Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Case for Legalizing Drugs

I am going to go out on a limb here and voice an opinion which I know to be highly unpopular. Some would even call it insane. Yet, I am not only going to voice it, I am going to get up on my soap box and scream it at the top of my lungs: we must legalize drugs. No, I am not just talking about marijuana, I am talking about all drugs. And no, I don't use drugs myself and I do think that they are horrible. I simply think that the so-called war on drugs is a futile undertaking that is doing tremendous harm to society. This is a clear case of the medicine being worse than the disease. I will try to condense my argument to a few important points:

Look, any moderately intelligent observer of the war on drugs has to admit that this is a losing battle. People are not using less drugs. We have thrown many millions of Americans in jail for drug offenses, ranging from possession to trafficking, and what do we have to show for it? The same level of drug use. Nope. Prohibition is not working and more importantly, it could not work. The reason for this is economic incentives - because drugs are illegal and therefore their supply is restricted, they generate incredibly high profits for those "entrepreneurs" willing to take the risk. In fact, the more successful we are in reducing the supply and availability of drugs, the higher the price they will fetch on the street (supply and demand, folks) and the more economic incentive will be created to sell them. This is a Sisyphean task that has no end and no purpose. Prohibition should be ended.

By prohibiting the sale and use of drugs we are in fact aiding criminals and terrorists around the world. The drug trade is financing everyone from the Al-Queda in Afghanistan to organized crime in the US and Mexico. Do you want to seriously undermine terrorism and crime? Destroy their financing by making drugs legal. Hell, no camel riding Taliban is able to produce drugs more efficiently than good ol' Phillip Morris (oh, sorry, they are called Alteria now... thank god they changed their name. I guess they no longer sell death in a box). 

But wait, aren't drugs dangerous for users? Yes, I suppose they are, but what do I care? If someone wants to make a conscious decision to risk their life, it's no business of the state to forbid them from doing so. Don't drugs promote crime? Absolutely, because they are illegal. If a junkie could buy cheap and legal drugs, there would be no reason for him to rob anyone. Just think back to prohibition - when alcohol was illegal in the US, people still found it pretty easy to come by, but its very prohibition caused organized crime to flourish.

Now let me make the economic case. I am not talking about permitting drugs so we can tax them. We can certainly do that, but that argument is cliche. I am talking about saving billions by not having to incarcerate millions of Americans for drug related offenses. I am talking about re-directing law enforcement efforts to important pursuits such as solving homicides and reducing violent crimes - who knows, maybe we could even (god forbid) reduce the size of our law enforcement agencies?

Finally, our past three presidents have publicly admitted to using drugs, so can one really claim that there is even a cultural taboo against using the stuff? If someone can become president after drug use, what justification is there for making possession and sale of drugs a crime?

Look at the end of the day, I guess I don't think it's the government's business what adults do in the privacy of their homes, so long as they don't hurt others. It is not government's business to protect our health from our own decisions, it's not their job judge our morals. So I say enough to this senseless, expensive and futile war on drugs.  You cannot beat the market, but if you declare war on it you can encourage crime and finance some pretty bad people. Let's give this thing a rest already.

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Anonymous said...

Wow, I applaud your guts to make this post. I know many will think you're nuts, but I appreciate your articulate and rational view. Good luck!

Shadox said...

Hey, I run this blog to voice my personal opinions not to take the conventional view or pay tribute to the consensus.

Thanks for your words of encouragement.

Anonymous said...

spoken like a true libertarian ;-)