Legalize all Drugs = Use & Abuse Double – The Consequences
Legalize drugs and all hell and ruin will plague the USA as drug use/abuse doubles! The sky will fall in. The Chicken Littles aka The Prohibition Crowd has used this mantra to great effect the past 15 years. Though competent addiction experts and a 2008 Zogby poll state that use and abuse of hard drugs will remain fairly constant, what if the experts are wrong and the prohibition crowd is correct? What if millions of us become so stupid that we use heroin, meth and crack -when they become legal? What would be the total change in the USA, if we legalized, regulated and taxed currently prohibited drugs and this caused use and abuse to double? Note: all drugs should be used with caution or not at all, even aspirin.
The best news of all is that the 900,000 young teens currently selling these drugs off sidewalks and being shot in the process will become unemployed. They will be forced into making chump change flipping burgers or being unemployed. What is the value of one child saved? You tell me. The general savings of money will amount to some 80 billion currently wasted by law enforcement to look for, arrest and incarcerate drug users and sellers. The 120 billion we spend now on illegal drugs will go back into the taxed economy, as users have more money to buy cars, a steak in town or go to vacation in Florida. Farmers will plant hemp and supply a growing US market for that commodity vs. the importation currently coming from Canada. As gangs shrink and inner cities become much quieter (far fewer 9 mm going pop, pop, pop) property values will increase and so probably investment and their jobs. We would no longer fund our mortal enemies. Al Qaeda and the Taliban would have to find a new source of money to kill our troops. The police could concentrate on the deadly DUI and reckless drivers, saving thousands from dying on our roads. Detectives could arrest a lot more child predators. Crime labs could process the 400,000 SAKs (Sexual Assault Kits) that have been waiting years to be opened. More rapists will be in prison.
Let’s start with marijuana. Currently about 30 million enjoy it as a recreational alternative to alcohol. Let’s take as a given that few teetotalers (non-drinkers) will start using marijuana. Thus when 30 million citizens switch from drinking alcohol to smoking pot, this would be a net benefit for themselves, their family and their community. How so? Ask any cop or writer of country/western songs. Alcohol use provokes in almost all of us a bit of reckless to very reckless behavior (saying something we should not, to picking a fight with someone twice your size). For a significant minority alcohol use will provoke aggressive, even violent behavior. In this fashion a doubling of marijuana use will reduce homicide, suicide, rape, child/spouse abuse and assault. And DUI problems will be reduced, as smokers stay home and order a Domino’s pizza delivered.
What if we doubled the number of sick and dying people in this country who could access medical marijuana? For some, it would mean reducing or completely eliminating their use of stronger and more hazardous opiates to treat intractable pain. How? The 15% THC marijuana is so strong, it is now replacing the opiate Vicodin. For others, it would mean being able to better tolerate chemotherapy — to be more likely to survive the harsh treatments for their cancer or hepatitis C. For even more, it would mean being able to eat and sleep, to visit with their family and friends, to laugh — instead of barely existing in a prescription drug-induced stupor.
For all of them, it would mean a better quality of life, for as long as they have left to live.
Wait what about 30 million more people becoming lazy, losing their jobs, going on welfare, robbing banks to live? Everyone reading this essay has either used marijuana or knows many in the family or friends who have. Do some become permanently lazy? Yes, the same as becoming an alcoholic often means a life without meaningful work. However, the overwhelming majority of marijuana users are like you and me; hard-working and hard-playing, taxpaying successful doctors, lawyers and such. From the past three US Presidents to half of Congress and Captains of Industry, most use pot and go on to become successful. Tell Michael Phelps, Willie Nelson, Speaker Newt Gingrich or five time all NFL pro center for the Dallas Cowboys Mark Stepnoski about being too spaced out on marijuana to achieve greatness.
A couple of hundred million times this year mostly young people are going to use an hallucinogen like X or LSD. There are almost no accounts of users stealing, robbing or becoming prostitutes to pay for their drug of choice. Yes, a couple of dozen die from X use (too much or too little water is a common reason) and that is a tragedy. Of course many more will die this year while riding their bicycle (about 2.5 per day). More Americans will die while riding a horse than die from X. In order to protect citizens from harm, should the government prohibit the riding of bicycles and horses? Tell your politicians. Now double the use and abuse of X and LSD. Two times roughly zero is how much?
The feds tell us that perhaps a million of us use meth-amphetamine and a couple of hundred die every year because of abuse issues and overdose. What happens when that number goes to two million? From what I know (no surveys have ever been published), the majority of users are either trying to stay awake on a 12 hour shift or want to lose weight. This crowd would have access to the same 5 mg amphetamine pills we give Air Force pilots to go on long missions. With standard doses users would gain control over their intake & improve their odds of not becoming addicted, same as our military pilots. Of course some will become addicted (talk to Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson after you die) but overall, death and abuse rates should fall for this group.
What about those who love the sexual kick that meth provides? This crowd may switch to the sexual kick that cocaine does provide. If they stay with the meth, they will suffer long term health consequences. If their number doubles, they will also suffer. On the flip side, there will be no meth labs in America and no children eating Cheerios where mom and dad made meth last night. No houses will blow up and no expensive clean ups when meth houses are discovered. Since children are IMO much more important than adults harming themselves, even a doubling of amphetamine users would be a net plus.
Let’s take the last and ‘big ones’ cocaine and heroin together. Currently we believe about 5 million use coke and about a million use heroin. The prohibition of these drugs does cause significant theft crime for some/many of the users to support their habits. This year about 44,000 will die from overdose and an unknown number (certainly in thousands) will die from health complications associated with dirty, shared needles, etc. Note: the use of crack will drop dramatically, as most cocaine users prefer the powder. Crack is mostly attractive because of the lower price.
Even as use/abuse double the USA will experience a huge drop in felony crime, as the price for a day’s supply of these drugs falls to about 3 dollars. That money can easily me made panhandling/begging for change. Thus hundreds of thousands of home owners will not become victims of theft. The number of banks and convenience stores robbed will drop by half, saving the terror and death that those employees deal with.
Certainly overdose deaths would fall dramatically, when users buy a product of known strength and contains no rat poison etc. This would save a lot of money now spent by EMS ambulances and hospital emergency rooms. A billion or two will be saved in hospital costs, as there will be no street corner drug dealers shooting each other. Oh, and of course the addicts live to have a chance to climb out of their addiction one day.
Federal studies and experts state that the abuse rate for cocaine is 5-6 per cent. Thus even a doubling of users would only increase those who abuse cocaine by about 300,000. The abuse rate for heroin is about 70 per cent of users. We would see about 350,000 new abusers of heroin. Each new abuse case will be a personal and family tragedy. On the flip side, almost no one will die of an overdose and with a robust treatment option (paid for by the taxes on other drugs & savings by cutting our prisons in half), a good many will live thru their addiction time to become clean and sober.
The majority of American has admitted in polls and at the Rotary Club that Modern Prohibition is an ineffective failure. Many see the policy as the most destructive, dysfunctional and immoral policy since slavery and Jim Crow. Even if we doubled the number of drug users in this country, the pluses far outweigh the minuses.