Ohio bans gender-affirming care and restricts transgender athletes

“Ohio has banned gender-affirming care for minors and restricted transgender women’s and girls’ participation on sports teams, a move that has families of transgender children scrambling over how best to care for them.”

“The new law bans gender-affirming surgeries and hormone therapies, and restricts mental health care for transgender individuals under 18.”


The ‘Monster’ Isn’t the Drug, It’s the Prohibition

“People who disapprove of drugs want to end their use, but consumers have never demonstrated a willingness to comply. Sellers always arise to meet their demand. Drug innovation to evade prohibitionists, and making cocktails of those drugs, is inherently more dangerous than legal markets.”

“Singer attributes endless innovation in ever-stronger drugs and the rise in resulting overdoses to the competition between prohibitionists and illicit suppliers to outwit one another.
“The iron law of prohibition — ‘the harder the law enforcement, the harder the drug’—means we can expect more potent and dangerous forms of drugs to continue to arise,” he adds.

If you blend “more potent and dangerous forms of drugs” in “polysubstance use” (or just speedball it) you’re going to add risks on top of risks. The results can be tragic, but they’re less the result of drugs than they are of restrictions and prohibitions that inevitably drive consumers to seek intoxicants from illegal suppliers.”

“”Like opioids, which originally came from the poppy, meth started out as a plant-based product, derived from the herb ephedra. Now, both drugs can be produced in bulk synthetically and cheaply. They each pack a potentially lethal, addictive wallop far stronger than their precursors,” Hoffman wrote.

Why grow a crop in a field, which can be targeted for destruction by prohibitionists, when you can synthesize the active ingredients in a hidden laboratory that’s difficult to find and can be moved if necessary? And if you’re going to synthesize it, why not find ways to make it more concentrated so that large numbers of doses can be moved in compact shipments? You can always cut it at the distribution end and sell it in lower-concentration doses.

Unfortunately, illicit laboratories aren’t always as reliable as aboveboard ones and underground chemists aren’t necessarily as competent or diligent. When somebody screws up or just doesn’t care, it’s much harder to hold a criminal network to account than it is to go after a corporation that has a mailing address and a reputation to maintain. The end result, for the drug trade, is illness and death from intoxicants of unknown purity and potency, if the formulation was even safe to begin with.”

“People have always wanted to alter their consciousness in ways great and small. They will continue to want to get high no matter how much disapproval their activities draw from sober scolds. The only question is whether those getting high will acquire their intoxicants of choice from legal, responsible suppliers who have to maintain their brands and explain themselves in court, or from illegal suppliers who meet demand by any means necessary.”


Ohio becomes 24th state to embrace weed legalization

“The new law allows adults over 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The measure creates a Division of Cannabis Control, which is responsible for setting up and regulating the adult-use cannabis market.”


Some Drug Warriors Just Won’t Concede Defeat

“”If policymakers double down on the same prohibitionist policies they have employed for over 50 years, deaths from illicit drug overdoses will continue to rise. Doing the same thing repeatedly, with even more vigor this time, will not yield a different result,” Singer told lawmakers. “Prohibition makes the black market dangerous because people who buy drugs on the black market can never be sure of the drug’s purity, dosage, or even if it is the drug they think they are buying.”
Singer recommends ending drug prohibition to allow for a legal market that deals in products of known dosage and purity. A legal market won’t stop people from getting high, but it will end the escalation between punitive law enforcement on the one hand and drug innovation and potency on the other.

Short of legalization, the Arizona surgeon suggests lawmakers focus on eliminating laws that stand in the way of harm reduction, such as those that criminalize drug paraphernalia (driving users to share needles and diseases) and bar the distribution of drug test strips (rendering it difficult to identify drugs). Making naloxone available over-the-counter was a good step towards reducing deaths since it reverses the effects of opioid overdoses. That’s an approach that gets law enforcement out of the way rather than doubling down on failure.”


Did Drug Decriminalization Cause a ‘Catastrophe’ in Oregon?

“It is important to keep in mind that Oregon’s Measure 110 did nothing to address the supply of illegal drugs, which remain just as iffy and potentially deadly as they were before the initiative was approved. Decriminalization was limited to drug users, and it was based on the premise that people should not be arrested merely for consuming forbidden intoxicants. This distinction between drug users and drug suppliers is similar to the policy enacted during Prohibition, when bootleggers were treated as criminals but drinkers were not.
Measure 110 changed low-level drug possession from a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $6,250, to a Class E violation, punishable by a $100 fine. Drug users who receive citations can avoid the fine by agreeing to undergo a “health assessment” that is supposed to “prioritize the self-identified needs of the client.” That assessment might result in a treatment referral, but participation is voluntary.

Despite the limited nature of Oregon’s reform, which was not designed to reduce the hazards posed by the highly variable and unpredictable composition of black-market drugs, Stephens thinks the fact that drug-related deaths continued to rise in Oregon shows that decriminalization has failed. “In 2019 there were 280 unintentional opioid overdose deaths in Oregon,” he writes. “In 2021 there were 745.”

Stephens neglects to mention that drug-related deaths rose nationwide during that period, from about 71,000 in 2019 to more than 107,000 in 2021. The number of deaths involving opioids rose from about 50,000 to about 81,000—a 62 percent increase.

To be sure, the increase in Oregon that Stephens notes was much larger. But how does it compare to trends in other jurisdictions that did not decriminalize drug use?

Between 2019 and 2021, Oregon’s age-adjusted opioid overdose death rate rose from 7.6 to 18.1 per 100,000 residents. California saw a similar increase: from 7.9 to 17.8. In Washington, the rate likewise nearly doubled, from 10.5 to 20.5. And even in 2021, Oregon’s rate was lower than the national rate (24.7) and much lower than the rates in states such as Connecticut (38.3), Delaware (48.1), Kentucky (44.8), Maine (42.4), Maryland (38.5), Tennessee (45.5), Vermont (37.4), and West Virginia (77.2). On its face, this does not look like evidence that decriminalization is responsible for Oregon’s continuing rise in opioid-related deaths.*

While Measure 110 does not seem to have caused an increase in drug-related deaths, it manifestly did not prevent that increase.”

“a heavy drug user who steals to support his habit is not immune from criminal penalties. It also means the government can justifiably regulate what drug users do in public, where their actions might offend, incommode, or alarm people who have an equal right to use sidewalks, parks, and other taxpayer-funded facilities. Although Stephens implies otherwise, eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession does not require tolerating public drug use, defecation, or blowjobs.”

Prohibition Gave Us Tranq-Laced Fentanyl

“From the perspective of drug traffickers, fentanyl has several advantages over heroin. It is much more potent, which makes it easier to smuggle, and it can be produced much more cheaply and inconspicuously, since it does not require opium poppies. Xylazine has similar advantages: It is an inexpensive synthetic drug that can be produced without crops. And unlike fentanyl, it is not classified as a controlled substance, which makes it easier to obtain.
American drug users are not clamoring for xylazine in their fentanyl, any more than they were demanding fentanyl instead of heroin. The use of such adulterants is driven by the economics of prohibition. And as usual with illegal drugs, consumers do not know what they are getting. Whether it is vitamin E acetate in black market THC vapes, MDMA mixed with butylone, levamisole in cocaine, or fentanyl pressed into ersatz pain pills, prohibition reliably makes drug use more dangerous.

Much to the dismay of veterinarians, drug warriors alarmed by tranq have proposed treating xylazine as a controlled substance. As usual, they think the solution to a problem created by prohibition is more prohibition.”

Methanol-Tainted Liquor and Xylazine-Tainted Fentanyl Illustrate the Same Prohibitionist Peril

“When governments try to stop people from consuming politically disfavored intoxicants, they make consumption of those substances more dangerous by creating a black market in which purity and potency are highly variable and unpredictable.”

“Iran’s ban on alcohol consumption by Muslims forces drinkers to rely on illicit sources that sell iffy and possibly poisonous liquor. In a legal market, people who buy distilled spirits do not have to worry about methanol contamination.”

“Fentanyl is much more potent than heroin, so it is easier to smuggle, and can be produced much more cheaply and inconspicuously since it does not require opium poppies. Xylazine has similar advantages: It is an inexpensive synthetic drug that can be produced without crops. And unlike fentanyl, it is not classified as a controlled substance, so it is easier to obtain.
The emergence of fentanyl as a heroin booster and substitute made potency even harder to predict. The consequences can be seen in record numbers of drug-related deaths.

The government aggravated that situation by restricting the supply of legally produced, reliably dosed opioids, which drove nonmedical users toward more dangerous substitutes and left bona fide patients to suffer from unrelieved pain.”

The Economics of Prohibition Doom Plans To Reduce Drug Use by Busting Online Dealers

“Drug prohibition sows the seeds of its own defeat by creating a highly lucrative and resilient black market that is always adjusting to enforcement efforts. When police arrest a drug dealer, someone else takes his place. Even dismantling an entire trafficking operation does not have a substantial and lasting impact on retail prices or consumption because it creates opportunities that other organizations are happy to seize.”

One Reason for New York’s Pitiful Rollout of Legal Pot: License Preferences for Victims of Prohibition

“It has been more than two years since New York notionally legalized recreational marijuana, and things are not going quite as planned. “Although Gov. Kathy Hochul suggested last fall that more than 100 dispensaries would be operating by this summer,” The New York Times notes, “just 12 have opened since regulators issued the first licenses in November.”
Part of the problem, as you might expect, is red tape and bureaucratic ineptitude. But another barrier to letting licensed marijuana merchants compete with the unauthorized vendors who have conspicuously proliferated since the spring of 2021 is the state’s affirmative action program for victims of pot prohibition.

New York, like several other states that have legalized marijuana, mandated preferences for license applicants who suffered as a result of the crusade against cannabis. While that idea has a pleasing symmetry, it never made much sense as a way of making up for the harm inflicted by cannabis criminalization. And in practice, executing the plan has drastically limited the legal marijuana supply, making it much harder to achieve the state’s avowed goal of displacing the black market.

To be clear: I don’t think people with marijuana convictions should be excluded from participating in the newly legal market, a policy that would add insult to injury. But that does not mean they should have a legal advantage over cannabis entrepreneurs who were never arrested but might be better qualified.”

“New York reserved the first batch of up to 175 retail licenses mainly for people with marijuana-related criminal records or their relatives. Those applicants needed to show they had experience running a “profitable” legal business in the state. Nonprofit organizations with “a history of serving current or formerly incarcerated individuals” also were eligible, provided they had “at least five full time employees,” “at least one justice involved board member,” and a track record of operating “a social enterprise that had net assets or profit for at least two years.” Another requirement was demonstrating “a significant presence in New York State,” which led to litigation and a temporary injunction against issuing retail licenses in five areas of the state.

Satisfying the state’s criteria required “a lot of documentation,” Bloomberg CityLab reporter Amelia Pollard noted last fall, which gave New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) “a mound of paperwork to wade through.” As of November, the OCM had received more than 900 applications from would-be marijuana retailers. On November 20, it announced that it had granted 36 “provisional conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses” to individuals and organizations.”

“The approved retailers are far outnumbered by unauthorized vendors, many of whom openly sell marijuana from storefronts, trucks, and tables, unencumbered by the state’s licensing requirements, regulations, and taxes. Yelp’s list of the “best recreational marijuana dispensaries” in New York City includes 90 outlets, only a few of which are blessed by the OCM.”

The New Abortion Prohibition Era

“even if large majorities shared the pro-life view, anti-abortion laws are still very different from laws against murder in an important respect. When there is such deep, sincerely held disagreement about matters of such personal import, when hundreds of thousands of women every year personally weigh the factors and decide that an abortion is the right choice, that is a signal that new prohibition regimes will be extremely costly, and perhaps ultimately unjustifiable. Not everything bad must be banned. In the last three decades, abortions have fallen precipitously, from a high of 1.4 million in 1990, even as the law has remained largely unchanged, suggesting that even those who believe abortion to be a moral nightmare have other options at their disposal and that those other tools were working. We should seriously consider whether the outcomes are better all around if governments leave it to individuals to persuade each other, help each other, and talk to each other.

To do that, Americans need to be able to speak freely about abortion. They will need to share information about how abortions work and who gets them. And they’ll need to do that in broad daylight, so that bad information doesn’t go unchecked. This will be more difficult in states that choose more draconian criminalization regimes.”

“As with other prohibitions, poor people and minorities will suffer most. People without resources in states with harsh restrictions will carry unwanted babies to term and, if current trends hold, they will most often keep them despite financial or personal difficulties they will face in doing so. Wealthy women will be able to travel to get abortions, and they will be able to hire lawyers to get them out of trouble when they get caught. In those cases, the new laws won’t stop those women from getting abortions; instead they will simply get abortions secretly, unsupported, at greater expense, and far from home.
It’s been a while since first-trimester abortions were illegal anywhere in the United States. But we have spent the decades since Roe experimenting with all kinds of other prohibitions, and all we have for our trouble is a trail of death and destruction.”