Published May 10, 2017

Doug Casey on the Opioid Crisis

Justin’s note: “Enjoy looking over your shoulder, constantly wondering if today’s the day we come for you. Enjoy trying to sleep tonight, wondering if tonight’s the night our SWAT team blows your front door off the hinges. We are coming for you.”

This sounds like something from an ‘80s action movie. But that’s an actual quote from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in Tavares, Florida.

Sheriff Grinnell delivered this message last month while flanked by four combat-ready officers wearing ski masks. It looks like someone from ISIS directed it. You can watch the bizarre video here.

Grinnell’s message was aimed at local drug dealers. You see, Lake County has a serious opioid problem. And like many other places in the US, it's fighting its drug problem as if it were a war.

After I watched it, I called up Casey Research founder Doug Casey to get his take on the opioid crisis. Below is a transcript of our conversation. We hope you enjoy it.


Justin: Doug, what do you make of the opioid crisis?

Doug: The news cycle seems to be emphasizing the use of opioids at the moment. Now, these are almost all legal prescription drugs, not illegally smuggled heroin and morphine, as was the case in The French Connection. People get their doctors to prescribe opioids for pain. Of course, pain is not something that you can prove. So it’s legitimate for doctors to prescribe these things. After a while the patient may develop a chemical dependency.

This gets into why people become addicted. I’m of the opinion that all kinds of addictions, not just the opioids in question, but addictions to cocaine, meth, other kinds of narcotics, alcohol, or anything else are basically because of pain.

But it’s not necessarily physical pain. It’s psychological pain, which may be even more important. And psychological pain means that people want to check out of reality. So as the economy gets worse—and I think it will get much, much worse in the near future—you can expect levels of addiction to skyrocket, not to go down.

Addiction is a bad habit, but it’s nobody else’s business. From an ethical point of view, your primary possession is your own body. If you don’t own it, and have a right to do whatever you want with it, then you in fact have no rights at all. That’s why the drug war itself is criminal, and morally insane.

The efforts of dangerous idiots like Sheriff Grinnell are counterproductive. If they confiscate a ton of drugs, that just drives up the market price for those that remain. And increases the profits of dealers, drawing more dealers into the business. And encouraging addicts who can’t afford the higher prices to turn to crime in order to support their habit. That’s entirely apart from increasing the level of violence in society, corrupting the police, and lots of other negative fallout.

I’m always amazed by the immense hypocrisy and stupidity of the drug warriors, as well.

For instance, Rush Limbaugh has always been a major drug warrior. He’s actually said on his show that junkies should be executed because they’re such a danger. And then, what do you know? Turns out that he was an oxycodone junkie. Just like the major crusaders against homosexuality—mirabile dictu—turn out to be closet queers themselves half the time. Like Larry Craig, the Republican Senator who claimed he just had a “wide stance” in a public men’s room.

These people seem driven to make laws against the very things they most fear in themselves.

Justin: What’s fueling this crisis?

Doug: Well, many of these opioids are being paid for by Medicaid and Medicare. So the government’s actually paying for the drug boom.

And it’s especially perverse because drugs were a non-problem before the Harrison Act, which was passed in 1914. The act basically made all opium and coca derivatives illegal in the US. Before that there were very few people that were addicted to narcotics, even though narcotics were available to anybody at the local corner drugstore. Addicts were looked down on as suffering from a moral failure, but there was no more profit in heroin than in aspirin. So there were no cartels or drug gangs.

What we’re dealing with isn’t a medical problem, it’s a psychological, even a spiritual, problem. And a legal problem, because self-righteous busybodies keep passing laws—with very severe penalties—regulating what people can or can’t do with their own bodies. It’s part of the general degradation of civilization that I’ve been putting my finger on over the last few years.

The government is the problem behind addiction, on all levels. It’s a major cause for people feeling psychological pain. And they’re the sole reason these medicines are illegal and unavailable. On the subject of addiction, people can become addicted to most anything—food, sugar, alcohol, gambling, sleep, sex—you name it. It’s not good when you do too much of absolutely anything. But so what?

Justin: So, I take it prohibition isn’t the answer?

Doug: Illegalizing something does nothing but create a black market and give people a reason to induce other people to get high. I mean, people have been drinking alcohol for about the last 10,000 years. But it didn’t become a real problem until the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act passed in 1920. At that point, it financed the mafia. Laws turn simple bad habits into massive and profitable criminal enterprises.

The government learned absolutely nothing from the failure of alcohol prohibition. What they’re doing with drugs makes an occasional, trivial problem into a national catastrophe…

Justin: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Doug.

Doug: My pleasure.


Justin’s note: Tomorrow, Doug and I will continue our conversation by discussing the “militarization” of US police departments. As you can imagine, Doug has interesting things to say about this topic. So be sure to check your inbox.

P.S. Doug shares his unique thoughts every month in The Casey Report, our flagship publication. If you sign up today, you’ll get complete access to all of our archived content, including recent essays by Doug on the Greater Depression, the migrant crisis, and technology. You’ll also receive specific, actionable advice to help you protect and grow your personal financial empire. You can sign up for a risk-free trial of The Casey Report right here.