The Case for Drug Legalisation

Revision History
Revision 32842 January 2009shlomif
Converted to DocBook 5 and added the section “Note about Why Politicians Support The Prohibition”.
Revision 180129 February 2008shlomif
Fixed some typos, added the “What you can do about it?” section and added the “Links” section.
Revision 154828 July 2006shlomif
Finished the first published version.
Revision 151814 October 2005shlomif
Forked the text from a previous document, and starting to adapt it.

Many people take the prohibition on the currently illegal narcotics (e.g: Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin) for granted. They believe that just because the drugs are physically harmful, they should be banned. Yet, this is very far from the fact. While drugs can be harmful, there is no good reason to make them illegal. In fact, the prohibition on drugs causes so many undesirable side-effects, that they must be made legal.

If this sounds fantastic to you - read on, I’m sure you’ll find out that I know what I’m saying.

The war on drugs has been supported by both the left and right political camps, and has only been rejected by Libertarians and various other minority groups who hold this view. As a result, most people who believe they should choose between left, right or middle, think drug prohibition is acceptable on everybody. But this is not the case. The prohibition on drugs is very harmful to the public and individual well-being and must be eradicated as soon as possible.

A person has a basic right to harm himself, as long as he does not harm others in the process. That’s because everyone of us is the owner of his mind, body and property, and is solely responsible for their use and abuse.

All arguments that do not favour that, like that a person thus contributes less to society, and becomes a burden on it are pretty silly. That’s because a person is never obliged to contribute to society (“First, do not harm”), and the society at large is not obliged to support its members. (It would be Socialistic to claim otherwise.)

Thus, a person must be allowed by law to consume drugs. I’m not saying it is desirable if a person exercises this right. I’m just saying that a person should be allowed to do so, just as he is allowed to smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, deteriorate in personal hygiene, give away money for no good reason, act stupidly, etc. These are all harmful activities, yet perfectly legitimate.

Drugs are not as harmful as many people think. Most drug users are perfectly healthy people who just happen to have a drug problem, just like people who smoke, or are alcoholics, or are addicted to caffeine have a drug problem. Otherwise, they are able to function properly and be good citizens. There are no recorded deaths from Marijuana in the U.S. The amount of deaths for Cocaine is 20 per 100,000 (4 if we take into account such factors as its reduced quality), and the deaths from Heroin are 400 per 100,000 (or 80 if we take these factors into account). This is compared to 150 deaths per 100,000 from Alcohol and 650 from Tobacco. Taking the numbers into account, in the U.S. there used to be 390,000 deaths per year from Tobacco, 150,000 from Alcohol and only 400 from Heroin and 200 from Cocaine (and none from Marijuana). (Source.)

Thus, legalising drugs, which would potentially make them more common, will not be a hazard to the global health status of the population.

The mere act of consuming illegal narcotics, usually does not cause one to commits crimes. While drugs affect the mind, a large increase in drug consumption by itself will not cause a large increase in the number of crimes committed.

Note that criminal activity is often related to drug use due to its present illegal nature and the fact drug users steal in order to acquire drugs. (or other drug related crimes.) However, this is not a direct result of the bio-psychological effects of the drugs themselves.

There is a common pattern in history of “unholy enemies” - groups of people who are presented by leaders to be of such evil nature that the general populace should be willing to sacrifice their lives, freedom or well-being to fight them. These have been the Jews in Nazi Germany, and the Kafirs in Islam. In modern society, drug users now serve as an unholy enemy for which the government can undermine Liberalism and gradually repress the people.

Yet, drug users are no such enemy - they do not pose a threat to society. Plus, they are people in need of help, not in need of being hunted and prosecuted.

The legalisation of drugs will put a stop to the irrational trend to make drug users an unholy enemy and for the government to undermine the individual rights of the citizens. There is no good reason to undermine individual rights, much less one that is useless and pointless as trying to “win” the war on drugs.

It is well known that many politicians or people who hold government positions support the prohibition on drugs. As a result, many people are likely to conclude that they are being bribed by Mafia Dons and other high-profile criminal people who make their livelihood off the prohibition. This may actually be the case to some extent, but it’s not the only possible explanation for why they support it.

There are two other explanations for why politicians, who are still honest enough to not accept bribes from drug-trafficking criminals, may still support the prohibition on drugs. The first is that they are simply too clueless or too misled to believe that the prohibition is a good thing. Many ordinary and perfectly honest people have also bought the pro-prohibition advocacy and voice opinions supporting it.

The other explanation is that some of these people know better and are acting in an evil, destructive, and dishonest manner. Acting and thinking in an evil way can become an obsession and an addiction, and some people have become terminally infected by it and are consistently acting in an evil manner. While it may be true that one should not “attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”, malice is still present in the world, including among the leaders.

As a result, even if such officials are not accepting bribes, they are still not acting out of the public’s best-interest when they support the prohibition of drugs.

The prohibition against Drugs is the real drug problem. It is a war against the people, that consumes lives, money, and property. It has no good reason. History tells us that all the past prohibitions on narcotics failed miserably. The current prohibition on drugs is no different.

Here is a list of things you can do to help the cause of fighting for drug legalisation:

  1. Educate people about it: write something pro drug legalisation online, in blogs, mailing lists, newsgroups, web forums; write your school report about it; publish articles about it in newspapers, tell about it to your friends, etc.

    Note that you should feel free to link to this article, or even quote its text, as long as you give attribution. (See its open-content, Creative Commons, licence for more information.

  2. Contact Your Government - write to your representatives and government, and tell them why the prohibition on drugs is harmful and not justified. If possible, vote for representatives that support the legalisation of drugs.

  3. Don’t work against the cause - if you’re a drug-enforcing policeman, then switch to a different department, or quit. If you’re an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or a similar organisation - then quit.

  4. Last, but not least - don’t use illegal narcotics. They have numerous bad medical effects, and using them reduces your credibility as someone who can speak against their prohibition.

By acting and propagating the understanding that drugs should be legalised, we can eventually create a strong, vibrant movement against the prohibition on drugs, that can eventually abolish it completely.