Friday, March 6, 2009

Legalizing drugs; an idea whose time has come

Mention legalizing drugs and you are likely to be thought a kook, or worse, - a Libertarian. But I’m not a Libertarian or a kook; I’m a dyed in the wool conservative and I believe legalizing drugs is an idea whose time has come.

Recently on Hanity there was a report of the violence at the Mexican border with the United States and it looks like it has, or soon, will be spilling over into our country. But heading off violence at the border is only one small part of the reason to legalize drugs.

The legalization of drugs would prevent our civil liberties from being threatened any further, it would reduce crime rates, reverse the potency problem, improve the quality of life in the inner cities, prevent the spread of disease, save taxpayer money, and generally benefit both individuals and the community as a whole. These conclusions are based on a basic appreciation of the benefits provided by voluntary exchange and the role markets play in coordinating human activities. Legalizing drugs would eliminate many inconsistencies and guarantee freedoms. The present war on drugs has not and will not produce a decisive victory. I advocate a new approach to this important social problem.

If you think this is inconsistent with conservative principles, you are wrong. Conservatives believe in the principle that individuals should make decisions about their lives, not the government and personal responsibility. People should take responsibility for their own actions. If drugs are freely available in the market place, like alcohol for example, there will be those that act irresponsibly but dealing with that problem pales in comparison to the problems keeping drugs illegal, even hard drugs, causes.

When drugs are legalized, drug dealers will be a thing of the past. Violent crimes and theft will be greatly reduced. Youths and adults once involved in drug crime rings will be forced to seek legitimate work. Deaths due to infected intravenous needles and poisonous street drugs will be eliminated. Taxpayers will no longer have to pay billions of dollars to fund drug-related law enforcement. The estimated $80,000,000,000 claimed to be earned by organized crime and drug rings will also be a thing of the past and drug lords will not have huge amounts of money to infect countries and law enforcement personnel.

Sure there will always be people who will be offended by legalizing drugs on moral or ethical grounds. However there is hardly anything that does not offend at least one person in this politically correct world. Many people object to the sale of alcohol, cigarettes, birth control or animal products, but their feelings or beliefs do not stop these items from being sold. There is obviously no pleasing everyone when it comes to the free market. Under a free enterprise system anyone who participates in the free market will benefit from it. In a free market economy, everybody has opportunity to participate in the market and, therefore, equal opportunity to gain in a positive sum transaction. Not only would the legalization of drugs protect basic freedoms through free trade, but it would also bring enormous benefits to society as a whole. One of the most important societal benefits is a reduction in crime.

First, the price of narcotics will drop enormously and the proceeds can be taxed. When drugs are legal, crimes associated with the high price of drugs will decrease or be eliminated entirely. The supply will increase and the price of narcotics will fall. Addicts who were formerly forced to steal, murder, and engage in other illegal activities to get enough money for their habits will be able to afford the lower prices. Therefore, these types of drug-related crimes will decrease.

Second, drug-related disputes such as gang wars and street violence will be reduced.

Third, the drug business creates great profits for cartels. Cartels are often international organizations, many of which support terrorism and add to violent crime in America. If the narcotics market were open, cartel drug revenues would be replaced by free-market forces, and there would be less of a chance of drug money supporting terrorist organizations, crime rings, and cartel activity.

In 2000, Americans spent an estimated $36 billion on cocaine, $11 billion on marijuana, $10 billion on heroin, $5.4 billion on methamphetamine, and $2.4 billion on other illegal substances. Projected estimates indicate that approximately 260 metric tons of cocaine and 13.3 metric tons of heroin were consumed by U.S. drug users during 2000. In 1992, the overall cost of drug abuse to society was approximately $102 billion. The projected overall cost reached $160.7 billion in 2000. (Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse) Imagine what these numbers are today.

Finally, and most obviously, with transport, sale, and possession legalized, formerly illegal activities will now become society-approved business transactions. Crime that leads to societal instability will be greatly reduced through the legalization of the inevitable activity of drug transactions.

Lastly, the burden on the prison system will be diminished and it will be no longer necessary to release criminals who are greater threats to society than drug users or sellers, as is being done today.

The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s is a good case in point. The high crime rate during prohibition was due to the existence of the black market, spawned from the government-enforced illegalization of alcohol. The black market led to the formation of major crime rings. The underground market for alcohol grew and led many profit-hungry entrepreneurs into crime. Many were jailed due to transport, sale, and possession of alcohol much like is happening today with illegal drugs.

When Prohibition ended, alcohol-related crime ceased. The profit balloon driven by the limited supply of the illegal substance was deflated. The black market disappeared, along with all of the illegal activity associated with it. Crime rings disbanded. How many crime rings exist today for the selling of alcohol? The answer is none. The reason is legalization.

In contrast to alcohol, drug-related crime is skyrocketing. The President's Commission on Organized Crime estimates there are a total of seventy drug market murders yearly in Miami alone. Based on that figure and FBI data, a reasonable nationwide estimate would be at least 750 murders a year. Recent estimates from New York and Washington are even higher. Anyone who questions whether prohibition is responsible for violence should note the relative peace that prevails in the alcohol and legal drug markets.

Fifty years after the repeal of Prohibition, the average per capita consumption of alcohol fell to its lowest level ever. In fact, people began switching to weaker alcohol alternatives, such as wine coolers and nonalcoholic beer. The legalization of alcohol reversed the potency effect. The legalization of drugs will do the same.

The legalization of drugs would eliminate a lot of serious health risks by assuring market-driven high quality substances and the availability of clean needles. Prohibition in the 1920s created a market for cheap versions of alcoholic products, such as bathtub gin. Alcohol was diluted or adulterated in often dangerous ways. Needless deaths occurred because of the poor quality of the product.

If narcotics were legalized, purity could be all but guaranteed. Businesses, held accountable by customers, would deliver safe products. Brand names would bring competition into the market and assure safer, better products. Doctors would be able to openly monitor the drug use of seriously addicted patients. Poor quality would be largely eliminated if standards are observed.

In addition, clean needles would be readily available. Drug vendors and health care organizations would be able to legally provide clean needles for their customers and patients respectively. Today, needles are shared because they are difficult to obtain. About twenty-five percent of AIDS cases are contracted through the sharing of intravenous needles. Legalizing drugs would eliminate this problem. I have read that in Hong Kong, where needles are available in drugstores, as of 1987 there were no cases of AIDS among drug users.

When was the last time you heard of a diabetic contracting AIDS from contaminated needles?

We have laws that prohibit violent acts against other citizens; this is consistent with our moral code. The laws of United States should not prohibit the intake of narcotics that only have an immediate effect on the individual consumer. If someone ingests a drug, he or she is doing possible harm only to him or herself and no one else is harmed. Only a subsequent act of violence on account of an altered state of mind will cause harm to others. It is the subsequent action that is harmful, not the drug taking itself. Since a drug user is responsible for his or her actions, they should be arrested and punished. Alcohol is legal even though people commit rapes, murders, beatings, and other violent crimes when they are drunk. If a person commits these crimes when intoxicated, he or she is held responsible for them. A mere substance should not and does not serve as an excuse for the violent acts. The ingestion of alcohol is not illegal per se. The same standard should be applied to the use of presently illegal drugs.

There are many benefits to legalizing drugs; we should be objective enough to recognize that.

3 comments:

Tim Datig said...

This is the most comprehensive article stating the failed policy of the "War on Drugs". As a retired Police Officer and a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.leap.cc), I am aware and in agreement with all the stated facts. Thanks

Рачката said...

Yes!On point!It's disappointing that every discussion about drugs in the media and even in private conversations commonly circle around only about either the legal or the social or medical side of the drug theme.There is one more important side of the story though and its the philosophy of drugs which is where all questions about drugs should start from and this is the question why people take drugs at all!And my simple answer is that human beings need drugs 1. to prevent energy/information overload just like the natural cycle of sleep and wake.If you don't go to bed for several days you'll collapse physically and mentally.Thus we give a little rest to our consciousness otherwise crippled by the everyday activities linked to our physical survival and 2. to expand our consciousness in search of a deeper spiritual meaning of our lives and the universe we inhabit.Of course one may find incoherences in these answer saying "And what spiritual meaning could a viscious criminal possibly seek in taking drugs?" which would be a good point but if we examine the question thoroughly we'll find that even he seeks spiritual relief by taking them.Nobody would deny that when we take some sort of a drug be it simply alcohol we shift our counsciousness to other level and we find that very entertaining and atractive (when evereything went ok of course).Even with the most common drug the alcohol we start to see the world at a different angle, different from that rigid, sober state that we maintain in rest of the time.Actually this is a problem exclusively of the industrial world or more exactly where there is some modern undustrial development with all the implications of it in terms of social living conditions.We in the so-called modern, industrial, secular world just take life and living too seriously immersed in obligations and responsibilities at work, at home and so on.Its not the case in the traditional societies and communities where life is more simple.Actually man takes drugs from the dawn of history and this is so totally natural and human activity that suppressing it can lead only to psychological chaos and thats what have happened in the modern societies.And the question also has to do with the control and manipulation of the political and economical elite over the population.Its in their interest to supress that natural need making millions by the death and suffering of millions.I personally smoke and take drugs like alcohol and use marihuana from time to time, sometimes more sometimes less and this not only gives me pleasure and relief but inspiration as well.My friends most of them happily married with children smoke marihuana too even raise it.Some of them are people with respected jobs like dentists, architects, lawyers and what is even more impotant is that they are just nice, family people respected by the people they give service to.And just imagine the absurdity of them being taken into custody for using illegal drugs.Total absurd in a totally absurd political and social order.Of course the legalisation of drugs is not simple because it would need careful and sincere planning and discussion taking all the sides of the issue and the enormous task of considering the consequences of such legislation.But!This won't happen at all in the US and the world while this political, banking and economic elite and their order is in power.And what that means?This means that the so-called modern society wont be modern but something else and there would be a new Heaven and a New Earth.
We live in a total lie about who we are and what the universe is about and the drug question is but a one part of it.
Thank you and take care mr Gioia!

AMIT said...

Drug should not be legalized this is is what i believe.Nice article written by you.

Lawyer directory