The War on Drugs - Part II
Having made the case that the War on Drugs cannot be won (see THE WAR ON DRUGS – Part I), do we just give up?
Not necessarily. Let's do this scientifically.
First, we separate out the two major, individual components of the drug problem:
1- People who abuse recreational pharmaceuticals have problems.
2- Those of us who don't abuse drugs have collateral problems, primarily rampant crime.
These are completely different and essentially unrelated issues. Let's take the second one first.
Drug use engenders criminal behavior, for four primary reasons:
a- People who use drugs are forced to do business with criminals, because drugs are illegal.
b- People who sell drugs commit crimes to acquire and distribute them.
c- People who use drugs often commit crimes to pay for them.
d- Because they are forced to consort with criminals, people who might otherwise have stuck to plain old marijuana often go on to the harder stuff because the criminals have a direct financial interest in their addiction. (A), (b) and (c) therefore escalate in a vicious cycle.
Sounds hopeless, doesn't it?
There is an answer:
Legalize drugs. All of them. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin…even crack.
Whoa! The man has lost his mind!
Maybe. But look at it with cold rationality for a second.
If we legalize all currently illegal substances of abuse, (a) through (d) disappear as social problems.
a- Drug users will no longer be forced to deal with criminals.
b- Criminal behavior will not be required to acquire and sell drugs.
c- People will not have to commit (as many) crimes to buy drugs because they will be dirt cheap. Fact is, it costs next to nothing to grow or manufacture narcotics. Most of the current costs are a result of fierce demand, limited supply and the expense of countless middlemen, bribes and complex criminal infrastructures. All of that disappears if drugs are legal. Just look at what happened when Prohibition ended.
d- Users will no longer be forced to rub shoulders with criminals trying to turn them into addicts. The only people left doing that will be the tobacco and alcohol companies. (I'd suggest that we trade off the legalization of drugs with the illegalization of cigarettes and alcohol, but that's another story).
Pretty simple, yes?
Whoops. Almost forgot about Problem 1: People who abuse recreational pharmaceuticals have problems. How do we handle that one?
Damned if I know. Legalizing drugs doesn't address that one.
But so what? At least it gets rid of Problem 2.
And I don't think we'd have any more people using drugs than we do today. Part of the reason people get into drugs in the first place has to do with the fantasized glamour of it owing to its very illegality and the colorful figures who populate the supply chain.
In any event, we can sit around and theorize about it all day, but in those countries where some drugs, such as marijuana, are legal, the actual rate of drug use is less than it is here. And I'll take empirical evidence over theory any day of the week.
Put off by the very fact of drugs being legal? A moral outrage?
Get over it. If alcohol weren't already legal, you'd be appalled at people's use of it. And cigarettes? Dumbest damned thing in creation: hell, you don't even get high as you ruin your health.
And I'll tell you this truthfully: I'd much rather see everyone who currently drinks switch to marijuana. It's far, far less destructive.
As I said in THE WAR ON DRUGS – Part I: there is no way in hell that current efforts against drug use are going to prevail. It's a flat out impossibility.
Might as well do the next best thing.