Instapundit on Bad Laws: Ignore Them

Via TalkLeft. Glenn Reynolds’ column today at MSNBC — Breaking the Law — points out that there are too many laws, and notes:

Sometimes — not often, but sometimes — the best way to get a law changed is for people to ignore it.

According to SAMHSA, over 19 million Americans were current illicit drug users in 2002. I wonder if that qualifies as enough people ignoring the law to change it.
Glenn also notes:

…law is like anything else: when the supply outstrips the demand, its value falls. If law were restricted to things like rape, robbery, and murder, its prestige would be higher. When we make felonies out of trivial crimes, though, the law loses prestige.

This is particularly appropriate to drug laws. Since so many people use (or have used at some time in their lives) an illicit drug, it’s hard for them to get excited about assisting law enforcement. Additionally, since the laws for drugs are so harsh, they devalue more important violent crimes. If a criminal could get 20 years to life for a drug offense, the additional penalties for things like murder have little deterrence. In fact, violence can seem a reasonable tactic by the criminal to attempt to avoid capture for drug crimes. (Rarely do drivers try to shoot it out with the police to avoid a $75 speeding ticket.)
Now I’m not advocating ignoring drug laws, but it is important to note that they are ignored, and have been by every segment of society, from the most underprivileged to the extremely privileged (like future American Presidents). It’s time to realize that drug laws are bad laws, are ignored, and should be changed.
Update: Corrected the figure of drug users from “annual use” to “current illicit drug use” and added citation link. Thanks, Mithras.

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