Portrait of Philip Seymour Hoffman in a suit and tie

Would ending the drug war save people like Philip Seymour Hoffman?

Philip Seymour Hoffman died of what appears to be an accidental overdose. He did not commit suicide. The factors that contributed to the “accidental” part of his death are rarely the topic of discussion. An adult the US  can lawfully purchase the drug they call alcohol and rely on a certain % of the intoxicating agent and therefore be able to regulate, with some degree of accuracy, that agent and avoid overdosing. Mr. Hoffman, because of the failed, yet ongoing war on drugs, was required to obtain his intoxicating agent in an unregulated market where he could not be assured of  a % of potency, nor any assurances.

The drug war killed Mr. Hoffman is as correct a statement as his personal choices led to his early demise. Mr. Hoffman was a very intelligent man. If he had a lawful way to obtain regulated heroin that he could count on a known % of intoxicant, like any person who consumes the drug alcohol, and thus be able to regulate it more effectively, would he have been smart enough not to overdose himself? I don’t know, but logic would lead me to the conclusion that he would stand a better chance with the known, regulated intoxicant.

We make the gravest of mistakes when we believe that we have the moral authority, the right, in anyway, to require by force, that a person who is doing you no harm, be required to consume or refrain from consuming what every intoxicant, they, not you choose. When you involve the government to take a person’s liberty from them for consuming an intoxicant that you don’t approve of it makes you a full participant in the drug war, on the side of the drug warriors.

In places like the Netherlands, through the churches, they distribute all forms of drugs. Yes, heroin too. They have a much lower drug use rate. The drugs are more affordable so less crime. Also, less criminal activity from drug dealers. They have much lower teen use.

I don’t use heroin or drink alcohol. But I do understand that I have no moral right to tell another man what he must or must not do to himself. A person has a right to make those decisions for themselves. A right to make good decisions, and bad. That doesn’t mean we don’t hope, plead, encourage others to make, what we deem, “good decisions.” We should never punish, take away someones liberty for making what someone else deems a bad decision when the worst that can be said about that decision is it would hurt the person making the bad decision.

Believing that you have right to tell another man what intoxicant he can not consume is opening the double doors to the drug war and all its ill effects, and makes you a full participant in that war. The fact that many have evolved on marijuana, and feel enlightened that they can condone its use, does not slow the drug war but the slightest bit. Once removed as an issue the other intoxicants will be much easier to demonize.

If I lived to be a million years old, I would not understand why a person would believe they, together with others, have a right to incarcerate a person who is hurting no one. Why someone would want to is a second but just as profound an inquiry. In the destructive wake of an ongoing drug war with no identifiable benefit to society, commonsense should dictate a reflexive “I don;t believe anyone should lose their liberty for consuming the intoxicant of their choice. I don’t have the moral authority to demand of you one choice or another when it comes to your personal decisions. Why would I want to?”

The left is a long way from that. We are still giving ourselves a pat on the back for how enlightened we are, look at us on cannabis.

Photo by Georges Biard released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.