Saturday, December 8, 2012

Our "War" on the Human Brain

Drug-related Arrests in the US, 2009: CNN
We spend trillions attacking subsistence farmers, wiping out their meager crops and jailing poor people who are trying to follow 'the American Dream' and make some money any way they can because education is largely denied to them.

Here's my take on why our current approach can never work, because it is actually a war on the human brain's addiction pathway.  We start out by thinking: 
  1. The human brain gets addicted VERY easily, so addictive substances are bad, so we must stop the supply by criminalizing it.   
  2. The problem is, if even a teensy, tiny amount DOES get through and gets 'pushed' by low-empathy individuals to addict just a few, a ready 'free market' will have been established and supply will continue underground.  
  3. So the criminalization strategy is fatally flawed and must be abandoned as it is self-perpetuating -- it does literally NOTHING to stop the flow, it only increases the cost of the addictive substance, making it more lucrative to supply.
From 1920 to 1933 the US had a "War on Alcohol" and a bunch of entrepreneurs (criminals) made a LOT of money supplying the addictive substance until the government realised that they were spending tax dollars heavily to wage the war, yet missing out on all the tax revenue.  If we learned it did not work then, why the hell are we so enthusiastically doing it again? 

Interestingly, as in any war, there are a few who benefit BIG time from it.  In this case it is the extremely rich (1%) owners of the gun/ammunition manufacturing industry and the private prison business.  The profit being made by the US provoked 'drug supply route war' in Mexico has meant billions of dollars worth of arms have been exported into Mexico in the past decade. 

The more drug-related violence there is, the more a wide slice of male Americans want to hold onto their penis extensions (pun intended) and buy even more guns.  (BTW, gun 'collecting' lights up the addiction pathway in the collectors' brain the same way meth and crack does in their neighbours' brains.  That's the ultimate irony, isn't it?)

It's time to COMPLETELY rework the approach, because the war we're fighting is NOT on drugs, it is the human brain's addictive neural pathways.  Once a human brain gets addicted, trying to prevent access to the supply of the substance that brain is addicted to just pushes the flow underground, creating criminals and filling prisons.


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