Recreation drugs should be legal! No one can argue that the abuse of drugs are a scourge on our society. However, as bad as the effect of drug abuse on our society may be, the effect of prohibition is worse. It is more insidious and more destructive.
The arbitrary ban of the use of certain substances undermines our Constitution. It is a violation of our right to justice, our Fourth Amendment rights and others..
If recreational drugs were legal, under controlled conditions as is the legal drug alcohol hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of lives would be saved each year.
Criminal and terrorist organizations would be denied a major source of income. Crime would be reduced.
Doctors will able to use any efficacious treatment that will benefit their patient most. Many medical treatments, particularly pain relieving therapies, are denied, or at least made difficult, by draconian and prohibitive regulatory laws.
According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, the War on Drugs cost the United States Taxpayer $77 billion a year. That is $77,000,000,000 a year our government spends on a filed policy. If we eliminate that expenditure from the budget over 10 years that will be - of a trillion dollars reduction in our budget deficit. That is more than half of the deficit reduction that the administration and the so-called 'Congressional Supercomittee' is currently trying to achieve.
It would free up close to half the nation's prison cells. That would reserve them for violent offenders and the white collar criminals that have created the current economic chaos with their criminal behavior.
We would be able to invest substantially more time, money, and imagination in prevention, education, and drug treatment. And, we would make our communities much safer and healthier.
The NAACP has recently passed a historic resolution demanding an end to the War on Drugs. The resolution comes as young Black male unemployment hovers near 50 percent and the wealth gap's become a veritable gulf. The war on drugs is the engine of 21st century discrimination - an engine that has brought Jim Crow into the age of Barack Obama.
Many of the deaths that are now pigeonholed as 'drug overdose' are, in fact, caused by drugs that are purer than the users' accustomed dose. This will cause an overdose by merely taking the dose to which they are accustomed. Other deaths are caused by the drugs being 'cut' (diluted) with impure or dangerous substances. At present drugs are cut with anything from relatively harmless things such as baking soda, powdered sugar, lactose and corn starch to poisons like strychnine and arsenic.
Legal drugs would fall under the supervision and standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) thereby insuring cleaner, purer drugs at consistent dosages. In addition, intravenous and intramuscular drugs could be packaged in single use syringes that are designed to be destroyed by the act of using them once. Thus preventing the reuse and sharing of needles. This will reduce the spread of AIDS, hepatitis C and many other types of infection. Hence, more lives saved, as well as reducing the burden on public resources since many drug abusers cannot afford the cost of medical treatment.
Legal drugs will take the drug trade out of the hands of criminals and terrorists. It will make it more difficult in the future to have attacks the nature of the Marine base in Lebanon, the American Embassy in Kenya and the World Trade Center in New York by terrorists who are, in part, financed by the drug trade.
It will eliminate many of the lethal shootings by those who are supposed to "Protect and Serve" the public. It will remove the wars for territory and many of the drive-by shootings that have become commonplace in our inner cities. We will not only save the lives of the dealers who are the targets of these shootings but the innocent bystanders, too often children, who get caught in the crossfire.
Speaking of saving children... Legalizing drugs with the appropriate regulation and control would severely limit the access of drugs to children. Just as minors cannot legally buy alcohol, they would not be able to walk into a state regulated drug store and buy drugs. Under the present conditions drug dealers don't care if the customer is 5 years old or 50. 'If you got the green you got the dope.' Consequently, more lives saved.
Let us now discuss crime. Legalizing and regulating drug production and sale will quickly eliminate a whole plethora of crimes relating to those endeavors. Crimes such as smuggling, producing and selling drugs would cease to be profitable. These crimes would cease to be, except perhaps, for a few diehard adventurers. Or in those locales where the local community has mandated that it remain illegal (After all, there is still a thriving 'Moonshine' industry despite the legality of alcohol). We would also eliminate the crime of possession of drugs. It will also limit the availability of funds to finance other crimes such as illegal gambling, prostitution, extortion and terrorism. Not to mention those third world countries that are currently dominated by large drug cartels who undermine their government and enslave their people.
Drugs will likely be cheaper. The supply would be relatively consistent. Market forces such as 'supply and demand' will be less of a determining price factor. Nor will the 'risk' factor to dealers and smugglers affect price. The cost of producing most currently illegal drugs is minimal, particularly in an industrial setting. Therefore, legalization will make the drugs more affordable thereby reducing crimes such as burglary, mugging and prostitution.
The laws we enact to legalize and regulate drugs must include severe, mandatory penalties for the violation of those laws. In addition, crimes committed while under the influence of drugs and crimes committed for the purpose of obtaining drugs must be dealt with more severely than crimes committed for mere profit.
I would like to propose that criminals motivated by an addiction to drugs be treated as the sick people that they are. That they're conviction require a mandatory, indeterminate stay at a drug treatment facility until such time as the addict is declared, by a proper medical authority, not only free of the addiction, but unlikely to return to drugs. Then, when the addict is cured of their illness they can be returned to the sentencing authority to determine if further criminal penalties are in order.
It would also be nice if the people who comprise said medical authority, as well as parole boards and other agencies with the responsibility for releasing criminals into society be held personally responsible for those decisions. But, I suppose that is too much to ask.
Mandatory drug testing in both critical and noncritical industries, massive drug education efforts and a changing social climate as relates to the non-acceptance of drug abuse by the general public in recent years has been more effective in the control of drug use than prohibition ever was.
Another cost factor for drugs which will be eliminated is one that is not talked about very much, but it's effect on society is just as devastating, although not as obvious. That is the cost of corruption. The money that drug traffickers now expend for policemen, judges and public officials.
I want to say here that the vast majority of policemen and judges (I'm not so sure about politicians) are honest, hardworking public servants. Nevertheless, they are human, mostly underpaid and overworked and some will succumb to temptation.
There is today a 'revolving door' justice system with it's plea bargaining, early paroles and assorted rules that make it difficult for police and judges to do the job of taking criminals off the streets and keeping them off. This gives rise to a level of frustration and cynicism that is enormous. It is an atmosphere ripe for corruption. The surprising thing is that there is not more of it! This is a tribute to the men and women of the law enforcement and criminal justice community. Corruption, however, does exist and imbrues the character of the individuals that engage in it, as well as diminishing the institutions that depend on them.
We cannot forget the people in our financial institutions who knowingly 'launder' (legitimatize) the ill-gotten gains of the criminals who engage in these activities (See "American Banks 'High' On Drug Money: How a Whistleblower Blew the Lid Off Wachovia-Drug Cartel Money Laundering