Legalization of Drugs

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I think I’ve finally come to a turning point in my political philosophy.

When we discuss the legalization of drugs, we have to think of the various possibilities. For any substance out there, we can handle it in one of the following ways.

(1) Complete ban. Under this scenario, we completely ban the manufacture, distribution, possession and consumption of the substance. If we catch you with it, you’re going to jail for a long time, and we’re going to take away everything you hold dear.

The effect of the complete ban is two-fold. First, there is, obviously, less of the production, distribution, possession and consumption in public. This kind of stuff is driven underground. This implies that there is also, overall, less consumption. However, it is not completely eliminated, and indeed, can never be completely eliminated. What people do in private, they can never be discovered.

The other effect is the druglords. Driving these things to the black market gives a tremendous economic opportunity to those who operate without the law. They don’t have to pay taxes, adhere to proper regulations such as weights and measures and proper labeling. They don’t have to tell us who works for them or how their company is structured. We don’t even get to collect the B&O tax from them. With this new-found economic benefit, these drug lords become pretty powerful. If they are allowed to grow in power, their power may challenge the power of the state itself. We see this happening in Mexico and other countries.

(2) Heavy taxes. In this scenario, the production, distribution, possession and consumption of the substances are completely legal. However, there is a stiff tax on it. The tax isn’t so high that a black market can thrive, but it is almost that high.

We put the high tax on the substance for two reasons. One, to limit the quantity. By raising the price, fewer people will be able to even afford the substance, and what they can buy is in limited quantities. Two, to help fund the state coffers.

We shouldn’t let the tax revenue be the driving force behind the taxes though. At a much lower tax level, we can potentially raise much more revenue. The problem is that this implies that a whole lot more consumption is going on. So we don’t want to maximize tax revenue. We simply want to limit consumption.

Under this scenario, we should also regulate the production and distribution of the substance. Make sure that whatever is manufactured is labeled appropriately. This will help the final consumer get what they paid for. This should also help people make better decisions about how they will partake of the substance. Perhaps we may even see some responsible consumption.

We may also regulate the advertisement of these substances. Make it so that they don’t entice people who don’t already partake of these substances to experiment with them. We may also require people who buy these substances to sign a release form that indicates that they are very likely to damage themselves if they partake of the substances, and that they will be held responsible for whatever they do under the influence of those substances.

The best part is that the black market is eliminated.

(3) Free market. In this scenario, we don’t tax the substance any more than we tax anything else. It participates in the free market at its natural price.

I don’t like this because the consumption under this method will be highest. In some cases, the bad substances are actually cheaper to make than good substances of a similar kind. For instance, alcohol could be manufactured more cheaply than a good soda, and if that were the case, the poor may choose to consume alcohol over  soda.

(3) State controlled sales. In this scenario, the state controls the manufacture, or distribution of the substances.

The biggest problem with this is that the state can never make as much money as the people could. That implies that simply adding a tax to the people doing the same work will give us more revenue.

Also, state-run businesses work to a far lower standard than typical businesses. We cannot expect more professionalism if the employees are not concerned about natural market forces.

Given the above scenarios, we choose the option that gives us the best result. Obviously, that result is (2) Heavy Taxes. In this spirit, I join the political ranks of those who want the legalization of harmful substances.

However, we are still left with a problem. What do we do with people who don’t choose to be responsible? These would be people who drink until they get drunk and drive. Or mess up their minds with harmful substances.

In these cases, we make it a crime to be in public in an altered state of mind caused by harmful substances. Or rather, to be in a state of mind that is a danger to the public. We punish people according to their crimes against society. A harmless drunk walking the streets isn’t a problem, but a brawling drunk or an obnoxious drunk is. Obviously, if that drunk gets behind a wheel, then they become a physical danger to everyone.

People who have proven that they can’t be trusted in free society where these substances are available should be locked up for the rest of their lives. They can pay for their own imprisonment by making license plates. But if they can clean up their act and responsibly live in a society with these substances available, then they should be re-admitted to society.

People who have damaged their health with these substances should also be locked up. If your brain is damaged because you baked it on drugs, you cannot participate as a functioning member of our society.

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