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I migranti di Fahrenheit migrano ancora… (IV inbloggazione)

Guerre di droga

Jeffrey Miron è un anti-proibizionista affidabile e stimato su entrambi i fronti del dibattito, le tesi esposte nel suo libro “Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition”  andrebbero considerate un po’ da tutti per l’equilibrio con cui sono espresse e la mole di dati su cui si fondano.

La realtà su cui si basa l’analisi è quella statunitense, ovvero oltre 80 anni di proibizionismo duro e puro.

Applicare la legge è piuttosto costoso

… In recent years government expenditure for prohibition enforcement has exceeded $33 billion annually, with law enforcement authorities making more than 1.5 million arrests per year on drug-related charges…

Nonostante questo si preferisce pagare, per i sostenitori della legge i guai della droga libera hanno un costo ben maggiore. Eccone alcuni…

… Prohibitionists believe drug use would soar if drugs were legal, and they regard any increase as undesirable per se. Prohibitionists also assert that drug use causes crime, diminishes health and productivity for drug users, encourages driving and industrial accidents, exacerbates poverty, supports terrorism, and contributes generally to societal decay…

La tesi di Miron è diversa…

… I argue here that drug prohibition, rather than drug use, causes most ills typically attributed to drugs… I demonstrate that prohibition has a range of negative consequences, including increased violence, reduced health for drug users, transfers to criminals, and diminished civil liberties

Insegnare a star lontani dalla droga è un bene ma farlo proibendola forse non è il modo migliore…

… even if a policy-induced reduction in drug consumption is desirable, prohibition is a terrible choice for achieving this goal…

Le conclusioni dopo una rivista degli studi disponibili:

… The analysis here shows, however, that prohibition-induced reductions in drug consumption are not necessarily large or even in the “desired” direction. Moreover, prohibition can increase rather than decrease crime and diminish rather than enhance health and productivity

drug 2

Alcune di queste conclusioni non sono intuitive: come è possibile che la droga libera migliori le condizioni di salute dei drogati?. Chiediamoci allora qual è il momento più rischioso per l’eroinomane…

… the main risk factors for heroin overdose: injecting heroin, using opioids together with benzodiazepines or alcohol, not being in methadone treatment, and using opioids after a period of abstinence, generally due to having been in prison or drug-dependency treatment…

Altro elemento da considerare: sul libero mercato l’eroina di qualità costerebbe molto meno…

… the free market, untaxed price of heroin would be a small fraction of the current street price. How cheap would unregulated heroin be? scholars compared the price of street heroin to the price of heroin legally produced for scientific research. This comparison suggested that interdiction increased the price of street heroin by a factor of 19… As a heroin user’s tolerance increases, getting high without injecting becomes cost prohibitive. If heroin was much cheaper, cost would make injecting less financially imperative…

C’ è poi un altro fattore di rischio sulla salute del drogato che il proibizionismo amplifica…

… The most dangerous time to be a heroin user is probably the first few weeks after getting out of prison. The primary cause of heroin overdose is respiratory depression… Abstinence lowers tolerance and makes the user more susceptible to respiratory depression, which explains why binging after a period of abstinence is so deadly. Putting heroin addicts in prison is the perfect trigger for this…

Ancora: sul mercato nero la qualità dell’eroina varia, il che costituisce un pericolo…

… Prohibition might also make heroin use more dangerous by causing the purity of a user’s supply to fluctuate. Safety would recommend ingesting heroin of known purity (especially for injectors)…

Ma il proibizionismo ha altre conseguenze indesiderabili

corruption, infringements on civil liberties, wealth transfers to criminals, unwarranted restrictions on medicinal uses of drugs, and insurrection in drug-producing countries…

Ridotto all’osso il dibattito riguarda due questioni:

… The first is whether prohibition’s effect on drug consumption is “small” or “large,” and the second is whether prohibition increases or decreases crime

Sulla prima si approfondisce un evento storico ben preciso…

… the effect of prohibition on drug consumption by examining cirrhosis death rates during the Prohibition period… alcohol prohibition is a natural laboratory for studying the effects of drug prohibition on drug consumption… The analysis here indicates alcohol prohibition had a modest effect on alcohol consumption, which implies drug prohibition has a modest effect on drug use…

Quanto alla violenza indotta dal proibizionismo…

… we show that both drug and alcohol prohibition coincided with increases in the homicide rate, consistent with the view that under prohibition, market participants substitute guns for lawyers in the resolution of disputes… Again, the evidence indicates that vigorous enforcement of prohibition is associated with higher rather than lower rates of violence…

Senz’altro il legame tra livello dei consumi e proibizionismo è il più dibattuto e il più interessante, anche per questo vale la pena di spendere qualche parola in più.

Purtroppo i dati a disposizione sono di bassa qualità

… Analyzing the effect of drug prohibition on drug use is difficult because the data necessary for such an investigation are limited and low quality (National Research Council 2001; Horowitz 2001)… reliable data on drug use do not exist before the onset of U.S. drug prohibition in 1914…

Fortunatamente c’è un evento che funge da esperimento naturale:l’era del proibizionismo alcolico americano, con le cirrosi epatiche nella veste di proxy dei consumi di alcol…

… One useful piece of evidence, however, is the U.S. experience with prohibition of alcohol, which occurred from 1920 through 1933… In addition, cirrhosis death rates constitute a good proxy for the consumption of alcohol…

Le conclusioni di un’analisi dettagliata possono essere anticipate:

… The bottom line is that Prohibition appears to have reduced cirrhosis death rates by 10–20 percent. This is not a trivial effect, but it is far smaller than suggested by many advocates of prohibition…

La cirrosi non è una proxy campata in aria per i consumi alcolici

… Merck & Co (1992: 890) states that “in general, a linear correlation exists between the intensity of alcohol abuse in terms of duration and dose and the development of liver disease.”…

Tuttavia, i problemi non mancano…

…One issue is that cirrhosis is probably a better proxy for heavy alcohol consumption than for moderate or light alcohol consumption…

C’è poi la questione del lag…

… A second problem is that cirrhosis typically develops only after years of alcohol consumption…

Fatta questa premessa, ecco all’incirca cosa dicono i numeri

… The data show that cirrhosis was substantially lower after the onset of national prohibition (in January 1920) than it had been in most of the pre-Prohibition period. The death rate declined from 12–14 deaths per year per 100,000 population during the 1910–1915 period to 7–7.5 during the Prohibition period. This is the fact typically cited as indicating Prohibition caused a substantial decline in alcohol consumption…

La difficoltà per chi sostiene l’efficacia del proibizionismo è evidente…

… the cirrhosis death rate was already at its minimum level when Prohibition took effect in January 1920… so the low level in the 1920s is not by itself evidence of Prohibition’s efficacy in reducing cirrhosis…

Altre anomalie

… data do not show a sudden or dramatic increase in cirrhosis after repeal in 1934. Instead, cirrhosis increases only gradually over several decades, and cirrhosis declines substantially starting around 1970, well after Prohibition ended…

Una possibile replica: dopo la liberalizzazione i consumi non sono cresciuti immediatamente…

… A possible response to this last argument is that even if alcohol consumption increased substantially after repeal, it would have taken many years for this increase to raise the death rate from cirrhosis…

Ma la replica non convince per tre ragioni

… This hypothesis is unconvincing, however, for several reasons. First, it suggests that even if cirrhosis did not jump in 1934, it should have jumped, say, ten years later in (lagged) response to the jump in alcohol consumption. Such a jump is not evident in Figure 3.1. Second, this hypothesis is inconsistent with data on admittances to hospitals for alcohol psychosis and on deaths due to alcoholism (Miron and Zwiebel 1991); these two series are likely related to alcohol consumption with shorter lags than cirrhosis. Third, the hypothesis implies that during the first years after repeal, the amount of cirrhosis relative to alcohol consumption should have been unusually low; setting aside the first year or two after repeal, when official statistics almost certainly understate alcohol consumption, this is not apparent in the data…

Bisogna ammettere che alcuni stati avevano anticipato la legge federale…

… One factor to consider is state-level prohibitions of alcohol, which were adopted at an increasing rate during the 1910–1920 period…

Anche se si trattava di stati popolosi e con una legge facilmente aggirabile

… Although the number of states with prohibition was large, these states were predominantly rural, low population states… The role of state prohibition is also not compelling because the laws in many states were weak; in particular, they fell far short of bone-dry prohibition… For example, Alabama allowed any citizen to import two quarts of distilled spirits or two gallons of wine or five gallons of beer every fifteen days…

Inoltre, i cali più rilevanti della cirrosi hanno riguardato gli “stati bagnati”…

… The figures show that the most dramatic declines in cirrhosis occurred in states that were wet throughout the pre-1920 period, and these states included several of the most populous states (e.g., New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey)…

Inoltre, il fatto di essere  uno “stato asciutto” era tutt’altro che un elemento esogeno. In altri termini, si tratta di stati già predisposti allo scarso consumo di alcol cosicché un provvedimento del genere incontra meno resistenza…

… An additional reason to question the role of state prohibitions is that adoption of alcohol prohibition is not an exogenous event, imposed on a state by forces outside its control… States in which per capita alcohol consumption was relatively low might have been more likely to adopt dry laws. Similarly, states in which consumption was declining for other reasons (e.g., changing demographics) might also have faced less opposition to dry laws…

C’è anche chi fa notare che prima della legge federale c’erano stati comunque altri provvedimenti restrittivi…

… A second possible explanation for the pre-1920 decline in cirrhosis is federal regulation of alcohol… These restrictions did not prevent consumption of imports or existing stocks, and the budget for enforcement was essentially zero… Further, most of these restrictions did not take effect until 1917 or later, while cirrhosis began declining as early as 1908…

Oltretutto, nel periodo critico 1917-1920 altri fattori sono da considerare…

… a number of other factors likely played a more direct role in the declines from 1917 to 1920, including a drastic reduction in immigration that took place during the earlier part of the decade, a major increase in alcohol tax rates that occurred in 1916–1917, World War I, and the worldwide flu epidemic of 1918, which killed tens of millions (Kolata 1999)… A complete analysis, however, must account for a range of factors that potentially influence alcohol consumption, such as income, demographics, and alcohol tax rates. Dills and Miron (2003) present a detailed statistical analysis that accounts for these factors, concluding that national prohibition reduced cirrhosis by 10 to 20 percent

Per quanto ne sappiamo, il proibizionismo ha ridotto i consumi del 10-20%. Non molto.

Ma come riconciliare questa scoperta con il fatto accertato che anche i “viziosi” rispondono prontamente al variare dei prezzi? Forse la cirrosi ci racconta solo dei forti consumatori, i più rigidi…

… This conclusion is surprising, since standard accounts suggest alcohol prices rose substantially during Prohibition, perhaps by several hundred percent on average (Warburton 1932; Fisher 1928). Thus, since available evidence suggests alcohol consumption is responsive to price (Leung and Phelps 1993), alcohol consumption should have declined dramatically. One possible reconciliation is that the relevant price elasticity is in fact quite low. The proxy for alcohol consumption considered here, cirrhosis, is plausibly a better measure of heavy consumption than of moderate consumption…

C’è anche la teoria del frutto proibito

… A second possibility is that Prohibition created a forbidden fruit effect, thereby shifting preferences for alcohol and partially offsetting the depressing effect on demand of higher prices…

Ma forse il proibizionismo non ha impennato i prezzi come si crede comunemente. Le ricerche di Warburton e Fischer sovrastimano la variazione avvenuta…

… a third possibility is that the standard accounts of alcohol prices during Prohibition overstate the increase in price…

In che modo questo sguardo sull’era del proibizionismo ci puo’ servire ragionando di droghe?

Sapere che il proibizionismo riduce solo in modo modesto i consumi è un’informazione preziosa, ma secondo molti i due fenomeni non sono omogenei

… alcohol prohibition and current drug prohibition are not comparable, since the strictness of the law and the degree of enforcement have been greater under drug prohibition than under alcohol prohibition…

Eppure, nemmeno il proibizionismo sulle droghe ha inciso in modo cospicuo sui prezzi, questo fatto lo apparenterebbe al proibizionismo alcolico. Molti studi che si sono concentrati su questa relazione vengono riconosciuti oggi come fallati. Il gold standard è rappresentato dal lavoro di Caulkins e Reuter.

… the analysis in Miron (2003a) suggests that despite the enormous level of resources devoted to enforcement, drug prohibition has not raised drug prices to nearly the degree suggested in most accounts… Previous analyses have suggested that prohibition makes drugs ten, twenty, or even hundreds of times more expensive than they would be if legal. Much of this analysis, however, simply notes that the raw materials from which drugs are produced sell at “low” prices in producer countries while the finished products sell at “high” prices in consumer countries, implicitly attributing the entire “markup” to prohibition. Such an analysis, however, does not account for the storage, transportation, distribution, and retailing costs… the farmgate-to-retail “markups” on many legal goods (such as coffee, chocolate, tea, or beer) are similar to or greater than the markups on cocaine and heroin… calculations imply that the black market price of cocaine is two to four times and the price of heroin six to nineteen times the legalized price… over the past twenty years, enforcement of drug prohibition has increased substantially, but real, purity-adjusted drug prices have generally declined (Basov, Jacobson, and Miron 2001)… price of cocaine falling from over $450 per pure gram in 1981 to roughly $100 per pure gram in 1996…  DiNardo (1993) finds no evidence that enforcement, as measured by cocaine seizures, raised cocaine prices… Yuan and Caulkins (1998) find that a greater number of drug seizures is associated with lower black market prices of cocaine and heroin. Basov, Jacobson, and Miron (2001) show that despite the enormous increase in prohibition enforcement that has occurred over the past twenty-five years, drug use appears little different now than at the beginning…

Conclusione: nemmeno un proibizionismo granitico come quello oggi in atto riesce ad alzare sostanzialmente i prezzi (e quindi ad abbassare i consumi in modo decisivo)…

… There is thus little evidence that enforcement under current drug prohibition has raised drug prices or decreased drug consumption to a substantial degree. More generally, several kinds of evidence fail to indicate a substantial impact of drug prohibition on drug consumption…

E che dire della depenalizzazione della marijuana? Esistono delle esperienze. Ci forniscono qualche informazione preziosa? Interpretare non è difficile ma l’abbinamento depenalizzazione consumi invariati resta il più probabile…

… A different kind of evidence comes from the experience of U.S. states that decriminalized marijuana at various points during the 1970s… The evidence provided by decriminalization is potentially weak; changes in the law sometimes ratify ex post what has already taken place… Nevertheless, existing evidence provides little indication that marijuana decriminalization was accompanied by increased marijuana use…

E un confronto tra stati differenti e lontani cosa ci dice? Le leggi sono simili ma l’applicazione è diversa, non si puo’ negare che l’Europa sia più lassista degli USA. Ebbene, i confronti sono altamente problematici ma confermano una scarsa incidenza del proibizionismo sui consumi. Una prova debole ma che c’è…

… One additional piece of evidence comes from comparing drug use rates between the United States and other rich countries such as those in Western Europe, Japan, or Australia… other countries have prohibition laws similar in broad structure to those in the United States, especially for harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The degree to which these countries enforce their prohibition regimes, however, is markedly less (Miron 2001b). Thus, if prohibition is an effective method of reducing drug use, these countries should have use rates noticeably higher than in the United States… As shown in Table 3.2, however, there is no evidence these countries have higher drug use rates; indeed the U.S. rate frequently exceeds that in most other countries. This evidence is only suggestive, since it does not control for other factors…

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Adesso affrontiamo la questione del proibizionismo per darne una valutazione a 360 gradi anziché limitarci agli effetti sui consumi.

Partiamo con un fatto acclarato: il proibizionismo – consegnando un grosso affare nelle mani della criminalità – fomenta violenza e corruzione. 

… The starting point is the observation that most effects of prohibition, such as increased violence and corruption, are unambiguously negative…

A questo punto diventa decisivo parlare del consumo di droghe, dei danni e dei vantaggi che produce.

Un economista non ha problemi nel trattare questo punto: poiché i consumatori prendono decisioni autonome proibire è dannoso per definizione. Anche la perdita di produttività diventa una scelta, il che significa che è sempre compensata dal maggior benessere del consumatore.

… One view of drug consumption—the one assumed in the standard economic paradigm—is that people consume drugs because they think such consumption makes them better off… they voluntarily choose to consume drugs. Similarly, under this view, it does not matter whether drugs are addictive or if consumption adversely affects health or productivity…

Nel modello economico un concetto come quello di “dipendenza” non ha senso, e in effetti la risposta alle variazioni di prezzo sembrerebbe una conferma in questo senso…

… Theoretical work by Becker and Murphy (1988) shows that the rational model is potentially consistent with these phenomena, and a body of empirical work has had some success in fitting the model to data…

Nel modello economico la vulnerabilità del drogato è solo una strategia per ottenere aiuto a buon mercato. Una strategia vincente già messa in conto nella scelta iniziale di drogarsi.

Ma adottare un modello economico duro e puro sembra eccessivo, un approccio più moderato consiglia una via di mezzo per cui è giusto assumere che il proibizionismo sia un male in sé per i drogati anche se non necessariamente per tutti…

… This does not mean the rational model is an accurate description of all drug consumption, but it undermines the presumption that all drug use (or other addictive consumption) is necessarily irrational… If one assumes the rational model describes most drug consumption, then the normative analysis of policies to reduce drug consumption is simple: any policy-induced reduction in drug use is a cost rather than a benefit… such a policy harms drug users without benefiting anyone else… many drug users are rational. Millions of people enjoy the high associated with marijuana; others value the pain relief or mental calm produced by opiates; still others appreciate the stimulation of cocaine. In this respect, consumption of prohibited drugs is no different from consumption of alcohol, gambling, or fatty foods…

Una politica appropriata non mira a bandire tutto il consuno di droga ma solo il consumo irrazionale…

Detto questo, la droga puo’ far male anche a terzi e non solo a chi la consuma…

… consumption can harm innocent third parties and thus be excessive from society’s perspective, even if this consumption is individually rational… drug consumption can impair one’s ability to drive a car or operate heavy machinery; it can adversely affect the health of the fetus; or it can cause additional use of publicly funded health care… One commonly discussed externality from drug consumption is automobile accidents…

Qui si tratta di valutare l’entità del danno prodotto…

… the magnitude of this externality is not obviously large, and several controlled studies conclude that marijuana has a smaller detrimental effect on driving performance than alcohol… A different possible externality is harm to the unborn fetus… existing evidence is mixed, and this evidence suffers severe methodological problems in any case.6 Many studies that document a correlation between drug use and negative pregnancy outcomes control imperfectly for other relevant factors such as use of alcohol and tobacco, access to prenatal care, income, presence of a father, or nutrition. Moreover, these studies do not control for unmeasured characteristics that plausibly correlate with drug use and also affect pregnancy outcomes (e.g., concern for the fetus). In addition, any negative effects of drug use are not obviously different from those of legal goods such as alcohol or cigarettes… A different possible externality from drug use is workplace accidents… The evidence that illicit drugs play an important role in causing such accidents is at best mixed, and alcohol is implicated at least as often as illicit drugs (National Research Council 1994: 144–152). Kaestner and Grossman (1998) examine the relationship between drug use and workplace accidents. For males they find weak evidence that drug users have a higher accident rate than non-users; for females, they find no evidence…

Tirando le somme, non sembra che le esternalità negative che implica l’assunzione di droghe diverga da esternalità negative comunemente accettate

… the externality-causing potential of drug consumption does not distinguish it from a broad array of other goods. As noted, the consumption of alcohol can impair driving ability or cause industrial accidents. The consumption of tobacco or saturated fat can increase the likelihood of using publicly funded health care. Driving on public roads exacerbates congestion and increases the travel time of others. Staying up late to watch television causes fatigue, thereby diminishing productivity or increasing the chance of accidents. Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines cause drowsiness, which increases the likelihood of accidents. Saving too little for retirement places a burden on others by increasing eligibility for old-age medical or income insurance. And these are but a few examples…

Inoltre, è bene precisare che cio’ che conta non è tanto l’esternalità negativa ma l’effetto netto che si produce. Ma questi calcoli spesso sono ingannevoli, per esempio: se la vita si accorcia si risparmia sui costi sanitari. Anche scegliere di non fare gli straordinari impatta negativamente sulla comunità visto che si pagheranno meno tasse al fisco. Fare del volontariato danneggia parimenti il gettito fiscale se il volontario avesse potuto guadagnare di più andando al lavoro…

… Further, calculating the net externalities from drug consumption is potentially tricky. For example, the net effect of any unhealthy activity is ambiguous, since actions that shorten life mean less use of Social Security and Medicare. And the externality logic, if applied consistently, has implications that society is likely to find awkward. For example, any choice that lowers one’s income causes a negative externality, since lower income means lower tax payments. This means that someone who decides to be public-interest lawyer rather than a high-priced corporate attorney is imposing an externality…

Il primo confronto dei costi esterni va fatto con chi viene danneggiato direttamente dall’eventuale divieto

… First, there is the loss of utility experienced by those whose consumption the intervention reduces… For example, driving a car that generates pollution harms those who live nearby, but it benefits the driver of the car…

Poi ci sono i costi per far applicare il divieto, che nel caso delle droghe sono ingenti…

… A second cost of policies designed to reduce drug consumption is the direct cost of enforcing the policy… In some cases this is relatively minor; for example, it would not require substantial expenditure to enforce a moderate tax on legalized drugs…Other policies, however, require substantial enforcement expenditure… In particular, prohibition enforcement currently costs about $33 billion per year…

Ma poi ci sono i costi indiretti che scaturiscono da violenza, corruzione e prosperità delle mafie…

L’osservatore moderato conclude che – sebbene un intervento possa avere senso – la proibizione appare una soluzione come incongrua

… Even when policy can reduce externalities by more than any costs created, this rarely involves eliminating the activity. The standard textbook presentation shows that appropriate policy balances the reduction in externalities against the deadweight loss of the policy (e.g., Mankiw 2001: 207–220)… For example, driving a car generates pollution, so there is a case for policies that reduce the amount of driving (e.g., taxes on gasoline) or the amount of pollution (e.g., emissions standards). These policies, however, do not prohibit driving…

Bisogna considerare anche il cosiddetto effetto domino:

… A different reason that externalities do not necessarily justify policies to reduce drug use is that reduced drug consumption might translate into increased use of other substances that have similar or greater externalities… Prohibition aims to eliminate all drug consumption rather than targeting externality-causing consumption.9 Prohibition has enormous enforcement costs and generates huge externalities. Moreover, prohibition has a limited impact on drug consumption and appears to reduce casual rather than heavy consumption (Basov, Jacobson and Miron 2001)

Così come l’effetto sostituzione: taluni amanti delle droghe, qualora il prezzo si impenni a causa del proibizionismo, anziché ridimensionare i consumi di droga ridimensioneranno gli altri vivendo così solo per la droga e tagliando i ponti che avevano aperti con la società.

Ma che dire dei cosiddetti “consumatori irrazionali”?

… some consumers are irrational and therefore make inappropriate choices about drug consumption. In particular, myopic consumers might fail to account for the addictiveness and long-term negative consequences…

Ma i consumatori irrazionali sono i più vulnerabili alla sindrome da “frutto proibito”…

… prohibition might exacerbate the effects of myopia. Prohibition potentially glamorizes drug use in the eyes of those too shortsighted to consider the long-term consequences. Thus, even if attempts to reduce drug consumption are warranted by myopia, prohibition is unlikely to be the right approach given its huge enforcement costs and negative external effects…

Il fenomeno della “dipendenza” sembrerebbe comunque confermare l’esistenza di consumatori irrazionali. Ma si tratta di un fenomeno reale?  Il consumo continuato non segnala dipendenza, altrimenti io sarei dipendente dalla nutella. Bisogna poi confrontare la presunta dipendenza dalle droghe con la dipendenza da altre sostanze legali. Se lo si fa ci si accorge come lo spettro della “dipendenza” sia una realtà parecchio esagerata…

… existing research suggests drugs are far less addictive than is commonly asserted. Likewise, many legal goods are just as addictive… High continued use rates do not necessarily suggest addiction; if people who consume a good find they like it and therefore consume it frequently, the continued use rate is high even if there is no addiction… The fact that continued use rates for marijuana, which is not regarded as physically addictive, are similar to those for crack, which is regarded as highly addictive, also challenges the more extreme claims about addictiveness of drugs… Likewise, the continued use rates for alcohol and tobacco are even higher than those for illegal drugs… use rates for other legal goods (e.g., chocolate, caffeine) are perhaps even higher…

Un’altra misura della “dipendenza” puo’ essere ricavata quantificando l’esistenza di consumatori occasionali. Un buon esperimento naturale lo forniscono i comportamenti dei reduci del Vietnam…

… a sizeable percentage of heroin users consume only occasionally, without becoming heavy users… Further evidence that addiction is far less important than typical portrayals comes from the experience of returning Vietnam veterans. Robins, Davis, and Nurco (1974) report interviews of veterans eight to twelve months after their return from Vietnam. They find that most addicted veterans gave up their narcotic use voluntarily before departure or after a short, forced treatment period at departure…

Conclusione possibile…

… Thus, although there is no question that drugs can be addictive, there is also no question that stereotypical characterizations are seriously inaccurate. And the potential for addiction from drugs is not obviously different from that of legal goods such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and myriad other goods…

Altro fatto da considerare: le droghe nuocciono alla salute? Anche qui ci sono molte esagerazioni e leggende. Innanzitutto bisogna distinguere tra droghe legali e droghe illegali…

… All drugs carry some health risk, but the degree to which illegal drugs are physically detrimental is far less than generally portrayed, provided they are consumed under safe circumstances…

Ecco cosa dice il manuale Merck, un riferimento standard alle diagnosi e ai protocolli medici da seguire…

… “people who have developed tolerance [to heroin] may show few signs of drug use and function normally in their usual activities. . . . Many but not all complications of heroin addiction are related to unsanitary administration of the drug.”… “there is still little evidence of biologic damage [from marijuana] even among relatively heavy users.”…

I veri rischi si concretizzano nell’assunzione di dosi eccessive o adulterate, il che è tipico delle droghe illegali.

I giudizi in questa materia spesso si formano sulla base di dati fallati. Un po’ come se il giudizio sulla salute degli italiani ce lo formassimo girando solo per ospedali…

… standard depictions of the health consequences of drug use is reliance on data sources that are systematically biased toward those who suffer the worst consequences. One example is data from clients of drug treatment programs… Peanuts are an excellent food source that enhances health for most consumers, yet for persons who are allergic they can be deadly…

Alcuni recriminano sul fatto che i drogati siano poco produttivi, ed invero esistono studi che lo attestano ma si tratta di studi con un grave problema metodologico: drogarsi e lavorare poco sono cose che spesso hanno una causa comune anziché essere causa ed effetto.

… A second alleged harm of drug use is reduced income or likelihood of employment. According to this view, drug use inhibits concentration, coordination, motivation, and other factors that contribute to successful job market experience… drug use reduces U.S. productivity by tens of billions of dollars per year (Harwood, Fountain, and Livermore 1998)… The problem is that drug use and wages are both plausibly correlated with unmeasured individual characteristics such as optimism, motivation, sociability, creativity, risk aversion, and the like. Thus, a finding that drug use and wages are correlated can reflect the influence of these omitted characteristics…

Senza contare i molti paradossi registrati, ovvero i casi in cui la droga aumenta la produttività…

… In addition, the results do not consistently support the conclusion that drug use is associated with lower wages. Instead, a persistent puzzle is that drug use is often associated with higher wages. The relation between drug use and certain other labor market outcomes, such as employment status or hours worked, is more frequently found to be negative, but even for these outcomes there are many “paradoxical” results…

C’è poi chi afferma che l’uso di droghe è immorale e va vietato  a prescindere dalle conseguenze.

Ma possiamo davvero prescindere dalle vittime innocenti della guerra colombiana alle droghe? O dai bambini malati di AIDS che nascono per la carenza di siringhe pulite? O dalle cure che non riceve chi sta male ma deve nascondersi? O dalla prosperità che si regala alle mafie? Probabilmente, un giudizio morale serio non puo’ prescindere da tutto questo.

…Prohibition causes increased violence, some of which affects innocent bystanders caught in drive-by shootings or bomb attacks in Colombia… Prohibition increase the number of children born HIV-infected because it fosters restrictions on the availability of clean needles… Prohibition means that peasants in Latin America, including some who do not grow coca, have their crops destroyed by aerial spraying of pesticides… Thus, from the moral perspective, prohibition is probably the worst choice for addressing the harms related to drugs…

– continua-

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