You better grow your own.

Back in the seventies we thought it was like that, us against the narcs, a few rebels who thought people deserved to live in a chemically-enhanced universe versus an army of unsmiling Joe Fridays who wanted to stamp out any vestige of non-conformity. And make us stay in Vietnam.

The thing is, people kept dying. Oh, there were some famous folk like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. And I took that seriously. No needles for me. No heroin either. But the drugs kept coming, those brave souls who stood against the Man, and provided us with the stuff.

What we didn't talk about so much until the eighties, or maybe ignored, was the other human price of drugs: violence and crime. Keith Richards can afford to be a junkie, after all he's a multi-millionaire. Robin Williams wasn't far wrong when he said, "Cocaine addiction is a sign you're making too much money." And in order to get that much money you had better be rich and famous, or you'll probably have to steal.

First from your family and friends. Then your employer. Oh, if you do a line about twice a year, you're probably fine, but Rosemary Clooney was also right when she said "(drugs) make you feel really good!" Hard to stop there when everyone wants to feel really good. A friend of mine's son stole from her constantly, and she ended up giving him money for drugs just to preserve peace at home. Or you can start doing break-ins or knocking over convenience stores to get a few bucks. I was once robbed at gunpoint for $14, money the cop told me was used to buy some reefer.

Of course most of that happens in the bad neighborhoods, which is where junkies live because almost nobody can afford to be an addict. So most of the victims happen to be the people who have nothing because it's a lot easier to case a joint in a neighborhood where you belong. While in the hood you can serve as an inadvertent role model for underprivileged children, who get to see the rewards of capitalism from the point of view of the child of an unskilled, or semi-skilled, laborer.

Of course not everyone has to steal to get money for drugs. You can always sell yourself. Pretty girls have it easier, why they can sometimes ride along with someone who for the moment has the cash and the goods, but if now, well if you're pretty there's a man out there willing to give you money for a taste. You can shake it and sell it and when the needle goes in you'll feel really good too. Until the rush fades.

Women like that often enhance the appeal of that other oft-overlooked role model, the pusher. Dealers have money, nice cars and girls. They live the good life, unlike all those Poindexters sweating in the physics lab. Dealers have goodies to distribute too, particularly if you manage to forget that shooting you saw the other night. When mom can't afford to buy you new shoes despite working two jobs, the pusher-man can toss you a buck now and then. Life looks good there.

Of course life isn't terribly long for Mr. Dealer-Man. At least not at the street level. Drugs cost real money, and they bring in real money which is what allows Mr. Pusher Man to afford that fancy car and his fancy women. That much money matters. Which is why in the eighties the romantic image we had of the drug industry began to fade. Began to fade when street gangs competed to dominate the drug business, and the drive-by shooting became a way of life in many communities. The drive by is a fine urban tactic, a car moving through the neighborhood is perfectly normal. If the situation doesn't look good, keep the gun down. But if you get a shot take it. Better to use an Uzi because though many bangers call themselves a "soldier", they can't shoot for shit. Automatic weapons improve your odds and they look a lot more bad-assed when you want to impress the local boys.

So the free-market rules when it comes to competing for your drug money. Competition is so fierce on the drug streets. And overseas as well. Drug cartels set up little shadow governments in Columbia back in the eighties and they were prominent enough Tom Clancy wrote a novel featuring them as a national security threat. Of course like all little empires Columbian drug lords ruled their territory through violence. At one time half of Columbia's Supreme Court Justices had been murdered, and killing cops, prosecutors and judges was just plain normal. No sane man would take such work.

But that's the way it is. You have to give something to get something. Your drug money (and your oil money) helps fund the Taleban insurgency. The tens of thousands killed in Chiapas, Mexico during the past couple decades are just the cost of doing business. Fifty thousand dead, pretty close to what America lost in the Vietnam War. Can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. Ever hear of the Zetas? Drug users pay their salaries.

It's like this: If you want to be a responsible drug user, you better make it yourself. You better grow it yourself. Pot growers have been known to booby-trap their fields and kill hikers who wander too close. There is no part of the drug industry that isn't spattered with blood. There is no part of the industry which doesn't teach kids that the way to a brighter future comes from breaking the law rather over hard work and sacrifice. There is no part of the drug industry which isn't founded on broken bodies and spirits. If you put your money into the system, it may be your money which goes to buy the bullet which turns some young mother's brains into goo.

So make it yourself. Grow it yourself. Completely. Or you can never call yourself a responsible drug user.