Former police chief Norm Stamper answers the question How Legalizing Drugs Will End the Violence.
OK, Left and Right, gather round. This is not a partisan issue. The prohibition of alcohol was a disastrous mistake and the prohibition of drugs is a disastrous mistake. The notion of it appearing that society is passively condoning drug use is not without merit. As Mr Stamper says:
Regulated legalization of all drugs — with stiffened penalties for driving impaired or furnishing to kids — would bring an immediate halt to the violence. How? By (1) dramatically reducing the cost of these drugs, (2) shifting massive enforcement resources to prevention and treatment and (3) driving drug dealers out of business: no product, no profit, no incentive.
The emphasis is mine. We can still educate and enforce laws against minority use and driving while impaired and other valid state’s interests.
The other general argument against legalization is the assumption of increased use. While this argument is not true, in my opinion, for most people, it will be true for some people. My mom is not going to try drugs even if they are legal. Many and perhaps most will not be one bit more likely to experiment with drugs in a legal environment. But some will and some who use drugs now will abuse drugs more efficiently in a legal environment. Let’s be clear: is it easy-peasy to acquire virtually any drug in any city in the US. The drug trade is not supply limited, in most cases. The prohibition of drugs is completely ineffective when it comes to meaningfully decreasing supply. But we might see more abuse or more profound abuse in some cases. We do need to prepare for how to deal with that and ideally prevent it, just like we try to do with alcohol abuse.
The jails are full of non-violent drug offenders. People are dying every day in the war on drugs. We can stop hemorrhaging money trying to fight supply. The time has come to figure out a plan to end the prohibition of drugs.