Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stossel on Legalizing Drugs: What Does Society Gain by Maintaining the Prohibition?

I once heard a presentation by a psychiatrist who was arguing against dropping the prohibition against many illegal substances. He laid out a number of arguments. He said that if these substances were no longer legal they would become widely and easily available. He claimed that the worst effects of legalization would be felt in poorer and generally minority inhabited neighborhoods. There were other arguments as well. In those days I spent my working days with heroin, cocaine and Vicodin addicts. And my natural curiosity often lead me to question them about how and where the obtained their drugs. From these talks with these men and women on the front lines of the war on drugs I knew that everything this shrink argued would happen with the legalization of the drugs was already happening. They are widely and easily available. When I was a kid in the Fifties and Sixties that was not so but it has become so in spite of tens of billions of dollars wasted by our government in the over-hyped war on drugs. Poorer and minority neighborhoods are suffering already disproportionately. if you want heroin, at present, you pretty much have to go into a poor and/or minority neighborhood to find it. The police will spend the money and resources to root suppliers out of better neighborhoods. They are never going to expend such resources in a poor neighborhood. It might even be possible that legalization will remove some of the blight from poor neighborhoods.
Personally, I have no desire to use even marijuana. But I am tired of seeing so much public money wasted with nothing to show for it.

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