The War on Drugs
Ed Brayton posted on his blog, "Dispatches from the Culture Wars," an interesting comment about the War on Drugs. He is replying to this posting by Radly Balko on his blog, "The Agitator."
This post by Radley Balko is a must read about drug war. Not only is it a massive failure, it's costing us untold billions of dollars and destroying countless lives. The numbers are staggering. 55% of all Federal prison inmates are there on drug charges, their number quadrupling between 1986 and 1999, and half of those are there solely on possession, not trafficking. And that's not including state prisons, with a much higher population and about the same percentages. There are more non-violent offenders in prison today than the populations of Alaska and Wyoming combined, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per year to warehouse them. But despite this massive increase in incarceration, the government's own data shows that recreational drug use has increased over that same time. Drug use will never, ever stop. It is as old as humanity itself. And it's about time we treated addiction as a health problem, not a felony.Right on! Further, I would like to ad this:
I agree completely. I think drug use is a personal choice just as smoking and drinking are. There is one very major caveat to that however - your right to consume intoxicating substances ends at the point that you are impinging on other's rights. The perfect example is drinking and driving. You do have a right to drink but, you do NOT have a right to drink and drive. Likewise with smoking, you have a right to smoke in your own air but you do NOT have a right to pollute the air of others with your smoke. The same can be said for any other types of drugs - so long as you are not infringing on other's rights, you should have the right to take recreational drugs.
Now, with that said, there are some genuinely dangerous drugs that will physically addict you very powerfully and can and will kill you with only a bit of an overdose. I personally think one is a fool if they take such drugs but, hey, more air for me as far as I am concerned.
To that end, I do think that recreational drugs should be carefully regulated and monitored - some very strictly in the case of the really dangerous ones. I also think that ALL pertinent information about the very real dangers of some of these drugs would need to be heavily publicized to make sure the public is well informed about what they are choosing to put into their bodies.
- We would, over night, simultaneously halve the prison population and put the very dangerous and violent drug cartels out of business. We would effectively shut down a whole black market from the street pusher on up to the drug cartel leaders.
- We would open up a whole new revenue stream for the government in the form of taxes.
- We would greatly lessen the burden on law enforcement so that they could concentrate on real crime such as rape, murder, assault, etc.
- We would save billions of dollars on wasted "War on Drugs" efforts and wasted law enforcement efforts.