DEA Questions and Answers

By Marcello Gardani, 1996 August 18
Last modified 1999 January 10

English translation by Marcello Gardani,

Edited and phrased for web publication in English by Robert Waldrop

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a bureau of the United States government that is concerned with the repression of illegal drugs (narcotics traffic), has published a series of questions (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/legaliz/question.htm) for those who support the liberalization of drug laws. This is a challenge that should not be ignored.

Quoting the DEA statement:

"There was consensus among the participants at the Anti-Legalization Forum, too, on the need to ask a number of questions of those proposing legalization. Too often, the specifics of how to implement a system for distribution and sale of legalized drugs are never discussed. Instead, simplistic rhetoric is used to deflect serious consideration of the many questions that must be thought through before one can evaluate the ramifications of their proposals. This is the great weakness of the pro-legalization position. Participants in the Forum suggested that the following questions be asked consistently in order to illustrate the shallowness of the legalization concept. "

My answer:

I enthusiastically accept this challenge from the DEA and will answer each question in detail.

My answers are grounded in the principle of the individual right of self-determination, which is my "Source of Rights" and "First Principles":
"Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

This allows to everyone the right to the search for happiness, but does not give anyone the right to harm other human beings or violate their equal and absolute right of self-determination. (Anyone who is interested in a deeper understanding of these topics - and can understand Italian - can read "L'Anticostituzione" (A Constitution Against the Constitution) ( anticos2_ToC.html) at this website.

1. Should all drugs be legalized?

We start from the individual right of self-determination: "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

Citizen X therefore has the right of using his property in order to produce drugs.

Citizen Y therefore has the right of using his property in order to buy drugs produced by Citizen X. Citizen Y has the right of using his body to consume the drugs.

(If you are thinking about people with mental handicap, please see my answer to the third question. ).

The answer to this question is therefore

"Yes".

(Each drug must be legalized, or decriminalized. Nobody has the right of preventing - by the use of violence - the production, trade, and consumption of intoxicating drugs).

2. Who will determine which segments of the population will have access to legalized drugs?

We again start from the individual right of self-determination. "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

This right does not permit any distinction among citizens. Each person is sovereign for himself. The answer to this question is therefore:

"Nobody. "

(That is, nobody has the right to use coercion and violence to permit some people and forbid others from using drugs).

3. Will they be limited only to people over eighteen?

We start from the individual right of self-determination. "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

This right can be exercised by those who are able to understand it.

A one month old child is not able to understand it or apply it. A child six years old may be able to better understand it, at eleven years of age there may be still more understanding, a child forty years old may have even more understanding. Nevertheless, there is no precise limit (eighteen years? twenty-one?) that delimits understanding and free will. That is, just because someone is age 17, doesn't mean that they can understand anything better or worse than someone who is 21 or 42 or 82.

Further, each person is different, and unfortunately, there are some who are obviously unable to exercise free will at whatever age. Therefore, every arbitrary limit (eighteen years? eighteen years, two months and three days?) is simply absurd.

The best solution is to consider persons to be "of age", that is, capable of exercising the rights and responsibilities of free will, all those people who make such a declaration, as a sovereign juridical act, to be "adults" and therefore responsible for their actions and decisions. This declaration can be considered to be "automatic" at a certain age (e. g. twenty years), with perhaps exceptions for those who are developmentally challenged and disabled.

Therefore, the answer to this question is:

Every person that, independently from their age, subscribe to a declaration claiming that they are able to understand and accept their rights and responsibilities will have the full right of using intoxicating drugs.

4. Will cocaine, heroin, LSD, and PCP be made available if people request them?

The answer to this question is obviously contained in the answer to question #1 and is:

Yes.

5. Who will sell drugs? The government? Private companies?

We start from the individual right of self determination: "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

From answer 1 we know that each citizen that is not feeble-minded can produce, sell, and use whatever kind of intoxicating drug. Therefore, private companies may also sell drugs. In theory the State, too, could sell drugs. Moral reasoning persuades us that it is better for the government to not earn revenue by selling products noxious to citizen's health (such as intoxicating drugs, alcohol, and tobacco). Nevertheless, this is not a duty that may be enforced with violence.

Therefore the answer is:

Everybody can sell drugs.

6. Who is responsible for damages caused by drug use and the activities of those taking drugs?

We start from the individual right of self determination. "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

This principle is valid not only for the State, but also for every citizen. By virtue of this principle, you are allowed to consume intoxicants, but you are not allowed to violate the individual right of self-determination of another person.

Therefore, if, by consuming drugs, you damage somebody else, you are responsible for all of the consequences against the body and the property other persons. The State may enforce such consequences, whether they be economic or criminal.

Therefore the answer is:

The person who is responsible for the damages produced by consumption of intoxicants is the one who consumes them.

7. Who will collect the revenues generated by the drug sales?

We start from the individual right of self determination. "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

Therefore, if you obtain income from the selling of intoxicants, nobody may take those revenues from you by violence.

Therefore, the answer is:

Those who sell the intoxicants will collect the revenues.

8. How will a black market for cheaper drugs be controlled?

The question is childish.

The black market for cheaper drugs will be controlled exactly in the same way as we control the black market for cheaper ham and for cheaper bicycles.

Free competition in the marketplace governs price competition. Only limitations enforced by law can give birth to a black market.

Therefore the answer is:

There will be no black market for cheaper drugs.

9. Who will bear the costs to society of increased drug use?

This question is disingenuous and misleading (but is still a better question than #8).

The "damages to society" do not exist. All "damages" exist in the form of harm to individuals and groups of individuals (the "set" is "all existing persons"). Thus, "costs to society" do not exist, as society is totally composed of individual human persons.

People that ask questions like this are usually trying to confuse the issue, in order to introduce a concept ("society") that is a pretext for violating the rights of all human persons to be respected in their own self-determination. It is through the linguistic subterfuge of harmless words such as - "costs for society" - "the common good" - "the popular will" - that "Legal Organized Crime" tramples on the individual rights of the human person.

Furthermore, the question contains an unproved a priori assumption: liberalization of laws regarding intoxicants will produce increased use of intoxicants. The DEA's demonstration of this ( http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/legaliz/claim3.htm) is not persuasive. Many believe that liberalization will produce a reduction in the use of intoxicating drugs. If the price of intoxicating drugs goes down, this may be an economic factor increasing drug use, but liberalization also removes the "forbidden fruit" aspect of drug use, which will tend to reduce drug use. Other social attitudes may come into play, such as connecting drug use with being stupid, or low class, or "something that we just do not do". All these things may operate to reduce the amount of drug use. It will still be considered to be a "vice" by many.

The fact is, nobody can accurately predict what is going to happen in regard to the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other intoxicating drugs over the next ten, one hundred, or one thousand years, and that includes the DEA.

By reformulating the original question in the following way - "Who will bear the costs of the damages produced by use of intoxicating drugs?" - this question is identical to question six:

The answer is then identical:

The person responsible for the damages is the person who consumes the drugs.

10. How will absenteeism and loss of productivity be addressed by business?

Again, the DEA is more than a little disingenuous and a priori assumptions. This question takes for granted, without demonstration, that there will be increases in absenteeism and loss of productivity. So, even though this is not an honest question, we will consider it anyway.

We start from the individual right of self determination. "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

From this principle we derive the:

Corollary of Contract: Each person is free to contract with any other person regarding matters relating to his person and/or his properties.

Therefore, businesses and employees can draw up whatever contract seems appropriate and prudent governing their relationships.

In this contract, the two parties may agree that the absenteeism and loss of productivity that comes from using tobacco, alcohol, and intoxicating drugs must be charged to the business, or to the employee, or to both parties.

Alternatively, the contract may establish that the employee cannot consume tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, under the punishment of being dismissed.

Whatever agreement that is freely entered into by each party is acceptable and resolves the question.

The answer is then:

The absenteeism and the loss of productivity that result from drug consumption will be managed according to the terms of the employment agreement signed by the two parties.

11. Will the local drug situation in a community dictate which drugs are sold where?

We start from the individual right of self determination. "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

The mere fact of residing in one community or another does not give anybody

the right of violating the self-determination of the human person.

Therefore the answer is:

No. Every drug can be sold in every community.

12. How will society care for and pay for the attendant social costs of increased drug use, including family disintegration and child neglect?

As we have already emphasized, "society" is an abstract concept that facilitates special pleadings. This question is related to the costs charged to the State (not to "society") because of the deleterious effects that result from consumption of intoxicating drugs. For the purpose of this discussion, let us limit our consideration to the question of family disintegration and child neglect.

The question assumes, again without demonstration, that there will be an increase in drug use following liberalization of the laws.

Further, it suggests, again without demonstration, that there will be an increase in "social costs", including family disintegration and child neglect.

It also includes the a priori assumption that the State has the right, for the admittedly praiseworthy initiative of helping families in crisis and neglected children, to exercise violence against people in order to extort from the people the funds necessary to help such families.

But it is not proper to seek a good end by evil means.

The proper way to help families in crisis is by voluntary donations or loans, and not be the method of taxation (which is a legal extortion). The man that extorts money from you by violence is a criminal, whether it is the State, or a member of the Mafia, or a juvenile delinquent.

You, and only you, have the right to decide if your moral and religious principles allow you to not notice the drama of families in crisis and neglected children.

Therefore the answer is:

Assistance to families in crisis and neglected children will be charged to all people that will freely decide to contribute for this purpose. The State will be allowed to intervene only to the extent that the First Principles are not violated, which excludes the use of taxation for this purpose.

13. Will people still need prescriptions for currently controlled medications, such as antibiotics, if drugs are legalized?

It is sufficient to substitute the word "anti-biotics" with the one "drugs" in question #1 to realize that the answer is:

No.

(Nobody will be allowed to exercise violence to prevent the selling of medication to another person who has no medical prescription. )

Regarding this, we may also say that if you are ill and you think that a certain medicine may save your life, you may be wrong, but it is your life that is in danger, it is your good that you desire. You, and only you, has the absolute right of deciding about the purchase and use of medication. The final decision belongs to you.

On the contrary, some people think that a group of bureaucrats, sitting at a desk, may understand better than you questions regarding your health.

The State, as every other association composed of human beings, is allowed to suggest therapeutic treatments, or advise against them, but cannot oblige you to undergo treatment.

Only an arrogant State can pretend to know what is good for you.

Only a criminal State presumes to prevent - by the use of violence! - you from buying a medicine that you think may save your life!

14. Will legal drugs require prescriptions?

The answer to this question is found in questions one and thirteen above.

Therefore the answer is:

No.

(No drug will need a prescription).

15. Can anyone, regardless of physical or medical conditions, purchase drugs?

This question is already included in question 3.

Therefore the answer is:

Anyone, regardless of physical or medical conditions, will have the right of purchasing drugs.

16. How will we deal with the influx of people to the United States who will seek legal drugs?

We start from the individual right of self determination. "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

This right is independent from the fact of being citizens of the United States or any other State, because this is a universal right, that pertains to each human person, for the simple reason that he exists.

Therefore the answer is:

As tourists.

That is, the influx of people (assuming there is such an influx) will not receive any particular treatment other than that given to ordinary tourists entering the U. S.

17. Can we begin a legalization pilot program in your neighborhood for one year?

We start from the individual right of self determination. "Nobody has the right of violating another person's right of deciding about his body and his property".

This right is independent of the geographical local of the person, independent of time and certainly, the "Rights of Man" are independent of "experimentation".

Therefore, the answer is:

Yes.

(It is necessary to decriminalize the consumption of intoxicating drugs now, everywhere, forever).

18. Should the distribution outlets be located in the already over-burdened inner city?

Distribution outlets for ham or bicycles should be located in the over-burdened inner cities or elsewhere? This question will be decided by the marketplace for ham and bicycles, in the same way that the consumption and distribution of intoxicating drugs happens.

Therefore the answer is:

People that will sell drugs will freely decide where to situate their outlets.

Final Considerations

These questions posed by the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency intentionally ignore some very interesting aspects of this situation. These should be pointed out for all to understand.

Death Comparison

In Italy, the number of annual deaths caused by tobacco are (approximately) 80,000 - by alcohol 17,000 - by illegal drugs, 1,000. Nevertheless, the first two are legal and the last category is illegal. You can check this reference (lost link: http://www.frc.org/townhall/FRC/insight/is95c2dr.html) for U. S. data (400,000 annual deaths caused by tobacco) or the world data.

I encourage you to see if the differences are statistically significant, but I do not expect there will be a big difference.

Why, then, do governments rage only against the currently illegal drugs?

It is sometimes argued that tobacco deaths occur only among those who are old enough to no longer be productive, that is, the elderly . Yet, if you retire at age 60 and you die at age 75, the State will pay your pension for 15 years. But if you contract lung cancer and die at 70 years of age, the State will only have to pay 10 years of your pension, even if it has collected the same amount of compulsory contributions as it does from others who live longer. Therefore, the State actually "profits" if you die in advance.

Deaths from alcohol consumption may also follow a similar pattern (tending to be older, not younger).

But deaths from illegal drugs are mostly young people, who die before the State has much of a chance to exploit them for either taxation or military service. Perhaps this is one of the reasons? ("Dulce et decorum est pro Patria mori" - it is sweet and honorable to die for our Homeland - is an invention of the Homeland...

Obermeyer ( http://www.grp.mtu.edu/lode/archive/95/09/29/editorial/topeditorial092995.html) suggests that a factor driving the "War on Drugs" is the money and property the State collects by seizing the profits and properties of those convicted of selling and possessing drugs. These "asset forfeitures" in 1992 in the U. S. alone exceeded one billion dollars. Italy, with the noble diligence that it always shows in copying whatever stupid new idea comes from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, has also created a new law that provides to the Italian State hundreds of billions of liras from the expropriation of the properties of those convicted of drug crimes.

Is it possible that Obermeyer is totally wrong? A well known Italian proverb says, "A pensar male si fa peccato, ma spesso ci si indovina" - that is, "thinking to an evil intention is a sin, but usually one guesses right".

Nevertheless, we cannot be sure that such cynical reasons explain why some drugs are illegal and some drugs are legal, simply because we are using logic. Maybe these are too sophisticated for simple spirits such as the majority of the world's rulers.

There may be historical and cultural reasons. Wine and alcohol has been used in European cultures, as well as many other cultures, from earliest times; other substances were used by other cultures, and only spread to the West over the past 100 or so years. Tobacco is America's contribution and it has only been in the last few decades that its carcinogenic properties have been known.

Finally, we should not underestimate the power of human idiocy, that is, the "popular madness and delusions of crowds", which is the main reason for which multitudes accepted and helped nearly every collective crime ordered in every age, from the crucifixion of Christians to the burning of witches, from the transformation to soap of the Jews to the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Savings in the Costs of State Violence

In producing the questions answered in this paper, the DEA worries about the large monetary costs due to drug relegalization, because of the anticipated alleged increase in consumption. However, they deliberately ignore the huge costs inherent in the violent suppression of this trade.

I do not have the specific figures, but - at least for the U. S. - liberalization of the drug laws would allow:

  1. The immediate dismissal of all the staff that works for the DEA.
  2. The immediate dismissal of all policemen that are usually allocated to this repression.
  3. The immediate dismissal of all the magistrates concerned with these trials.
  4. Monetary savings related to the costs of incarcerating all the prisoners convicted for the use and distribution of drugs, which is (http://paranoia.lycaeum.org/stories/bust/prison.html) US $38,000 per prisoner per year (3,000 grams of gold each).

Following some sources (dead link: http://www.townhall.com/frc/insight/is95c2dr.html ), the annual expense in the US is as much as ten BILLION US dollars (or 800,000,000 grams of gold). Other sources (http://www.drcnet.org/) suggest as much as fifty BILLION US dollars (4,000,000,000 grams of gold). That same source estimates one TRILLION dollars (80. 000. 000. 000 grams of gold) as the total cost of the catastrophic war on drugs in this century in the United States.

If you have at your disposal other relevant data about the sums saved in this way, draw your own conclusions (but please, send me your results, in order to incorporate them here!).

Drug legalization will create two new categories of unemployed persons:

  1. Illegal drug traders, who will be deprived of their illegal market, and
  2. Policemen and bureaucrats concerned with its suppression, who will be deprived of an artificial enemy.

We shall not miss either "workforce"

Punishment of the Responsible.

It is not appropriate to end a crime (such as the present repression of the legitimate drug market) without providing proper punishment for those responsible for the crime.

One can ask if it is right to punish policemen and magistrates that applied the laws created by anti-drug parliamentarians, and if the ex post facto nature of these measures is legitimate. The answer to these questions is:

Yes.

"Legal criminality" does not cease to be criminal, just because it is legal (this would seem to be established by the Nuremberg Trials after World War II). Legal criminality cannot constitute a reason for avoiding punishment for wrong actions.

Policemen, magistrates, and members of parliament, when they passed anti-drug laws, violated the inalienable human rights of human persons. They committed crimes against mankind by exercising arbitrary violence against people voluntarily choosing to consume drugs. They were completely conscious of treading on the right of self-determination. The fact that they "passed a law" is no excuse, because nobody forced them to carry out that job. They could have refused to carry out the unjust laws, based on the application of their own conscience, but the money they were earning was more important to them than protection of human rights.

The situation is similar to that of the National-Socialistic killers responsible for murdering the Jews, or the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia who massacred people by hitting them on the head with farm implements - people whose only crime was that of speaking a foreign language. Such people could hardly complain if asked to account for their crimes. If those killers were not under threat of death themselves, they could refuse to obey the orders, but they did not do so. This suggests that they intentionally wanted to commit such crimes. Therefore, they are as guilty as those who ordered the crimes.
They are murderers and must be punished as murderers.

Their punishment must be proportional to the damage they inflicted, both for violence directed against the body or against the property of the victims. The one who unfairly damages you to the extent of $1,000 must at least compensate you with $1,000 dollars.

The one who unfairly puts you in prison for a month must at least spend a month in the same prison (unless he offers another compensation that you believe is sufficient, at your discretion).

The one who unfairly killed you mut be killed, either physically or in practice, with a life sentence of hard labor.

Why?

Because there is no alternative to justice other than injustice.


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