I’ll never forget this guy’s plan for stopping all drug crime.
When I heard it I nearly fell over in a fit of laughter and shock.
How he could believe this was beyond me.
How he thought it made sense surprised me even more.
His grand idea for stopping drug trafficking once and for all went like this.
The US government needed to control all production and supply. Only then would all drug trafficking be stopped. Because without supply there’s no demand.
If you’ve already noticed the huge flaw in his plan, I assume you’re laughing right now.
If you haven’t caught it, no problem.
The awkward flaw in his plan is this…
We’ve already tried it!
The Feds have tried over and over again to clamp down on the supply. They’ve tried to control the means of production. But it’s failed time and time again.
After hearing his flawed plan for ultimate drug prohibition, I was floored.
I’m sure my face showed it.
We were in college. A liberal arts college to be specific. Economics, history, and politics were at the forefront of the learning process.
This guy was a senior at the time. How he forgot everything he learned in Economics Class is unclear (any ideas?).
How he forgot everything he learned in US History class was disconcerting. Um, prohibition anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
A senior, in a politically focused college, was giving me this grand plan for drug prohibition.
And it couldn’t have been worse.
There I was, a first semester freshmen going head to head with him and two other seniors. They thought his idea was great.
Somehow it made sense to them.
Not to me.
Like you, I view the Drug War as a complete failure. It’s created nothing but conflict, destruction, and a bigger government.
Those seniors didn’t see it my way.
That’s natural, not everyone is going to view the drug war the same.
But for you and me, that’s not ok.
You want your friends and family to wake up and recognize the harm that’s been caused.
The war on drugs has destroyed families. It’s ripped communities apart. It’s caused a culture of crime. The more America wakes up to this fact, the better we’ll be.
So how do you win these people over to your side?
First off, I think it’s important to realize the basis for their pro-drug war views.
Why They Want Drug Prohibition
The goal, in their mind, isn’t to restrict people’s lives.
It’s to protect lives, and families.
This is the most common reason I’ve heard for prohibiting drugs.
Whenever I bring up legalizing drugs (all of them), this is the response I get…
“But drugs are harmful. They’re dangerous for your health and for families.”
It’s fear. That’s what their reasoning for drug criminalization is based on.
They’re afraid that families will get hurt because of easily accessible drugs. They’re afraid of higher addiction rates. They’re afraid of child abuse. They’re afraid of the unknown.
So first off, it’s fear that underlines their views on drug legalization.
If you’re afraid of the results, the last thing you’re going to do is to legalize the facilitator of those results.
This isn’t about control, it’s about fear.
Addressing Those Fears
Now you’ve got to address the fear.
One way that I’ve found most effective is to separate drugs from actions.
For instance, say someone robs a convenience store while they’re high on cocaine. The crime wouldn’t be under the influence of cocaine. The crime would be robbery.
You separate the drug (i.e. cocaine) from the action (i.e. robbery).
This is already done with alcohol.
Plenty of crimes are committed while under the influence of alcohol, but no one’s pushing to criminalize alcohol.
So right there you have a perfect example of how this would work.
Say someone voices their reasons against legalizing drugs. “Drugs are dangerous,” they say, “People would commit crimes while under the influence. And what about parents who abuse their children while under the influence?”
Basically, this person is afraid of what will happen when people are under the influence.
Here’s how you address their fear.
“That’s a great point. I don’t want people to get hurt either. But instead of attacking the drug, let’s attack the action. It’s how cases are handled with alcohol. If someone is drunk and beats their kid, that person goes to jail for child abuse. They probably get put in a recovery program as part of their sentence. But it’s still legal to drink and even get drunk. So instead of prosecuting everyone. Let’s just prosecute the people that hurt others. How’s that sound?”
See what I did there? I related to the person by acknowledging that I don’t want people to get hurt either. I then proposed a different solution to their problem.
No ridicule or mockery in that response. I related to their basic reasoning, then proposed a different solution while offering up a real world example of said solution.
You’ve got to focus on the fear. That’s the key.
Address it respectably. Mocking someone’s fear, regardless of how illogical, does nothing for them.
Always propose a solution to their fear.
Crafting the Message of Drug Legalization
You’ve recognized their fear. You’ve addressed it. Now you have to take it home.
How do you wrap it all up into one succinct, convincing, and relatable message?
Here’s how you do it…
- Find the Fear: opposition to drug legalization comes out of fear. Whatever argument they use you need to find the fear in it. Here’s some good questions to ask: What are they afraid of? What fear did I have to get over to accept drug legalization? Why would they hold to this belief? What is this fear trying to protect?
- Relate to the Fear: before you ever convince them that your position is the best, you need to convince them that you share their fear. You have to put yourself in their shoes and understand where this fear is coming from. They don’t want families to get hurt, so do you. You just found a way to be relatable to their fear. Use that!
- The Solution to the Fear: every fear has a solution. The solution in this case is to separate the drug from the action. The drug isn’t the cause, it’s just a part of the whole situation.
- Using Examples to Combat Fear: you have a solution, but that it can’t do all the leg work by itself. You need to pull in a few examples (real world ones preferably). The alcohol example works like a charm because it’s a substance, yet isn’t prohibited by law.
- Propose, Don’t Attack: you always want to propose a solution. Never use a solution to attack with. No one accepts a solution when you’re clubbing them to death with it. Offer your solution as an alternative to their predicament. Think of it like surgery; you need to be gentle and precise.
- Answer Follow-Up Questions: no matter how good the solution is, questions are bound to be raised. Be ready and respond calmly and clearly. Use previous bullet points to craft your answers. Think of each answer like another solution. Address fears with answers.
- Don’t Expect a Win: no one changes their mind in a day. It doesn’t work that way. Think of it like a building you’re creating inside their mind. Sooner or later they’ll realize it’s there. That’s when they start to come over to your side. One idea at a time, planted in their mind is what will win the day.
I probably creeped you out a little at the end. Don’t worry, this isn’t some Matrix level weirdness.
It’s just how it works.
I didn’t turn from my neo-con ways in a week. It took several years of continual inside and outside influences to transform my views into what they are today.
The same is true when you’re trying to convince your friend that drug legalization is the best policy.
Take your time, be nice about it, and don’t mock their views.
You have to craft the right message, but you also have to send it at the right time.