Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Legalize All Drugs, Part 1

   A substance people consume to ease the pain of existence was made illegal. Because it was illegal, but the demand for it was high, a thriving black market for the substance developed. Criminal elements soon took control of that market and, frequently, warred with each other. Bystanders were killed. Today those bystanders would be called "collateral damage." Illegality did nothing to diminish demand for the substance. People still wanted it. They paid far higher prices for it. The substance was smuggled into the United States, or clandestinely manufactured here. Smugglers shot one another. Manufacturers’ sites were attacked. Finally, the silliness was seen for what it was. The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was repealed by the Twenty-First. Prohibition ended.

   We have wasted billions of dollars and ruined millions of lives in a "war on drugs" Richard Nixon and those who followed were destined to lose. Here are several reasons why all drugs—pot, heroin, cocaine, LSD, et al.—should be legalized.

   First, let me distinguish "legalize" from "decriminalize." Alcohol is legalized. To legalize drugs means to impose no penalty for their possession or use, by persons above a certain age. To decriminalize means possession would be an infraction, the equivalent of a traffic ticket. The distinction is important because if legal, drugs could be sold openly, in regulated stores. If decriminalized, those stores would not market the products. The black market still would function.

   Reasons all drugs should be legal, in no particular order:

    1) There is no intrinsic moral wrong attached to a chemical substance. Cannabis sativa grows from the soil (or from a hydroponic tank) with no moral aspect to its DNA. Heroin is derived from Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy as cocaine is produced from Erythoxylum coca. These plants evolved over thousands of years. They are substances. As is lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD.

   2) A person has a right over his or her body. If people believes themselves to form a sovereign government, then what of sovereignty—dominion and control—over one’s own body. If I choose to consume a substance, that is my right. When drugs are illegal, I might not know what I have consumed. Informed consent is important to one’s exercise of a right. Bathtub gin claimed lives in the 1920s and early 1930s. Once alcohol came under regulatory control of the government—when Prohibition ended—impurities in product became rare.

   3) If drugs are legal, the drug cartels will lose beaucoup (or, for those who would prefer, "boocoo") bucks and, as a consequence, power. Maybe gun dealers in Arizona and New Mexico (and all the way up north like in Indiana) will lose money because they no longer deal weapons that arm the cartels. Organized crime makes money because the crime in which it engages is something it organizes. How many "numbers" operations survived the States’ creation of lotteries? How many bootleggers are in operation today? In terms of the latter, there are certain pockets of Kentucky, Georgia, and other places in which people cling to a notion that moonshine is a cultural heritage to preserved at all costs. But the life blood of organized crime was running booze. When booze became legal, the mobs moved on to other commodities: other drugs.

   4) People will not be jailed for offenses that bear no intrinsic harm. We pay for law enforcement to bust the people. We pay for the prosecutors once the cases reach the courts. We pay the salaries of judges to preside over the prosecutions. We pay for the jails once a plea or verdict of guilt is handed down. If the person is incarcerated, it is at our expense. And that person’s life is ruined in many ways: like not being able to obtain student loans, certain jobs, etc. That means society pays in a different way, as those people are not able to make the type of income they otherwise could make or provide society with services they now are unable to provide.

    5) The better off people are, the less likely they are to be caught. The rich enjoy the freedom of drug use with little risk of arrest, although Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana, was popped for possession in college. Evan Bayh, the former United States Senator from Indiana, smoked pot in college. Bayh pushed draconian drug laws through the Indiana General Assembly when he was governor. Others are not so lucky. A kid from Haughville gets popped and she or he begins and exodus through the court system that begins at the juvenile center. If the kid were arrested with alcohol, there would not be the same stigma as exists for drugs.

   6) We could tax drugs. Yes, we could generate revenues for our governments. How is that for reducing the deficit? We increase revenues from people who probably would greet the opportunity to buy the things they use for a lower price, part of which goes to the government, at the same time bringing revenue into the government. We could take portions of those revenues to fund health programs for those people who cannot handle drugs. I think that is called a win-win.

   I will address other aspects of this topic later. For now, just think: as Aldous Huxley wrote, if the doors of perception were cleansed, we could see reality as it truly is.

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