Potency (Continued)

by Jonathan H. Adler

Jonah, you make some good points. I agree addicts are irrational and that strong substances will still exist. My claim is simply that the mean concentration of alcoholic beverages increased during prohibition and declined thereafter, and that we would expect the same to occur with drugs. More people make and drink beer and wine; fewer make and drink the most potent concoctions. Grain — which typically has double the alcohol content of most fine whiskeys — is still made, but very few drink it. A street wino may buy grain because one little bottle will pack a greater punch, but most of the alcoholics I’ve encountered are content to overdose on shots, martinis, and the like. Grain was much more the alcohol of choice under prohibition. With an end to drug prohibition, I believe more people would smoke pot, but fewer would smoke crack. This doesn’t mean that the hard-case addicts wouldn’t still run after the strongest stuff — satisfying a bad addiction might lead folks to the strongest stuff, just as I want the best painkillers possible when I get a migraine. Nonetheless, I’d be willing to bet that the most potent (and dangerous) stuff would account for a smaller portion of the drug market.

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