The Moral Case to Legalize Drugs
In any society, the absolute, most important priority for any institutional power is personal liberty. There is little point in having, for example, an economically sound country that abuses its citizens by criminalizing acts which amounts to limiting the individual’s freedom. Governments in the modern day oppress personal liberties and break their own respective constitutions by throwing persons who are not harming anyone (excluding their possible selves) in prison, because that action could potentially reflect badly on the government on an international scale. This causes one of the most controversial contemporary debates: recreational drug consumption.
The best possible way for a state to handle the drug epidemic is to legalize all substances used for recreational use. This includes drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, opiates as well as methamphetamine. In the United States, all of these previously listed drugs are used by pharmaceutical companies and are FDA approved, such as Desoxyn (FDA 2007). Desoxyn is the name of prescription 1 methamphetamine hydrochloride tablets used for patients struggling with ADHD (hyperactivity) and narcolepsy. Considering the “deadliest” illicit drugs are used in medical practice, the government already allows consumption to occur. However, one of the fundamentals of individual liberty expresses that as long as what you are doing does not directly impact someone else’s constitutional rights then that action should always be allowed by the state. No elected representative should have the power to decide what someone does or does not consume, and it is evident that even with strict drug policies that no law or legislation will alter or change individual tendencies.
If all drugs and substances were to be deemed legal by the state once again, that would not mean usage of them would increase. Prior to 1965, in the United States, all drugs mentioned above (heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine) were all legal (FDA 2012) and no drug crises occurred. In 1965 the Drug Abuse Control Amendments were the very first to prohibit the consumption, production and distribution of amphetamines, barbiturates and LSD (later) and allowed for only FDA approved use of these substances. Currently illegal drugs consumed by users are only as safe as the criminals that produce them. If drugs were all legal, then the quality of those drugs would adhere to the safety standard imposed either by government regulation or by enforced by private companies that create the substance to ensure users get the product they want, safely (e.g. no “cutting” agents – cutting an adulterant (chemical) that costs less than the drug being sold and is added to the drug to add weight so less product is being sold but for more money).
There are many arguments made against this standpoint on personal liberty and that illegal drugs should remain under government control. One of those arguments is that actions in order to feed a user’s addiction/dependency can directly impact others. History has shown that drug users who fail to keep up on the financial end of their addiction tend to sell all of their belongings and then steal from others to generate some form of income to satisfy their addiction. However, this does not go against the harm principle, as you cannot brand every drug user as a thief and criminal. If drugs were legal, in order to maximize the amount of personal freedoms one may have in their respective state, economically the idea is an incredible one. The U.S. Government has spent billions of dollars every year funding the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency).
Now, while it is apparent the drug creation and consumption rates will not decrease in the distant future, it is economically a good idea to legalize all drugs since the only individuals making money directly off these drugs are the cartels. Drug cartels are criminal organizations that manufacture and distribute illegal narcotics internationally and are known for their excessive violence and coercion. The legalization would make cartels obsolete and in turn would simply dissolve. This means government money (tax money) can be used on the education and safety of these drugs to deter persons from using. This would undoubtedly end a large portion of the over-crowdedness within prisons as drug offenders are usually sentenced in Western nations. In doing so, the legalization of all pharmaceutical and recreational drugs among societies today would greatly improve individual liberty on all fronts.
* Editor: the text above has been reviewed for readability, but not content. The opinion(s) reflected therein are those of the author, and not of the BeingLibertarian.com website or Being Libertarian LLC.
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