Drugs: Legalize All of Them

All drugs should be legal, in keeping with the libertarian principle of freedom to do as you please as long as you are not being responsible for harming others. If you think that it is personally immoral to do drugs, that’s fine and that’s not the point. The question is about legality. For example, I think it is immoral to gossip negatively about people behind their backs, but I don’t think that this should be against the law. And, you might say that drugged people sometimes do harm others, justifying illegalization. But, in whatever way a drug user may be responsible for the harm of another person, let that act be illegal, not the drug itself. For example, if a drugged person shoots and kills someone, then this act is already illegal because murder is illegal. But, using a drug does not necessarily mean that a person will go out and harm someone, as there are many peaceful drug users who just hang out in their living rooms. Similarly, even though some people harm others under the influence of alcohol, that doesn’t mean that alcohol itself should be illegal, but only the harmful acts.

Besides that moral argument of freedom, outlawing drugs has terrible effects on many people, mostly the poor and black. It forces the market underground where it becomes more violent. If you hate organized crime and drug lords, then you should legalize drugs, because outlawing drugs eliminates legal competition and pushes the market toward the organized professional criminals, just like in the days of alcohol prohibition. Criminalization of drug use also puts many, many black and poor people into jail, destroying the black community and families, making it difficult for those caught to get a future job, and so increasing poverty. Incarceration usually breeds future incarceration. Most people who go to jail once then go to jail again. Those in jail for drug use then have a decent chance of becoming more hardened violent criminals in the future. The U.S. actually has the highest prison rate (that is, percentage of people in prison) in the world, mainly because of the drug war. By the way, it’s extremely expensive to the government to find, prosecute, and imprison a person. If we legalize drugs, then we can help many people climb out of poverty, help poor and black families, reduce real crime (besides the “crime” of drug use), and save a lot of tax money. The government is the enemy of the poor and black.

6 thoughts on “Drugs: Legalize All of Them

  1. Alright, so let me see if I can make sense of everything I wrote down.

    Why must something be coined legal or illegal? Is it not enough to just legally ignore drug use? I will use self harm (or suicide) as my example. To also further my point, is drug use (substance and alcoholic abuse) not harming one’s own life and therefore their surrounding environments (work, school, family, etc)? Who get’s to draw that line? This is my opinion and judgement, but is the daughter of a heroin addict living in their best possible condition? Are they receiving their rights guaranteed by our Constitution? Are they living a “happy” life? or have a sense of “freedom”? Drug use, as is alcoholism, is irresponsible. Just like self harm. The difference here is that self harm (cutting, etc), isn’t illegal by any means, it’s just socially unaccepted and frowned upon. Therefore, why wouldn’t we do the same with drug usage? Let the people decide, the same way they decide on who is in office…. It’s a stretch to say that the government isn’t for the people. There will always be opposition, but realistically our country is divided in many different ways and it comes down to who gets the majority vote (I know this isn’t always the case, but hypothetically). So if the majority rules, why is there such opposition? They brought the government into play, they elected the people who make the legislation. People are rather ignorant and uneducated when it comes to politics and that explains why there is such dismay and malice towards the system. (Sorry for getting sidetracked).
    Side note, isn’t it immoral to lust period?…. You should never really want to have the heart or spirit of lust, even towards a spouse. At that point, you are being selfish and only looking for your own desires and not towards God’s and or the best interest of your spouse.

    What happens when you legalize all drugs and people are unable to work, unable to make wise and well educated decisions, and it consequentially affects their families? Would we not see more people in jail due to the misuse of drugs?…. Why is it guaranteed that drugs legalization would decrease the number of citizens arrested and put behind bars?… Why wouldn’t we see more irresponsible decisions, due to the known effects of the specific drugs. As we know, if people are getting high on bath salts, we can expect more bizarre murders like last year. Does it come down to survival of the fittest? Natural selection? Maybe. Maybe those stupid enough to abuse or even use drugs aren’t smart enough and should be living among us. I’m not attempting to pass any judgement, I’m just stating that facts show how drug use can lead to a variety of negative consequences, hence why they are currently illegal.
    Are you saying that people should have all freedoms? The freedom to marry a child, or have sex with a minor? or an animal or pet? When we (as society) continue to legalize actions, how far will we go until “everyone” has their personal freedoms? There are weird people who shouldn’t be able to do whatever they want. I get that our country’s principle is ultimate “freedom”, but to be realistic that isn’t possible. I don’t have the freedom to eat someone’s arm (without killing them), or to have sex with my 5 year old nephew, or to vandalize a property (because essentially that isn’t harming someone). There are reasons why we can’t be given complete freedom, the same way that we as Christians only can have true freedom in Christ and through living for Him. Worldly freedom is chaos and disaster.
    Can you also define what it means to harm someone else? Is it a perspective or reality? Is the family or any family member of a drug abuser/user not in harm (financially, psychologically, mentally, physically)? Going back to the self harm, that isn’t hurting anyone else directly, but that will bring mental and psychological harm to family members of that individual. We can say that self harm is legal, correct?
    We need the government to keep order and maintain justice, even though it can be corrupt. I also agree heavily about the comparison to alcohol. If alcohol is legal, why shouldn’t a different type of drug be? Valid point. Maybe alcohol should be illegal(?) or just not distributed the way it is currently and that it be made into a private affair, not something so public (bars, night clubs, etc.) where there are negative externalities.
    Criminalization (jail) and drugs are not the reasons why “black” or poor families are destroyed, that issue goes much deeper to something such as selfishness, irresponsibility, lack of moral judgement, bad decisions, and ignorance. Wouldn’t it be easier to not have the government seek out imprisoning drug dealers and suppliers, whom they are trying to control their private affairs and personal choices/opinions? It’d be best if drugs were used based on how society saw them and felt about them. I just don’t believe drugs should become such a public commodity and a “household” item.
    The government being an enemy is a very strong judgement. Did you mean to say that the government enables the black and poor and they can’t do anything about it because they are not educated enough or do not understand? What qualifies poor? Being below “poverty” or below the average U.S. income? Would I be considered poor?… This is all I’ve got thus far for ya, hope it can spark some thought and discussion. Thanks for reading!

    – Xander

  2. I’m confused by your comment. Sometimes it seems like you favor legalization, sometimes not. Which is it? I don’t understand your first sentence. An action is either legal or illegal. Are suggesting some other kind of classification? Please elaborate. What is your thesis?

    Now I’ll just discuss some concepts about harm to clarify for you. You brought up self harm. Libertarians believe that a person cannot legally harm others against the person’s will. However, harming another person can be legal if they consent to it voluntarily. For instance, if I tell you that you can punch me, then you should be able to legally do it since I gave you permission. Now, for self harm, you are voluntarily consenting to harm yourself. So, no one’s rights are being violated here. I should be able to harm myself if I want to (legally speaking). Sadly, some laws do not reflect this. Historically, many states have enacted laws against suicide (which makes no logical sense in the first place, but it also can make attempting suicide a crime). Such laws would be abolished in a libertarian society. So, if you think that using a drug harms that person (through self harm), that doesn’t matter because they are still not violating the rights of others and it should therefore be legal (even if you think it’s personally immoral). Secondly, not all drug use is harmful. It’s usually only harmful if someone uses certain drugs a lot and frequently. For instance, caffeine is a drug, but drinking coffee doesn’t harm the person unless they drink, say, 25 cups per day or something to the point where they get a heart attack. Weed is most certainly harmless in nearly any normal quantity. Even most hard drugs aren’t bad for you unless you use them heavily. On all levels, your self harm argument does not work.

    Then, you said that using drugs is “harming one’s own life and therefore their surrounding environments (work, school, family, etc)?” Can you tell me how the this link exists? How does harming yourself automatically harm others around you. If I slap my face, do you feel that pain? I know what you’re trying to say, but your being too vague. If you describe to me a specific type of cause and effect link, I’ll explain how to treat it. However, here’s what I’ll say generally: as in the original post, I specifically addressed this topic already. It’s true that some people can go out and harm someone while on drugs. So, let those harmful acts be illegal. There’s no reason to outlaw the drug itself. If someone drinks coffee and then shoots someone, should we outlaw coffee? No. However, shooting someone should be illegal because it’s harm to others against their will. Here’s a link to another relevant post on this matter.

    Next, you bring up the daughter of the heroin addict. When libertarians speak of various human rights that people have, we are usually saying this with an often unspoken condition: that we are talking about adults with a basic level of cognitive ability (no mental retardation, etc.). Now, the issue of children’s rights and parenthood is very complex and would take a lot of writing, but libertarians do NOT believe that children should be treated the same as adults. So, it is possible for some government intervention when it comes to a parent grossly neglecting parental responsibilities, and so forth. However, just because a parent uses drugs does not mean that they are bad parents or neglecting or abusing their children. If a parent abuses their children or starves them, then let those actions be illegal, not the drug. But, let’s make a deal. Let’s first discuss the political theories as it pertains to adults, then we’ll consider the special case of children with drug-user parents. I’m not dodging the issue, I just want to postpone it. Let’s continue our debate considering only adults for now.

    Next, you say that drug use is “irresponsible”. Even though this is not always true, so what if you think it’s irresponsible? That’s a separate issue. We’re strictly talking about legality here, not wisdom. I may think that spending a lot of money on an overly huge house is irresponsible. Does that mean we should outlaw mansions? No.

    I’ll finish responding soon. You wrote a lot. I only responded to the first half of your first paragraph.

  3. Part 2 of response:

    You say that government is for the people, I guess in a good way. On the contrary, almost all government actions harm people and decrease prosperity, as this entire blog attests if you choose to read it.

    Next, you ask: “if the majority rules, why is there such opposition?”. Now we’re speaking more broadly about forms of government and the origin and justification of government in general. Since that’s a huge topic that would consume a lot of writing time, I’m going to try to just focus on the drug topic if possible. However, I’ll say this: just because a majority of people in a society wish to violate the fundamental rights of some people doesn’t make it right. I reject the concept of simple majority rule because that is tyranny. We all have fundamental rights, and a majority shouldn’t be able to take them away. Is it ok if a majority uses force (government) to oppress black people, as has been done for most of western history? No. If a majority of people wish to murder someone, does that make it ok? No. If a majority of people wish to outlaw a certain religion or restrict free speech of the minority, is that ok? No. To learn more about this topic, read my entire blog. See here, too and here and here and here.

    (Next, as a side conversation, you talked about lust for a spouse as sinning. Because I probably used a poor example, I changed my example to gossiping, see post. Now, I do not know why you think lusting after a spouse is sinful. Lust is basically the desire and satisfaction of sex. God wants spouses to enjoy sex. Is a spouse supposed to close their eyes and think of baseball when having sex so that they don’t accidentally enjoy it and take pleasure in it? No. But, that’s off topic, so let’s move on.)

    Next, you say that legalizing drugs makes people unable to function and work at a job and make good decisions day to day. That’s hardly true. Part of my rebuttal is that it doesn’t even matter since you are still describing self harm and we already talked about that. If someone makes irresponsible decisions and they end up being fired because of it, that’s their business, not yours or mine. The best way to learn responsibility is to experience the consequences of your mistakes. Also, what makes you think that legalizing drugs means that everyone will start abusing them? If crack was legal, does everyone all of the sudden run to the crack store saying, “I’m no longer restricted by government, now I’m gonna do crack!”? You wouldn’t. Most people wouldn’t. This is because most people do not wish to do hard drugs in the first place. So, it would NOT be an epidemic, it would simply be a difficulty for some small number of people. And, those who are harmed by drugs will more easily recover and learn wise use if they aren’t driven underground by the drug war and aren’t chastised and put in jail where they are then exposed to even more criminal influences. When drugs are out in the open in a culture, people will learn how to safely use them because people will finally be able to discuss them out in the open. Also, you seem to assume that using drugs automatically ruins your life. This is not correct. There are many people who can safely use drugs and lead normal lives. The idea that using drugs turns a person into a maniac who can’t lead a decent life is a myth taught to us by government schools and propaganda, by “morality pushers” who have no scientific basis. Nearly every study in science and sociology that studies the effects of drugs has pointed to the reality that they don’t actually do much harm at all most of the time. Most of the negative consequences are correlation and not cause and effect. And the biggest negative consequence of drug use is going to jail, which is government’s fault for outlawing them in the first place.

    You ask if prison rates will go up or down if drugs are legalized. They would certainly go down. We know this through empirical observation. Everyone who has studied this issue has solidly realized this. Prison rates skyrocketed a few decades ago because the drug war was escalated and the government started a crackdown on drug users. This is indisputable. A huge fraction of people in jail are in jail through drug related offenses. And, once you go to jail once for petty drug stuff, you usually become more criminalized in jail and have a harder time getting a job (jail is on their “record”), so they revert to a life of even more “real” crime. Most crime is related to poverty, not drugs. Many people’s lives are ruined because of government oppression. Just ask an economist somewhere. Economists agree that the drug war has caused people much more harm than good on even consequentialist grounds.

    But, none of that even matters. You are relying on consequentialist arguments. You say that we should outlaw drugs because they might have negative consequences on the user. But, it is not your job to force others to live by your standards of lifestyle. If a person wants to live their life a certain way, what right do you have to hold a gun to their head and tell them to stop it. Regardless of practical outcome, it is immoral to initiate violent force against a peaceful person. If a drug user is minding his own business and isn’t violating other people’s rights, how do you justify using violent force (government) against them? Here’s a relevant post about different theories of ethics.

    Next, you spoke about freedom. You said that we shouldn’t be free to do anything we want because, for example, we shouldn’t be free to eat someone’s arm or vandalize property. Haven’t you read my home page so that you know what libertarianism even is. Do you know what libertarianism is? I’ve made it abundantly clear that it does not mean complete freedom to do anything we want. I never said that. I say that we should be free to do as we please as long as we aren’t violating the rights of others, as described in more detail on the home page. And, I never said that we shouldn’t have any government at all. We should have a government that is limited to protecting natural rights.

    Lastly, I said that the government is the enemy of the poor because so many of the government’s actions hurt the poor and black communities. The drug war is just one example. I realize that you may have not researched drug prohibition effects very much. I encourage you to research this because all of your consequentialist arguments have already been shown to be false through actual empirical studies.

    OK, I’m done responding.

  4. A quick response about the gray/grey area of legality: Amsterdam is a place of so called “freedom”, but in reality they have rules and laws, but the official policy is to look the other way.

    • I don’t know a lot about Amsterdam. And, just because they have one more freedom (drug use) than we have doesn’t mean that they are the place of “freedom”. Are you suggesting that you advocate having the law on the books but just not enforcing it at all? If so, why not just get rid of the law? Have you researched why Amsterdam chose this odd path of keeping it “illegal” but not enforcing it? There could be an odd political story behind it. If government doesn’t ever enforce a law in any way at all, then the “law” really isn’t a law anymore, it’s just a fancy statement, and I would be fine with that. But, realize that just because a law isn’t enforced very much doesn’t mean that it’s not harmful. Often times, through very indirect ways, a law can still be used to violate a peaceful person. Sometimes an unenforced law is used in technicalities to enforce some other law indirectly or to justify search and seizures. So, what exactly is your stance? Do you think drugs should be legal or illegal?

      Lastly, you said “but in reality”, suggesting that freedom and laws/rules are incompatible. Once again, once again, and once again for good measure, we libertarians are not advocating a no rules lawless society with no government. Read the home page. We believe in a limited government who’s only purpose is to enforce natural rights protections. We want rules and laws, as long as they protect our rights. For example, stealing and murder (against the person’s will) are rights violations, so we should have laws against stealing and murder.

  5. Pingback: House of Cards Sends Wrong Messages, and a Discussion On Democracy | NOR GATE Libertarianism

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.