Monday, October 24 , 2016, 3:43 pm | Mostly Cloudy 69º


Randy Alcorn: The Busybody State Proves War on Drugs Is a Lost Cause

Following a request by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Drug Administration is considering whether hydrocodone products like Vicodin should be further restricted. The federal watchdogs contend that abuse of prescription drugs is rampant, resulting in nearly 30,000 deaths per year.

The problem with watchdogs is that they bark at anything — rabbits or burglars. Although 30,000 against a total population of more than 300 million is hardly “rampant,” the feds tend to justify their excursions into excessive policing by exaggerating or manufacturing public dangers. In an attempt to alarm the public with the gravity of drug danger, they point out that overdoses claim as many lives each year as do auto accidents.

Apparently motor vehicles are as dangerous as Vicodin. Does that mean the feds need to tighten restrictions on access to cars?

For that matter, complications of obesity result in far more annual mortalities than both drug overdoses and automobile accidents combined. Obviously, the FDA needs to regulate certain food types — maybe have foods scheduled like drugs are. Schedule One foods, those exceeding federal fat and caloric limits, would be prohibited for everyone. Schedule Two foods would be allowed only with prescriptions from licensed health-care professionals.

The DEA would monitor all grocery stores and restaurants to be sure folks weren’t consuming dangerous foods without a prescription. Violators would face stiff prison terms and businesses serving prohibited foods would be confiscated and sold by the police.

Sound ridiculous? Of course it is. Especially in a nation founded on principles of individual freedom where people are supposed to live life as they choose, without interference by anyone as long as their life choices do no real harm to others.

And, please, presumptions of social burden do not justify government restrictions on victimless personal choice. If anyone’s personal choices ruin their life, no one should be obligated to clean up the mess. With great personal freedom comes great personal responsibility, and personal consequences.

The real danger threatening this nation is not drug use, car accidents or excess body fat; it is government busybodies insisting on prescribing how all citizens must live life. This breeds enforcement bureaucracies with insatiable appetites for power and money that are steadily suffocating constitutional freedoms. The War on Drugs is arguably the most nefarious manifestation of government going-Gestapo and wreaking havoc in the name of protecting the public.

Which drugs people choose to use and which drugs doctors decide are most effective for treating their patients’ pain is no one else’s business, certainly not that of government thugs and busybodies. The DEA has already intimidated many doctors into withholding prescriptions for opiates, nature’s most effective painkillers. Now the drug warriors want to add hydrocodones to the list of drugs that can criminalize medicine. The War on Drugs is always escalating.

The feds claim their increased regulation can prevent 30,000 overdose deaths per year. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of pain patients will face unnecessary suffering due to the increased restrictions on analgesics.

But then, government thugs and busybodies don’t really care about the collateral damage their overweening police power inflicts. The astounding arrogance and callous selfishness of these villains is well documented and should concern all Americans. Just because you are not involved with prohibited or restricted drugs does not shield you from the drug warriors. Innocence is no protection against injustice.

A recent most egregious example of this is the attempt by federal prosecutors and local police to confiscate the $1.2 million motel of the Caswell family in Tewksbury, Mass. The Caswells had not committed nor were accused of any crime, but because a tiny number of the motel’s guests over the past 20 years had been arrested for drug violations, the drug warriors invoked federal forfeiture laws in an attempt to seize the motel, sell it, and fatten their treasuries with the proceeds.

Such legal larceny is an example of how the War on Drugs has corrupted law enforcement. That war, in spite of the tens of billions of dollars spent on it each year, is an abject failure in ending or even significantly minimizing drug use. It is, however, eminently successful in keeping a bunch of bureaucrats, cops and prison guards employed and preying on the public.

And for what? As Dr. Gabor Maté demonstrates in his book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, even the most allegedly dangerous drugs do not make people addicts any more than food makes people compulsive eaters. There has to be a preexisting vulnerability for addiction — to anything. Personal circumstances, including genetics, life conditions and mental health, are the cause of addictive behavior.

Imagine how many more criminals we would have if caffeine, alcohol and tobacco were prohibited. Addiction is not a crime, yet we fill our prisons with drug users because prohibition makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding people.

America was not founded for the benefit and enrichment of government busybodies and thugs. Nor are ideals of freedom limited to the narrow, self-serving interpretations of these government ghouls. The War on Drugs is a national disgrace, and a clear and present danger to Americans’ constitutional freedoms.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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