The drug war is done — let people choose for themselves

Chris Kok

It is time to legalize all drugs. Criminalization of drugs is our modern day Prohibition, and it is creating our modern day Al Capones.

Why are drugs illegal? The answer to that question usually is drug use causes crimes, drugs are unhealthy and drug use is immoral.

Well, I don’t know if drug use is immoral. What I do know is that it is not my place to force morality onto another person. The same can be said for the heath excuse. Sure, drugs are unhealthy, but that is each person’s choice to make.

So that leaves crime as the only reason to make drugs illegal. How do drugs cause crimes? First of all, by making drugs illegal, possession of drugs is a crime.

The main reason drugs cause crime is because of conditions of the black market, which they are placed in because they are illegal.

Because of the black market, drug prices are much higher than they would be under legal conditions. For an addicted user, this means drugs might be too expensive to afford. So to pay for the drugs, the addict will sometimes steal from people to get their fix.

Drug dealers are in possession of a valuable product, and if it gets stolen, they cannot file a report with the police because it would land them in jail. So the dealer’s solution is to be armed. Also, because of the possibility of large profits and the unregulated nature of the drug business, turf wars are common, leading to even more violence. This sort of violent crime would not happen if drugs were legal. Advil and Tylenol don’t go to war against each other.

Another crime-related claim against drugs is that it supports terrorism. Brutal militias and death squads in Columbia are financed by cocaine, and Taliban remnants are profiting from heroin. If drugs were legalized, these groups would not be able to make money off of their respective substances.

Currently, the United States is fighting a war against drugs. This is an expensive and ineffective war costing society. The United States is spending roughly $600 million per year trying to eradicate drugs in Columbia, $2.3 billion on the DEA and millions of dollars to incarcerate drug offenders. The results? Anyone on this campus can find hard drugs if they try.

As long as people want drugs, they will be able to find them. Arresting dealers only creates more dealers. The only law dealers don’t break is the law of supply and demand.

Instead of fighting a war on drugs, the United States should legalize drugs and use the money for more effective drug programs. Instead of incarceration, the focus should be on rehabilitation and prehabilitation. A study by RTI International showed focusing on drug treatment rather than incarceration saved $47,000 per patient in New York. Prehabilitation — education and job programs to keep people from getting involved in drugs in the first place — could be more effective.

It is time for the United States to admit defeat in the war against drugs. Legalizing drugs and focusing on rehabilitation and prehabilitation is the only effective solution.

Chris Kok is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].