Monday, September 1, 2008

If we have to surrender a war, end the War on Drugs

Since I have pissed all my Liberal and conservative readers off with the last post, I might as well stay on a roll.

Most readers' minds snap shut at the mere mention of this idea. That is a shame, for legalization just might work. It cannot do worse than what we have now.

First, we have to have one basic agreement. The goal is too reduce and end drug dependence. Sometimes I wonder if the current war on drugs even has that goal, or whether its goal is to generate revenue for the legal system, and support the price of drugs.

The goal should be to save lives, both mortality, and quality of life. As it stands the goal seems to be punishment for thinking differently, for choosing a path that the mainstream of thought sees as self-destructive and not conducive to being a good servant of the state.

If the goal is to save health, it is only right that the problem belong to the medical system. The legal system has no concern for the health and safety of the drug users, in fact, the opposite is true.

The argument for illegality is that it keeps people from using drugs and the laws didn't exist there would be a great increase in the use of drugs. The implication is that the fact that drugs are illegal keeps the use of drugs down. But is that true? Are there people out there who say to themselves "I would become a crack addict, but it is illegal"? The people who make self-destructive choices know, and they make that choice in the face of Draconian punishment. Risking the punishment is just one more self-destructive choice, and a lesser one at that. In fact, in the case of marijuana, the illegality gives it a bit of cache. It becomes an us versus them, youth versus old age, counter-culture versus the establishment game. A game that leads them into a disbelief of the danger of the harder drugs. After all, "if they lied to us about the danger of pot, they have lied about everything else."

I am not saying there will not be casualties in ending this war. But over the long run it will improve. With the black market gone, the profit from drugs fall to nothing, the illegal import will disappear. With that disappearing, the violence and theft that currently follow the money trail will greatly reduce. So will the corruption of law enforcement officers and public officials.

And finally, the drug users themselves will feel freer to seek help and treatment to stop taking drugs, since there would be no fear of self-incrimination. Which is what we wanted in the first place. Thirty years of War haven't worked -- try a different tactic.

The only loss to this plan is the loss of the ability to feel smug and morally superior.

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