In the Letters section of today’s Wall Street Journal, Souder responds to an earlier article:
Mary O’Grady argues that we will never eradicate drug use. One wonders what other vices Ms. O’Grady proposes we surrender to. Child abuse? Spousal abuse? Rape? We may never eradicate any of these crimes either, but that doesn’t mean that we simply give up on them.
Not coincidentally, by the way, all of those crimes, and many others, are frequently linked to drug and alcohol abuse. It’s a tired old canard that drug abuse is a victimless crime.
Furthermore, where is the evidence that legalizing and taxing a substance causes organized crime to disappear? It sure didn’t after Prohibition — criminals just no longer focused on alcohol. Unless everything is legalized, including cocaine and heroin, of course the thugs would merely move to the more potent substances. Where does it end?
Tired old arguments devoid of logic.
Comparing drug use to rape? Oh, yeah, and this is from the guy who made a law denying financial aid to anyone with a drug conviction, but not if they were convicted of child abuse, spousal abuse, or rape.
Take his first statement above and try replacing “drug use” with “having sex” or “eating dessert” or “dancing,” and you’ll see how devoid of logic is his statement. And comparing it with other “crimes” as a reason to keep it a crime is circular reasoning.
Note also how he conflates “drug use” (first paragraph) with “drug abuse” (second paragraph).
Then, in his final paragraph, he uses some pretty dishonest arguments. First, he implies a lack of any value in legalization’s affect on organized crime unless organized crime disappears completely, ignoring a potential reduction in organized crime, ignoring the reduced profits available to criminals, and ignoring the reduced incentive for new players to enter the criminal world. Second, the notion of “thugs” merely moving on to more potent substances makes no sense unless legalization of marijuana would create a dramatically increased demand for those substances (otherwise there would be a glut of criminals working in the same arena). [Of course, we know that those substances should also be legal and regulated to reduce crime and the danger of unregulated drugs.]
For a much better letter than Mark’s, read David Bergland’s on the same page, which includes this list of the “unintended and undesirable consequences of criminalizing drugs”:
- The price of the illegal commodity is higher than it would be in a legal, competitive, market. High black-market prices encourage low-level crime. Unlike alcohol and tobacco users, illegal drug users commit crimes to raise the funds to buy their high-price drugs.
- Peaceful drug users, by definition, become criminals, ruining the lives of those prosecuted and thus stigmatized.
- High black-market drug profits attract the most ruthless and violent criminals to the business. Alcohol prohibition created organized crime. Today’s drug prohibition keeps it going.
- The illegal drug market corrupts the criminal justice system as cops, courts and prison guards find it hard to resist getting in on the high returns.
- Law enforcement becomes more expensive for the taxpayer and is misdirected away from violent crime.
- The products in illegal markets are of lower quality and more likely to contain impurities than they would be if legal, thus endangering consumers. No “truth in labeling” here.
- Unnecessary illness and death result. Users spending money on high-priced drugs ignore their health. They share needles, spreading AIDS and other diseases. Cancer and MS sufferers are deprived of pain-relieving marijuana.
- Competition in the illegal drug market is based on violence, not peaceful competition under the rule of law. Thousands of murders every year occur as a result.
- The War on Drugs is a war on civil liberties. Your property may be seized without trial on a mere allegation that it was used in a drug deal.
- The Drug War is racist. Although minorities use drugs at about the same rate as whites, they make up a greatly disproportionate percentage of those prosecuted and convicted.