Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The case for legalization of drugs

I've been saying for years that legalization is the only sane alternative to the drug issue but I'm nobody, so nobody listens. Today CNN posts Jeffrey Miron's excellent essay making the case for a public health approach within the context of the proposed escalation of law enforcement resources on the border of Mexico.
The U.S. and Mexican responses to this violence have been predictable: more troops and police, greater border controls and expanded enforcement of every kind. Escalation is the wrong response, however; drug prohibition is the cause of the violence.[...]

Prohibition of drugs corrupts politicians and law enforcement by putting police, prosecutors, judges and politicians in the position to threaten the profits of an illicit trade. This is why bribery, threats and kidnapping are common for prohibited industries but rare otherwise. Mexico's recent history illustrates this dramatically. [...]

The U.S. repealed Prohibition of alcohol at the height of the Great Depression, in part because of increasing violence and in part because of diminishing tax revenues. Similar concerns apply today, ...Perhaps history will repeat itself, and the U.S. will abandon one of its most disastrous policy experiments.
Miron has been saying this for years as well, but perhaps in today's political climate he'll find a more receptive audience. The evidence is clear. Prohibition breeds violence. Society would only benefit if our legislators took his sage advice.

[Thanks to Mike at C&L for the linky love.]

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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12 Comments:

OpenID Mahakal / מהכאל said...

It never really makes much sense to me to speak of "drugs" as if there is no distinction between cannabis and heroin.

We should certainly end cannabis prohibition everywhere as soon as possible, and I'm not too concerned about how carefully it is regulated, frankly it would be fine with me if it were simply inspected by the USDA like any agricultural crop and sold to anyone 18 or older.

But I don't think you can treat every drug like cannabis, and I don't think we want to move too quickly to remove restrictions on highly addictive and deadly substances until we have a replacement system of regulation which is able to at the very least track distribution carefully and provide medical services to help people withdraw. There is no value or benefit in more people using heroin.

wv: "deacap" - nice

7:09:00 PM  
Blogger Deranged Leftwing Baker said...

Don't think anyone can say it better than Mojo: Legalize it!

10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Indeed, lumping together all kinds of disparate substances is one of the ploys used to demonize the Weed.

There is sufficient evidence to disprove every negative claim made, but because it's the devil, the very act of disproving it all makes you the devil too.

No, I don't see Crystal Meth or Heroin as being good things, but obviously, making them illegal and spending huge amounts of money, and jailing millions and eroding liberty make the situation worse.

Who dares to come up with a better solution though when you will become a pariah and have to live in fear of a midnight knock on the door?

9:32:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I started out in drug policy reform against the legalization of anything but marijuana. But eventually smarter people than me convinced me that full legalization of all drugs is the most sensible policy.

We have models now from other countries that prove it's a successful strategy that reduces more harm than the US policy of interdiction and incarceration.

And Mahakal, no one is suggesting they sell heroin at the corner store. The hard drugs would be distributed in clinical settings that also offers addiction treatment. And there wouldn't be a huge rise in addicts. If you didn't do drugs before they're legal, why would you start afterward? As I say, in countries where this approach has been tried, addiction went down, not up.

10:08:00 AM  
Blogger TXfemmom said...

We need to legalize it, reduce the costs, permit hemp to be grown, cut the feet out from underneath the Mexican drug cartels by legalizing it, and stop spending billions and billions of state and federal dollars on incarceration for small amounts of marijuana.

At times, one must be pragmatic and this is where we should face the facts and make responsible, pragmatic decisions about efforts and expenditures and to limit the criminality and violence associated with the trafficing in this drug, which surely is no greater a danger than alcohol and tobacco, which are both legal.

12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Milton Friedman put it succinctly:
contraband (illegal drugs) have huge profit potential, so there's an incentive to sell them. Legal business (like pharmaceuticals, etc.) make 10% profit in a good year, 20% in a great year, 30% is amazing. Illegal drugs can make 2000% profit. Make them legal (like Britain), and the Black Market dries up. Legalize all drugs, and watch the change for the better (like Portugal). I used to disagree with Milton Friedman on this, but the numbers show the effect.

12:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Cole-Man said...

As someone who had a dalliance with drugs back in the 70's and early 80's (actually more than a casual acquaintance), I am actually in favor of keeping hard drugs illegal. Not pot, though. This is probably due to the addiction problem I had with coke and meth. Happy to say that I quit both on my own, way back when.
But I see here that some people are saying that it's better to legalize all drugs. I would love to learn more as to why this is the better approach. I'm open minded and would like to hear the reasons why.

1:19:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Don't know how you folks found me, but welcome to my humble hideaway.

Cole-man, I suggest you start with Miron's essay here and then go over and check the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition site. They have a lot of reading that explains it.

1:45:00 PM  
Anonymous E Pleb Neesta said...

I wish I could remember where I heard this quote, but I think it's brilliant and sums up one half of the situation:

"When was the last time you saw a drive by shooting in the liquor industry?" -- A. G. Enious

E Pleb Neesta
GODISNOWHERE
If HPV vaccination leads to promiscuity, then confession leads to sin.

2:55:00 PM  
OpenID Mahakal / מהכאל said...

Libby, for what it's worth, I started out wanting to legalize everything too. But that was before I understood the fundamental difference between cannabis and highly addictive and deadly substances. They are not the same thing. At all.

I'm not against repealing drug prohibition as long as we have a replacement system of regulation that works better. But I am absolutely, categorically against lumping cannabis in with harmful drugs.

2:59:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

A drive by shooting in the liquor industry? Those were daily happenings until we repealed prohibition of liquor.

Why is legalization better? Because banning it doesn't help reduce dependence at all and stands in the way of treatment, in my opinion.

3:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Vittoria Falconer said...

(Floating in from C&L--doin fine on cloud nine baby, yeah!!)

Marijuana is no different than going to the health food store and buying pills to help you sleep (melatonin, valerian root--which has CAUTION NOTICES on BOTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to not operate heavy machinery, et al, on they BOTH are perfectly legal!), or relax ( like chamomile) or anything else that grows out of the ground. WTF. Like Katt Williams once said, things like heroin, meth, cocaine one has to "boil it, heat it up, add baking soda (and sometimes bleach and ammonia)--marijuana just grows like that" Legalize it and tax it like they do things like 'soda' (snark at Shepard Smith)

5:36:00 PM  

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