Hey, Let’s Subsidize Crack!

Vancouver health officials will distribute new crack pipes to the city’s non-injection drug users this fall as part of a pilot project aimed at engaging crack cocaine smokers and reducing the transmission of disease such as hepatitis C.

The program, part of Vancouver’s harm reduction strategy, is expected to start in October and run for six months to a year, said Dr. Reka Gustafson, a medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health.

The intent is to connect health care workers with crack cocaine smokers to evaluate how many of the drug users are in the city and what equipment they need to lower their risk of catching diseases such as hepatitis C, HIV and even respiratory illnesses.

A kit with a clean, unused pipe, mouthpiece, filter and condoms will be handed out to the participants, Gustafson said. It’s not known at this time how many drug users will take part in the pilot, which is estimated to cost between $50,000 and $60,000.

“There’s been a shift to crack cocaine smoking and we want to make sure the services we provide are the services they need … if we’re providing syringes and what we need are pipes, we’re not serving them,” Gustafson said […] “It’s just understanding and knowing the health consequences of crack cocaine smoking.”
Which is why they’re going help facilitate its continued practice with taxpayer dollars. Because as long as you’re using a clean pipe, cocaine’s pretty much harmless, right?

I guess Canada has abandoned all pretense that self-destructive behavior shouldn’t be encouraged. And too bad they still haven’t figured out that prevention doesn’t decrease healthcare costs. One of Steyn’s commenters, Henry Hawkins, knocks this one out of the park:
The reason they want to get clean needles and crack pipes out on the street is because 95% of addicts don’t keep theirs clean, of course. However, once you’ve passed out a clean pipe or clean needle, **it’s only sterile for that first use**. From then on it’s dirty and stays that way. It will be used again. And again, and again, and again.

But Henry, they’ll teach them all about the importance of sterile works! They have a program and everything! And the addicts will ignore them. Such education programs have been common for over forty years. I’ve been working with addicts since 1986. There is a uniquely evil kind of ignorance that tells would-be do-gooders that the addict who won’t change his behaviors despite the likelihood of death by gunshot, overdose, AIDS, organic damage, mugging, and a thousand others ways an addict manages to die, will for some reason see the light and change out of fear of contracting hepatitis. If you want to kill an addict, give him uncut heroin or a government health department social worker. They are equally deadly.

So now, thanks to Vancouver Coastal Health, there will be many, many thousands more dirty pipes infected with hepatitis and other nasties out there in the addict community than there were before. Same number of addicts, just several thousand extra infected crack pipes, so the individual chance of infection is significantly raised.

But, but, but.. we give them pamphlets!

Arrrgh.
If you think it can’t happen here, think again. The nanny-state mentality is deeply entrenched in the minds of our ruling class, and where drugs are concerned, something tells me libertarians’ steadfast anti-government principles will evaporate right before our eyes.

New on RedState – Drug Legalization: A Bipartisan Bad Idea

My latest RedState post:
Hardcore libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and rabid leftist Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) have united for a cause near and dear to many a crank’s heart: drug legalization. The two have introduced a bill to all but end the federal War on Drugs. While their proposal would still let the feds prohibit the transfer of marijuana across state lines and keep it from entering the country, it would recognize the states’ authority to legalize pot within their borders if they so choose.
Constitutionally, it’s not the federal government’s job to handle the states’ internal affairs, and as we struggle to trim the fat from our debt-ridden, bureaucratic federal government, every little bit helps. Also, comparing the results of varying drug policies in newly empowered states would help us clearly see whether or not legalizers’ rosy predictions of safer narcotics and collapsing cartels actually come true.
So, is Paul-Frank a win-win? Not quite.
First, it’s simply insane to do anything federally that would increase drug use (and let’s not kid ourselves, that’s exactly what would happen) until after we’ve secured the southern border drugs are currently pouring across, and dismantled whatever federal programs currently force taxpayers to pay for drug users’ bad decisions.
Second, many of Paul and Frank’s supporters want to go further. In recent years, a growing number of voices on both sides have called for a wholesale end to drug prohibition. On June 16, Jimmy Carter wrote that American drug policies “destroy the lives of millions of young people and their families.” The far-left ex-president is in rare agreement with National Review, which on June 27 called the bill “an excellent first step” toward ending a war that has “curtailed personal freedom.” For leftists, drug use is a personal lifestyle choice, the condemnation of which would be the unpardonable sin of judgmentalism, while legalizers on the Right frame the issue around personal responsibility, suggesting it’s paternalistic for government to keep people from putting harmful things in their systems.

Conservative vs. Conservative on the Right to Light Up

National Review waves the white flag on marijuana, while Bill Bennett says not so fast
My take: denationalizing drug laws (except for interstate trade and foreign entry) is a good idea because, among other reasons, I think one of the best things that could happen for the debate would be our ability to compare the results of different state policies, and get a much clearer picture of whether or not leftists’ and libertarians’ pie-in-the-sky predictions about safer narcotics and collapsing cartels actually pan out. 
But it’s insane to do anything that would increase drug use until after we’ve both secured the border that drugs are pouring across and dismantled all federal programs that are forcing the taxpayers to pay for druggies’ bad decisions. 
In recent years I’ve been deeply troubled to witness how widespread libertine impulses on questions like this seem to have become on the Right. Hopefully the most vocal aren’t the most representative.

Coulter vs. Stossel on Drug Legalization

Not everyone on the Right has jumped on the “legalize it!” bandwagon. Here’s Ann Coulter on John Stossel’s Fox Business show, articulating the flip side of libertarians’ rosy predictions:
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Bad Argument of the Day

Whenever somebody wants to argue for keeping or making something legal, but doesn’t want to be seen as liking that something (like abortion or drugs), you can be sure he’ll deploy the argument that, well, that might be all well and good theoretically, but it just wouldn’t work in the real world, because people would still find ways to do it anyway.

Of course, laws are rarely enacted with the expectation that they’ll reduce something’s occurrence to zero or near-zero. Legal prohibitions are meant to identify what society finds intolerable, prevent as much of it as can reasonably be expected in a free, imperfect society, and punish those who do it anyway. The argument against prohibiting abortion or drugs because people will still obtain abortions and drugs is no more logical than it would be to argue that it’s pointless to prohibit murder, rape or robbery because in 2008 we had 16,272 murders, 89,000 rapes, and 441,855 robberies, despite long-standing laws firmly punishing all three.

Speaking of Ignoring the American Founding…

Concluding NRB’s recent drug legalization debate is a post entitled, “This is What Happens When the Founders’ Philosophy of Government Is Ignored.”  Setting aside the fact that just how the Founders would have treated drugs remains very much an open question, it seems to me that, given another recent NRB debate, a reminder of what else can happen when America’s founding principles are disregarded is in order. (Content Warning) Continue reading