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Taylorsville Republican criticizes ban on 'spice'

by Jesse Fruhwirth
- Posted // 2011-02-25 -

Governor Gary Herbert plans to sign a bill today banning so-called designer drugs "spice" as well as "Ivory wave" also known as "bath salts," but one Republican legislator questions the wisdom of adding drugs to the controlled substances list that "we can't control anyway."

Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, was appointed to the Legislature in 2009 and was re-eelected with 61 percent of the vote in 2010. Anderson is president both of the National Child Care Association and the Utah Private Child Care Association. He sponsored House Bill 200 that would have restricted sales of spice to individuals 18 years and younger--a concept endorsed by drug-war critics Drug Policy Alliance--but would not have restricted use by adults. His bill lost out, though, to a competing bill that creates strict prohibition on spice (except for medical research purposes).

But the bill doesn't just ban "spice," it bans a convoluted list of active ingredients found in spice products. Critics have argue that the list of new designer drugs may expand greatly in the coming years and prohibition is the wrong approach to address the issue.

"I wasn't necessarily comfortable with adding all of these different components of spice or or Ivory Wave or dish washing soap or whatever else they choose to add to the list of controlled substances that we can't control anyway," Anderson told City Weekly. "I don't think that's effective public policy."

Anderson questions the logic that he says underlay some lawmakers' vote to ban spice.

"The strangest argument that kept coming up was, 'Look, if we ban spice people would go back to smoking marijuana,'" Anderson said. "[Meaning], people would prefer to smoke marijuana rather than smoke spice, and [supporters of the spice ban] thought spice may have worse health effects than marijuana ... and if both were illegal, people would make the 'right' choice and smoke pot."

Anderson said his constituents share and expect his libertarian bent.

"As I spoke to people [on the campaign trail], I felt this was pretty clear coming from my constituents, that they do not want their legislature or representative up here creating more law, restricting freedoms even more, trying to control people's actions," Anderson said. "They feel government plays too big of a role in their lives and I tend to agree."

Utah lawmakers skeptical of the status quo on the war on drugs--with prohibition and criminal sanctions at its core--are either very rare, or rarely willing to out themselves. In February 2010, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, publicly endorsed the idea of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes--the first, and still the only Utah lawmaker to do so.

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Posted // February 26,2011 at 04:56

Thanks to prohibition we're about to lose all semblance of that once ordered, prosperous and safe society. Myself, along with many others, have been debating prohibitionists on this for many years. We have shown what destruction prohibition has wrought on all the civil institutions of this once great nation, -we've always provided facts and statistics - they, the prohibitionists, have countered with either lies, personal abuse or even serious threats of violence.

Ending the insanity of drug prohibition by legalized regulation, respecting the rights of the responsible users and focusing on addiction as a sickness, like we do with alcohol and tobacco, may save what remains of our economy and civil institutions along with countless lives and livelihoods. Prohibition continues unabated for shameful political reasons. It cannot, and never will, reduce drug use or addiction.

Prohibition has permanently scarred our national character as well as our individual psyches. Our national policies and cultural practices have become pervaded by the fascistic, prohibitionist mind-set which has turned our domestic police force into a bunch of paramilitary thugs who often commit extra-judicial beatings and executions while running roughshod over our rights in order to "protect us from ourselves".

When we eventually manage to put the horrors of this moronothon behind us, we'll need to engage in some very deep and honest soul-searching as to what we want to be as a nation. Many of our freedoms have been severely circumscribed or lost altogether, our economy has been trashed and our international reputation for being "free and fair" has been dragged through a putrid sewer by vicious narrow-minded drug warrior zealots who are ignorant of abstract concepts such as truth, justice and decency. We'll need to make sure that such a catastrophe is never ever repeated. This may mean that public hearings or tribunals will be held where those who’ve been the instigators and cheerleaders of this abomination will have to answer for their serious crimes against our once prosperous and proud nation.

Each day you remain silent, you help to destroy the Constitution, fill the prisons with our children, and empower terrorists and criminals worldwide while wasting hundreds of billions of your own tax dollars. Prohibition bears many strong and startling similarities to Torquemada­'s inquisition­, it's supporters are servants of tyranny and hate. If you're aware of but not enraged by it's shear waste and cruel atrocities then both your heart and soul must surely be dead.

Prohibition engendered black market profits are obscenely huge. Remove this and you remove the ability to bribe or threaten any government official or even whole governments. The argument that legalized regulation won't severely cripple organized crime is truly bizarre. Of course, the bad guys won't just disappear, but if you severely diminish their income, you also severely diminish their power. The proceeds from theft, extortion, pirated goods etc. are a drop in the ocean compared to what can be earned by selling prohibited/unregulated drugs in a black market estimated to be worth 400,000 million dollars. Without the lure and power of so much easy capital, it's also very unlikely that new criminal enterprises will fill the void left by those you disrupt or entirely eradicate.

Millions of fearless North Africans have recently shown us that recognizing oppression also carries the weight of responsibility to act upon and oppose that oppression.

The drug czar's office is not only unnecessary but also the greatest waste of space since vows of fidelity were included in the christian marriage service.