Tag Archives: Prohibition

Sex_Worker_Rights_-_London_SlutWalk_2011

Why Governments Always Exaggerate the Prostitution Threat

Although prostitution has been taboo for centuries, the current sex trafficking paranoia complicates the situation—both authorities and the public believe sex trafficking is far more common than it is.

To inflate the numbers, the American government includes people that know the sex workers personally, or who are just buyers as “pimps,” in the list. That being said, sex trafficking and human trafficking exists, butdecriminalization—that is, to stop regulating sex work among willing adults—is the only tool to fight back.

Prohibition Doesn’t Work

Prohibition in one form or another has been used for a long time without good results. Even Amnesty International now concedes that by decriminalizing sex work, resources can be devoted to preventing and resolving actual cases of trafficking, not paranoia supported by people with a narrow political agenda.

The only people who have always stood for sex worker rights are libertarians.

The sex trafficking paranoia is like the new War on Drugs and there is even a bipartisan consensus in opposing sex work. Conservatives usually oppose legalized sex work on religious, moral, or societal grounds. Even liberals often oppose it by saying that sex work oppresses women, or assume that all prostitutes are really victims of sex trafficking—or worse, are somehow culpable criminals.

Thanks to this paranoia, a teenage sex worker who was the victim of trafficking herself, was recently accused of human trafficking for getting in contact with another teenage girl while she was under influence of a violent pimp. This is a perfect example of victimizing the victims—exactly the opposite of what proponents of prohibition said would happen if their favored laws are enacted.

Continue reading on FEE 

Heroin_aufkochen

Drug War Intensifies, Opioid Deaths Increase

Last month, President Donald Trump appointed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the head of a task force aimed at curbing opioid use and abuse. On April 11, it was announced that Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino would likely step down from his current position to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) as the “drug czar.” However, increased drug control is unlikely to prevent drug-related deaths. Before instituting harsher drug policies, Christie and Marino must acknowledge that drug regulation has already made the situation deadlier.

Throughout his political career, Christie vowed to further regulate various drugs ranging from marijuana to heroin. Despite his “get tough” attitude on narcotics, his state has seen opioid deaths climb by 214 percent since 2010.  Yet Christie continues to make battling overdoses his top, and seemingly only, priority in his final year in office. He recently signed a bill into law that bars doctors from issuing a script of longer than five days for first-time painkiller prescriptions. It also requires that any prescription of a pain killer for acute pain is the “lowest effective dose.”

Similarly, in his time in Congress, Marino has focused a lot on drug issues. He introduced drug regulation bills in the house, including the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act which aims to stop drug trafficking across borders, and a bill that increases collaboration between the Drug Enforcement Agency and prescription pill companies.

Continue reading at FEE

Raceland_Louisiana_Beer_Drinkers_Russell_Lee

Call Off the Anti-Fun Crusade

Paternalists don’t always have nefarious designs when they place bans on unhealthy activities, but a “take your medicine” attitude toward improving people’s health has unintended, sometimes deadly consequences. And, too often, there is an illegitimate purpose to legislating lifestyle politics: ill-gotten gains for rent-seekers.

For those who thought the baptists and bootleggers coalitions of yesteryear disappeared along with Prohibition, consider its longevity.

Bans on Popular Activities

Rent-seekers and anti-fun lifestyle enforcers (still) make strange bedfellows. For example: The State of New York taxes cigarettes at a rate of $5.85 per pack, banned Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for twenty years, and has an Attorney General obsessed with shutting down Fantasy Sports. And in nearby Pennsylvania, century-old Blue Laws prohibit hunting on Sundays and limit liquor sales to government-run stores.

On the federal level, the FDA announced that it would begin to regulate e-cigarettes. So we have the baptist, in this case, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murphy calling for tighter restrictions on e-cigarettes, despite the evidence that youth smoking has declined and that “[r]educing youth access to e-cigarettes appears to increase youth smoking rates.” Then, we’ve got the bootleggers, tobacco companies whose profits are threatened by e-cigarette manufacturers.

Similarly, in Pennsylvania, anti-alcohol activists, or “new prohibitionists,” joined hands with government-liquor-shop unions to halt Blue Law reform.

Only through collusion could those new prohibitionists and their legislative allies manage to keep otherwise popular activities illegal. Before the legalization of MMA in New York and the modest reform of Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, both changes had overwhelming support.

If the politician and the rent-seeker can line their pockets while simultaneously keeping competition out of the market, why wouldn’t they?

Continue reading at FEE.

Cigarette

Raising The Smoking Age To 21 Is a Terrible Idea

California has raised the smoking age from 18 to 21, and jurisdictions around the country are following suit.

New York City and Chicago have already passed similar legislation, placing America’s three largest cities at the heart of a growing nationwide push for “Tobacco 21.”

This is a terrible idea. It treats 18 to 21 year olds — who are encouraged to work, vote, and fight for their country — as people incapable of making basic life choices. And it won’t even reduce youth smoking rates.

The legislation’s motive is can be found in a 2014 Surgeon General’s Report about the negative effects of tobacco on “young people” below the age of 21.

he report warns of the pressure teens face to smoke. “The tobacco epidemic”, the report states, “was initiated and has been sustained by the aggressive strategies of the tobacco industry, which has deliberately misled the public on the risks of smoking cigarettes.”

Some people may be influenced to smoke. But the negative health impacts of smoking are now so widely known — they are displayed on every pack of cigarettes — that it’s ridiculous to assume the health consequences haven’t been considered.

Some people, young and old, evidently weigh the risks and choose to smoke despite the potential health effects. For those who are addicted, there are ways to get help.

Unable to understand this choice, the surgeon general’s report, and the advocates of “Tobacco 21,” have resorted to assuming that “young people” must be incapable of resisting the “indoctrination” of the tobacco companies. They are therefore calling for legislation.

But this attitude is completely inconsistent with how 18 year olds are treated, both legally and culturally.

Eighteen year olds help decide who governs the country; they pay taxes; they routinely take on potentially crippling levels of student debt; fight our nation’s wars; and if they commit a crime they are tried and sentenced as adults.

Surely they can be trusted to choose whether or not to smoke.

For all this coddling of young adults, raising the smoking age won’t do anything to reduce smoking rates among actual adolescents.

Read the full article at The Daily Caller.

MMJ_Clones_Dispensary

The Fight Against Drug Prohibition Ain’t Over Yet

Too many people have had their lives ruined by by the war on marijuana. Too many people have gone to jail. Too many patients have been arrested for seeking out medicine to cure their ills. Too many children grow up with parents rendered nearly unemployable because of an arrest in their youth.

José Niño recently wrote an excellent post in this space, claiming that the end of marijuana prohibition would be not only inevitable, but would come swiftly. He calls others to action to tear down the wall of prohibition with their words, to unite, to fight to end the drug war now.

All of this is noble, but it is also important to be clear that prohibition will not end tomorrow. It will be a process that will take years of work by professionals who organize campaigns, who meet with legislators, who work within the government to implement the regulations that are key to public support for the end of cannabis prohibition.

Energy is not enough. It must be channeled in ways that prove to the public that the benefits are real.

Many grassroots reformers take the tides of social change as inevitable. In this case, I think they are. Cannabis prohibition will end in the United States, whether prohibitionists would prefer that or not.

Yet, that “inevitable” does not mean now, it might not even mean this decade. José rightly notes that public support sits at about 52 percent on any given day, and that this is far higher among younger people than older people.

Still, it will take years for the less supportive older generation to pass away and the more supportive younger generation to become dominant. At best, it will take a decade and some lucky political wins to bring the era of cannabis prohibition to a close. At worst, it could grind to a halt in the short term if something “goes wrong,” like a surge in crime in a legalizing state that laymen voters attribute to the change.

Read the rest at the PanAm Post…