AOH :: DRUGLAW.TXT|
Some estimated figures on how much crime would go down if drugs were legalized...
DRUG LAWS KILL
A Libertarian Outlook
by Gerald Schneider, Ph.D.
Bad as drug use can be, government laws to prevent drug use
are worse! More people die and are maimed because of drug laws
than from the drugs themselves. Drug laws can turn what may be a
personal tragedy into a criminal catastrophe. Both drug users
and drug haters would be better off if drug use were
The intellectual establishment already knows that drug laws
do not work and are counterproductive. Popular culture figures
ranging from William F. Buckley, Jr. to _Bloom County_ cartoonist
Berke Breathed have denounced drug laws openly. But the public
Democratic and Republican candidates have exploited public
apprehension about drugs to get votes. These politicos promote
the fiction that drug laws help and more drug laws would help
more. They all stand guilty of fostering public hysteria about
In contrast, Ron Paul, the 1988 Libertarian Party Presiden-
tial candidate, opposes drug laws. He is supported by a few
brave politicians such as Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. More
politicians would join with them if they did not fear public
Drug Laws Breed Crime
Crime syndicates prosper from illegal drugs today just as
bootleggers enriched themselves thanks to prohibition in the
1930s. High illegal drug prices attract and sustain criminals,
while addicts murder and rob for money to buy drugs.
In contrast, legalized drugs would sell at prices low enough
to discourage professional criminal entrepreneurs. Addicts would
not have to steal to pay for drugs to support their habits. For
example, the legalized price of heroin necessary to maintain an
addict would be about $1.50 per day.
With the end of drug laws, murder would drop 70%, burglary
60%. Cities would be much safer. Police would be freer to focus
on real crimes. Courts and jails would become uncrowded,
ensuring swifter justice and less need, if any, to build new
prisons. Government officials--foreign and domestic--would no
longer be corrupted by large sums of drug money.
Legal Drugs Safer
History proves that regardless of health risks, drug users
will be drug users. Alcoholism is considered a disease, not a
crime. Why should this be less true for drug use? Better to
depend on education, counseling, and voluntary treatment to curb
addiction than to turn addicts into criminals.
Coping with living is tough enough for addicts. Why saddle
them with the added burden of finding safe and affordable drugs?
Illegal drugs sold on the street are of unknown quality and, like
"bathtub gin" during prohibition, can harm and kill users. Legal
drugs would be sold over the counter in drug stores where safety
and cost could be judged.
Children especially need to be protected from bad drugs.
Drug vending should not be left to strangers in school yards and
on playgrounds. Legalized drugs would put most street drug
peddlers out of business. Legal drugs obtained by children would
at least be safer, even if these drugs are considered undesirable
A Double Standard
For what it is worth, legal drugs--alcohol and nicotine (in
cigarettes)--kill thousands more people than illegal drugs do.
For example, in 1984 (the latest year for which complete data is
available), illegal drugs killed 3,500 people. In that same
year, there were 150,000 alcohol-related deaths and 350,000
Beware of the contrived "war on drugs." Self destruction
through drug abuse of any kind should be discouraged by
responsible people. But keeping drugs illegal does not help,
and, as facts show, only makes matters worse.
Reprinted from THE WHEATON NEWS of Wheaton, Maryland, May
12, 1988. For a one year subscription to Mr. Schneider's biweekly
"Libertarian Outlook" column, send $15 to: Gerald Schneider, 8750
Georgia Ave., Suite 1410-B, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Copyright
1988 Gerald Schneider, Ph.D.
(This is the text of one of a series of eight topical Libertarian
outreach leaflets produced by the Libertarian Party of Skagit
County, WA. The leaflets have a panel with National LP member-
ship information, with a space for other LP groups to stamp their
own address and phone number. Samples and a bulk price list/
order form are available from: Libertarian Party of Skagit
County, P.O. Box 512, Anacortes, WA 98221.)
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