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  1. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    Well, if Portugal’s experience is anything to go by, drug use would drop precipitously on its own. Of course there would still be crime; that would be kind of like saying if we stopped making jewelry would burglary stop. But it wouldn’t be nearly as common or violent.

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  2. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    If the tax regime was so obnoxious that avoiding it (by buying things on the black market) was easier than paying it, you’ll have a black market.

    A good example is cigarette taxes.  In NY, a pack of cigarettes is north of $10 (and that’s in upstate NY).  I’m always shocked when I travel and I see how cheap it is elsewhere (for example when I see them for $4/pack in Virginia).

    The point of taxation should be revenue generation, not social engineering.  Frankly, I don’t blame anyone in Colorado who chooses to avoid their punishing excise tax on marijuana.  Avoiding taxes is a long American tradition.

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  3. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Fred Cole:The point of taxation should be revenue generation, not social engineering. Frankly, I don’t blame anyone in Colorado who chooses to avoid their punishing excise tax on marijuana. Avoiding taxes is a long American tradition.

    Amen Amen.  This is the entire problem with the current tax code.

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  4. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Time to weigh the deleterious effects of legalization against the deleterious effects of continuing criminalization. I suspect that if a dispassionate analysis were possible it would indicate that on balance legalization is less harmful overall than criminalization.

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  5. user_18586 Thatcher
    user_18586
    @DanHanson

    Of course there will still be a black market – ending prohibition didn’t stop the production of moonshine.  What it did, though,  is make the black market so small as to not attract major organized crime.

    Legalizing drugs won’t stop backyard growers or home meth labs necessarily,  but it will deal a severe blow to the drug cartels and organized crime in the inner cities by making that market too small to be worth servicing.

    Legalizing drugs would also severely damage the drug trade in the inner cities that tempts young men out of school with the promise of easy riches,  and would end the incredibly destructive practice of jailing so many men in the inner cities, leaving their children fatherless.

    Legalizing drugs would empty the prisons of hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders and take a huge burden off the criminal justice system,  allowing us to target those resources more effectively.

    You have to look at legalization in cost/benefit terms and  not whether all illegal drug activity will stop.

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  6. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Nick Stuart:Time to weigh the deleterious effects of legalization against the deleterious effects of continuing criminalization. I suspect that if a dispassionate analysis were possible it would indicate that on balance legalization is less harmful overall than criminalization.

    And when you factor in the inherent benefit of not forcing people to act in a certain way, legalization wins by a landslide.

    Most of us are not consequentialists, right? If it leads to only slightly to somewhat better outcomes with criminalization, that wouldn’t reach the burden of proof to make outlawing morally permissible.

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  7. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Dan Hanson:

    Legalizing drugs won’t stop backyard growers or home meth labs necessarily, but it will deal a severe blow to the drug cartels and organized crime in the inner cities by making that market too small to be worth servicing.

    Actually, considering the difficulty involved with cooking meth (the danger, etc.), I’d imagine that if it were produced in large factories with the way other pharmaceuticals are produced, home meth labs would probably cease to be a thing.

    Whereas, if it were legal, backyard growers would probably skyrocket.  People would grow it like they do tomatoes.

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  8. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    Has the ’40 Ouncer’ and lottery tickets been beneficial for the inner city? All these locked up, newly freed black men are going to open head shops? You don’t think those same liquor store owners that sell those lotto tickets and 40 ouncers aren’t just going to add an aisle for this stuff do you?

    Fine, the white hipsters want to get high without having to buy from a minority or go into those neighborhoods to get it – so much safer to get it from an upscale boutique, like a coffee house. Plus, it won’t be part of their record – nothing to get in the way of getting admitted to a top flight college.

    You guys want to legalize cocaine, crack, meth, heroin? You think those “distributors” are all going away when just pot is legalized? That there won’t be a market for those products? Do you think any of these drugs/products should go through FDA approval and clinical trials? There are no health effects or risks? Just moralizing ‘scolds’ that just can’t envision the post legalized Shangri-La.

    Yes, these are nanny state type questions. Legislating for the lowest common denominator but those of you thinking that the inner cities are going to Sunshine & Lollipop Zones are rationalizing to yourselves. OK, incarceration rates go down. What about illegitimacy rates, graduation rates,  and employment rates, welfare rates?

    Can most of the white, middle-to-high income, libertarian ‘handle it’? Sure, but this hiding behind that it’s “for the poor” is dishonest.

    • #8
  9. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    WI Con:Fine, the white hipsters want to get high without having to buy from a minority or go into those neighborhoods to get it – so much safer to get it from an upscale boutique, like a coffee house. Plus, it won’t be part of their record – nothing to get in the way of getting admitted to a top flight college.

    Implying that the problem with getting into a top flight college does not lie with recreational drug use but with something else.

    You guys want to legalize cocaine, crack, meth, heroin? You think those “distributors” are all going away when just pot is legalized? That there won’t be a market for those products? Do you think any of these drugs/products should go through FDA approval and clinical trials? There are no health effects or risks? Just moralizing ‘scolds’ that just can’t envision the post legalized Shangri-La.

    They should certainly have some sort of production standards – the way alcohol does.  Or any other industrially produced item.

    None of this makes drug use itself good (or bad), it just removes the added negatives of prohibition from the phenomenon.

    • #9
  10. Joe Escalante Contributor
    Joe Escalante
    @JoeEscalante

    Dan Hanson:Of course there will still be a black market – ending prohibition didn’t stop the production of moonshine. What it did, though, is make the black market so small as to not attract major organized crime.

    Legalizing drugs won’t stop backyard growers or home meth labs necessarily, but it will deal a severe blow to the drug cartels and organized crime in the inner cities by making that market too small to be worth servicing.

    Legalizing drugs would also severely damage the drug trade in the inner cities that tempts young men out of school with the promise of easy riches, and would end the incredibly destructive practice of jailing so many men in the inner cities, leaving their children fatherless.

    Legalizing drugs would empty the prisons of hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders and take a huge burden off the criminal justice system, allowing us to target those resources more effectively.

    You have to look at legalization in cost/benefit terms and not whether all illegal drug activity will stop.

    I like this answer. I’m still undecided. But I like this answer.

    • #10
  11. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @DadDog

    Dan Hanson:You have to look at legalization in cost/benefit terms and not whether all illegal drug activity will stop.

    Lots of focus here on the impact on the criminal justice impact.  However, costs will also include, inter alia:

    • People maimed or killed by individuals driving/boating/flying under the influence of legalized drugs.
    • Increased industrial/workplace accidents.
    • Decreased military readiness.
    • More children in the social services/dependency system, having been taken away from parents whose addictions prevent them from properly/safely caring for their children.
    • And (my favorite), increased unemployment and homelessness, due to legal drug users being fired or unable to hold a job, accompanied by a huge increase in the welfare rolls.  Those who choose to abstain will pay (through their tax dollars) for the “lifestyle” of those who choose to use.
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  12. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Such a tough issue but realistically pot should be legalized. Other stuff,the awful stuff, should be decriminalized. So many consequences with this to consider.

    • #12
  13. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    If the negative consequences of drug legalization mentioned above

    • People maimed or killed by individuals driving/boating/flying under the influence of legalized drugs.
    • Increased industrial/workplace accidents.
    • Decreased military readiness.
    • More children in the social services/dependency system, having been taken away from parents whose addictions prevent them from properly/safely caring for their children.
    • Increased unemployment and homelessness, due to legal drug users being fired or unable to hold a job, accompanied by a huge increase in the welfare rolls.  Those who choose to abstain will pay (through their tax dollars) for the “lifestyle” of those who choose to use.

    are so bad, then why not bring back alcohol prohibition? I have never heard a logical response from drug prohibitionists to this simple but oft asked question. Alcohol creates every one of the consequences cited for drug use.

    They will argue that drugs are worse. I suppose that assuages the feelings of parents whose children were killed in drunk driving accidents. “At least the guy wasn’t on drugs.” That assuages the feelings of the wife whose husband beats her whenever he gets drunk.

    The tendency to argue for the status quo is so strong that people cannot see their own contradictory positions.

    • #13
  14. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    I’d actually like to extend my remarks about meth labs a little.  Most of the negative consequences that we see associated with production (explosions, dumping of toxic chemicals, et cetera) are entirely a product of prohibition.  Rather than producing chemicals in factories, people do it in sheds, or abandoned houses.  And its done by, frankly, meth-heads, instead of chemical engineers.  Unlike a factory, since they’re operating outside the law, they’re not subject to environmental regulations, nor are they subject to the kind of typical civil liability that, say, keeps companies from dumping toxic chemicals haphazardly, or from engaging in dangerous production practices (Pfizer has deep pockets, its in their best interest to operate factories that don’t explode).

    Look, the fact of the matter is that people wanna get high.  Despite decades of prohibition, its still easy to get drugs.  Yes those drugs come with negative consequences, but its not like legions of people are going to start shooting heroin into their eyelids if it suddenly becomes legal.  The people who want to do that already do.

    But prohibition carries with it additional negative costs (exploding meth labs, HIV transmission from shared needles, etc.).  Frankly, it makes the situation worse, not better.

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  15. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Joe Escalante: Further to my previous post on this subject, would legalizing all drugs actually eliminate drug related crime or would it create a legal drug industry and an underground drug industry intent on avoiding taxes and regulations?

    How is this question even up for debate? Of could there will still be an underground drug industry.

    There are still moonshiners in North America. There is still tobacco smuggling in North America. No reasonable person could imagine that marijuana will be any different.

    As long as “legal” is merely a euphemism for “taxed and regulated”, there will be black markets.

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  16. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    DocJay:Such a tough issue but realistically pot should be legalized.Other stuff,the awful stuff, should be decriminalized. So many consequences with this to consider.

    Technically speaking, lots and lots of the other “awful” stuff is already “legal”.

    Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, which means that the FDA has ruled that it has a high probability for abuse, AND there is no acceptable medical use in  treatment, AND there is no accepted safe level of use even when consumed under medical supervision, therefore it should never, ever, ever be sold or consumed.

    By contrast, “awful” drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine, PCP, opium, anabolic steroids, ketamine, barbituates, rohypnol, etc, are Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances, which mean they are legal for sale/use with a prescription.

    Do Americans believe that the FDA drug classification process should be completely rewritten and/or scrapped entirely?

    If not, then taking a Schedule I substance and making is legal for recreational use, while continuing to regulate Schedule II and Schedule III substances as illegal for recreational use, is freakishly hypocritical and truly makes a mockey of the entire drug classification process in the United States.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Substances_Act#Schedules_of_controlled_substances

    • #16
  17. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Misthiocracy:

     

    How is this question even up for debate? Of could there will still be an underground drug industry.

    There are still moonshiners in North America. There is still tobacco smuggling in North America. No reasonable person could imagine that marijuana will be any different.

    As long as “legal” is merely a euphemism for “taxed and regulated”, there will be black markets.

    But these black markets are inconsequential. Moonshiners? Do “revenue agents” still go looking for moonshiners? And if they do, who cares? From the Univ of Tenn. song:

    • Once two strangers climbed ol’ Rocky Top
    • Lookin’ for a moonshine still
    • Strangers ain’t come down from Rocky Top
    • Reckon they never will

    That’s not a contemporary tale. It’s amusing because it is quaint. Ghetto drug dealing is not quaint.

    • Once two strangers went to Baltimore
    • Lookin’ for a vial of crack.
    • Strangers ain’t come back from Baltimore
    • Prob’ly got robbed and jacked.

    I don’t think Johns Hopkins would use that lyric for its fight song.

    When’s the last time a bunch of moonshiners or tobacco smugglers shot it out on the street corner? As for Eric Garner and his ilk, they would disappear from the market if cigarettes were taxed sensibly. Anything, from raw milk to gasoline, will be sold in a black market if the government acts stupidly about it.

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  18. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Man With the Axe:

    Misthiocracy:

    How is this question even up for debate? Of could there will still be an underground drug industry.

    There are still moonshiners in North America. There is still tobacco smuggling in North America. No reasonable person could imagine that marijuana will be any different.

    As long as “legal” is merely a euphemism for “taxed and regulated”, there will be black markets.

    But these black markets are inconsequential. Moonshiners? Do “revenue agents” still go looking for moonshiners?

    a) Yes. Yes they do. There’s an entire Federal agency with “alcohol” as one-third of it’s mandate (and “tobacco” as another third).

    b) The OP did not ask about how to measure the consequence of a black market. It only asked about the likelihood of creating a black market. That likelihood is pretty clearly (IMHO) 100 per cent.

    c) If the consequence of the black market for alcohol is of such little consequence, why is it still illegal in the 21st Century to distill alcohol without a government license?

    d) One could easily replace “moonshine still” with “bottle of Oxycontin” in that song. Oxycontin is a legal substance when prescribed by a doctor and is manufactured by a major corporation.

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  19. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Man With the Axe:

    But these black markets are inconsequential. Moonshiners? Do “revenue agents” still go looking for moonshiners?

    There’s a TV show for that.

    • #19
  20. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Fred Cole:I’d actually like to extend my remarks about meth labs a little. Most of the negative consequences that we see associated with production (explosions, dumping of toxic chemicals, et cetera) are entirely a product of prohibition. Rather than producing chemicals in factories, people do it in sheds, or abandoned houses. And its done by, frankly, meth-heads, instead of chemical engineers. Unlike a factory, since they’re operating outside the law, they’re not subject to environmental regulations, nor are they subject to the kind of typical civil liability that, say, keeps companies from dumping toxic chemicals haphazardly, or from engaging in dangerous production practices (Pfizer has deep pockets, its in their best interest to operate factories that don’t explode).

    Look, the fact of the matter is that people wanna get high. Despite decades of prohibition, its still easy to get drugs. Yes those drugs come with negative consequences, but its not like legions of people are going to start shooting heroin into their eyelids if it suddenly becomes legal. The people who want to do that already do.

    But prohibition carries with it additional negative costs (exploding meth labs, HIV transmission from shared needles, etc.). Frankly, it makes the situation worse, not better.

    It would be a huge shift for Pfizer to produce drugs for recreational use instead of medical usage.  Would they be liable for the inevitable drug overdoses from their usage?  From a p.r standpoint would it be worth it for them to produce super harmful drugs?  It seems inconceivable to me that pharmaceutical companies would produce heroin, meth or any other dangerous drugs even with a good profit margin.

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  21. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    I didn’t mean to suggest Pfizer  would start cranking out meth.  My point was that companies with deep pockets have a financial interest in engaging in best practices.

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  22. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Fred Cole:I didn’t mean to suggest

    So who would start cranking out meth?  Large pharmaceutical companies or the usual meth makers in a trailer?

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  23. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    thelonious:

    Fred Cole:I didn’t mean to suggest

    So who would start cranking out meth? Large pharmaceutical companies or the usual meth makers in a trailer?

    That’s the nice thing about free markets: they’re unpredictable.

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  24. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @DadDog

    Man With the Axe:If the negative consequences of drug legalization mentioned above . . . [cited] . . .  are so bad, then why not bring back alcohol prohibition? I have never heard a logical response from drug prohibitionists to this simple but oft asked question. Alcohol creates every one of the consequences cited for drug use.

    You are absolutely right regarding our society’s apparent double-mindedness about alcohol vis-a-vis drugs.  And, frankly, I don’t have an answer for that dilemma.

    Nonetheless, the (unintended? unforeseen?) consequences of legalizing drugs need to be considered now.

    In other words, we all know about the terrible societal/economic/cultural problems (in addition to criminal justice issues) caused by and related to legal alcohol use.  What will happen when the galaxy of legal mind-altering chemicals is significantly expanded to include legal drugs?

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  25. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Fred Cole:

    Dan Hanson:

    Legalizing drugs won’t stop backyard growers or home meth labs necessarily, but it will deal a severe blow to the drug cartels and organized crime in the inner cities by making that market too small to be worth servicing.

    Actually, considering the difficulty involved with cooking meth (the danger, etc.), I’d imagine that if it were produced in large factories with the way other pharmaceuticals are produced, home meth labs would probably cease to be a thing.

    Whereas, if it were legal, backyard growers would probably skyrocket. People would grow it like they do tomatoes.

    I had heard at a continuing education course I was taking that meth use was heavier in the Midwest because certain other imported drugs had so much filler added as they moved towards in the middle of the country that they lost a lot of purity and potency.  My suspicion is that if drugs were legal and there was more uniformity in delivery, meth use would probably go down compared to other things.

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  26. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Dad Dog:

     

    Nonetheless, the (unintended? unforeseen?) consequences of legalizing drugs need to be considered now.

    In other words, we all know about the terrible societal/economic/cultural problems (in addition to criminal justice issues) caused by and related to legal alcohol use. What will happen when the galaxy of legal mind-altering chemicals is significantly expanded to include legal drugs?

    This sounds right to me. It is an empirical question. There will be benefits and costs. Which are greater? What will make our society better off? But we should also consider that freedom to choose is also an important value.

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  27. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @DadDog

    Man With the Axe:

     . . . we should also consider that freedom to choose is also an important value.

    Couldn’t agree more.

    I am an avid libertarian.  The essence of libertarianism is the freedom to choose . . . so long as that choice does not negatively affect others against their will.  The point of my list of secondary consequences (in my first comment) is to demonstrate that the freedom to choose to use drugs does carry many negative consequences imposed upon others . . . on children, on spouses, on co-workers, on employers, on neighbors, on fellow drivers, etc. . . . and, eventually (in our present “entitlement” system), on all taxpayers.

    If we abstainers end up paying, against our will, directly or indirectly, for these societal consequences of legal drug use . . . where is our choice?

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  28. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Dad Dog:I am an avid libertarian. The essence of libertarianism is the freedom to choose . . . so long as that choice does others against their will. The point of my list of secondary consequences (in my first comment) is to demonstrate that the freedom to choose to use drugs does carry many negative consequences imposed upon others . . . on children, on spouses, on co-workers, on employers, on neighbors, on fellow drivers, etc. . . . and, eventually (in our present “entitlement” system), on all taxpayers.

    And if you have that mindset, that every person’s choice effects everyone else, then there’s no limit to the mischief you can rationalize.

    Wickard v. Filburn, the case that changed the Constitution forever, was based on the claim that one man producing wheat and consuming it on his own farm disturbed interstate commerce.

    That’s the same standard that you’re proposing: that peaceful choices made by an individual could possibly impose negative externalities on other people and therefore can justifiably be regulated.

    That’s why most libertarians set their bar for interference in the rights of other people based on the use of physical force.  If a father gets drunk and loses his job and can’t support his children, that’s very different from a father who beats his children with a belt.

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  29. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @DadDog

    Fred Cole:

    As a strict constitutionalist, I was as infuriated, when I read Wickard v Filburn in law school, as anyone else. It opened the door to the huge expansion of government that we have seen during the past 70 years.

    If you go back and reread my comments, you will see that I was very careful NOT to propose any “standard” of any kind. I am merely laying out the dilemma; I am NOT proposing regulation, legislation, or any other government means, to prevent the problem. I am merely posing the question: if we legalize drugs, what will we, as a society and culture, do about these negative consequences?

    And, these are not “possible” consequences, Fred. Too many libertarians live in the same kind of abstract, theoretical, idealistic world that we criticize liberal academics for doing. I hope that you are not one of them. As a 25-year prosecutor, I have lived and operated in the real world. I have seen the real life, practical effects of alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. The cultural / economic / societal / family consequences. These are not theoretical, they are real. My question is, what will we do about them if we legalize drugs?

    What, Fred, do you propose that we do (if anything) about that father who gets high (legally) and loses his job and can’t support his children? What will you do with those children? Let them starve? Be homeless? Take them into your home? Would you be willing to pay higher taxes to support them? These are the questions that I am posing.

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  30. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Dad Dog:What…do you propose that we do (if anything) about that father who gets high (legally) and loses his job and can’t support his children? What will you do with those children?Let them starve?Be homeless?Take them into your home? Would you be willing to pay higher taxes to support them?These are the questions that I am posing.

    These are good questions, and the answers are not easy. But these are not the only questions. We also have to ask what will we do about the consequences of prohibition:

    • police corruption
    • crimes committed against civilians by junkies
    • crimes committed by drug dealers against each other
    • the high cost of incarcerating drug offenders
    • the corruption of foreign governments by drug cartels
    • the poverty of addicts families caused by the artificially high price of feeding a habit due to prohibition
    • #30

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