Thursday, December 20, 2007


Last Monday I heard just a snippet of Weekday, a discussion about drugs and prohibition vs. legalization vs. other alternatives. Before listening to the show, if asked I would have probably said I would support continuing to prohibit "hard" drugs like crack and meth, legalizing marijuana, and prohibiting guns altogether (amongst non police officers) - just like most good progressives. However, one of the speakers made two good points in favor of legalizing and licensing everything:

  1. Prohibition didn't working for alcohol, tobacco, or coffee (apparently people were killed for using the last two back in the day). I knew about the first one of course - it's one of the reasons I'm for legalizing marijuana - but didn't realize the other two had happened in the past as well.
  2. The speaker made the specific suggestion to legalize opium - force people to get a license to grow it and sell to the state to make pain medications for the poor, who apparently lack access to opiates, especially in Afghanistan, because all the opium is sold to illegal drug dealers.

So it made me think - does it really make sense to restrict access to any drugs? I can't think of anything positive about speed, but I think the same about cigarettes and I wouldn't want to make them illegal (just illegal to smoke anywhere around me, but that's a whole other issue). I think there might be issues; for instance I assume in Afghanistan the state wouldn't be able to pay market rates for opium so I'd imagine there would still be a black market in that case, but you might be able to overcome that with better policies.

So I can almost come to accept legalizing all drugs, but then what about guns? Is being pro-gun-control hypocritical if I want to legalize and license other bad substances? Or is it still okay because drugs (generally) only hurt the person who takes them while guns are much more likely to be used to hurt someone else (although statistics say you're most likely to get killed with your own gun).

At the moment I'm sticking with legalize drugs, ban guns, but I'll have to keep thinking it through. I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts.

No comments: