Will: How about legalizing hard drugs to put the cartels out of business?

posted at 12:11 pm on April 12, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The argument that full drug legalization would destroy the cartels’ economic foundation isn’t new or really news; libertarians have made this case for many years.  The fact that conservative columnist George Will has begun to argue it might be.  In yesterday’s column, Will reviews a new study on the subject, and concludes that legalization is probably inevitable anyway — and the damage to the cartels might be worth it:

Dealers, a.k.a. “pushers,” have almost nothing to do with initiating drug use by future addicts; almost every user starts when given drugs by a friend, sibling or acquaintance. There is a staggering disparity between the trivial sums earned by dealers who connect the cartels to the cartels’ customers and the huge sums trying to slow the flow of drugs to those street-level dealers. Kleiman, Caulkins and Hawken say that, in developed nations, cocaine sells for about $3,000 per ounce — almost twice the price of gold. And the supply of cocaine, unlike that of gold, can be cheaply and quickly expanded. But in the countries where cocaine and heroin are produced, they sell for about 1 percent of their retail price in the United States. If cocaine were legalized, a $2,000 kilogram could be FedExed from Colombia for less than $50 and sold profitably here for a small markup from its price in Colombia, and a $5 rock of crack might cost 25 cents. Criminalization drives the cost of the smuggled kilogram in the United States up to $20,000. But then it retails for more than $100,000.

People used to believe enforcement could raise prices but doubted that higher prices would decrease consumption. Now they know consumption declines as prices rise but wonder whether enforcement can substantially affect prices.

Kleiman, Caulkins and Hawken urge rethinking the drug-control triad of enforcement, prevention and treatment because we have been much too optimistic about all three.

And cartels have oceans of money for corrupting enforcement because drugs are so cheap to produce and easy to renew. So it is not unreasonable to consider modifying a policy that gives hundreds of billions of dollars a year to violent organized crime.

Will notes that the intermediate position of legalizing only marijuana would only cut a quarter of cartel revenue, and would be insufficient to bring down the drug rings that deliver harder drugs to the US.  That’s certainly true, but it’s a lot easier to legalize marijuana, for a few reasons.  One, it’s more socially acceptable and is likely to face much less opposition.  It’s also less toxic than other intoxicants — in fact, it’s less toxic than alcohol.  It’s nearly impossible to overdose while smoking marijuana, even the stronger varieties, while alcohol poisoning directly results in a number of deaths each year (not indirectly, as in traffic deaths, but in actual cases of poisoning). More to the point, though, legalizing marijuana would allow it to be cultivated within the US, where enough could be grown that would more or less eliminate the need to import it.  That would reduce or eliminate the issues of border security and import taxes, at least to the extent that either apply to marijuana.

These conditions don’t apply to other drugs.  Even methamphetamine, which could be easily manufactured in the US, is very toxic and dangerous to produce.  Cocaine and heroin would almost certainly have to be imported, and while the cartels might be able to convert to legitimate businesses, importation of these drugs would necessarily involve heavy government regulation and taxation.  That would make them more costly to produce and sell.  Even in legalized forms of recreational “drug” use, such as cigarettes and alcohol, taxes create an underground economy in both that routinely runs into the billions, and is a chronic problem for law enforcement.  That’s also organized crime, and it can become violent at times as well.  We might find that legalization provides two economies, and the law-enforcement costs might not drop all that dramatically when it comes to cocaine and heroin even when we allow the trade.

Curiously, Will only nibbles at the core of the libertarian argument for legalization, which is that (a) adults should be allowed to choose for themselves whether to imbibe in intoxicants, and (b) the costs of legalization are far outweighed by the benefits of rolling back decades of encroachment on civil liberties in the name of fighting the “war on drugs.”  Those are both compelling arguments, even if one disagrees about the cost-benefit analysis, and not just for libertarians.  I’m skeptical about the idea of legalizing cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, but I’m equally skeptical about government enforcement that requires me to provide photo ID to buy Sudafed while no one bothers to check my ID when I identify myself at the voting booths.


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Drugs should remain illegal and alcohol should have never been made legal again. Both have contributed to the moral decline of this nation.

nazo311 on April 12, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Pandering to Paulites.

Gosh the land has priorities.

Schadenfreude on April 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM

in before “blurf durf the only reason people dont do drugs is because drugs are illegal glorf blorf if drugs are illegal then billions of zillions of Americans will turn into drug addicts overnight mrrgl brrrgl”.

Jeddite on April 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM

are illegallegalized

Curses!

Jeddite on April 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Make them legal on one condition: Supply all drug users with massive amounts of these new legal drugs at no cost and let them just OD on it once and for all, en masse.

It will serve both as an example for new potential users and also end the perpetual medical costs related to drugs.

Cruel? maybe, effective? yes

NapaConservative on April 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM

The only relevant issue here is that we have not come up with a way to defeat the cartels, or even the domestic drug gangs. Taking the profit out of drugs while leaving the cartels intact will only lead to their shifting into the next criminal enterprise(s) to replace the lost revenue. They remain untouchable. I question the wisdom of picking the pocket of an opponent you not only have failed to defeat but to whom openly concede defeat. This is more kick-the-can thinking.

shuzilla on April 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM

George Will Decoder Ring blares:

“How about doing business with the cartels to ensure their supplies are readily available to U.S. consumers?”

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM

I’ve never understood why alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment, but drug prohibition does not.

hicsuget on April 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM

in before “blurf durf the only reason people dont do drugs is because drugs are illegal glorf blorf if drugs are illegal then billions of zillions of Americans will turn into drug addicts overnight mrrgl brrrgl”.

Jeddite on April 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Since you are basically quoting first comment….I think you failed.

ChrisL on April 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Yup, the damage that our society has taken from the”war on drugs” dwarfs what harm would come from having a few hundred ODs per month.

Nathan_OH on April 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

George Will Decoder Ring blares:

“How about doing business with the cartels to ensure their supplies are readily available to U.S. consumers?”

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM

I disagree with George Will.

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Can we stop this “George Will is a conservative” meme, it’s giving the rest of us real conservatives a black eye.

BigGator5 on April 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

nazo311 on April 12, 2012 at 12:13 PM

I think you may have missed the point of the article…. No one is arguing that drugs are bad, nor that they contribute to moral decay – they do. The argument is that the criminal underworld that’s created through this contraband is a terrible side-effect that directly results from the laws. The argument is that you could crush the cartels (and I think you would) by legalizing all drugs.

The so-called “war on drugs” is a failure. Drug use rates are not declining and the prisons are chock full of low level dealers and users. How is that a solution?

cktheman on April 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Ask the Netherlands how that worked out for them.

SWalker on April 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Drugs should be legalized but we are forced to buy the government health care…is that about it?

d1carter on April 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Since you are basically quoting first comment….I think you failed.

ChrisL on April 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Stick to Facebook, son.

Jeddite on April 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM

There are two points being missed here, I think:
1) The external costs of hard drugs. How many people are hurt or killed each year by someone hopped up on drugs? How much burglary and robbery are caused by addiction to these drugs? Not to mention the social costs to families and friends.
2) Addiction. Addicts don’t respond rationally to supply and demand, or more specifically, to higher prices. Heck, addiction impairs rational thought *period*. So couching the debate in economic terms is a bit misleading.
3) Legalizing marijuana might have a greater impact on the cartels than the 25% of their revenue they currently get. If you assume that prices for MJ drop to a fraction of their current cost, it has the potential to remove demand for harder drugs. Of course, that’s rational economic thinking, so #2 might make this moot.

Mohonri on April 12, 2012 at 12:21 PM

By “drugs,” Will is referring to and only to “heroin and cocaine”?

What about methamphetamine? What about prescription drugs such as Oxycodone, among many others?

Because what Will is suggesting is somewhere between lunacy and Insane Land.

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

I don’t know why nobody remembers Prohibition and the problems that caused – enough to get a Constitutional Amendment repealed.

Legalize it all, let the Darwinian results be what they will be. Anybody that wants drugs can get them, hell, just ask a high school student where to score whatever you want. If drugs are that easy to get, then the war on drugs is a failure. Obviously, the $billions ineffectively spent trying to stop drugs (hell, the Narcos have submarines now!) could be used to pay for treatment for the already addicted and the small spike that would come about from legalization.

John_G on April 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Drugs should remain illegal and alcohol should have never been made legal again. Both have contributed to the moral decline of this nation.

nazo311 on April 12, 2012 at 12:13 PM

No, what is contributing to the moral decline of this nation is the idea that the government can tell grown ups how to live their lives and spend their money.

MPC on April 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Taking the profit out of drugs while leaving the cartels intact will only lead to their shifting into the next criminal enterprise(s) to replace the lost revenue.

Ending Prohibition took most of the profit out of organized crime. Organized crime persisted, but gradually declined over the next fifty years, and right now is a very minor problem. What remains of organized crime in the US is centered around — you guessed it — the illegal drug trade. Treat psychoactive drugs like liquor and tobacco, and I predict organized crime, here or in Mexico, will wither and die.

Bartrams Garden on April 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

If pot is legalized, then can an employer still discriminate against those who smoke it? Or being a legal drug, like alcohol, must a prospective emplyer have specific reasons to do so?

shuzilla on April 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

The alcohol/joint argument is interesting but I can’t help but think of one central difference between alcohol and marijuana. I can drink a beer and not get buzzed. In that situation it’s purely for the taste of it. Does anyone smoke a joint for any other reason than to get high?

WitchDoctor on April 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Legalizing drugs has been tried elsewhere and it failed miserably. Keeping them illegal is not a perfect way to handle the problem, but it’s better than the alternative.

Hard Right on April 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

The external costs of hard drugs. How many people are hurt or killed each year by someone hopped up on drugs? How much burglary and robbery are caused by addiction to these drugs? Not to mention the social costs to families and friends.

Many addicts rob and steal to support their habit, agreed. However, at 3K an ounce for coke – it’s no wonder.

Also, substitute the word ‘alcohol’ for drugs. See the problem? If alcohol is legal, so should everything else be. And it makes sense too – when was the last time the Miller Lite cartel kidnapped and beheaded someone?

cktheman on April 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Oh, and here come the paul-bots. They do love their weed.

Hard Right on April 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

George Will is a member of the Communist Party.

faraway on April 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

THERE’S A REASON some substances require a physician’s order (with directions for use).

When “drugs” are abused — as they are when they’re not moderated even modestly (moderated means a physician is involved in dispensing and the use of them) — then users perish.

The REASON there are restrictions on obtaining and using certain substances is because many people can never be relied on (or expected) to use them wisely, cautiously and beneficially except as substances to eventually put themselves down.

Long substance abuse inevitably ends up with the users perishing. Some do so earlier than others, some later, but the process is self-destructive when NOT moderated (“controlled”) by other people who know more than the users do about the chemicals involved.

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Drug cartels are not made up of people who are simply going to go away because we choose to legalize the product they are currently selling. These are violent, amoral people who will do anything to keep the money flowing. They will not simply say “oh, drugs are legal now, so I guess I’ll set up shop on the corner market and be satisfied with the profit I can make legally.”

If drugs are legalized, they will either find a way to control the business, as organized crime has done with many businesses, or they will switch to a different product. Either way, you’ve done nothing to solve the problem of violent crime, and you’ve made it easier for people to get access to something which destroys not only them but their communities and the larger society.

Now, whether or not the federal government is the appropriate level of government at which to control drugs is questionable, and also it’s clear that the way it is currently approached is an utter failure. But to approach the problem of drugs seriously, we’d have to stop the flow of them, and those who push them, into this country, and that would mean taking border security seriously. And we know where that gets us.

Shump on April 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Does anyone smoke a joint for any other reason than to get high?

Pick up stoned chicks at 1970s college parties…

albill on April 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM

When something of value is made available at a little or no cost, there will be a great demand for it. Then the price goes up. It’s not rocket science.

And if the government is involved, no illegal drug will cost less than it does now, anyway. So what results is the transfer of the profits from the cartels to the government.

To fund ObamaCare of course.

Curtiss on April 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Also, substitute the word ‘alcohol’ for drugs. See the problem? If alcohol is legal, so should everything else be…

cktheman on April 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

All things and all people are NOT equal.

One substance and who uses it and how does not equal other substances and how they are used.

Which is WHY there are restrictions to access and use of some substances. There’s no cookie-cutter gameboard called “drugs” as one grand recipe.

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Drug cartels are not made up of people who are simply going to go away because we choose to legalize the product they are currently selling. These are violent, amoral people who will do anything to keep the money flowing.

Exactly right.

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM

The alcohol/joint argument is interesting but I can’t help but think of one central difference between alcohol and marijuana. I can drink a beer and not get buzzed. In that situation it’s purely for the taste of it. Does anyone smoke a joint for any other reason than to get high?

WitchDoctor on April 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

I call BS. I assume you drink alcohol-free beer then.

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Yeah…good idea George…(Oh brother)

NeoKong on April 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM

“Will notes that the intermediate position of legalizing only marijuana would only cut a quarter of cartel revenue, and would be insufficient to bring down the drug rings that deliver harder drugs to the US.” – Ed

Thanks for the follow-up commentary re: marijuana v. other illicit drugs.
Cannabis should be legalized. Period. Stimulants, Opiates, Hallucinogens, and Sedative / Hypnotics should stay illegal for a damn good reason.
Legalize marijuana and watch the violent crime rate plummet.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on April 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM

I’ve never understood why alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment, but drug prohibition does not.

hicsuget on April 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM

I’ve mentioned this point many times over the years. The answer is that the Constitution was actually respected at that point in our nations history. Today? Not so much.

The facts are that there is no Constitutional authority for the Feds to outlaw drugs of any type. But it is relatively moot as most states have the same laws. Medical marijuana laws are in fact nullification laws.

BierManVA on April 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

I’ll be more than happy to legalize weed a long as government stays out of it, the “more taxes and regulation” nonsense was always a non-starter.

clearbluesky on April 12, 2012 at 12:32 PM

I want to try E!

But…. Drug cartels would still be in business… they have really diversified and do a lot of kidnapping, extortion, piracy, and human trafficking.

El_Terrible on April 12, 2012 at 12:32 PM

This idea didn’t work out well for Michael Jackson. Or Whitney Houston. Or others like them who managed to work out the “free the cartels” drug availability such as Will is suggesting.

I repeat my earlier point and that is that there are laws/restrictions about some substances (“drugs”) because most of them, to be used safely, require more knowledgeable controls than the layperson is capable of applying to them and their use.

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Many people enjoy alcohol without causing societal problems. But drugs aren’t used in the same way. When’s the last time you substituted a joint for a glass of Chianti to go with your lasagna?

Dee2008 on April 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

The economic scenario in your third paragraph is silly. The bottom line is, who would you rather see peddling drugs, Joaquin “EL Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel or CEO Ian Read’s Pfizer, Inc.?

cartooner on April 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Sorry, I respectfully disagree.

cktheman on April 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Repeal the 19th Ammendment and most of our problems would be resolved in quick order.

celtic warrior on April 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

I repeat my earlier point and that is that there are laws/restrictions about some substances (“drugs”) because most of them, to be used safely, require more knowledgeable controls than the layperson is capable of applying to them and their use.

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Oh fine, we’re all too stupid to know how to smoke a joint properly. Instead, we need the smarter people to pass laws. Yeah, got it.

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Because what Will is suggesting is somewhere between lunacy and Insane Land.

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Why? Would you start doing drugs if they were legal?

And – why do you care if your neighbor smokes pot … or snorts cocaine.

How does that affect you?

If you’re a conservative – well, being a conservative means getting government out of peoples lives. It also means getting BUSY BODIES (like you) out of our lives.

You have no right to tell us what we can do and what we can’t.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM

The alcohol/joint argument is interesting but I can’t help but think of one central difference between alcohol and marijuana. I can drink a beer and not get buzzed. In that situation it’s purely for the taste of it. Does anyone smoke a joint for any other reason than to get high?

WitchDoctor on April 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM
I call BS. I assume you drink alcohol-free beer then.

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Oh please, fine beer and wine are basically food. They can be enjoyed for their taste, with good food. They are part of a long Anglo-Saxon tradition. Wine is used in religious ceremonies for both Christians and Jews.

Whereas there is absolutely no reason to consume drugs except to get as high as possible.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

George Will is making a logical results based argument. The Socons are spouting off moral righteousness crap. Sounds like the liberals and obamacare to me.

ArkyDore on April 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Bartrams Garden on April 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

I suspect you are way too optomistic. Crime comes from the demographic who are most desparate and least deterred by law. These are the footsoldier of organized crime, and we’ve been creating them since the Great Society. The fact is that the perponderance of organized crime has moved from Chicago and New York crime families to nation-wide street gangs pushing drugs, and it’s bigger than ever, not a “minor problem.”

Those who advocate legalization never, ever account for what the marginalized criminal will do for money once the profit is taken out of drugs. If a gang in a certain city turned to carjackings, then how do you stop that when you couldn’t stop their drug trade? What if they formed a kidnapping ring? Kidnapping is quite popular in places where drug trafficking is not the norm. A mark gains a million bucks for the gang, and the footsoldier who got caught and is rotting in prison gets $100,000 for his family. Two more take his place.

We have the drug trade because we have people willing, even compelled to be a part of it. Those people aren’t going away. On the contrary, they are going to be released from prison by the hundreds of thousands, back into the cesspools that created them.

shuzilla on April 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

It’s nearly impossible to overdose while smoking marijuana, even the stronger varieties

It’s completely impossible unless you’re talking about hash.

SirGawain on April 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

I repeat my earlier point and that is that there are laws/restrictions about some substances (“drugs”) because most of them, to be used safely, require more knowledgeable controls than the layperson is capable of applying to them and their use.

Lourdes on April 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM

I think I’ve heard Nancy Pelosi say that bolded part many times.

Essentially … YOU know better for us than we do.

That’s a LIBERAL mentality – it’s not a conservative one.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Whereas there is absolutely no reason to consume drugs except to get as high as possible.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

So?

El_Terrible on April 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

I’ll be more than happy to legalize weed a long as government stays out of it, the “more taxes and regulation” nonsense was always a non-starter.

clearbluesky on April 12, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Exactly, put the government in charge and they’ll manage to lose money on cocaine sales.

Although imagine the lavish conferences the Drug Provision Agency will be able to put on.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Those who advocate legalization never, ever account for what the marginalized criminal will do for money once the profit is taken out of drugs. If a gang in a certain city turned to carjackings, then how do you stop that when you couldn’t stop their drug trade? What if they formed a kidnapping ring? Kidnapping is quite popular in places where drug trafficking is not the norm. A mark gains a million bucks for the gang, and the footsoldier who got caught and is rotting in prison gets $100,000 for his family. Two more take his place.

We have the drug trade because we have people willing, even compelled to be a part of it. Those people aren’t going away. On the contrary, they are going to be released from prison by the hundreds of thousands, back into the cesspools that created them.

shuzilla on April 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

WHAT IF? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?

I don’t have to guess here … I can tell you flat out without a single “if” that good people are dying in this war on drugs.

Now – beyond that – what in the hell did the alcohol cartels “do” when alchohol was made legal again?

Oh yeah – that’s right – they converted to real business and guys like Al Capone were vanquished to history. NO more violence.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:39 PM

I have often wondered about the “war on drugs” — any high school kid can obtain pretty much any drug he or she wants, so what’s the point?

It’s not clear how much of this is really accurate, but, if true, it’s pretty hair-raising. The author, who was a Wall-Streeter and a big-wig at HUD, links the war on drugs, prison privatization and Wall Street.

For example:

The Clinton Administration took the groundwork laid by Nixon, Reagan and Bush and embraced and blossomed the expansion and promotion of federal support for police, enforcement and the War on Drugs with a passion that was hard to understand unless and until you realized that the American financial system was deeply dependent on attracting an estimated $500 billion-$1 trillion of annual [drug] money laundering. Globalizing corporations and deepening deficits and housing bubbles required attracting vast amounts of capital.

The whole thing, while quite long, is worth a read if you want to spend the weekend feeling queasy and a little off-balance.

mr.blacksheep on April 12, 2012 at 12:39 PM

War on Weed

faraway on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Whereas there is absolutely no reason to consume drugs except to get as high as possible.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM
So?

El_Terrible on April 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

So don’t equate drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol can be enjoyed without being abused, whereas drugs cannot.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

The alcohol/joint argument is interesting but I can’t help but think of one central difference between alcohol and marijuana. I can drink a beer and not get buzzed. In that situation it’s purely for the taste of it. Does anyone smoke a joint for any other reason than to get high.

I have never quite understood this argument. Why does the fact that people smoke to get high bear any relevance to whether it should be legal or not? By this logic, the government should legalize alcohol on the condition that people drink only one beer or glass of wine, because then otherwise they would be engaging in the socially destructive behavior of getting drunk. So while there is a distinction between alcohol and pot, it is a meaningless one. Add the fact that there have been a grand total of zero confirmed deaths from po Also, and this is a general point, not everybody who can see the reality that the war on drugs isn’t working is a “paulnut” or a “pothead”. There are legitimate arguments to be made.

RightisRight on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

It’s been shown, time and time again (statistics mostly out of European countries), that legalizing/decriminalizing illegal drugs has reduced the consumption amongst the general public. The monies previously used by governments to “fight the war on drugs” were turned to rehab centers, which turned out to be the better strategy. Got more people off drugs than arresting them would have. Part of the allure is that they are illegal…appeals to a lot of people’s rebellious natures (those that have them).

I’m with Boortz on this one. Let the stupid people overdose if they want to. Their choice. A shame when a life is cut short due to stupidity, but, their choice. We’ve spent enough money on this stupid war that we can’t win (same thing could be said about Afghanistan). Sometimes I wonder if the gov’t PTB are so hesitant because it would mean cutting out a huge gov’t agency, the DEA. It would kill a chunk of the Fed’s control over the people.

*shrug* Just make it illegal to be out and about while under the influence. But people doing drugs in the privacy of their own homes shouldn’t be an issue. Put the money (currently being used to fight this stupid war) into rehab centers and protecting our southern border. Put a dent in the cartel’s wallets.

I don’t do drugs, and don’t really care who does.

Let the flaming begin.

sage0925 on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

The alcohol/joint argument is interesting but I can’t help but think of one central difference between alcohol and marijuana. I can drink a beer and not get buzzed. In that situation it’s purely for the taste of it. Does anyone smoke a joint for any other reason than to get high?

WitchDoctor on April 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Another difference, millions of people have drank themselves to death, but I’ve never heard of someone ‘marijuana-ing’ themself to death. Is it even possible?

slickwillie2001 on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Legalizing it would put it under the drug laws for purity standards: addicts would know exactly what they are getting.

It isn’t that the drug cartels would still supply the drugs, but Big Pharma would supply them. This requires that importation laws for feedstocks for these drugs come from legal, certified growers and producers of it… which is a bit of a problem as there aren’t any, so Big Pharma would either have to synthesize the drugs or rely on US growers until there is a legal and cheaper foreign supply system.

There are plenty of laws on the books about reckless endangerment, operating vehicles unsafely and generally acting in a manner that is a danger to the public – these can and should be extended to drug use. Employers would also be able to make ‘clean and sober’ clauses part of their hiring contracts, with stipulations for testing and coming up positive as a grounds for firing.

This would put a huge dent in the pusher community, although there are pushers of legal drugs that are under prescription control and we aren’t doing any better on that front than we are with the regular illegal drugs. At least they would be pushing a known product made to strict standards for quality control… not saying much, true, but I would much rather have people knowing what they are taking than having it adulterated with unknown substances. This was the problem in the late 19th century and patent medicines of various sorts. The food and drug purity laws were given only a couple of years to take effect before the government tried various means to outlaw these things… yet today the consumer now has more knowledge, information and backing for it than was ever available in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Would use of such drugs grow? Possibly, although the glamor of being ‘counter-culture’ will vanish from it, and when you see safety seals and information on the side of the bottle you know that something is now an understood part of the culture. There would also be better medical knowledge once the addicts come in for their drugs, get physicals and generally have the health effects of these drugs documented.

There is a future in changing formulations (these are no longer under any patent, after all) so as to increase effects, eliminate side effects and get safer and stronger medications. That, alone, is a huge incentive to get things out of generic manufacturers and back to Big Pharma…with the liability that goes along with it.

Cost wise, once mass production gets going and quality controls established, the cost of these drugs will drop, the amount spent on them will also decline, tax revenue will flow in, and addiction will get treated for those who want treatment. Not a rosy future, to be certain, but better than what we have now which hasn’t worked and has fueled narco-terrorism to the point it can get into large scale energy production industries in places like Russia. Per pound of product illegal drugs can’t be beat for income… once the price drops to the floor the narco-cartels are all ready with the energy extortion business. Then things get nasty.

ajacksonian on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Whereas there is absolutely no reason to consume drugs except to get as high as possible.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

I drink alcohol when I want to feel the effects of alcohol. I drink coffee and tea when I want to feel the effects of caffeine. And I smoke marijuana when I want to feel the effects of THC. What’s your point?

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Hmmm… people steal from others all the time. If we made just taking things that don’t belong to you legal, it would lower the amount of petty thieves sitting in jail. Of course, if you’re a Democratic president, I guess you can get away with it even if it IS illegal.

I know! People take money for killing other people all the time – if we just made killing people legal, we’d put hitmen and wetworkers right out of business!

People drive over the speed limit all the time, often for the sheer thrill of going fast. Why don’t we eliminate speed limits – that would certainly remove the emotional motivation.

Say, this is fun!

psrch on April 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Drugs should remain illegal and alcohol should have never been made legal again. Both have contributed to the moral decline of this nation.

nazo311

Of course your argument is illogical, because drugs are illegal and we have drug addiction problems. If was merely a matter of making something illegal, then there would be no drug issues.

And its not like people stopped drinking with prohibition either, it was just pushed underground, and allowed organized crime to flourish.

firepilot on April 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Legalize drugs and make sure right to work is the law. You won’t even need drug screens to have things sort out quickly…

DanMan on April 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Another huge huge cost to society caused by illegal expensive drugs is other crimes – theft, murders, ect – caused by people trying to get the money to buy their next hit.

peakspike on April 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

So don’t equate drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol can be enjoyed without being abused, whereas drugs cannot.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM.

Can you honestly back this statement up?

RightisRight on April 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Alcohol can be enjoyed without being abused, whereas drugs cannot.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Hahahaha talk about denial. I had to re-post this to make sure people see it.

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Legalize pot, and that will be the end of the libertarian party/the cult of RonPaul.

Rebar on April 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Another difference, millions of people have drank themselves to death, but I’ve never heard of someone ‘marijuana-ing’ themself to death. Is it even possible?

slickwillie2001

Its not possible to kill yourself with MJ. There are probably lots of things in every house that could be consumed with deadly consequences though.

And if it a solely moral issue, wouldn’t guttony and obesity be considered immoral too?

firepilot on April 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM

George Will is making a logical results based argument. The Socons are spouting off moral righteousness crap. Sounds like the liberals and obamacare to me.

ArkyDore on April 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

You really can’t be a conservative and be FOR any “prohibitionist” law – whether it’s laws against drugs or laws against prostitution or porn.

Our way of life was founded upon the principle that every man is a sovereign and can do with his / her life what he / she pleases, as long as they don’t harm anyone else. Smoking pot or snorting coke only harms the consensual user – no one else. Hiring a prostitute harms – well, no one.

If you are FOR any prohibitionist law then you are saying that men aren’t smart enough to determine their own destiny.

THAT is a liberal notion.

It’s not Conservative.

GET GOVERNMENT OUT OF MY LIFE – AND GET BUSY BODIES OUT OF MY LIFE.

We only have asses trying to outlaw sugar and sodas and transfats because we allow these prohibitionist laws to exist.

They suck, people – and they are for nanny-staters and busy-bodys.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM

The Netherlands is closing “coffee houses” to tourists, because of the problems they’ve encountered with drug tourism. So don’t assume everything is rosy in Europe:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1392364/Holland-bans-foreigners-cannabis-coffee-shops.html

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM

nazo311 on April 12, 2012 at 12:13 PM

The government should ban all things that are bad and evil and scary and then we’ll all be safe and happy!

strictnein on April 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM

The drug war has been a complete failure.

steve123 on April 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Alcohol can be enjoyed without being abused, whereas drugs cannot.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

four words …

mothers against drunk driving.

you fail.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Alcohol can be enjoyed without being abused, whereas drugs cannot.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Hahahaha talk about denial. I had to re-post this to make sure people see it.

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

A glass of wine or beer with dinner is not abuse. It’s actually healthy for you.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM

The Netherlands is closing “coffee houses” to tourists, because of the problems they’ve encountered with drug tourism. So don’t assume everything is rosy in Europe:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1392364/Holland-bans-foreigners-cannabis-coffee-shops.html

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM

You don’t even have a point there. They haven’t restricted it all except for foriegners.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM

four words …

mothers against drunk driving.

you fail.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM

No. Not really.

Drinking and driving is abuse.

Staying home and having wine or beer with dinner, is not.

You fail.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Many people enjoy alcohol without causing societal problems. But drugs aren’t used in the same way. When’s the last time you substituted a joint for a glass of Chianti to go with your lasagna?

Dee2008 on April 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Last night actually, but it was with baked ziti. Close enough the way I make it.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on April 12, 2012 at 12:47 PM

The government should ban all things that are bad and evil and scary and then we’ll all be safe and happy!

strictnein on April 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM

That’s pretty much the Democrat point of view. I don’ know what all these frightened drug warriors are doing calling themselves conservatives.

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 12:47 PM

“Legalizing drugs has been tried elsewhere and it failed miserably. Keeping them illegal is not a perfect way to handle the problem, but it’s better than the alternative.”

Interesting claim, but no substantiation. The results in Portugal have been very favorable. Now what do you have?

There is another country that both prospered and enjoyed liberty without experiencing all these troubles, all while these drugs were legal. You might have heard of it: The United States, and not that many years ago.

jamesjtyler on April 12, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Criminalizing a behavior is not the only way that our society has to protect itself from a behavior’s negative consequences. Social institutions also can do it without using the coercive power of the state. To the extent that society finds the effects of drug use harmful, it should be enabled to protect itself from those effects. For example, suppose employers consider drug use to be harmful to their enterprise. They can make work rules against it and enforce them with drug tests. They can fire those who fail. A law which decriminalizes drug use could be written in such a way that it leaves such social deterrents in place, by indicating that the whole law must be struck down if a court rules that such things – drug testing and firing for drug use for example – are unconstitutional.

John E. on April 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM

A glass of wine or beer with dinner is not abuse. It’s actually healthy for you.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Sorry man – LOL – but alcohol in any amount is NOT healthy for you. Sorry you bought into the tripe but it’s assed out wrong.

Any “benefit” you can get from alcohol you can get from other subtances without alcohol.

Alcohol is SUPRESSIVE to the HPTA and lowers testosterone. Fact dude.

But drink up girlie man.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM

My nephew is addicted to Oxy and I can state with complete assurance that if you make it easy for him to get all the drugs he wants, he will not survive. Obviously, I’m not in favor of making it easy for addicts to kill themselves. If there are others who use drugs, who somehow are not addicted, who can control their use…I don’t care what they do. But addicts should not have easy access.

Dee2008 on April 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM

The Netherlands is closing “coffee houses” to tourists, because of the problems they’ve encountered with drug tourism. So don’t assume everything is rosy in Europe:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1392364/Holland-bans-foreigners-cannabis-coffee-shops.html

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM
You don’t even have a point there. They haven’t restricted it all except for foriegners.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Yes I do have a point.

They have restricted it. Banned it for tourists and even if you live there, you have to buy an annual membership. And there are fewer licensed coffee shops.

a statement from the Dutch health and justice ministries said: ‘We attract other types of tourists apart from drugs tourists.

‘This law will put an end to the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drugs trafficking.’

But I thought legalizing drugs would end all criminal activity?

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:49 PM

When’s the last time you substituted a joint for a glass of Chianti to go with your lasagna?

Dee2008 on April 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Last night actually, but it was with baked ziti. Close enough the way I make it.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on April 12, 2012 at 12:47 PM

I bet it tasted great and I bet you didn’t have that “stupid-head” you get from alcohol.

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 12:49 PM

I don’t see how you can legalize anything that can seriously damage brain function. (and then provide healthcare forever)

I do not know which drugs would fall into this category.

tomg51 on April 12, 2012 at 12:49 PM

You really can’t be a conservative and be FOR any “prohibitionist” law – whether it’s laws against drugs or laws against prostitution or porn.

Unfortunately, social conservatives have rebranded Conservatism, and the Republican Party, to be not about limited government and fiscal conservatism, but a top down federal government approach to deciding how people should live. They are just the flip side of the same coin of social liberals.

I grew up in a southern Baptist area, and they always were trying to find ways to make alcohol illegal, or hard to buy. It was not because they did not drink, they just did it on the sly and secret.

When do two Baptists not say hi to each other? When they see each other in the liquor store.

firepilot on April 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

No. Not really.

Drinking and driving is abuse.

Staying home and having wine or beer with dinner, is not.

You fail.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Dude – it’s undeniable that marijuana is not as harmful as alcohol. You can’t KILL yourself with it and many people swear by it’s medicinal effects.

You’re defending the indefensible.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Ya right like there is no black market for cigarettes.

meci on April 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Hmmm… people steal from others all the time. If we made just taking things that don’t belong to you legal, it would lower the amount of petty thieves sitting in jail. Of course, if you’re a Democratic president, I guess you can get away with it even if it IS illegal.

psrch on April 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Yep, decriminalizing behavior does not decriminalize the criminal. Anyone with such gross disrespect for life to be engaged in drug trafficking is a criminal inside and out. There’s no excusing him, only waiting for him to cross a legal threshold so he can be invited into the criminal justice system. If that threshold is no longer drug dealing then it will be car theft or home invasion.

shuzilla on April 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Sorry man – LOL – but alcohol in any amount is NOT healthy for you. Sorry you bought into the tripe but it’s assed out wrong.

Any “benefit” you can get from alcohol you can get from other subtances without alcohol.

Alcohol is SUPRESSIVE to the HPTA and lowers testosterone. Fact dude.

But drink up girlie man.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM

You’re wrong as usual, but in any case, a beer or wine a day is a lot more healthy than a joint or a dose of meth.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

That’s the thing — intoxicants that are addictive leave the user no “choice” at all. That’s the sticking point for me.

The repeal of prohibition did not get rid of the mafia. Some people are just bad and will look for any easy illegal way to make money.

Also, I doubt that we will commit to strict punishment for anyone who causes harm to others due to legal drug use. I’m sure the liberal thought is to send them all to rehab…again and again and again.

PattyJ on April 12, 2012 at 12:51 PM

I don’t see how you can legalize anything that can seriously damage brain function. (and then provide healthcare forever)

I do not know which drugs would fall into this category.

tomg51

Because its not the job of government to save people from themselves, if we aspire to live in country with some degree of freedom.

firepilot on April 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM

When do two Baptists not say hi to each other? When they see each other in the liquor store.

firepilot on April 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

hahaha

+5 interwebz

thirtyandseven on April 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM

After we legalize drugs, can we have a waiver that if anyone who uses those drugs and requires any government handout would immediately be put into the Soylent Green factory for reprocessing? Because, I’m think 1 out of 2 eligible workers currently taking a handout from the government is already too much.

LoganSix on April 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Does anyone smoke a joint for any other reason than to get high?

…it’s a staple for those on the left, and recreational for those on the right. If you see the majority of progressive women…you’d be high too!
Example: Look at Debbie Brillo Hair and imagine ….I would need at least two six-packs and smoke a fat one with each one, before she could even attempt seduction. Then! If she actually started talking after I had injected heroin directly into my eyeballs, I think my little thingy would still fall off in fright.
Will may be smoking something…but he’s being a compassionate conservative for the left!

KOOLAID2 on April 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Dude – it’s undeniable that marijuana is not as harmful as alcohol. You can’t KILL yourself with it and many people swear by it’s medicinal effects.

You’re defending the indefensible.

HondaV65 on April 12, 2012 at 12:50 PM

I’m not your dude, jack.

I see your problem: “someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.”

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/infofacts/marijuana

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM

So basically, if we can’t beat them we might as well join them? Bad argument. Nothing good comes from drug or alcohol use (I dare you to name one). The repeal of prohibition was one of the worst decisions to ever happen in this country.

Maybe we haven’t been fighting the drug war effectively enough….ever thought of that? Maybe punishments for selling and using drugs should be more severe? Maybe if we taught morality and God in our schools, there wouldn’t be any customers for the drug dealers?

nazo311 on April 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM

I see your problem: “someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.”

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/infofacts/marijuana

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM

And thus ends every socon argument against drug legalization when all else has failed.

thirtyandseven on April 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM

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