Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why Recreational Drugs Will Never Be Legalized

  I have a number of friends who feel the War on Drugs is a proven failure and the money allocated should be used for more effective programs. Their argument is that if drugs were legal, the drug cartels would be put out of business and the government could regulate and tax it like they do alcohol.
Let’s start with that premise. First question: Who would manufacture and sell the drugs? Pharmaceutical companies? No, because many recreational drugs can kill you and although cigarette smoking usually takes 20 years to ruin your health, their manufacturers have been sued for Billions for selling a product that is legal in every state in America and the pharmaceutical companies have taken note.
If drugs were legal the price would drop drastically. Perhaps, but we don’t know that for sure. What we do know is that the legal addicts— cigarette smokers—have been singled out for the highest rate of taxation of any group even though that is blatantly unconstitutional. How can they get away with it? Because smokers are unpopular and the government won’t face resistance for preying upon them. What do you think the tax rate will be once the recreational drug user become addicted?
Now let’s talk about the addiction factor. I smoked for 30 years and tried to stop several times over that period only to return when life’s pressures mounted and I needed a smoke. It’s been 10 years since my last cigarette yet there are STILL days that I long for that nicotine rush.
But they can regulate their distribution by only allowing their sale to people over 21.
How many people do you know who started smoking at 18? I started at 15 so did most of my friends, some even younger. So where did I get the cigarettes when I was clearly too young to buy them? I did what most kids did; I slipped a few from my old man’s pack.
It turns out my daughter, who is now as heavy a smoker as I was, did the same when she was a teen. But what if your teen slips a few from your now legal drug stash? Sneaking a cigarette won’t kill them. Sneaking some booze from your family’s liquor cabinet won’t kill them. But from your heroin or methamphetamine stash? Don’t think that could happen? Really? Remember how reckless and daring you were as a teen?
Once a few kids overdose, the lawsuits are going to fly. Pharmaceutical companies know this, so unless the government makes a law barring them from prosecution (which will never happen because nearly every member of Congress is a lawyer and lawyers don’t make laws that keep fellow lawyers from making money) pharmaceutical companies are going to pass, especially since even legal, FDA approved medicines are generating multi-million dollar lawsuit settlements. 
But let’s pretend Congress does pass a law that bars them from being sued. When you consider the staggering profits that would be made from such a venture, how could they not take a page from the cigarette companies and find a way to make the drugs even more addictive. Make it so it would be literally impossible to break the habit without physical or mental damage. The drug companies would deny it of course, like the cigarette companies did but unlike the cigarette companies, they could not be prosecuted.
Now you have a family member who is chronically addicted and unable to work. Most likely it would be a child in their late teens who would wind up on welfare or disability for the rest of their lives. So now, not only are we, as taxpayers, paying for their drugs, we’re paying for their essentials (housing, food, rent, utilities, medical care etc.)  So tell me again how legalizing drugs is going to benefit us?
The jailings and deaths due to drug gang violence would disappear with drug legalization.
That’s not true. What most people don’t understand is that the violence on our streets isn’t because drugs aren’t readily available, because they most certainly are! It’s because people addicted to them can’t afford them. So they commit crimes to raise the money, which in turn allows them to maintain their addiction which drives them to commit more crime.
 At this point I want to mention that I am not an anti drug zealot. I was a musician during the 60s, 70s and 80s. I saw my share of drug use, but I didn’t participate. Like Springsteen, I was so obsessed with the music I didn’t want to be involved in anything that took away from that. I will also point out that I am for the decriminalization of marijuana. Pot is less addictive and less dangerous than alcohol. I’ve seen many a drunk turn savagely violent but never a pothead. And the theory that pot leads to harder drugs is nonsense, what it does, like alcohol, is decrease your inhibitions making it more likely that you will do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do if you weren’t under the influence.
And so, with no business willing to take the risk…
Wait. I’ve have a lot more to say but you’ve got stuff to do and I don’t want to hold you up. Stop back Thursday and we’ll pick it up then.

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