Booze & Drugs

Legalization of Drugs

By X

I believe that the current wave of drug abuse is a drain on our economic and social system. The spread of AIDs through dirty drug needles, the destruction of the inner cities, and the black market drug trade are enough to make most people fear and hate drugs and drug users. That is why I support the legalization of all drugs. Most of the serious problems the public associates with illegal drug use are, in reality, caused directly or indirectly by drug prohibition.

Let's assume we did end the war on drugs. What would that mean? The day after legalization goes into effect, the streets of America will be safer. The drug dealers will be gone. Drug pushers will have no incentive to get new people "hooked," as drug companies would sell uncontaminated drugs under FDA regulation. The shootouts between drug dealers would end. Innocent bystanders would not be murdered anymore. Hundreds of thousands of drug "addicts" will no longer be roaming the streets, shoplifting, mugging, breaking into homes in the middle of the night to steal, dealing violently with those who happen to wake up. One year after prohibition is repealed, 825 innocent people who would otherwise have been dead at the hands of drug criminals would be alive and well.

Within days of prohibition repeal, thousands of judges, prosecutors, and police would be freed to catch, try, and imprison violent career criminals, men who commit 50 to 100 serious crimes per year when on the loose, including robbery, rape, and murder. For the first time in years, our overcrowded prisons will have room for these men. Ultimately, repeal of prohibition will open up 75,000 jail cells. Imagine the impact of locking up 75,000 violent criminals, each of whom would have committed 50 crimes per year.

How about those slick young drug dealers who are the new role models for the youth of our cities, with their designer clothes and Mercedes convertibles, always wearing a broad smug smile that says, "crime pays?” They snicker at the honest kids going to school or working for minimum wage. The day after repeal, the honest kids would have the last laugh. The dealers will be out of a job, unemployed.

Parenthetically, the day after repeal organized crime gets a big paycut - $80,000,000,000 (that’s EIGHTY BILLION) per year. That's eighty billion dollars which can now be taxed and brought out of the underground economy. We can reallocate the $15,000,000,000 spent on fighting the domestic war on drugs toward voluntary rehabilitation efforts, or put it towards balancing the budget.

Foreign interdiction effort to halt drug production and trafficking in Latin America probably contributes more to the long-term economic inequality in the Western Hemisphere than any other U.S. policy. After legalization, we can finally start treating our Latin American neighbors like human beings, instead of firebombing them to wipe out their only livelihood. We tolerate American tobacco farmers; we should offer our neighbors the same respect. Additionally, those "evil" drug cartels will be forced to become legitimate businessmen, paying taxes and respecting human rights just like everyone else, just like at the end of alcohol prohibition.

The day after repeal, honest drug education can begin. For the first time in history, it can be honest. There will be no need to prop up the failed war on drugs.

The year before repeal, 500,000 Americans died from illnesses related to overeating and lack of exercise, 390,000 died from smoking and 150,000 died from alcohol. About 3,000 died from cocaine, heroin, and marijuana combined, and many of these deaths resulted from the lack of quality control in the black market. I believe and understand that drug abuse is harmful and eventually fatal. Our government's over dramatization of the "crisis,” however, is being used to justify a racist and dangerous social policy which tramples the rights of all Americans. The day after repeal, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana will, by and large, do no harm to those who choose NOT to consume them.

In contrast, the day before prohibition repeal, ALL Americans, whether or not they choose to use illegal drugs, were forced to endure the violence, street crime, erosion of civil liberties, corruption, and social and economic decay caused by the war on drugs.

This is why, at this point, in the cost-benefit argument, utilitarian analysis breaks down and drug legalization unavoidably becomes a moral issue. The war on drugs is immoral as well as impractical. It imposes enormous costs, including the ultimate cost of death, on large numbers of innocent non-drug abusing citizens in the failed attempt to save a relatively small group of hard core drug abusers from themselves. It is immoral and absurd to force some people to bear costs so that others might be prevented from choosing to do harm to themselves. This crude utilitarian sacrifice - so at odds with traditional American values - has never been justified and can never be justified. That is why we must end the war on drugs.

Any questions?

I'd like to thank James Ostrowski of the Cato Insitute for statistical reference.