Sunday, December 2, 2007

License the User of Adult Substances and Pleasures

In this NYT Ethicist, the liquor store management asks, what to do if a relative begs him to not sell to an alcoholic. The Ethicist has no credibility. He takes an appalling, ridiculous legalistic approach, given the damages of alcoholism. However, he inspired a new idea.

Prohibition was a great period in American life. Crime decreased, in contrast to Hollywood propaganda. The markers of alcoholism decreased, such as deaths from liver failure. Consumption only decreased by 50%. It had no popular support and failed. Draconian measures would be required to enforce it in the future. Laws should have popular support.

What about a licensing approach? Adults would receive a drinking license. Servers would have to verify licensure. The alcoholic adults would lose their licenses. Anyone supplying an unlicensed adult should go to jail for a short period. If harm, even to the alcoholic himself, the supplier is liable in torts. Paid supplying is an intentional tort with scienter, subject to exemplary damages. Unpaid supplying to negligence liability, after the jail term is served. If the supplier has no assets, the criminal conviction permits hard labor in restitution for the full value of the damage.

No data supports nor rebutts this approach. However, it leaves alone the 95% of people who drink without problems. It deters and seeks compensation from the enablers of the problem drinker. It seeks to reduce availability, but only to the problem drinker. As the drinker causes problems, reports from sources add points to the license, until withdrawn.

The Federal government may not mandate states pass any law. They may condition federal health payments for passage of such licensing. The Federal government certainly has a compelling government interest in reducing the impact of alcohol on health costs.

The licensing of the user approach, points, and mandatory insurance applies to all adult substances and pleasures.

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