Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein recently introduced the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017. This act would create a “Schedule A” classification, banning importing new synthetic drugs deemed “substantially similar” to existing illegal drugs before testing their safety. If passed, the SITSA Act will be another step down the unfruitful path of prohibition.
Prohibiting a drug causes more problems than it solves. When a substance is banned, people can no longer rely on the government to enforce contracts for the sale and transport of the substance. This means that the only way to protect property and selling rights is through violence. Drugs don’t cause violent crime—prohibition does.
On May 31, Ross Ulbricht lost his appeal with the Second Circuit appellate court. He will serve out the remainder of his life sentence, a sentence passed down in part due to allegations that he commissioned multiple murders-for-hire. Whether or not Ulbricht ordered these hits, his case illustrates how, by criminalizing drugs, the United States government has created an institution that incentives violence.
Ulbricht did not begin with violent intentions. He was an Eagle Scout who founded The Silk Road as a beacon of freedom. He agonized over the idea of a hit: As Wiredreports, “He had talked to Inigo [an employee] about how he just wishes the best for people, and loves them in the libertarian spirit—even Green [Ulbricht’s first alleged target], in flagrante delicto.” But for Ulbricht and others involved in the drug industry, violence was in his self interest…
Today on the podcast, Stephen Kent and Lucy Steigerwald discuss the Office of Drug Control Policy and 2018 budget from the White House that shows a 95% cut to their budget. Is this cause for excitement if you want to see the drug war wound down? Lucy is reluctant to celebrate.