Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Natural Order of Drug Use

Apr 15, 2005 1:03 am

The Natural Order of Drug Use

After reading Robert Locke’s essay “Libertarianism: The Marxism of the Right” which is linked to in Gene Healy’s perceptive post directly below my first thought was now there is somebody who really does not know very much about the true nature of the state.

Locke puts forth an abundance of nonsense but I want to deal with one particular passage. He writes; “Libertarians argue that radical permissiveness, like legalizing drugs, would not shred a libertarian society because drug users who caused trouble would be disciplined by the threat of losing their jobs or homes if current laws that make it difficult to fire or evict people were abolished. They claim a “natural order” of reasonable behavior would emerge. But there is no actual empirical proof that this would happen.” Now, if you equate historical fact with empirical proof then his last sentence here is dead wrong.

During the latter half of the 19th century there was an almost total absence of laws prohibiting or regulating the use of drugs. Opium and its derivative morphine were widely available in many forms to anyone who cared to use them. Yet, when the New York Times index is searched for opium you see a story in its first year, 1852, that would have to be considered favorable to the drug and then that word is not seen again until 1875. For twenty-three years the use of opium did not cause enough of a problem for even one story to be written about it in the nation’s paper of record.

In “The Mythical Roots of U.S. Drug Policy: Soldiers Disease and Addiction in the Civil War“ author Jerry Mandel brilliantly demonstrates how supposed concern over and problems caused by drug use in the late 19th century are in reality artifacts of the progressives’ desire to prohibit in the early 20th century.

My favorite Thomas Szasz quote comes from 1974’s Ceremonial Chemistry. Dr. Szasz wrote, “ We seemed to have learned little or nothing from the fact that we had no problems with drugs until we quite literally talked ourselves into having one: we declared first this and then that drug ‘bad’ and ‘dangerous’; gave them nasty names like ‘dope’ and ‘narcotic’; and passed laws prohibiting their use. The result: our present ‘problems of drug abuse and drug addiction.’”

The above are an article and a book that I wish Mr. Locke and many other conservatives would read before they take up the subject of drug prohibition again.

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