Three-quarters of the U.S. population oppose the legalization of psychoactive drugs like heroin, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine, and marijuana. Therefore, the term "drug legalization" has rightfully acquired pejorative connotations. Many supporters of this position have adopted the label "harm reduction" to soften the impact of an unpopular proposal that, if passed, would encourage greater availability and use of drugs -- especially among children. The euphemism of "harm reduction" implies that legalizing dangerous substances would reduce the harm these substances cause. In fact, condoning drugs would increase their use and hence their harm.
Drug use imposes an unacceptable risk of harm on the user and others. The evidence supporting this viewpoint is chilling:
-- Substance abuse wrecks families. A survey of state child-welfare agencies found substance abuse to be one of the top two problems exhibited by 81 percent of families reported for child maltreatment. Researchers estimate that chemical dependence is present in at least half of the families involved in the child welfare system.
One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that non-drug users who live in households where drugs are used are eleven times more likely to be killed than individuals from drug-free households;
-- Drug-dependent individuals are responsible for a disproportionate percentage of our nation's violent and income-generating crimes like robbery, burglary, or theft. National Institute of Justice surveys consistently find that between one-half and three-quarters of all arrested persons have drugs in their system at the time of arrest. In 1997, a third of state prisoners and about one in five federal prisoners said they had committed the crimes that led to incarceration while under the influence of drugs;
-- Injection-drug users place themselves at great risk. A University of Pennsylvania study of Philadelphia injection-drug users found that four times as many addicts...