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.
Illicit drugs, for obvious reasons, have no regulatory oversight, and are consequently far more dangerous to users than is necessary based on the effects of the substances themselves. Without the stringent requirements for good practices in manufacturing and distribution observed in analogous industries such as pharmaceutical manufacturing and food production, illegal drugs are susceptible to tampering, production errors, spoilage, and other risks to the quality and safety of the final product.
The practice of cutting illicit drugs with other, potentially even more dangerous substances in order to dilute their potency or extend supplies prevents drug users from being aware of exactly what they are consuming and in what doses. Restrictions on the availability of drug paraphernalia also incentivizes users to resort to unsafe behaviours such as sharing needles, which is responsible for the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases. If all drugs were manufactured under comparable standards to those used by the pharmaceutical industry, as they would be after legalization, drugs would be much safer.
[P1] As drugs are illegal, there is no standard or incentive for them to be made safely.
[P2] As a result, drug users are in constant danger of causing harm to themselves because of low-quality drugs.
[P3] If drugs were legal, they could be quality controlled, leading to less injury and death.