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essay on drug legalization

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Meistro Posted: Tue, Mar 26 2013 3:09 PM


I wrote an essay on drug legalization that I plan to distribute at 4/20 celebrations in my town.  I was hoping people could help me by criticizing any aspect of it, the grammar, the method in which i  have presented my argument, the structure, etc.  thank you in advance
On the subject of prohibition, in his work detailing the effect of government intervention in the market 'Power and Market', Murray N. Rothbard explains the impact saying "The consequence is injury to all parties concerned: to the consumers, who lose utility because they cannot purchase the product and satisfy their most urgent wants; and to the producers, who are prevented from earning a higher remuneration in this field and must therefore be content with lower earnings elsewhere."  There are some who gain (otherwise the policy would not have been enacted) and he continues "The only ones who benefit from the regulation, then, are the government bureaucrats themselves—partly from the tax-created jobs that the regulation creates, and perhaps also from the satisfaction gained from repressing others and wielding coercive power over them." The main lobbyists for the policy of prohibition are the police, who owe their livelihood to a systematic oppression of drug users but since those who experiment with controlled substances are a marginalized group there are few who are willing to speak out against this injustice.
The economic consideration is not the only aspect of this policy with which we must concern ourselves.  In Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand writes "The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."  By criminalizing a huge portion of the society, the government is enabled to exercise power and control over that segment, as well as to extract further revenue in the form of fines on these individuals and additional taxes levied on everyone to combat this supposed increase in criminality.  It can justify it's profligate spending in the area of policing by pointing to the great number of people it has defined as criminals.  The war on drugs has been a full on assault on our civil liberties.  It is now routine for the police to spy on us, to tap our phones, to search our houses and our persons as well as assault, kidnap and forcible confine peaceful individuals.  This is contrary to the harm principle, through which John Stuart Mill argues "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."  Sinclair Lewis wrote that "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross."  One might be tempted to paraphrase that to say  that when fascism came to Canada, it was punching a drug user and smashing a bong.  
But what about drug use?  Isn't it bad?  Shouldn't it be stamped out?  From the perspective of some it is bad, from the perspective of the prohibitionist, but clearly the drug user does not think so, since they are willing to pay both the incredibly expensive prices of the drug and face draconian legal penalties for their troubles.  From the perspective of the user their utility is increased by purchasing and consuming drugs.  Is the busy body nanny statist really in a position to judge what is better or worse for the individual in question?  Drug use can carry health risks - most of which have been over stated or misrepresented by a government which has no moral commitment to the truth- but there are countless activities which carry risks.  Skiing is risky.  Crossing the street is risky.  Should we be compelled by law to remain in our apartments and never leave on pain of death in order that we be protected from our own base instincts?  Many illegal drugs have useful applications.  Marijuana can act as a pain killer and an appetite stimulant for individuals with diseases which make it difficult to eat.  Morphine, closely related to heroin, is used medically to treat very serious pain.  Francis Crick discovered the shape of the double helix while high on LSD and Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while under it's influence.   Aldous Huxley's work was influenced by his consumption of mescaline.  Both the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes and the very real character named Sigmund Freud were avid aficionados of cocaine.  Countless beloved works of art were created while the artist was high.  Ultimately it should be the choice of the individual as to whether or not they use drugs.  The purpose of law is not to make us all conform to some narrow ideal of behaviour, as imagined by bureaucrats, but to stop violent criminals or thieves and enact restitution against their crimes.    
But what about drug addiction?  Isn't the government justified in intervening to prevent people from getting hooked on these addictive drugs and ruining their lives?  Especially for young people?  But prohibition doesn't eliminate drugs.  It can't.  The government can't even keep drugs out of their own PRISONS, where everyone is locked up and strip searched.  If the government can't even keep drugs out of these controlled environments how can they possibly expect to eliminate drug use elsewhere?  The drug dealer, already operating outside the law and facing life imprisonment for his activities anyway, is not going to care if he is selling crack to a sixteen year old kid or someone who is in a better position to access the risk of taking that substance.  If we were to legalize drugs then those who sold them over the counter would not operate under the light of secrecy and we could as a society enforce certain standards by which we prohibited the sale to children.    Furthermore it would be much easier to help those who are dealing with drug addiction, since their problem would not have to be hidden, for fear of legal repercussions, and they could more easily have access to the advice of physicians and treatment for their addictions.  
It is a curious sympathy indeed that manifests it's alleged concern for an individual who is suffering from drug addiction with harsh criminal penalties on that person. Colloquially we may refer to this process as kicking a man when he is down.  It is hardly compassionate to lock another individual in a cage or to tear a family apart simply because someone's judgment has been subpar.  The problem of drug addiction is one which should be dealt with by friends, families and physicians not police, judges and guards.  
It is imperative that the complete legalization of all drugs be enacted and all drug users and drug dealers currently incarcerated be released from their prisons.  That segment of police forces employed in prohibition should be fired and their budgets cut to the degree which they were expended on enforcement of these immoral laws.  This money saved should be used towards helping to eliminate the income tax.  We will stop short of incarcerating those police who have so greatly assailed the liberties of innocent drug users, if only because it would be difficult to find much public support for this policy.  The impact of legalization would be to reunite countless families torn apart by state power, to enable tens of thousands of individuals to rejoin the labour force, to dramatically cut taxes and to end the black market in drugs as it is replaced by the legal production and sale of these products.  Legalization would go a long way to restoring our civil liberties and the rule of law and withhold from criminal gangs their most lucrative source of funding.  This policy would cost the taxpayer nothing - indeed, it would save him a great deal of money as the costs of enforcement are eliminated and new individuals broaden the tax base as both drug dealers and police / prison guards must find new work in the private sector.   


... just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own - Albert Jay Nock

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