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A Force for Evil (1/18/06)

     I don't get a lot of e-mail from this site, but every now and then there's a gem.  One visitor writes to tell me that "MDMA is a trick from the devil.  It mimics the love of God...."  I've certainly never felt that good in a church; apparently I was ingesting the wrong sacrament.   (Why exactly ritual cannibalism became a core tradition of Christianity is another matter...)

    On a more serious note, another visitor tells me that this site helped him decide to try MDMA. There is...a certain moral ambiguity to such things. The Drug Warrior types would no doubt say that I'm worsening the drug problem by providing people with information that may make them less afraid of drugs.  The philosophy of 'harm reduction' takes a more subtle approach.  Instead of the simple logic of 'drugs hurt people, therefore the goal must be to end all drug use', the harm reduction camp says that, while drugs do indeed harm people, many of the dangers can be greatly reduced or even eliminated through education and other public health measures.

    Perhaps the most obvious example of this difference of opinion is needle exchange programs.  The hard-liners insist that such programs only encourage drug use.  The harm-reduction advocates argue that nobody decides whether or not to become or remain a heroin addict based on how easy it is to get needles, and we would be far better served by funding needle exchange and drug treatment programs instead of paying the staggering costs of end-of-life care for addicts who contract lethal diseases like HIV. (At its peak, about 10,000 Americans a year were catching HIV from injecting drugs with contaminated needles.  Today, with public education and needle exchange programs, that number has probably been cut by 70%. )

     Is it better to tell people everything we know about a drug, good and bad, or should we just try to keep them frightened and ignorant in the hope that they won't try drugs at all?  As a conservative, the answer seems obvious to me:  The people are not sheep to be 'managed'.  Whether people choose wisely or unwisely, they still must choose; it isn't the government's place to try to decide how to live for us.  If the American people are really far less wise than the American politicians, we deserve to wind up dead of an overdose.