Pubdate: Mon, 28 Apr 2003
Source: Rebel Yell (Las Vegas, NV Edu)
Copyright: 2003 Rebel Yell
Author: Cliff Schaffer
Bookmark: (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)



I am one of the founders of the Drug Reform Coordination Network, the 
organization that spawned Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. I also 
established the DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy, the world's largest 
online collection of research on drug policy at 
. I cannot comment on any issues with SSDP and its chapters but I have 
taught more people how to debate this subject than anyone else, so I can 
comment on Alexander Marriott's arguments.

Alexander misunderstands the argument about alcohol prohibition. The 
argument is not "one bad thing is legal, therefore other bad things should 
be legal." The argument is that prohibition only makes matters worse. Just 
because something is bad doesn't mean that prohibition is the best approach 
to the problem. In fact, prohibition only drives the problem underground 
where there are no controls. Alcohol prohibition is the best example. Among 
other things, it caused the biggest teen drinking epidemic our nation has 
ever seen.

Alexander's argument that people have a right to control what they put into 
their own body fails for a number of reasons. Even the people who wrote the 
original drug laws agreed with that idea, but it did not make any 
difference. That's why they wrote the laws as "tax acts" rather than 
outright criminal prohibitions. That argument has never been a significant 
legal issue at any time in the history of these laws.

In addition to being legally irrelevant, it doesn't persuade anyone who was 
not already persuaded to support reform. It is sad to say but most 
Americans really don't care about the Bill of Rights. Lots of them will 
tell you that "free speech" and similar protections only apply to "approved 

Another problem with the argument is simple perception. Lots of people 
interpret that argument as "I have a right to get loaded and do anything I 
want." That's not the argument being made, of course, but that's what other 
people hear. What people hear is not necessarily what you said, especially 
with the general hysteria surrounding drugs. They don't care that you want 
to get high and they really view it as selfish so no such argument will 
ever change their opinion.

Over the years I have debated literally thousands of people on this 
subject. To date, I have never seen any person who was persuaded to support 
drug law reform by the argument that someone has a right to use drugs.

Alexander can find references for all of the above facts, and discussions 
of his arguments at

CLIFF SCHAFFER, Director, DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy,
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