Penn Jillette Rants On Drug Criminalization

People who genuinely care about African-Americans in this country should be supporting

  • Decriminalization of drugs
  • School choice
Everything else is a rounding error, or a way for prominent black leaders to get TV time.  Those are the two things that would have an impact.


  1. me:

    We should go the other way: recriminalize alcohol. Oh, and breathing, while we're at it.
    Just think about how much cheaper it would be to build a wall around the US and declare all of it a prison.

  2. Jon:

    People who genuinely care about African-Americans in this country should be supporting

    Decriminalization of drugs
    Defunding of all government schooling (i.e., make a free market)

  3. Harry:

    Think you should add abolishing minimum wage -- no rounding error there!

  4. Ted Rado:

    I am a live and let live person. I don't meddle in other peoples' lives and don't want them to meddle in mine. If someone wants to screw up their life by getting hooked on drugs or booze, that's their decision. The problem is that drug addiction leads to crime to pay for the drugs. I would hate to shoot some drug crazed loonie who breaks into my home. It also leads to derelicts hanging out in the streets. I am not sure I am right, but didn't some of the experiments with allowing drugs (Amsterdam, I think, and Switzerland) end in disaster? I assume that the existing drug laws slow down some who are contemplating trying drugs. Many do not wish to risk jail.

    There will always be idiots that do drugs, become alcoholics, spend more than they earn, impregnate every female in sight, etc. and generally work overtime to screw up their lives. What to do about them, I do not know.

  5. Mark2:

    @Ted There were two European experiments, one a failure and one a success. The Swiss experiment was a failure, but that is because they established drug zones in parks were derelicts were allowed to smoke, and could hang out and get free needles and medical attention and smoke their stuff - seemed great, but the derelicts left to their own devices, created a crime wave, and derelicts from all over the world came to join the party. Turned into a mess.

    Portugal, just decriminalized everywhere and did not set up drug zones people are free to smoke at home, they don't have to go to a park. At home they also have friends neighbors and parents to keep them in control of their most outrageous social activity. The hey dude, we are all bored smokin' in the park, lets vandalize some cars impetus does not exist. Portugal to most peoples surprise is an incredible success with drug use actually going down!

  6. Matt:


    A sizable portion of the crimes committed by addicts are various forms of theft to get money to buy drugs. A significant percentage of the cost of drugs in the US is tied directly to the artifical scarcity and risks created by the drug war.

    If you de-criminalize drugs, the costs would go down drastically and there for the amount of crime commited by addicts would be reduced.

    When prohibition was being repealed, people oposed to the repeal made the same kind of comments about alcohol that you have made about drugs. History says that these concerns are mostly overblown.

  7. GoneWithTheWind:

    I have a simple question: If you decriminalize illegal drugs, i.e. make it legal to buy and use them would you also allow us to buy and use prescription drugs without the need of seeing a doctor? If not why not, since it would appear to be contrary to what you are suggesting.

  8. LoneSnark:

    Principle is sound. A prescription should only be required for drugs not yet approved by the FDA as safe.

  9. Bram:

    Great rant by Penn.

    I get an ear infection every summer. Why should I have go to a doctor so he can tell me what I already know, then write me a permission slip for the Z-Pack? I'm an adult and would like to be treated as such.

  10. tomw:

    Re: prescription drugs.

    Do you know all the interactions?
    Do you know which antibiotic is appropriate?
    Do you know the proper dose/frequency/duration?
    Do you know related allergic reactions?

    Patients have demanded antibiotics for the common cold, and docs have complied to shut up the whiners, regardless of the fact that a virus caused cold will not be affected by an antibiotic.
    The result, along with people taking part of the scrip just until they feel better, is new drug resistant varieties of bacteria.
    We are running out of effective bullets, and certain administrations legislations reduced the incentive to search for newer, better bullets.
    Soon, the TB patient that cannot be cured, and the death of Edsel Ford due to an infected blister from playing tennis will become common again.
    I vote for de-criminalizing controlled substances that can harm the consumer, just as alcohol, but not those where the community as a whole will be affected by the actions of a few. We now have MRSA in some hospitals, such that they are believed to be infected beyond disinfecting. They will be torn down.
    I point out that even if you get all addicted to stop using, the sellers will create new addicts. "the first hit is free..." Watch the PBS series on the Meth cookers. You will not be encouraged.

  11. tomw:

    I forgot to add, Penn Gillette was right. The presidency would not be a valid aspiration for a convicted drug user/abuser. Just as Ayers is "guilty as sin and free as a bird" in the country he's determined to destroy, activities which can permanently damage young people are snickered at and considered the antics of the youthful, nothing to be concerned about.
    I disagree. If there were no statute of limitations...

  12. me:


    No, I don't. They do helpfully list everything on the instructions, and for antibiotics I have taken since I was a child, I am very certain that I can make a sound determination. Why regulate what you can determine with common sense? Nobody is saying "never go see a doctor", the argument is that as well-informed rational beings, we can make a whole lot of decisions by ourselves.

    Being forced to make an appointment, sit in a waiting room with lots of sick people in the middle of a work day, then get a permission slip for the exact same thing I've taken hundreds of times, only to finally be able to go to the pharmacy and buy the prescriptions is a rent-seeking diseconomy.

    And if docs comply with prescribing antibiotics for viral infections, that supports the argument above (unfortunately I know this to be true - one of my doctors once tried to prescribe one for the flu. I changed doctors.) The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a direct consequence of the prevalence of use of antibiotics (mostly in animal systems, but I digress), and another example of why removing the (dysfunctional) prescription system for common medicine would be a good step.

  13. Jon:


    That's why we have trained, educated pharmacists. They know - usually better than the docs - the how, why, what and when regarding drugs and their interactions.


  14. Mark2:

    @Jon, there is move to let some pharmacists prescribe for certain common ailments. I think it is reasonable. Even for my cholesterol meds where I should be tested yearly. I should be able to show the pharm I have been tested and he can give me my Zocor. I don't understand in this case why I should spend 100 bucks a year to see the doctor to do the same exact thing over and over again anyway. Dr: you need me to prescribe more Zocor, you need a fasting cholesterol test. Me: OK Dr: That will be $110 bucks and I refuse to negotiate that but if you have insurance, I will allow them to pay me $70. See you next year.

    I live in California, so I can just go to a drug dispensary where a quack doctor is handy to give me a prescription for medical meth.

  15. Ted Rado:

    I am still wondering if cheaper drugs resulting from decriminalization would increase drug use. The consumption of everything goes up as the price comes down. Stealing might be reduced, but I think drug use would increase. Does that not bother anyone?

  16. Bram:

    Ted - Not in the least. My recreational drug use won't change even a little.

  17. Will:

    In the end I think it be close to zero sum, people might smoke weed instead of drink but that's not really a concern.

    Weed is so widely available that anyone who really wants it can get it. I don't see a safe supply of it being available creating lots of drug addicts.

  18. GoneWithTheWind:

    "A prescription should only be required for drugs not yet approved by the FDA as safe." Why? Is crack "safe"? we want to legalize drugs that kill tens of thousands a year when used as expected and you don't want to legalize drugs not "approved by the FDA. Either the constitutional arguement is correct and as adults we have a right to put into our bodies what we want or it isn't.

    "Do you know all the interactions?
    Do you know which antibiotic is appropriate?
    Do you know the proper dose/frequency/duration?
    Do you know related allergic reactions?"

    Do you know all the interactions of the hard drugs that are no illegal? Which is appropriate; crack or cocaine? What is the proper does of heroin? You do know that in almost every third world country you can buy prescription drugs without a prescription. Are they smarter then us?

  19. Mark2:

    Rock and Roll Dr you're on the air.

  20. John David Galt:

    Those two things would help, but they're not enough. Priority 1 has to be to eliminate the subsidy (AFDC or whatever they've renamed it these days) for having children out of wedlock, and the unfair child-support-enforcement apparatus that goes with it. The majority of US kids are now born in these circumstances, and they have no future. They are the barbarians that will destroy civilization if it isn't stopped fast.

  21. damaged justice:

    Weapons, and drugs. Decriminalizing one without decriminalizing the other is a recipe for disaster.

  22. May Xu:

    Milton Friedman - Why Drugs Should Be Legalized