13 Dec Why the Us Should Legalize Illicit Drugs
Why mass incarceration cannot be blamed on the war on drugs (2017). The title is self-explanatory. While it is impossible to predict exactly how drug use patterns would change in a regulated manufacturing and distribution system, the iron rules of prohibition are that 1) illicit markets are controlled by producers, not consumers, and 2) prohibition encourages the sale and use of stronger and more dangerous forms of drugs. Over the past four decades, three things have become clear. First, the war on drugs has not been won. Although a UN special session in 1998 aimed to create a “drug-free world” by 2008, illicit drugs are still available today in almost every city in the world. In fact, a 2013 article in the British Medical Journal found that between 1990 and 2007, the prices of heroin, cocaine, and cannabis in the United States dropped by more than 80 percent, while their purity increased. The situation is similar with Europe and Australia. Finally, what would happen to major suppliers of illicit drugs if restrictions on the commercial sale of these drugs were lifted in some or all major markets? Would trafficking organizations adapt and become legal businesses or turn to other illegal businesses? What would happen to the countries of origin? Would they benefit, or would new producers and manufacturers suddenly emerge elsewhere? Such questions have not even been systematically asked, let alone seriously studied. Ending the misery caused by drug trafficking requires full legalization – legalizing the production, transportation and sale of currently illegal drugs – not just decriminalization.
The biggest obstacle to reform is uncertainty about how a legal market works. One option would be the unconditional and unregulated legalization of all currently illegal drugs. This would allow children to go to a store for a candy bar and a bag of heroin. Obviously, this is a terrible idea. It is questionable whether and to what extent an unregulated legal drug market would be an improvement over what we currently have – an unregulated illicit market. However, due to the conflicting nature of the studies and the fact that the majority of them are limited to marijuana research in a handful of states, it is extremely difficult to determine the impact of legalizing all drugs at the national level. Proponents of legalization admit that consumption would likely increase, but counter that it is not clear that the increase would be very large or time-consuming, especially if legalization were paired with appropriate public education programs. They, too, cite historical evidence to support their claims, noting that opium, heroin, and cocaine use had already begun to decline before prohibition went into effect, that alcohol consumption did not suddenly increase after prohibition was repealed, and that the decriminalization of cannabis use in 11 U.S. states in the 1970s did not lead to a dramatic increase in their use.
Some also point to the legal sale of cannabis products through regulated outlets in the Netherlands, which also does not appear to have significantly encouraged consumption by Dutch nationals. Opinion polls showing that most Americans would not rush to try previously banned drugs that suddenly became available are also being used to bolster the case for legalization. The legalization of all drugs is just the beginning of a compassionate drug policy (2021). This is a great pro-article in favor of legalizing all drugs that includes an interview with a Columbia University professor. None of this should deter further analysis of drug legalization. In particular, a rigorous assessment of a set of hypothetical regulatory regimes against a common set of variables would clarify their potential costs, benefits and trade-offs. In addition to the rigour required in any future discussion of the alternative to legalization, such an analysis could foster the same level of scrutiny of current drug control programs and policies. With the situation deteriorating in the United States and abroad, there is no better time for a fundamental reassessment of whether our current responses to this problem are sufficient to meet the likely challenges. Second, the war on drugs cannot be won. People take drugs in the hope of feeling joy and relieving their distress. These desires do not disappear.
People who want drugs are also not deterred by criminal sanctions: a 2014 Interior Ministry report found “no clear link between a country`s tough enforcement against drug possession and the level of drug use in that country.” .