Why Drug Laws Cause More Harm Than Benefit

There can be no doubt that prescription laws cause more harm than good.  But what about the laws regulating other drugs?  Do they also cause more harm than good? We’ve had such laws for a century now, so there is plenty of evidence as to their effects.  I fear that the only conclusion that can be determined from the available data is that overall, these laws cause more harm than good.  Consider the number of people in prison because of a violation of drug laws is at least one million.  Consider here the cost of keeping this many people in prison at a figure of at least $30,000 a year.  If 1/2 of all people in prison are there for drug law violations, the total cost is $30 billion dollars a year.  Which has to now come out of the money that people pay in taxes.  Then there is the added cost of the trials, the cost of arrests by the police. Obviously these arrests of one million people for what amounts to a “victimless crime” is taking away time and money from doing anything about the true criminals who steal people’s property, injure, and sometimes kill people.  That is a “cost” too, even if it usually isn’t figured in discussions of this type.  Also, what few people now realize, those who are imprisoned often have families, people who are dependent upon them.  There are thus “social costs” in imprisoning people for violation of our drug laws.  It isn’t just the cost of keeping people in prison, but the costs to society when we do so…  The same appears to be true with all “victim less” crime.  Society ends up the major “loser”!

Because these drugs are “illegal”, they are far more likely to be adulterated with other substances besides the drug that the purchaser expects.  Also, because the “seller” is seeking to make a profit on the deal, they are much more likely to tell the buyer lies as to the drug in question, its strength, or whatever else has been used as an “extender”.  For this reason “street drugs” can be quite unsafe compared to the same compound that may be purchased by prescription in a drugstore.  Also the sale of these “street drugs” is in fact supported by organized crime, along with violent groups seeking to protect their “source of income” from others “intruding” on their “turf”.  Conflict between gangs is often driven by the sale of illegal drugs and the high profits the sale of such substances will bring.  Too, the addict, who is paying a price many times what he or she would pay for the same drug sold in a drugstore also may be committing crimes in order to support his or her “drug habit”!

It can be seen that the cost of our “War on Drugs” is far higher than thought. In fact, when all the costs are considered, the cost of our “War on Drugs” starts getting into the hundred billion dollar range at least.  Or about $300 per capita per year.  Proving too that the Prohibition of Drugs creates much the same problems as we had with the Prohibition of Alcohol back in the 1920’s and early 1930’s.  We eventually repealed the Constitutional Amendment that created Prohibition, and while the “War on Drugs” is not authorized by the Constitution in the same way as Prohibition was, the results however are much the same.  We could also limit the sale of these drugs to adults, as we now do with alcohol.

A study made a few decades ago by “Consumer Reports” upon illicit drugs showed that prior to the passage of the laws that make up our “War on Drugs”, the problems with the abuse of these drugs was far less than what it has been since the laws were passed.  In effect we “jumped from the prying pan into the fire”.  By making these drugs illegal to sell (or even prescribe in many cases), we created a situation that organized crime could exploit to its own gain. And because these drugs were made far more expensive than the cost of their manufacture and legal sale earlier, those addicted to the drugs were forced to turn to a life of crime.  Additionally, because of the great profit that could be made from the sale of these illicit substances, it was quite “profitable” to now create additional addicts…

This is the situation we now find ourselves in.  We have created for ourselves a “crime wave” that continues to destroy lives, a crime wave that fills our prisons to overflowing. When it becomes necessary to parole hardened criminals in order to make room for those convicted of violation of our drug laws, we are indeed behaving in a manner that makes no sense. By doing these things, we make life here in the United States of America more dangerous for everyone. Thousands of lives are lost yearly because of conflicts over the sale of illicit drugs.  Here locally the death toll runs a dozen or more lives lost yearly due to conflicts by groups fighting over “turf”.  And the addicts created by drug pushers add to the level of crime by their seeking of money or goods to be “fenced” to buy more drugs! We have actually bred ourselves a “crime wave” that grows worse as time passes.  And for what?  Wouldn’t it be better to just let people alone to drug themselves if they want?  We already have laws regarding driving cars, working various jobs under the influence of drugs. These laws make far more sense and create far less harm than our futile attempts at “outlawing” something apparently only proves that when there is “demand”, suppliers will appear to meet that “demand”…  If these products were sold in drugstores like any other drug, then the purity and the dosage could be known so users would know what to expect.  Also, once these items were “legal”, organized crime would have no cause to be part of something where there was little if any “profit” to be made as “distributors”.

When you do something stupid and hurt yourself doing it, do you go back and do the same thing again?  The “War on Drugs” is stupid, it hurts us, so why do we continue to do it?

Jerome Bigge, writing as “muskegonlibertarian.wordpress.com”.


About muskegonlibertarian

77 year old retired owner of a security guard agency. Member of the Libertarian Party.
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