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Why We Should Legalize Drugs

The United States has been fighting a losing battle to control illicit drugs; didn’t we learn our lesson with alcohol prohibition?

If we didn’t learn anything else from the great American experiment of prohibition, we did learn that people who want to consume will find a way, even if it means supporting criminal activity.

Our prohibition on the use of controlled substances has resulted in the same activity, but to the extent that the supply and distribution is controlled by criminal elements waging war to assure their business activity. I recently read that the current war between the drug cartels in Mexico has cost approximately 50,000 lives to date.

The importation and distribution of illicit drugs has become a major business and a key component of the underground economy in many of our large inner cities. Tertiary effects are increases in violent crime, increases of other crime such as prostitution and a terrible burden on the criminal justice system. It is quite clear that the “War on Drugs” has failed miserably and should be abandoned.

There is only one solution that makes any sense, it is to legalize drugs; control the importation, production and legal distribution. Just as with alcohol and tobacco; drugs could be taxed, both on a federal and state level, with the proceeds going to substance abuse education and treatment. Other benefits would be the reduction of prison populations by almost 1 million. From a recent study we get the following:

  • A 2008 study by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron has estimated that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy — $44.1 billion from law enforcement savings, and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenue ($6.7 billion from marijuana, $22.5 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs).

Under my plan, marijuana would be purchased just as alcohol and tobacco are currently purchased. The marijuana’s quality and potency would carefully be controlled. Other drugs would be available by prescription only and purchased from pharmacies. Federal and state statutes would have to be rewritten to reflect the new status.

Legalizing marijuana would provide farmers with an opportunity to grow products that would be very useful and can be used in a variety of applications, from making of ethanol to plastics.

I know there will be a number of objections raised to the legalization of drugs. Many will argue the moral implications of allowing the purchase and consumption of drugs. However, those same moral objections could be made against the use of alcohol and tobacco. Although alcohol and tobacco costs to society represent huge sums each year, we still allow their proper use. Currently the illicit drug costs are considerably less, but the crime associated with drugs would be pretty much eliminated resulting in a safer society making the benefit greater than the costs.

Probably the first step would be to legalize the possession and use of legally purchased marijuana. Marijuana remains the most abused drug, but is also the drug with the least negative effects.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

David Tatarowicz July 13, 2012 at 05:45 PM
@Greg I agree with you that our Powers That Be spend a lot of money on drug enforcement and incarceration, yet they do not seem to want to stop all use of drugs. Economically (in a very cynical way) politicians realize that there are not enough jobs for everyone, and they don't want unemployed rioting in the streets --- so to let a certain amount of drug trafficking to exist, they put money into the "poor" part of the economy, and keep the peace. I would like to clarify that by "legalizing" drugs, to me means the same way we have legal alcohol --- there are rules that would need to be followed. It has been shown numerous times in studies for instance, that even heroin users,if using prescribed dosages from doctors, are very able to function in society and have jobs. And yes there will always be some abuses --- just as there is with alcohol use.
Chris July 13, 2012 at 06:05 PM
David, I have no problem legalizing drugs...all drugs. If you don't do all, then you do nothing to stop the drug wars/black markets/associated crime etc. If you make it a "medical" type model, where a prescription is needed, again, you don't do anything at all to stop the current situation, as adding a layer of bureaucracy causes the price of such drugs to go up on the "legalized market", thus still having a lower priced black market. If you are suggesting they are sold in stores, similarly to alcohol, I'm okay with that. On the flip side of this argument though, and you can't have it both ways, if people are going to be free to make choices such as this (using mind altering substances), they have to be free to live with ALL the consequences of ALL their actions.
rudi wendt July 16, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Sarah,hello,if you have been reading any of my comments about WEpp, people can be very,very rude.unfortunately I believe it goes from one generation to another. Just because we live here we've been harassed,we've done nothing to deserve this.It goes on to this day, people are just plain rude and childish. Reading these comments or any other comments from other stories are just as bad,unbelievable, people just can't stay on the topic without nitpicking any flaw they see they can attack. The only winners in any problem in mankind are the BIG corrupted companies and government. Us as the little people will NEVER KN0W the real truth about anything,anything. And sadly I believe that is the only truth.Drugs or anything happening will go on until the end of mankind. I truly believe that,how do you think some of these politicians get there money. This is a wicked,wicked world we live in.I also am glad to hear your mother is doing fine,I lost my dad to cancer,and my brother almost lost his live to pancreatic cancer. Luckily they found it soon enough. Life is too short,live and let live if you're not hurting anyone else.
Andy Tisdel July 16, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Re: poisoning drug users: Quite aside from the moral aspects, it's been tried under similar circumstances and didn't work then. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2010/02/the_chemists_war.html (Apologies if someone has already pointed this out, but I didn't feel like scrolling through all 200 comments to see if they had.)
Craig July 16, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Good info Andy, some here have contradicted that article. But This is 2012, we have media coverage on major news instantly. Social media also is now available. ONE day of death reports would stop the recreational user. Several days would inspire addicts to seek help for the last time. Those who don't care and continue using- would make the news reports. Everyone wins.

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