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Meth hysteria

2008-06-03 18:43:41.347304+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

Marin County judge imposes life sentence for 0.03 grams of meth. This anti-meth site says a quarter gram cost roughly $25 8 years ago, I'm having trouble finding more definitive resources, but an effective dose seems to be about that quarter gram, so, three strikes or not, this guy got life for a tenth of an effective dose, probably little enough that you'd be tracking that much on your shoes if you walked through a bad part of town.

Reason magazine has more debunking of methamphetamine hysteria.

Later: The DEA is claiming a dose of meth costs roughly $70 on the street. Tell me again how this is a drug of poverty? Someone's lying. Again.

[ related topics: Drugs Bay Area moron Law Current Events ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-03 19:40:19.810457+00 by: JT

must be a hell of a drug if it's worth risking life imprisonment on your third strike felony just to have some of it.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-03 20:01:16.902971+00 by: ebradway

JT: Your comments always catch me off guard. The challenge is that they have a certain logic and a strong basis in experience. I really appreciate how much they make me stop and think.

You know, there's a point in a person's mental development, usually early in childhood, when they start associating cause with effect. I would be that, like all aspects of mental ability, this association is better developed in some people than in others. That said, to someone with a poor sense of cause and effect, there is no "risking life imprisonment". Laws, like the three-strikes rules, just act as a form of discrimination.

Of course, it could be argued that we don't really want lots of folks running around who don't get cause-and-effect relationships and it's better to just get those people locked up.

But back to the point I was going to make when I first entered the comments: the case reminds me of how I heard LSD cases were gauged. A typical "dose" of LSD is about 10 micrograms. It's actually little enough that it's almost impossible to detect, let alone measure. So, if you were busted with say five does of LSD on little sqaures of paper, you would be tried based on the mass of the paper divided by 10 micrograms - which would invariably be several thousand. This meant that anyone busted in possession of LSD was automatically categorized as a dealer. But I may be wrong and maybe that's changed...

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-03 20:08:39.268326+00 by: Dan Lyke

Crap, I can't find them now amidst all of the "methamphetamines will cause alien monsters to grow out of your ears" anti-drug propaganda, but I've read some fascinating articles on using as study aids.

And, in fact, as I dig further looking for that article, it looks like 30mg is indeed on the scale of a dose you'd use for those sorts of cognitive enhancements.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-03 21:12:14.060396+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'd also add that I've done plenty of things where the risk/reward ratio was way out of whack by my current standards, but that seemed like a good idea at the time. There are also plenty of things that within a particular culture can be completely acceptable, and the risks be relatively invisible because they happen so rarely, and thus the societally imposed consequences don't register.

I'd argue that drunk driving is one such thing, because those arrested, at least in my circles, generally don't talk about it, or try to hush it up. Middle aged casual drinkers probably routinely drive with a .1 or so BAC, and even if they double their accident rates getting caught is an extreme black swan event, but we don't make snarky comments about the desirability of Chateau St. Jean chardonnay.

Admittedly the third offense there does throw it into a slightly different light, but only a little.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-03 21:35:37.160543+00 by: topspin

The problem is simple folks.

This is your friend and this is your enemy.

It's all about control. <----- has lots of meanings.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-03 22:54:23.945187+00 by: m

The fantasy statistics are nothing new. In the early eighties the Feds and local authorities were using kidnapping scares as a means of increasing budgets and the power of law. Claims were made that 2-3 million children and adolescents were victims of stranger kidnapping each year. The FBI and police would stand on podiums and sit on panels lending their imprimatur to such incredible nonsense, even though they would usually not repeat it themselves. It is clear that if these numbers were true, then over half of all children would have been kidnapped by the time they were 18.

The statistic of 50,000 a year was paraded as the number of murdered children. Not that many people were murdered, and the true number for children was around 500.

These numbers, and others like them, were flung around like gospel and repeatedly reported without question. Their purpose to create fear, increase budgets and sell newspapers. And most importantly to promote fear generated law that would otherwise not be passed.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-04 15:24:04.389965+00 by: JT

Eric, I agree entirely that some people don't associate cause and effect as efficiently as others. But being mentally deficient and unable to justify cause vs effect or even right vs wrong isn't an excuse in my book. If someone is unable to realize that doing action a will result in punishment b, then that person needs to be in a home where they're unable to harm those around them, not part of society and walking amongst those who can follow the laws and morals of soceity. Apparently this guy is taking drugs and burgling houses repeatedly... not quite the guy I want living next to my girlfriend and kids. If he's not in prison, maybe a mental home would be better for him where his rehabilitation can be given a higher priority than his care custody and control that would be provided by the criminal justice system. Prison may not be the best solution, but if it keeps him off of drugs and out of other people's houses, then maybe it's best for society, even if it's not the best for the individual in question.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-04 16:55:27.305217+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

m, it's even worse than that, it's closer to 1,000 to 1, not just 100 to one. From the U.S. Department of Justice National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children:

During the study year, there were an estimated 115 stereotypical kidnappings, defined as abductions perpetrated by a stranger or slight acquaintance and involving a child who was transported 50 or more miles, detained overnight, held for ransom or with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed.

And the child wasn't recovered in only 44% of those cases. Note that "non-family abduction" is

...defined more broadly to include all nonfamily perpetrators (friends and acquaintances ...)

So the rest of the 58k+ in that sample year included both family and people close to the family [edit: and kidnappings without intent to keep or kill the abductee]. And for that we have the three strikes law:

Joe Klaas offered a different perspective in "The Legacy," a documentary film about three strikes.

"Justice for Polly, it's too late," he said. "Justice for the rest of the kids in this country is to create a better place for them to live, not just a place with bigger and better prisons."

JT, I totally believe that we need to revamp the justice system so that we're not simply pumping people back into the cycles which allow them to continually re-offend, but my belief is that we accomplish that with alternatives to prison, not by more of it. Although those alternatives are probably still involuntary and could be termed "incarceration".

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-05 19:54:14.457135+00 by: Dan Lyke

This didn't seem to warrant a front page entry, but seemed apropos to the discussion about risk/reward trade-offs: Broadcom co-founder faces drug charges:

Broadcom Corp. co-founder Henry T. Nicholas III was indicted Thursday on fraud, conspiracy and drug charges - including allegations he spiked the drinks of technology executives and customer representatives with ecstasy and maintained a warehouse for ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine.

A warehouse?

#Comment Re: Meth dosage, addiction, and prison made: 2008-06-06 19:47:21.78765+00 by: skrubly

If you have never done meth before, twenty dollars in Sonoma County will get you enough to stay awake more or less continually for 48 hours or more. Not sure what the grammage is (and of course that depends on purity, as well) but the effects of x dollars of meth and x dollars of cocaine cannot be compared at all. Meth wins the 'fucked up for the money' value proposition every time.

Just being in prison does not keep people off of drugs. There are plenty of drugs in prison.

Addiction doesn't really lend itself to an objective evaluation of cause vs. effect in an individual's life. The best that can happen is a break in the cycle of using and slow recovery through some sort of rehabilitation outside of prison.