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The argument against legalization

An OpEd in the Arizona Range News on Wednesday just may be the epitome of anti-legalization arguments: Legalization Of Drugs Is A Bad Idea.
I know I was certainly curious when I saw the headline, and I eagerly read on to find out why. Author Terry Maxwell gets right into it:

Supporters of legalization take the position that the “War on Drugs” has failed to control or reduce drug abuse. They relate that the cost of incarcerating drug offenders and building prisons is rising at an alarming rate. Currently, drug offender’s account for approximately one-third of the federal and state prison population.

OK. That doesn’t sound so bad for legalization. In fact, that’s a pretty good argument for our side. He must be warming up.

Legalization zealots argue that the repeal of drug prohibition laws would significantly reduce the government’s enforcement costs and create new tax revenues from the legal production and sale of drugs. Therefore, states would save at least $10 billion per year that could be used for treatment and job training programs.

Saving money is good. This is another strong argument for legalization. Terry must have something really big to hit us with…

They say crimes of violence would be reduced with legalization, and junkie-related robberies to obtain money to buy illegal drugs would be significantly reduced and the streets of Willcox and surrounding communities would be less prone to crime.

Thanks and all, Terry, for all the good mentions of legalization. Reducing violence and crime sounds excellent. But we’re here to learn your arguments against legalization. Go ahead, give it to us…

The possibility of increased physical addiction to readily available drugs has been a strong argument against legalization. The rebuttal to this position is that there is no valid research to support that hypothesis.

Ah, there we go. No, wait. Now I’m really confused. He just rebutted his only argument so far.

Bob Miller, 59, a U.S. Marine, Viet Nam veteran, and a 14-year resident of Willcox, pointed out illegal drugs have never played a role in his life and never will. “However, I believe that drugs should be legalized for a number of rational reasons,” Miller said, “Prisons are full of addicts at a staggering cost in human suffering and out-of-control prison construction costs.”
“Common sense dictates that the legalization of drugs would reduce the price of drugs and significantly reduce crime in our community.” Miller went on to say, “Our money has been wasted on the so called ‘War on Drugs.’ It should have been used to educate our children, improve health care and fight poverty.”

Right. Now we’re back to arguments for legalization. So what is that so far, something like 10 arguments for legalization and one rebutted argument against? This is supposed to be Terry’s OpEd.
So now, do we finally get some arguments against legalization?
No, Terry jumps straight to the conclusion.

After carefully reviewing the literature for and against the legalization of drugs and assessing the risks involved in making hard drugs easily available without criminal penalties, I believe the proponents of legalization are fundamentally wrong about the extent and severity of the negative consequences of legalization.
The potential human costs of totally legalizing drugs would be so large as to create a public policy disaster. Historically, when drugs have been inexpensive and easy to obtain, addiction dramatically increased.
Can we take the risk of experimenting with legalization at the expense of our children and grandchildren? I don’t think so! The human carnage from drug abuse is already staggering and almost beyond comprehension. To ask the residents of Willcox to possibly bear the pain of losing a loved one to drug abuse, rising health insurance costs, and conceivably subjecting their family to the consequences of increased child and spousal abuse, among numerous other abuses from legalizing drugs is inconceivable and unethical, in my opinion.

Amazing! Now you understand why I say this may be the epitome of anti-legalization arguments? Intellectually, Terry Maxwell understands pretty much all the truths about drug policy. Prohibition doesn’t work, it’s expensive, it makes things worse, fuels crime and violence, etc., etc. And yet, based on nothing but belief, legalization is “inconceivable” and therefore all those hard facts and truths are to be ignored.

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