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A quick question -- could not the same argument be made for nicotine (in cigarettes) and alcohol? I mean, alcohol can be far MORE addictive AND dangerous than marijuana (and for the record, I DO enjoy a nice whiskey now and then).|
Actually, I take an even more controversial stance that I DO support legalization of ALL drugs. Not because I think they are harmless, but for other reasons.
I will use the example of alcohol, and Prohibition in the United States. During Prohibition, all alcohol actually WAS made illegal (just like marijuana, and many other drugs, today). Did people stop drinking? No. Did society benefit in any measurable manner? Not that I can discern.
But what DID happen is that criminals made a HUGE profit from selling alcohol at greatly inflated prices...while the government LOST money, both from lost tax revenue, and from the cost of trying to enforce anti-alcohol laws.
It was a spiraling curve -- the criminals got richer and richer, developed more and more elaborate networks, and used their money to get better and better weapons. The authorities, on the other hand, faced greater and greater difficulties, without the means to handle them.
When Prohibition was appealed, alcoholism didn't stop. We didn't get rid of drunk drivers, and wife/child abuse by drunked husbands didn't cease. But we DID get more money to deal with those things -- while the criminals lost a key source of revenue, and had to turn to other means (drugs, prostitution) to get money.
Furthermore, those who had problems with alcohol were able to seek help, without fearing legal retribution. In short -- people were punished for crimes committed as a RESULT of using alcohol...but not for using alcohol itself.
It is for this reason that I support legalization of drugs (and, for that matter, of prostitution). I do not use drugs, and do not use prostitutes...I consider both practices to be potentially dangerous, and generally detrimental to society.
BUT -- and this is a BIG "but" -- we are NEVER going to get rid of drugs. Or prostitution. And the ONLY things that we accomplish by keeping them illegal are:
1) To ensure that criminals can continue making tons of money from them, thus creating a far GREATER danger to our society
2) To ensure that police and other legal authorities have inadequate resources to control an INCREASING problem
3) To ensure that those victims -- drug addicts, prostitutes, etc. -- who WANT help are afraid to seek it, for fear of legal retribution.
Legalizing drugs (and prostitution) would have three main effects, in this regard:
1) Criminals would lose their two largest sources of revenue; without this money, their resources and ability to maintain power/influence would be severely curtailed
2) Taxes on drugs/prostitution (just like taxes on alcohol and cigarettes) would provide significantly greater income so that the government could offer better recovery/support programs (drug prices are so inflated by criminals today that, after legalization, the government could offer drugs at a price a FRACTION of what drug users pay today, even INCLUDING tax).
3) Those who want to seek help -- drug users, prostitutes, etc. -- would not need to fear legal retribution, and would feel much freer to step forward.
Would this scheme stop drug use, or drug-related crime? Not entirely. Just as repealing prohibition didn't stop alcoholism, or alcohol-related crimes.
But it would take control AWAY from the criminal elements, and give the government resources to focus on HELPING (or curing/supporting) those who are caught by drugs/prostitution, rather than this dead-end and pointless battle against criminals who have more money, resources, and power than the authorities who are fighting them.