Comparing Political Platforms (8) Drugs

What does the Bible say about recreational drug use? Absolutely nothing…explicitly. But if there’s one reason the Libertarian party is on the map, it’s because of their position on legalization of drugs. So, let’s pluck recreational drug use and “victimless crimes” out of the Libertarian Platform’s discussion of Crime and Justice and address it first. Separate treatment is merited because it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of Crime and Justice which will be covered next. Crime, Justice, and law enforcement are of great concern to many Americans and that topic deserves to be a standalone. So let’s continue comparing party platforms regarding their positions on drugs in America. (The full series of topics, including links to the documents, are included below.)

DNC The “war on drugs” has led to the imprisonment of millions of Americans, disproportionately people of color, without reducing drug use. Whenever possible, Democrats will prioritize prevention and treatment over incarceration when tackling addiction and substance use disorder. We will build on effective models of drug courts, veterans’ courts, and other diversionary programs that seek to give nonviolent offenders opportunities for rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration. Because of conflicting federal and state laws concerning marijuana, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1″ federal controlled substances and to appropriately regulate it, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization. We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize it or provide access to medical marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact in terms of arrest rates for African Americans that far outstrip arrest rates for whites, despite similar usage rates. (p.16) We must confront the epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, specifically the opioid crisis and other drugs plaguing our communities, by vastly expanding access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers…We think it is time for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor, and state regulatory agencies to fully implement the protections of the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008—which means that American medical insurers, including the federal government, will need to disclose how they make their medical management decisions. We should also do more to educate our youth, as well as their families, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends, to intervene early to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. We should help state and local leaders establish evidence-based, age-appropriate, and locally-tailored prevention programs. These programs include school-based drug education programs that have been shown to have meaningful effects on risky behavior; community-based peer mentorship and leadership programs; and after-school activities that deter drug use and encourage life skills. (p.36)
LP The prescribed role of government is to protect the rights of every individual including the right to life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited in their application to violations of the rights of others through force or fraud, or to deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm.

Therefore, we favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.  (bold highlight, mine)

We support restitution to the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the criminal or the negligent wrongdoer. The constitutional rights of the criminally accused, including due process, a speedy trial, legal counsel, trial by jury, and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, must be preserved. We assert the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.

RNC The progress made over the last three decades against drug abuse is eroding, whether for cultural reasons or for lack of national leadership. In many jurisdictions, marijuana is virtually legalized despite its illegality under federal law. At the other end of the drug spectrum, heroin use nearly doubled from 2003 to 2013, while deaths from heroin have quadrupled. All this highlights the continuing conflicts and contradictions in public attitudes and public policy toward illegal substances. Congress and a new administration should consider the long-range  implications of these trends for public health and safety and prepare to deal with the problematic consequences.  The misuse of prescription painkillers — opioids — is a related problem. Heroin and opioid abuse touches our communities, our homes, and our families in ways that have grave effects on Americans in every community. With a quadrupling of both their sales and their overdose deaths, the opioid crisis is ravaging communities all over the country, often hitting rural areas harder than urban. Because over-prescription of drugs is such a large part of the problem, Republican legislation now allows Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans to limit patients to a single pharmacy. Congressional Republicans have also called upon the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure that no physician will be penalized for limiting opioid prescriptions. We look for expeditious agreement between the House and Senate on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which addresses the opioid epidemic from both the demand and supply sides of the problem. (p.40)


platform drugsSo, if the Bible really doesn’t have anything to say explicitly about recreational drug use, why even cover this?

There are actually several good reasons:

First, drug use in America remains controversial. It’s a thorny issue because it’s not mentioned in the Constitution and not explicitly in the Bible, but there are some who would argue that medicinal uses are legitimate, while others who see it only as a pathway to outright legalization.

I don’t believe we should avoid discussing controversial things.

So a second reason is that a robust, fact-filled debate gets us beyond the emotion and helps us to see that the party platforms couldn’t be farther apart than on this issue, though for different reasons.

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Drug use can be argued (as the Libertarians do)…to be a victimless crime.

There is ample evidence that marijuana can help in certain medical situations.  I’m not a doctor so I don’t know if there are other prescriptions to do the same thing.  Beyond that, to people buying cannabis in Colorado, for example, and smoking it in Nebraska in their own home and bothering no one, it can be argued as a victimless crime and clogging up our court systems with unnecessary cases. They have a point.

But there is plenty of evidence to the contrary as well.  Drugs may have hidden victims that a casual observer or a short-range consumer of news might not notice.

For those considering it a crime with plenty of victims, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, an “emerging drug trend being encountered throughout the state is the mixture of tobacco or marijuana cigarettes and “blunts” that have been soaked in embalming fluid, then dried. The main users appear to be teenagers and adolescents in their 20s… According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, it is common for marijuana to be laced with PCP and/or embalming fluid, both of which produce a hallucinogenic effect. Cigarettes soaked with embalming fluid trend to burn slower, thereby increasing the chance for a prolonged high.”  For a description of “wet,” “fry,” and “illy” read this summary article by BBC news.

Some of the crimes being committed which we’ve seen in high profile news stories include the theft of cigarillos to make the blunts on the front end of use… as well as aggressive and erratic behavior we’ve seen in news stories regarding tragic arrests. Police cannot predict the behavior of someone who has smoked such a blunt, nor is the offender sometimes even aware of the behavior he’s exhibiting. It’s dangerous for both the police and the user, especially in domestic violence situations since laced marijuana has been clearly implicated in an increase of these crimes, according to recent studies.

Is the victim of murder by someone unaware of his behavior due to clouded thinking from drugs any less a victim of murder than cases in which the offender was mentally ill… or like with ISIS, completely calculating? Is the victim of theft any different because the offender’s purpose was drug use than if the theft was long-planned for personal acquisition of property that belonged to the victim? There are principles at stake if we only will separate out the drug from the crime.

If the Bible says nothing explicitly about drugs, are there any principles for us to follow? Sure!
  • The Bible tells us to be clear thinking. 1 Peter 4:7 “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”
  • The Bible denounces drunkenness as a problem, not simply the consumption of wine. Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” To Timothy, Paul writes, 1 Timothy 5:23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
  • The Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should treat our bodies as if God Himself is living there because He does. 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
  • And the Bible tells us that authorities are there for a purpose: Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.”

Many arguments and justifications are simply an excuse to do what we want, whether or not it comes at anyone else’s expense.

To that, the Bible says to love our neighbor, a Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

So at the end of it all, we have a conscience. And the reason we have laws is that some people don’t use theirs for social good. Where does yours stand on this issue?

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Categories Articles, Articles and Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on August 8, 2016

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