Richard Rider's Thoughts on Drug Legalization
Some people feel that the solution to the drug problem is to become like Iran and other totalitarian countries -- crack down hard on drugs (and porn and deviant sex habits and on and on). Institute a death penalty for users and sellers, and repeal the Bill of Rights where drug violations might be involved.
Perhaps they are partially right -- kill a few hundred thousand people, institute a police state, and perhaps we can significantly reduce drug use in our society. But the country will not be the America that our Founding Fathers envisioned in 1776.
Furthermore, I doubt that we can put the genie back in the bottle -- drugs are here as we have far too many users out there already. Malaysia has the drug death penalty and still has over 300,000 addicts getting their product. After all, if we can't keep drugs out of our prisons, how do we ever plan to keep drugs out of the whole country?
But even if it would work, I would oppose such an approach. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who are willing to sacrifice freedom for security will end up with neither.
As a parent of boys who grew up in today’s society, I had the same concerns that all thinking parents have for their children and the temptation of drugs. I know that my children have been approached by drug dealers in school. But I also know that no one sidled up to my kids and tried to get them to buy a pack of Marlboros, or a fifth of Jack Daniels. Why? Because there is no excess profit in dealing in legal drugs, even though they are illegal for minors to use.
The key to understanding the drug problem is to realize that the huge profits (a 12,000% markup in cocaine, for example) are the direct result of prohibition. Most of the problems we ascribe to the “drug problem" are really the problem of drug prohibition. A $1 a day drug habit becomes under prohibition a $100 a day habit, and crime will inevitably result on both the buyers' and sellers' part.
There are only three ways most drug addicts can afford to pay the high prices of illegal drugs:
1. You can sell your body. The major cause of prostitution -- male and female, teenage and adult -- is drug addiction.
2. You can steal from others. When I debated County Supervisor George Bailey on the Roger Hedgecock radio show (about the jail sales tax), Mr. Bailey insisted that the county’s studies found that 80% of all property crime (mugging, robbery, burglary and car theft) in San Diego is committed by drug addicts trying to get money for drugs. The lowest figure mentioned by law enforcement agencies is 40%, and 60% is normal for urban areas.
3. This third method is perhaps the most harmful of all -- become a member of a perverse version of a multilevel drug marketing system. Become a dealer, sell to your friends and expand the drug problem.
We should end this madness. Let's legalize drugs and eliminate such problems. We will still have the very real medical and social problem of drug abuse. Utopia is not an option. But look at the benefits of drug legalization:
1. Drastically reduce property crime (burglaries, auto thefts, muggings and commercial robberies). Estimates start at 40%.
2. Greatly reduce the corruption of our law enforcement people.
3. Relieve our overburdened court system.
4. Relieve the overcrowding in our jails. Our country now provides the highest per capita incarceration of any country in the world, passing the 2,000,000 prisoner level in early 2000. And California has the highest per capita incarceration rate of any state (plus by far the highest annual prisoner cost of any state).
5. End the routine drug shootings of dealers and bystanders over turf wars and drug deal rip-offs. You don't see 7-11 owners shooting it out with AM/PM shareholders over who gets to sell alcohol at an intersection.
6. Destroy the multilevel marketing scheme that fills our schools and playgrounds with children selling drugs.
"to be continued"