Legalization of Drugs

Essay by dbakerUniversity, Ph.D. November 1996

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Legalization of Drugs

The drug connection is one that continues to resist analysis, both because cause and effect are so difficult to distinguish and because the role of the drug-prohibition laws in causing and labeling 'drug-related crime' is so often ignored. There are four possible connections between drugs and crime, at least three of which would be much diminished if the drug-prohibition laws were repealed. 'First, producing, selling, buying, and consuming strictly controlled and banned substances is itself a crime that occurs billions of times each year in the United States alone' (Lindsmith Center). In the absence of drug-prohibition laws, these activities would obviously stop being crimes. 'Selling drugs to children would continue to be criminal, and other evasions of government regulation of a legal market would continue to be prosecuted; but by and large the drug connection that now accounts for all of the criminal-justice costs noted above would be severed' (Lindsmith Center).

Second, many illicit-drug users commit crimes such as robbery and burglary, as well as drug dealing, prostitution, and many others, to earn enough money to purchase the relatively high-priced illicit drugs. 'Unlike the millions of alcoholics who can support their habits for relatively modest amounts, many cocaine and heroin addicts spend hundreds and

even thousands of dollars a week' (Lindsmith Center). If the drugs to which they are addicted were much cheaper-which would be the case if they were legalized-the

number of crimes committed by drug addicts to pay for their habits would, in all likelihood,

decline. Even if a legal-drug policy included the a demand of relatively high taxes in order to discourage consumption, drug prices would probably still be lower than they are today.

The third drug connection is the commission of crimes- violent crimes in particular-by people under the influence of illicit drugs.