives "Adolph Anderton" some more to think about:
SOLO Press Release:
It's Not Your Body, Adolf Anderton!

The Socialist Republic of Aotearoa-New Zealand's descent into full-blown tyranny, fresh from its straitjacketing of journalists, cameramen and photographers covering proceedings in the Republic's Reichstag, accelerated further today with the announcement by Associate Health Minister Adolf Anderton that BZP, the active ingredient in party pills, will be made illegal from next year...

"What people put in their own bodies is their own affair. The ingestion of truly harmful substances should be a matter of rational dissuasion, not criminal sanction. Herr Anderton, however, is interested only in indulging his own congenital control-freakery to ensure that everyone is as miserable as he is. He ought to get out more, though it's understandable that no one invites him anywhere.

"I would urge Adolf's physician to place him on a course of Euphoria, to counter his natural misery hormones," Perigo concludes.
Read the full press release here.

UPDATE 2: Mad as hell and not going to take it any more? Julian Pistorius is: "This is bullshit. Let's organise a protest march in Auckland and Wellington, before the bill goes ahead. Who's with me? If you want to help, join this group: "
Who's with him? How mad are you?

UPDATE 3: Says Lindsay Mitchell, "It's richly ironic that at a time when worries about gang culture are foremost the government has gifted them party pills. And let's not forget who nagged them into it."

UPDATE 4: Jameson has an obvious point that needs making: This is less about well thought-out policy, and more about Anderton trying to assuage his own guilt
[Anderton] abjectly failed as a father to rationally dissuade his own daughter from becoming a drug addict, and I imagine he's still suffering the guilt of her eventual suicide. Once again, a politician’s own inadequacies have become our problem that needs to be fixed. Totalitarian cunt.
That won't stop him becomeing guilty twice over when former party pill consumers prohibited from their relatively harmless pleasure turn instead to something more harmful. Let him add what Russell Brown points out to his guilt trip:
Party people will not suddenly start going to bed early. Some might soldier on with alcohol as a social lubricant, others will seek illegal drugs. Patterns of methamphetamine use may change, with P -- smoked methamphetamine -- retaining its social stigma, but snorting seen (with some justification) as a less risky means of consumption.
Well done Jim.

UPDATE 5: Liberty Scott weighs on on the side of the angels:
You Don't Own Your Body, the Government Does: Jim Anderton's proud announcement, like big daddy telling off all the children - that it's good for them and they wont be allowed party pills anymore, is utterly sickening. It is immoral and it wont work. You see the point to me is simple.

I own my body because I am an adult. As a result of that, I have the right to ingest whatever the hell I like.I hope the families and friends of those who get ruined because the quality of BZP plummets and becomes more poisonous, or those who fear admitting to doctors they take it for fear of being prosecuted, or those prosecuted for the crime of putting something into their own bodies, go and thank Anderton, Jacqui Dean and the other fascists against personal freedom for repeating a failed policy. Can't the likes of them (and the MPs who will support it like the robots they are) leave peaceful people alone?
UPDATE 6:As do the Greens: Prohibition is Not the Answer - Metiria Turei

UPDATE 7: Blair Anderson, the chap who brought out Ex-Scotland Yard drug boss Eddie Ellison to talk sense a couple of years ago, says Anderton Should be Embarrased:
Elevating BZP into an illicit drug rather than improve a legally regulated regime abrogates his own duty 'of care'. Passing control to criminal networks looses not only controlled manufacture and distribution chains, it entrenches failure. The guy is an idiot, and those who serve under him are afflicted by his moral hysteria.
He has a lenthy post highlighting "our erroneous ABC drug classifications system" that is worth reading. The graph below from the Lancet, relating a Mean Harm Rating to summarises just one part of the folly of the ABC system. Do you see the nonsense that drug policy caused by moral panic has become?
RELATED: Victimless Crimes, Politics-NZ


  1. Is "Neandreton" a refference to Neanderthal? Good post

  2. The Herald has a very good editorial up.

    Re the march - BZP is a lot less damaging than hitting kids. This is a chance for you to get your mojo back.

  3. I thought "banderton" was better

    "banning" and "bandit"


    Thanks for the thoughtful post PC (notwithstanding the usual contribution from Mr Perigo).

  4. Beside the point I know, but for a press release, I’m not sure what Perigo was thinking of with his comment on the Strength Through Joy programme controlling Hitler’s ‘young subjects’ bodies’. Kraft durch Freude was essentially a state-funded vacation programme for working Germans of all ages. A relatively popular policy, it had an uptake of over 10 million by 1939 and was voluntary, I believe.

  5. interesting that Turei wants to classify BZP with cigarettes and alcohol as a "legal" class D Drug under the misuse of drugs act - an act for illegal drugs.


  7. My fingers cut so I cant' type.

    I hope that people call for Anderton to resign when pure methanthetamine use rises massively in 6 months time.

  8. I agree BZP is not a good drug.There is need of more research on this drug.My site sells BZP and TFMPP powder for research purpose.

  9. interesting; powders just for research purposes.


Comments are moderated to encourage honest conversation, and remove persistent trolls.