Most countries in the world have laws banning the production, sale, and possession of illicit drugs. Despite billions being spent each year on enforcing these laws, a robust criminal market for drugs persists, and many places are undergoing epidemics of drug addiction. The challenges of enforcing drug prohibitions have led some advocates to propose legalizing drugs, while others maintain that laws and enforcement should only be made stricter. Which strategy makes the most sense? Should we change the status quo and legalize all drugs, or stay the course and focus on enforcement? Or does decriminalization offer a more favorable compromise?
No, we should not legalize all drugsShow moreShow less
Drugs are dangerous and lead to criminal activity, and people need to be protected from them by the law.
Legalization gives formal legal weight to the notion that drug use is an acceptable activity, which is exactly the wrong message to send to people who are not aware of the risks associated with using drugs. Drug use is intrinsically dangerous and should not be normalized. Many drugs are highly addictive and prolonged use can result in cognitive impairment and cause or exacerbate mental illness.
Drugs can also have both acute and chronic effects on the body, causing problems from tooth decay to heart attacks, and overdosing can be fatal. Young people are especially vulnerable to the effects of drugs, as they can slow or irreparably alter brain development. The illegality of drugs serves as a powerful warning and a practical and logistical protection from the many harms caused by drugs, and legalization would expose the most vulnerable members of our society to those dangers.
[P1] Drugs cause immense harm to their users.
[P2] Legalizing drugs would signal that drug use is considered acceptable by the government.
[P3] The government legalizing drugs is sanctioning the harm drugs cause.