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Recreational drug use is not a human right

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One of the common arguments for ending the so-called “war on drugs” is that the enforcement of drug prohibition policies has “led to widespread and serious human rights violations” around the world. Dr Robert DuPont, former White House drug chief, explains why he thinks the aim of protecting human rights actually justifies prohibition policies.

What is the relationship between international drug policy and human rights?

The issue, at least the way I think about it, is, “Is the right to use a drug in contravention of the law a protected human right?”

The narrower question is, “What is the United Nations’ human-rights position with respect to drug use?” It’s my understanding that the only U.N. convention that mentions drug use is the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which very clearly identifies the right of the child to grow up drug free, and establishes the responsibility of government to protect the child from drug use and drug trafficking. That, to me, is the human right to be protected, and it’s not a human right to protect adult drug users from laws.

In 1972, the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse recommended that simple possession of marijuana be decriminalized because the existing laws conflicted with the constitution – the implied right to privacy. How do you reconcile this?

The commission did not come out in favor of legalization. There was an argument about reducing the penalty, and, for practical purposes, that’s occurred in the United States. The number of people who go to jail for marijuana possession is essentially zero. The arrests are still widespread because it’s used so much, but the consequences tend to be … certainly not imprisonment.

I don’t think there’s a privacy right to use any drug, including marijuana.

Alcohol is widely used as an acceptable part of social activities. Why should it be treated differently than, say, marijuana?

Because of the history of the substances. If the roles were reversed, I think it would probably be difficult to approve alcohol – or tobacco, for that matter – today.

The way I try to be consistent is to have a policy that discourages the use of all these drugs, including, particularly, tobacco. I don’t think anybody, including me, is talking about a legal prohibition of alcohol or tobacco, but that’s not a reason to make the use of other drugs legal.

It seems there’s a powerful international movement that opposes the so-called “war on drugs” and the continuing prohibition of certain drugs, including marijuana. Why do you think that is?

We’re in a global epidemic of drug use that started in the 1960s. It’s never happened before in the history of the world. It’s clearly a global epidemic, and it’s an evolving epidemic. The most dramatic evolution taking place in the United States right now is the abuse of prescription drugs, particularly opiates. This is the fastest-growing illegal drug problem in the country, and the one that creates the most problems.

I’ve never heard anybody propose to solve the problem by legalizing the recreational use of oxycodone or hydrocodone. The only reason people talk about legalization is because they think the drug use itself is essentially benign – that’s the argument for marijuana – and people know that oxycodone use outside of medical practices is hardly benign. You’ve got more overdoses in the country now than traffic fatalities.

It’s hard to imagine dealing with the problem of oxycodone without it staying illegal. I think the legal line is useful for prevention and treatment.

Some countries, like Portugal, have eliminated most of the criminal penalties for simple possession as a way to try to reduce or discourage the use of hard drugs. And that, according to their evidence, seems to be working. What’s wrong with that approach?

Portugal refers drug users to treatment to encourage them to stop using, or to help them stop using. So, it’s not as though they just turn a blind eye to it.

I think it’s completely wrong to say that the world’s moving toward legalization of drugs. I don’t think it’s moving that way at all.

I think the diversity of approaches to the drug problem is actually very appealing, and that we’ll learn from experiences around the globe. I would be interested in somebody somewhere trying to legalize the drugs and seeing how they do. I just hope that nobody I know lives there when they do that, because I think the consequences would be bad.

I’m a medical doctor, a physician, and for me the issue has to do with understanding the brain. Drugs produce a powerful brain reward, and if they’re widely available and their use is sanctioned, there will be very grim consequences for public health and safety.

From my point of view, the legalization movement only exists in the context of prohibition. Once it’s actually in operation anywhere and people have access, and commercially develop access, to the abused drugs, I think the interest in legalization will diminish rapidly.

What’s your solution?

My view is that the best drug policy is the one that reduces the use to the lowest level. I would say, figure out what that is, and how to do that within the context of your society and its values.

The goal is to have drug-free citizens. Drug-using citizens are an economic drag on society, and drug addiction is modern chemical slavery. Promoting drug-free lifestyles is a matter of emancipation.

© Japan Today

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Promoting drug-free lifestyles is a matter of emancipation.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate IN THE WORLD. A third of those in prison are victimless crimes, e.g drugs.

The U.S. has more people in jail than CHINA. (2.3 million vs. 1.4 million) despite the enormous differences in population.

The NUMBER ONE reason that the U.S. leads the world in incarceration is the DRUG WAR.

How's that emancipation working?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I don't think a drugs free-for-all would be a good thing, mainly because I would be expected to support addicts who become unable to work through my taxes. A better solution would be for the government to supply registered addicts with drugs and try to wean them from their addiction. This takes the customers and money away from the dealers and cuts crime committed by the addicts. At the same time you clamp down on dealers, altering the risk/reward balance and making their business unattractive. This should reduce the supply of drugs on the streets and, eventually, reduce the number of addicts.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Drug-using citizens are an economic drag on society, and drug addiction is modern chemical slavery.

Ahh, this old lemon. But what is a drug? How about MSG, which suppresses the body's "I'm full" signal, resulting in people eating far more than they should - to the benefit of fast food companies and to the detriment of diners and the healthcare system?

As far as I'm concerned MSG is a far more dangerous drug than marijuana (although both give you "the munchies). Do we see legislation against MSG and similar compounds? No, because big business sells MSG. Let big business start selling marijuana and you'll see the price rocket, quality drop and ... oh, suddenly it'll be completely legal to sell to school kids as young as 5.

I'm NOT saying marijuana should be legal, I'm just pointing out that the arguments advanced in this article reek of such amazing hypocrisy that I'm appalled.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A bunch of biased rubbish. Completely sorry I wasted my time reading it.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The dopers will reelect Obama (an admitted cocaine user in his college days) and there will be no let up in the "war" on drugs and no victory either. The non-winning war is a billions of dollar boondoggle for millions of government employees chasing around to no effect, and government workers are what the democrats live for.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The actual problem is that now governments have the power to dictate to their constituents which they theoretically serve which substances may/may not , will/will not, must/must not injest. THAT is the crux of the human rights issue. Substances have been used by humanity for millenia, so the claims of this government-funded doctor though containing purported facts, are irrelevant in the human rights question. Furthermore, his statements about drug incarceration are patently false. He'a a propoganda puppet of the WH.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

For those who like to call drug use a "victimless" crime: go to Mexico sometime and ask around. You might change your mind.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Only an idiot believer self intoxication is a human right. Just as there is always child endangerment in the drug culture it should never be legalized in a sane society.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

How is self-intoxication not a human right?

And, Becker, seriously? The violence in Mexico is a result of the prohibition of drugs. The people there aren't ODing, they are being shot by gangsters.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

so, doest that mean alcohol will be illegal in non-islamic countries then ?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

he didnt answer a single question

7 ( +7 / -0 )

For those who like to call drug use a "victimless" crime: go to Mexico sometime and ask around. You might change your mind.

Wrong. If drugs were legal, violence in Mexico would disappear overnight. That is the biggest argument against the war on drugs and for drug decimalization.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

i thought America was quite religous? didn't the bible say Genesis 1:29"Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you" i we can smoke tabaccp why not grass? ;)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Since drug dependency is essentially incurable, addicts should be given a choice of permanent incarceration in the penal facility of their choice or deportation to Mexico, Laos or Afghanistan.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Becker More people die from inter drug gang violence than ever die from OD. Fact is more peiople die from tobacco and booze than drugs. argument that these are ok for historical reasons is ludicrous. Most drugs were legal until early last century when moralists in the US (around same time as Prohibition) got them declared illegal internationally.

War on drugs is wasteful and harmful and will never be won. time to try a new approach.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Mr. DuPont is doing a good job of talking to himself. If you were not paying attention, you might think this was an actual interview. It wasn't. Its DuPont asking and not answering his own questions.

He brings up alcohol, then sidesteps it. Alcohol is a drug and people use it for recreation. Look it up if you don't think its a drug. It is. And its recreational.

DuPont seems think that parents don't have a right to recreation, for the sake of the children! You see, any form of recreation can be taken to extremes. Imagine a father who spends each and every weekend fishing and never takes the kids! Plenty of people use marijuana responsibly. Plenty of people fish responsibly. Better to have a pot smoking responsible father, than a fishing father with no time for his children!

But, the real give away is at the end.

Drug-using citizens are an economic drag on society,

Its all about money! A pot smoker smoking homegrown is not a shopping addict. Is this DuPont not a member of the DuPont family, the ones that helped make the weed that Thomas Jefferson smoked illegal in order to protect their nylon investments? Because if he isn't, he sure sounds like it!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'm sure the biggest supporters of the war on drugs would be the big drug gangs. Prohibition is wonderful for adding value to illicit substances. The net result has been to enrich drug gangs, impoverish nations, and force addicts to deal with criminals.

While liquor and tobacco are harmful, they are strictly regulated, so at least you know what you are getting in terms of alcohol content, nicotine and tar, etc. Illegal drugs are made by criminals. Quality control, hygiene and labeling are non-existent. As a physician, Mr. DuPont must surely recognize that legalization + regulation is a better option than prohibition + a total absence of consumer protection.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This stuff upsers the natural Aquarium balance. For evrey thought there is a reaction, especially in the general population! One person has the capability to start a riot even in a temple!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Banning recreation is fine, but why stop at drug use? There are a lot more people having fun whose fun you could be killing off as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm sure the biggest supporters of the war on drugs would be the big drug gangs.

Second biggest. The biggest supporters are the leeches like Mr. DuPont, who made a career out of it in the Bush administration, and other such leeches on the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs, responsible for trying to sabotage Holland's liberal drug policies.

If it were truly the criminal gangs most in favor of the war on drugs, the folly would have ended by now. The trouble is that its the "official" people, who we are "supposed" to respect who are most in favor of this criminal interference in our private lives.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don’t think there’s a privacy right to use any drug, including marijuana.

I do think drugs are bad M'kay but..... why then is alcohol ok? There are lots of "drugs" in use, many of which are not particularly good for us......

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We’re in a global epidemic of drug use that started in the 1960s. It’s never happened before in the history of the world.

Opium wars?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The violence in Mexico is a result of the prohibition of drugs.

What would happen to the bad guys if drugs were legalized? Would they be cut out of the supply chain, would they go 'legit'? Would they use the legit money that could not now be confiscated to further other criminal ends?

Would the use of drugs increase - Access to the drugs would surely increase - so would legalizing drugs increase the supply-demand effect?

Have you ever driven while stoned? Were you fully in control? Would DUI (drugs) increase? Would road deaths increase?

Would controlling DUI (drugs) overburden a police force already overburdened by other stuff including DUI (alcohol) incidents?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@hatsoff

Would controlling DUI (drugs) overburden a police force already overburdened by other stuff including DUI (alcohol) incidents?

Ah, but how many officers would be freed up to deal with DUI incidents if they didn't have to spend their time chasing illegal drug-dealers and dealing with drug-related gang violence?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

lucabrasi - good point.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Scrote: I think you have a good idea. I wish that more people would be willing to think about education and rehabilitation programs seriously. A lot of people just want drugs to be gone or legalized but don't think about the full impact it can have on society.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Amazingly he somehow managed to blunder in the " think of the children"...wow

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So the pot-heads want Marijuana legalised, no surprise there then. People really want to sit around smoking joints, getting off your face stoned and making tits of yourselves while they listen to Jimmy Hendrix and watching swirly lights on the ceiling? Sad.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

hatsoff wrote: "Would they be cut out of the supply chain, would they go 'legit'? Would they use the legit money that could not now be confiscated to further other criminal ends?"

The answers are found in prohibition. Do you believe legal licensed sellers of alcohol are using their profits for other criminal ends today? Do you believe the mafia is more a problem today than in the 1920s?

There really is not much difference between the alcohol and marijuana prohibitions generally. Probably the biggest one is simply that alcohol was so ingrained in global culture that the people who fought it could not be fully labeled as deviants. So even the typical sheeple moron had trouble bending over for authority. Its not so with marijuana, so you see people bending over for Mr. Du Pont here and their other masters, ready and willing to trample the rights of those they have decided are "deviants" and "others". And even Presidents fear that inhuman mass of finger pointing and low IQ, because they are nothing if not persistent and remorseless. Remember the President who didn't inhale? You know he did. But he had to nod to the anti-pot gargoyles.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"ANYTHING WE WANT TO DO THAT DOESN'T HURT OTHERS IS A HUMAN RIGHT!"

Tell them Lowly said so!

(JohnBecker- The awful things happening in Mexico are simply evidence it should be decriminalized! Why should ppl die over a weed? Even if you and I don't want any, demand for it will never die, and criminalizing it simply means the business will be run by thugs. Criminalizing it directly puts money into the hands of gangs. To me this is self-evident.)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The anti-legalization drive in California (not medical, full legalization a couple yrs ago) against the legalization ballot was greatly supported by, if you look behind the NPOS giving money and making commercials, the big liquor companies, the big pharmaceutical companies, and DRUG RUNNING GANGS IN MEXICO.

Thye all want to keep it illegal for their various profit margins. I am sure now the ballots in Wash, Ore, and Col states are having the same propaganda wars funded by Mexican gangs right now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"And even Presidents fear that inhuman mass of finger pointing and low IQ, because they are nothing if not persistent and remorseless. Remember the President who didn't inhale? You know he did. But he had to nod to the anti-pot gargoyles."

That's a really nice bit there Ft13th. I will defo borrow some of that in the future.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yeah, nice writing, but Bush is widely known to have been an alcoholic coke-head and Obama too wrote about pot and coke use when young, writing before he ran. Clinton was more than 20 yrs ago now. People just don't care anymore. The finger pointers don't seem to have the same energy to get off the couch anymore, and the gargoyles are corroding and fragments of their heads and wings are beginning to fall from the battlements.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

An astonishing and vulgar display of american 'moral' arrogance on display.

It is widely believed among scientists that human development came about faster because of the ingestion of psychedelics.

Indeed the people who lived in the Amazon forests for the past 1000 years gave, when asked how they knew which plants to each and which would be cures, credit to their tribe shaman who ingested powerful psychedelics to help them survive in one of the harshest and unforgivable places on earth.

The world has to put a stop to america's perverted overuse of christian morality.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I died due to my recreational drug overdose.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is widely believed among scientists that human development came about faster because of the ingestion of psychedelics.

I think more often alcohol has been cited as a reason for civilization, what with all the farming, processing and organization it takes to make decent alcohol, as opposed to the fermented fruit picked up by monkeys. Its unfortunate that marijuana does not have that sort of history. And its moronic that Du Pont makes that lack of history out to be a legitimate strike against it. I could say the same about the lack of history of nylon and plastic!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

marijuana does have that history.

it is used worldwide and has been for thousands of years. it was apparently even in celtic britain millennia ago. china and jpn too. we just don't have the history about it because it is all taboo now. remember in islam that alcohol is prohibited. mj, or more often hashish are the relaxants of choice traditionally.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unless you're a doctor, pharmacologist, nurse, or someone with complete understanding of the effects of drugs on the human body you wouldn't understand the impact of drugs (including alcohol and tobacco) effect on the human body and how it can affect others around them.

As a professional in pharmacology, I would not legalise MJ for "recreational" purposes, but only for medical. All drugs have long term use effects on the brain and body. Unfortunately while opiates are still scheduled C2 (which allows controlled medical use in the US), marijuana is still scheduled C1(absolutely no legal medical use by US federal law). Hopefully MJ will be lowered to C2 in the US for its actual medical properties.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The author of this article does not disclose that he owns a drug testing company, Both he and the publication are choosing to deceive the reader by not informing readers of this fact.

The author doesn't take facts and arrive at a conclusion. He already has his mind made up and is looking for evidence to support it, and most of you guys take this as a reasoned argument. If he can get people to believe what he says is right, he makes money. This is not hard.

In any free nation, one of the most fundamental rights of a person should be to decide what happens to and what goes in one's own body. The right to take risks and make bad decisions are the hallmark of a free society. Until we outlaw alcohol, driving cars, skydiving, and swimming, people should not locked in cages for using drugs that are currently deemed illegal.

By far, the most harmful aspect of illegal drugs is the punishment for having them. Laws against illegal drugs corrupt the police and breed disrespect for the law. Arresting people for having drugs steals time away from a person, the most precious thing that we have. It disrupts families. And all of this is done needlessly.

It causes more harm than the actual drug. It is wrong. It is unjust. And it is all unnecessary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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