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The Case for Legalizing Drugs

There is a common misconception that drugs are generally bad for you. Of course, in excess and when used inappropriately, that’s true. But it’s hard to insist that some of the drugs that are currently banned in the United States are more dangerous than alcohol or nicotine.

Alcohol Ban Did Not Work

Let’s face it: We tried banning alcohol, and look where that got us. Criminals quickly took over the means of production and created semi-lethal concoctions. They introduced lethal chemicals such as antifreeze and methanol into the mix to stretch it out. In addition, the violence associated with various alcohol gangs was legendary.


Move on 90 years and Anheuser-Busch is hardly gunning anyone down in the street. The Millers Brewing Company is not destroying warehouses of Budweiser with its crack team of gangsters, and Molson Coors hasn’t formed a loose alliance with several smaller brewing companies to set fire to its rivals’ headquarters.

Instead, they engage in a different battle: advertising. It’s much less bloody and provides entertainment, particularly during the Super Bowl.

Argument Against Drug Legalization

The main argument against legalization is that drugs are dangerous. But that’s not the whole story.

If you extend that logic of what happened after the Prohibition era to cannabis, ecstasy, and similar drugs, you won’t end up with the violence and fear traditionally associated with drug deals and so on. Even better, drugs can be regulated so that everyone knows what he or she is getting.

After all, when you pop an ecstasy pill, you don’t really know what you’re getting. It could be MDMA. It could be acetaminophen. It could even be a mix of icing sugar, titanium white, and rat poison. Either way, it’s a gamble.

And that’s the main reason why drugs are dangerous. With federal regulation, doses could be standardized, and issues with quality could easily be followed up. If you knew that a certain brand would affect you for a certain amount of time, you could plan accordingly.

There’s a big question, here: Is it sensible to legalize all drugs?

Shall Illegal Drugs Be Legalized?

Here, the pro-drug lobby is somewhat split. On the one hand, it’s clear to many that you don’t want dozens of new heroin addicts and opium smokers on the streets. At the same time, it’s hard to see how criminalizing the most vulnerable members of society—the dispossessed—helps to solve crime and other issues.

Criminalizing the everyday user does not make society a good place. Arresting those who smoke marijuana and those who take ecstasy is expensive and ultimately fruitless.

“…it’s hard to see how criminalizing the most vulnerable members of society—the dispossessed—helps to solve crime and other issues.”

Consider this: Arresting a nonviolent marijuana smoker takes up police time. Two cops might waste an afternoon dealing with it. Time is spent booking the person in, and then more time is spent ensuring the person is fed and watered. Magistrate time is taken up listening to the case and deciding on sentencing.

And it’s all for what? Criminalizing someone who poses little threat to society.

It’s hard to see how wasting all that time that is paid for by taxpayers over something that in some states grows by the roadside is in the public interest and is an efficient use of money in these lean times.

If the government allowed companies to make certain drugs and grow cannabis, there would be a lot more consistency. It could also tax the sales, thereby generating revenue. Cops could then focus on crimes that matter—burglary, theft, and violence.

In addition, it would solve many of the issues associated with drugs, including poverty, crime, and violence. After all, a marijuana growing company isn’t likely to employ gun runners to harass rivals. Neither is a shop that is allowed to sell such things.

If we look at the drug policies of the UK where drug arrests are not as common and many drug “crimes” are dealt with in public, normally involving minor warnings and confiscation, there hasn’t been an explosion of drug taking. Youngsters are no longer criminalized for trying something that they would try anyway.

If you look at the Netherlands, drug taking is not heavily criminalized there, and parents are encouraged to openly discuss it. This has led to lower levels of crime as people are more informed about drugs, rather than having it hidden away.

You see, the fact is that criminalization of a substance doesn’t stop people from trying it. However, it can stop people from admitting they have an issue with the substance such as an addiction, as they fear they may be punished for it.

If you, your spouse or your child has a problem with addiction, get them treatment by calling toll-free to and talking to a professional treatment advisor.

Feel Differently? See the Opposing view in our The Case Against Legalizing Drugs post.