Some things are banned. Other things are mandated. But a third set of things are neither! So surely your chances of encountering the enforcers of law are minimal of you stick to goods and services that fit firmly in the third category, right? Not so fast, you degenerate libertine! Legal highs are narcotics that haven’t been outlawed or otherwise restricted. We can partake as much as we please, and since the chemicals in question are legal, they can be sold as well! In the UK town of Taunton, the proprietor of a store named Hush has been answering the call for legal highs and drug use paraphernalia. For this, he has been forced to close up shop until the County Council are satisfied he won’t do anything naughty again.

That may seem a raging contradiction since everything sold from that store is legal, but it was complaints of noise and disorderly conduct that the Council were acting on when they ordered Hush’s owner to cease trading. It’s a fact that reports of disorderly behaviour in Taunton town centre at nights have become less frequent since the store was made to close, which has been used as a fait accompli for the ban. After all, if there are complaints going to the police and the local Councils (people in Taunton are served by two local governments) then it surely means there’s a real, deep problem in need of blanket solutions.

It looked like Hush might reopen later this month, but the police got their Magistrate’s Court order, and it’s staying closed at least until late June. The article in the link right here is a little disappointing for its fawning attitude toward the authorities and its dismissal of Simon Tomlin, the proprietor and trader in question. Rather unhelpfully, Somerset County Council (SCC) ‘owns’ the land and building that Hush occupies. This means that, strictly speaking, they can just renege on the terms of the lease, terms which go un-addressed in any of the articles in local news sources. But it wasn’t Somerset County Council that ordered a stop to Tomlin’s activities. However, it also puts SCC on the hook for how people behave on its property, including every inch of road in Taunton.

Perhaps Tomlin is an exemplar of what entrepreneurs meeting existing needs can expect to face from now on. It is certainly true that the drugs trade shows an ugly side to entrepreneurship, what with the legal drug makers making monopoly profits and illegal drug cartels making off much the same way. But this is not some magical fault with human exchange in the marketplace. All of this dysfunction arises due to stringent intellectual property laws and red tape for legal enterprises and the stigma and danger of being outside the law for illegal ones. Simple as. Legal highs do not represent a long term threat to civilisation – the great project to live comfortable lives in undisturbed peace – or the chaos in the evenings would be far worse. And anyway, as to what is happening…

The problem has been horrendously misidentified. This is not a matter of over-permissiveness towards shops, but rather one of disrespect toward the streets themselves by their criminally negligent owner, Somerset County Council. This tax-funded monopolist cannot be challenged, as seen in the case of Mike Watts’ private toll road near Bath last year. There is also the question of self-defence, as Briton’s are banned from defending themselves violently against those who threaten violence, or at least of making a show of force to scare them off, such as brandishing a sawn-off at the drugged-up interlopers.

So ultimately there’s nothing wrong with Hush or with Simon Tomlin, but rather the fault lies with the absurd background to these legal highs; the pointless banning of their illegal brethren, intellectual property laws and other barriers to entry into the drugs-making industry, lack of accountability of street owners, and the ban on self-defence of persons and property by the very people who own that property. Fix those four problems, and in no time at all, the public dis order problem posed by those high on legal narcotics goes away like so much smoke in rain. It’s going to become more obvious that the existence of places like Hush isn’t the problem as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and crystal meth are all legalised over the coming decades, so why not entertain some good sense and withdraw your consent from the institutions and people who really do make your life – and your childrens’ lives – inestimably worse?