Just so you know, I don't smoke, I don't drink, and I don't take drugs. New Year's Eve isn't what it used to be, but thankfully, neither is New Year's Day.
Many people who look into the Libertarian Party platform positions on issues find themselves nodding in agreement with us as they run down the list: less government, lower taxes, individual responsibility, free trade, restraint in foreign military intervention, 2nd amendment, free speech...... and then they get to repeal of drug laws and freak out. Don't freak out, read on.
There is a Foo Fighter's song (my son will be impressed with this reference) that goes "one of these things is not like the others", that comes to mind when the issue of drug policy is discussed. Tobacco, alcohol , and drugs - all three come with bad side effects, but only one comes with gangs and crime.
First of all, understand that we do not support drug use. We oppose the government deciding which drugs you can use and which ones you will get sent to prison for using. Big difference.
Does anyone seriously consider use of a substance to be morally equivalent to injuring another person? Using drugs may be stupid, but it is not criminal in the same sense that we think of child molestation, assault, extortion, fraud, or manslaughter.
If the choice was drugs or no drugs, most of us would pick no drugs. That's not the choice we get in the real world - our choice is A) drugs, or B) drugs, gangs, and crime. I pick A.
For the past half century, our government has chosen B. For as long as I can remember, we have been in a "war on drugs". If we look at federal drug policy in those terms, we can say with certainty that in the war on drugs, the drugs won.
We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars, trillions more likely, enacting, enforcing, and prosecuting increasingly strict prohibitionist drug laws. We have spent billions more constructing prisons and filling them up offenders of the new laws we have passed. For all of this, we can't keep drugs out of homes, schools, and streets - we can't even keep drugs out of prisons.
Every penny of the billions spent each year on the drug war is wasted. Making drugs illegal has not reduced the supply of drugs, but it has made them obscenely profitable, creating the illicit trafficking industry, run by international cartels and drug gangs in our cities.
Our inner cites have become uninhabitable; not because of drugs, because of drug laws. Our drug laws have disrupted other countries, too - Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Afghanistan, Turkey, the Golden Triangle - where cartels and private armies control the production and wholesale distribution of drugs.
Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed and countless governments corrupted around the world by the drug cartels- this is the collateral damage in our "war on drugs". We waste tens of billions of dollars in the U.S. each year prosecuting this lost cause, and we spend billions more in aid to other countries to fight the drug lords and traffickers our policies have created.
Prohibitions against drugs do not stop drug use - human nature does not change simply because Congress passed a law. Conversely, repealing drug laws does not cause an increase in drug use - many countries have decriminalized drugs without increases in drug abuse.
In fact, a recent study by the World Health Organization found that drug laws have no influence on the rates of drug use, none. Countries with strict drug laws have the same rates of drug use as those without. Rates of marijuana use in the U.S., where 700,000 arrests were made last year, is the same as in the Netherlands, where pot is legal.
In America, we learned a lesson nearly a century ago with alcohol. Before Prohibition, we had alcohol. Then we passed laws to make alcohol illegal, and we had alcohol, gangs and crime - the 1920's were a very violent era in our history. Prohibition was the cause, and Al Capone was the effect. When we repealed prohibition, the violence, gangs, and criminal activity ceased.
The Crips and the Bloods are not slaughtering kids over Miller Light or Winstons. Repeal the drug laws, take away the profits, eliminate the gangs, and the violence that comes with them.
It really is that simple, and we know it works.