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?
Yes, all drugs should be legalShow moreShow less
While there are risks associated with drug use, legalizing drugs is a much better option than retaining ineffective and inefficient anti-drug laws.
The illegality of drugs has not prevented the illicit production and sale of drugs, only forced the drug business onto the criminal black market. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated the size of the global illicit drug trade at over 300 billion dollars annually in 2003, which represented almost 1% of all global trade at the time. With vast amounts of money at stake, drug cartels have grown to become some of the most powerful and violent criminal organizations in the world.
Legalizing all drugs would rapidly and comprehensively undercut the existing black market economy for illicit drugs. If drugs were made legally available, users would no longer need to face the dangers associated with purchasing their drugs from criminal dealers. Instead, users would be able to buy drugs in the safe, controlled environments of licensed stores. Legalization would therefore place insurmountable competitive pressure on black market sellers, taking power away from the violent criminals who currently control the global supply chain of illicit drugs.
[P1] Despite drugs being illegal, there is still a massive global black market.
[P2] Legalizing drugs would take the power away from the black market.