Psychoactive drugs

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Many consider the use of any and all psychoactive drugs (also known as "psychoactives" and "controlled substances") to be immoral. Others believe certain psychoactives have benefits which outweigh their detrimental effects, and that the detrimental effects have been greatly exaggerated for reasons which remain unclear. It also seems likely that certain legal substances, such as coffee and tobacco, are more harmful than some illegal substances, such as cannabis.

Investigation Needed

  • What is the actual justification used for laws requiring punishment for individuals procuring psychoactives for their own use alone?




Teenage kids, even rebels, don't like to be alone, so when kids opt out of the system, they tend to do it as a group. At the schools I went to, the focus of rebellion was drug use, specifically marijuana. The kids in this tribe wore black concert t-shirts and were called "freaks."

Freaks and nerds were allies, and there was a good deal of overlap between them. Freaks were on the whole smarter than other kids, though never studying (or at least never appearing to) was an important tribal value. I was more in the nerd camp, but I was friends with a lot of freaks.

They used drugs, at least at first, for the social bonds they created. It was something to do together, and because the drugs were illegal, it was a shared badge of rebellion.

I'm not claiming that bad schools are the whole reason kids get into trouble with drugs. After a while, drugs have their own momentum. No doubt some of the freaks ultimately used drugs to escape from other problems-- trouble at home, for example. But, in my school at least, the reason most kids started using drugs was rebellion. Fourteen-year-olds didn't start smoking pot because they'd heard it would help them forget their problems. They started because they wanted to join a different tribe.

Misrule breeds rebellion; this is not a new idea. And yet the authorities still for the most part act as if drugs were themselves the cause of the problem.


  • 2007-07-31 Cannabis joint 'as harmful as smoking five cigarettes' by Jane Kirby, The Independent (UK)
  • 2006-09-18 Marijuana Arrests For Year 2005 -- 786,545 Tops Record High... Pot Smokers Arrested In America At A Rate Of One Every 40 Seconds
  • 2006-05-08 Drug Sanity South of the Border by Margaret Dooley, AlterNet: "Mexico has the right idea in its attempt to decriminalize possession of small amounts of some drugs."
  • 2006-04-26 FDA Plays Politics with Pot by Michelle Chen, The NewStandard
  • 2005-12-04 Cannabis Almost Doubles Risk Of Fatal Crashes
  • 2005-11-23:
    • Good Drugs by Annalee Newitz, AlterNet: "Researchers discovered that chemicals from marijuana rejuvenate an area of the brain linked with learning."
    • reader comment in (response to Branfman article): "Among other things, the study concluded that, statistically speaking, drivers with marijuana in their bloodstream (and no alcohol or other drugs) had a slightly lower risk of causing highway fatalities than sober drivers." Does anyone know where to find this report? (cf. the 2005-12-04 link above, especially)