The problem, as I see it, is that we’re letting our beliefs get in the way of a pragmatic, effective solution to “the war on drugs.”
The drug trade is an extremely lucrative big business, with returns so high that legions of people are willing to risk life and imprisonment to pursue a career in the supplying of drugs. They are willing to be ruthless, to murder, and even to corrupt governments to carry out their business. On the user level, they are willing to steal, rob, burglarize, and worse, just to keep their supply flowing.
The profits fuel drug cartels at the top, filtering down to dealers and gangs, with endless capital with which to carry out their deeds. Worst of all, it breeds crime, both non-violent and deadly violent on the streets.
But what would happen to these cartels, dealers and gang-bangers if we were to dry up their financial infrastructure overnight? Surely, they would be reduced to petty thieves and stick-up men without the pay-off.
A quick reference to history will turn up a very close analogy, the heyday of the mobsters during the prohibition years. The mob was at its apex during these years with the moneymaking machine of supplying illegal booze. When the Volstead Act was repealed, the money dried up, and the Mob was never again to return to its former glory. But then came drugs.
If drugs were legalized, they could be closely regulated and taxed. Prices would be driven down, and the junkie could simply walk into his neighborhood drug store with a script, instead of burglarizing your home, dismantling your air conditioner for copper, carjacking you, or sticking up the liquor store to pay for his habit. The passing around of dirty needles would be curtailed. The violent gang-banging dealers in your town would have to subsist on a meager income of low-level crime, and the guns for their drive-by shootings, and the purpose behind them, would wane. The cartels and corrupt governments that thrive on overly inflated cost of drugs brought on by illegalization would also dry up and blow away.
Think about it: The local gang-bangers you stop on a daily basis, rolling in Escalades with wheels and stereo equipment that cost more than the boat you dream of owning when you retire. How do these punks who pay no taxes and punch no clock afford such a lifestyle? It’s because of the multi-billion-dollar enterprise that is the drug trade. No intelligence, education or any other qualifications required, just a willingness to break the law, and hurt and kill people as a price of doing business.
In a perfect world, we could lock up all of the bad guys for as long as they deserved, but we all know cell space is at a premium. Because of this, rapists, pedophiles, robbers and even murderers are getting out in record time to allow for the mandatory sentences of droves upon droves of drug traffickers. We could free up that space to keep the killers, rapists, molesters and the like behind bars, where they belong.
So, would half of the population become junkies? Of course they wouldn’t. Sure, a very small percentage of people would experiment, but for the most part, those who want drugs are getting them now, and those who don’t, aren’t and won’t, just like drinkers and non-drinkers during the prohibition years. That won’t change.
In the end, we can’t stop the users. What we need is a more effective way to end the crime and violence surrounding this insidious culture. We can stop the suppliers and dealers, their guns and violence, and their killing. Perhaps we need to stop thinking in terms of “throwing in the towel” on our moral convictions, and start thinking in terms of reducing crime.