The commercial vices are gambling, prostitution, and drugs. The
appeals of the commercial vices are so strong and widespread that
attempts to prohibit them in western countries have always failed.
The evils of these vices are threefold: Those who practice
them suffer, the criminals who sell them prosper, and the enforcement
organizations are expensive, unsuccessful, and often corrupt.
Two commercial vices have been accepted as unstoppable, but
there evils have been minimized by legalization and regulation. These are the
particular drug, alcohol, and gambling. Ethyl alcohol, the drug in beer,
whiskey, and wine does more harm is causing accidents, overdose deaths,
job failures, broken homes, and violence than all other drugs combined.
The United States attempted to prohibit alcohol and failed. The
Mafia made its money by bootlegging alcohol. The gangsters of the twenties
and thiries were in the alcohol business just as the drug peddlers of today are in
the drug business.
Both settled trade disputes with gun fire. When alcohol
prohibition was repealed and sale by licensed dealers was instituted, the
Mafia went out of the liquor business and the revenue agents assigned to stop
the illegal business went out of business too. The quality of regulated liquor
became assured and taxed, not high enough to motivate bootlegging, became
a source of public revenue. Consumption of legal alcohol became only
slightly greater than the consumption of illegal alcohol had been.
If we follow the alcohol example with all other drugs, the benefits will obtain.
Much more than that, the temptation of the forbidden fruits will disappear. The jailing of
petty drug pushers will stop, together with their training as future serious criminals in the
crime schools which are jails. If we transfer the huge sums wasted on efforts and on
punishment to serious education and rehabilitation...