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.
Spending on drug enforcement in the United States skyrocketed beginning in the late 1980s, accumulating to over 1.5 trillion dollars spent fighting drugs by U.S. agencies between the 1980s and 2010. Despite the aggressive and well-funded efforts of the world's wealthiest nation, U.S. drug addiction rates did not change significantly over the same time period, and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health determined that in 2017, approximately 38% of American adults had used illicit drugs.
The lesson of history is clear: just as prohibition did not work for alcohol in the early 20th century, it does not work for illicit drugs in the 21st century. Increasing public recognition of the failures of drug enforcement strategies have led to a decline in popular support for the U.S. war on drugs and calls for a new approach. The widespread use of illicit drugs is a fait accompli that legal authorities have proven unable to stop or even slow, which makes legalization and regulation the logical next step.
[P1] The US war on drugs has failed to curb drug use.
[P2] It is time to try a new tactic: legalisation.