There are no panaceas for the world's drug problems, but legalizing
drugs, un-clog the court system, and free prison space for real
criminals. comes as close as any single policy could. Removing legal
penalties from the production, sale and use of "controlled substances"
would not create a "heaven on Earth," but it would alleviate many of the
nation's social and political problems. Legalization would reduce drug-
related crime, save the U.S. billions of dollars
In 1984, a kilogram of cocaine worth $4000 in Columbia sold at
wholesale for $30,000, and at retail in the U.S. for some $300,000. At
the time, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman noted that the
wholesale price doubled in six months "due to crackdowns on producers and
smugglers in Columbia and the U.S." The consequence of this drastic
factory-to-retail escalation is a rise in crime. Addicts must pay
hundreds of times the costs of their habit, and often turn to crime to
finance their addiction. Also, those who deal in the selling of the
drugs become prime targets for assault for carrying extremely valuable
goods. The streets become battlegrounds for competing dealers because a
particular block or corner can rake in thousands of extra dollars a day.
Should drugs be legalized, the price would collapse, and so would the
drug-related motivations to commit crime. A pack of cocaine becomes no
more dangerous to carry than a pack of cigarettes. The streets would be
safer to walk, as criminal drug dealers are pushed from the market.
Legalization would also deflate prison overcrowding. Out of 31,346
sentenced prisoners in federal institutions, drug law violators were the
largest single category, 9487. By legalizing drugs, there would be no
more drug offenders to lock up. Since many drug users would no longer be
committing violent or property crimes to pay for their habits, there
would be fewer real criminals. This decrease in inmates would bring the
overflowing federal prison system down to its rated capacity. The
excessive efforts now used against drug activity and drug related-crimes
by police would then be put to use more effectively for catching rapists,
murderers, and the remaining criminals who commit crimes against people
It takes a month to bring a person accused of a crime to trial. It's even
slower for civil proceedings. There simply isn't enough judges to handle
the ever-increasing caseload. By legalizing drugs, thousands of cases
would be wiped off the courts permitting the rest to move faster.
Prosecutors would have more time to handle cases, and judges could make
more considered decisions. Better decisions would lead to fewer grounds
for appeals, reducing the huge amount of appeals courts.
The federal, state, and local governments spend about $100 billion a year
on law enforcement and criminal justice-programs. About $35 billion of
that is directly related to drug-law enforcement. Approximately $15
billion is related to drug crimes committed to obtain drug money or other
related drug commerce. Therefore, around $50 billion spent on law
enforcement could be saved by legalizing drugs. "fighting drugs is nearly
as big a business as pushing them." As Gore Bidal so rightly put it.
Legalizing drugs would endanger the jobs of police officers, and
politicians campaigning on war on drugs. Legalization would threaten
thousands of careers that the taxpayers would no longer need to support.
About 70 percent of the drug budget is used to reduce drug supplies while
30 percent is used to reduce demand through prevention and treatment
programs. Some policymakers believe the government should use most of
the funds to limit the supply of drugs by hiring more customs agents and
border patrol officers and by training foreign police officers to catch
drug traffickers. This policy would lead to a large increase in futile
spending. There is a common misconception among those who want drugs to
remain illegal forever, and that is that by eradicating the supply, the
drug problem will eventually disappear. The problem is, drugs can never
be eliminated. As long as there are people who want drugs, there will be
those who are willing to sell. By getting rid of one drug dealer,
another takes its place. By getting rid of one drug cartel, another
emerges. The funds spent on reducing supplies could be better used to
reduce the amount of demand by better educating children and adults
alike, and also by treating addicts.
Governments exist to protect the rights of the people. By prohibiting
drug use, American's civil rights are betrayed. How is prohibition
protecting American's rights? Prohibition increases crime and
corruption. It also wastes billions of dollars in taxpayer's money in the
futile effort of eradicating drugs. It also violates American's rights
as free persons to do themselves as they wish. Prohibition is
constitutionally incorrect and obviously isn't working. When are
American's going to stop wringing their hands and start solving the
problem at hand?