America's war on drugs has been an unmitigated disaster. The cost in dollars can be measured in the hundreds of billions, but the cost we've paid in lost freedoms, moving toward a police state, has been vastly higher.
Friday marks 4/20, a day in which the number of people who will be "sparking up" at 4:20 p.m.t promises to be higher than ever . But celebration of 4/20 is not a “passing phase” and it's high time our leaders understand that (pun intended).
Should America legalize drugs? Very few think that marijuana should not be legalized, however, when it comes to the rest of the panoply of drugs, I perceive that many people think they should remain illegal. I believe they should be legal because to leave them illegal is to fail in our primary legalization purpose.
One of the strongest reasons for legalizing marijuana is to eliminate the criminal element that makes its living from selling it. This is a very valid argument as that criminal element would be deprived of its primary source of income. Once that income is eliminated. the criminal element will disappear. Unfortunately marijuana is not the only source of income for these criminals. They make their money from every other type of drug. Marijuana is just their largest volume product.
If we fail to take away as many income streams from the criminal element as possible, that element will remain strong. If our stated primary purpose in legalizing marijuana is the elimination of the criminal element, unless we legalize all of the entire panoply of drugs, then that purpose will be frustrated. As long as the criminal element exists, the negative effects perpetrated by that element on society will continue and we will have failed. Therefore all drugs must be legal.
A second reason for legalizing drugs is that it gives society the ability to have some control over the access to them. Under our present system, it is easier for a teenager to get heroine than to get beer. This is not to say that it’s difficult to get beer, all the teenager needs is a willing adult to help them, but that is a two step process involving an adult willing to risk incarceration with minimal payback. Acquisition of heroine only requires knowing a dealer who doesn’t need to be of legal age. This must change.
Obviously, drugs in the opiate family need to be carefully dealt with. They’re highly addictive and easily lethal. These are the worst of the lot. As a control, perhaps they should be obtainable only via doctor’s prescription, just as morphine is now, but they should also be available to the recreational user. The more destructive the drug, the more you must protect society from the effects of that drug. Requiring this kind of personal responsibility should also detract from the allure of these drugs. I have seen addicts lead relatively normal lives and hold down descent jobs for a while, although that is the exception rather than the rule.
Marijuana, since it has medicinal purposes and is safer than alcohol or tobacco, should be sold anywhere beer, cigarettes and liquor are. I know many people who use the psychedelic family of drugs as a religion, much like some Native Americans do. Everything else falls somewhere in the middle.
Even with personal responsibility measures like those I’ve outlined here, there is still a slight possibility that the use of some of the more dangerous drugs could increase. I don’t consider this possibility to be anything other than minimal, evidence from Holland would indicate that it won’t happen, but it still bears thinking about. In my opinion, if someone wants to throw their life away, there is little that society as a whole can do. Individuals and training can change a mind, laws can’t. Perhaps a requirement for some social training prior to getting access to drugs considered to be above a threshold of danger would be in order. Make no mistake, I can tell you from personal experience that those who venture down the road to opiate addiction fall into two categories; First they are “hooked” due to a medical problem and are unable to break the addiction, and second they are people of extremely low self esteem who, to a person, think the world would be better off without them.
In any case, the gains brought about by eliminating the cartels will outweigh the losses of more self destructive individuals.
If you want lower crime, fewer people in prisons, a more civil society and less corruption in government, legalize drugs. . . . All drugs.