A former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, proposed a radical solution to drug related violence: Legalizing drugs.
I’m not used to seeing politicians, foreign or domestic, suggest worthwhile solutions to social ills. Legalizing all drugs, soft and hard, has been something I have advocated for many years – because it makes perfect sense. Actually, I would take it a step further. Not only would I legalize all drugs, I would make the hard ones available free of charge to any adult who asks for it.
Let me explain…
The value of drugs, like anything else, is determined by the intersection between supply and demand. Drug interdiction efforts on the part of government tend to decrease supply, thus raising prices. The manufacture and distribution of the product is relegated, by definition, to criminals. Is it any surprise that an extremely high margin industry run by criminals will be violent?
So what results from drug interdiction efforts? Turf wars between various criminal elements involved in manufacture and distribution. Burglary and petty crimes by addicts seeking to accumulate enough money to get a fix. In short, crime. Lots of it.
Now imagine that drugs were not only legalized, but the hard ones were given out free of charge to any adult who arrived at a specified government facility and asked for it? The first thing that happens is that the underground drug manufacturers go out of business. Their best customers, the addicted kind, now have a cheap and secure source of product to maintain their needs. No need to utilize the black market. Violent criminal turf wars: erradicated.
The second thing that happens is that you substantially decrease the amount of new drug users. Sterile government drug facilities might be perfect for addicts who need to maintain, but they aren’t exactly a party atmosphere. It’s a matter of common sense that most new drug users are introduced to it by, wait for it… existing drug users. But that doesn’t work well here. One person to a room. No television or stereo. You can bring a newspaper or other reading material. You can consume however much you want, but you cannot leave until you are sober (for public safety), and you cannot take any product out with you.
Without a social environment in which to use drugs it stands to reason that there will be a decrease in new users. Put it this way. In order to get a new user (remember, hard drugs are no longer available on the street since the drug dealers are out of business), a person that has never used drugs would have to walk into a facility and ask for a sterile room and a hypodermic needle. This won’t happen very often.
Third, and most importantly, you decrease crime. It isn’t difficult to imagine that many hard drug addicts could actually lead somewhat productive lives in the absence of having to whore themselves out and steal in order to meet their addiction obligations. Even if they can’t lead normal lives… at least they aren’t robbing people.
As for soft drugs.. Let them sell marijuana at cafes for all I care. Any college stoner with a few remaining brain cells can rattle off a fairly coherent argument about how alcohol is more dangerous than pot, and that the tax revenue from it’s sale could be immensely helpful to local governments. Nothing too complex there. Of course the tax revenue would probably be used toward nothing good.. but what else is new?