The Drug War

This started out as a response to a comment by BadIdeaGuy, but I decided to turn it into a separate post. BadIdeaGuys pointed out:

There were more overdoses in Philly last year than gun homicides. Anyone seen an article on the drug problem facing Philly youth? My observation is that gun homicides occur largely in the “dealer class,” while the overdoses occur in the “user class”.

As much as I might recognize the drugs and violence are fairly intertwined, I think the drug war has hurt these communities more than the drugs themselves. I favor ending the drug war for this reason. Remove the black market incentive for drugs, and the violent black market in drugs will end.

You’ll still have the addict problem, but if you took all the money that goes into enforcing our drug laws (and it’s sizable), and put it into education and treatment, I think you’d find it money much better spent. It will help not having drug dealers shooting it out on the street corner, and it will also help not to send the message to young poor kids, with no hope and no opportunity, that the only way they can escape the poverty they live in is by joining a gang and selling drugs.

The drugs war, in my view, is a prime example of wealthy suburbanites supporting laws, under the illusion that it makes their kids safer from drugs, because they don’t live in the communities that are paying the price for maintaining that illusion. No doubt you’ll find support for keeping drugs illegal in virtually all communities, but the people I’ve encounterd who argue most passionately for it are middle class parents.

4 thoughts on “The Drug War”

  1. I’m from the “Let them kill themselves” school of thought. As long as nobody trips over their corpses, let them take all the drugs they want.

  2. Alcibiades probably has the down-the-line libertarian thought right there. I’m torn on it, though. In an ideal society, parents would teach their kids that crack, heroin, meth, etc are life-ruining experiences, and that if you make the choice to do them, you’re free to do so, but realize that you will go through one of life’s check-valves, where once you pass through, you can’t normally go back. The kids would (in the ideal society) then realize that stuff like that is just stupid.

    I’m torn because I’ve seen someone close to me self-destruct on heroin. I fortunately knew early-on that there were certain substances with which mere experimentation could be devastating.

    I too lean toward legalize everything and spend a little more money on treatment and education, but I doubt you’ll see any politicians declare that they’re ready to “redeploy the troops” from the war on drugs.

  3. I’d think that middle class parents of children who’ve seen prison from drug use would be appalled when the likes of Bush, Obama, Gore, Clinton, et al get to dismiss their past use as youthful indiscretions.

    But alas, middle class folks don’t want to see anything legalized because they’ve never lived under anything than what we have now, and they’re afraid that they’d never be able to get genie back into the bottle.

    Little do they know that the genie was always ever out.

  4. Well, I suppose we could put drug users in pillories, but apparently that would hurt their feelings, so we can’t do it.

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