A Harvard senior lecturer in economics wrote an article on legalizing drugs that I found pretty interesting.
The fact that alcohol prohibition was legalized during the great depression is an important lesson. But there’s a huge difference between drinking a few beers and shooting up heroine.
However, it’s fair to say that legalizing drugs has not been tried. There is a slew of questions surrounding the practicality of such a drastic change in policy, but I wholeheartedly agree that our drug policy in the united states is puritanical and draconian.
Questions I’d have:
- What would be the deterministic health consequences? Would the toll on the psyche and well-being of society be too much if we trusted people to control themselves?
- How can you weigh the benefits of reducing the power of drug cartels with the increase in DUI deaths and personal losses for people who will battle addiction?
- Would this even increase the amount of abusers? People who gamble find ways to gamble, people who do drugs already find ways to do it — is it a myth that everyone would suddenly rush to do drugs?
I think the argument against legalization is based largely on precedent and less on metrics — since a lot of it is just speculation. I don’t have many doubts that we’d be able to save money and increase revenue drastically at the same time — and we could channel a small percentage of funds to education, support and rehab instead of spending so much on enforcement and incarceration.
Think about it.
4 thoughts on “How to Really Help the Economy: Tax Drugs”
Drugs have been legalized in Portugal at least, with good success. http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/03/14/portugal/index.html
Thanks, Abe — good article.
“But there’s a huge difference between drinking a few beers and shooting up heroine.”
Of course there is, but then it doesn’t make sense to consider all drugs equally, or necessarily promote the legalisation of all drugs.
What really pisses me off is that alcohol is more dangerous in immediate terms than cannabis (i.e. leads to more violent behaviour / accidents). Long term abuse of both has known effects. Why is alcohol legal and cannabis illegal?
A recent study published by the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs stated that ecstasy is less dangerous than horse riding.
Opponents to the statement seem to think that Nutt should resign for stating a statistical fact and provoking debate. This is the reason that drugs will never get legalised. Popular opinion will always beat science fact for politicians.
“Would the toll on the psyche and well-being of society be too much if we trusted people to control themselves?” — legalizing drugs doesn’t necessarily mean a free for all; legalizing drugs may mean health services etc can regulate it based on health concerns, help with monitoring etc.
I just happened to be reading this yesterday, which is funny timing: http://www.globalissues.org/article/755/illicit-drugs
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