The recent comments to various articles in the El Paso story yesterday reminded me of one of the frustrating parts of being in drug policy reform and, well, having a brain.
It’s the incredibly stupid arguments that reappear time and time again.
There are plenty of reasonable concerns expressed, and I don’t mind answering them — how would legalization occur, what kinds of regulation might be involved, would there be more or less damage from drug abuse, etc.
But here are the three that always annoy me:
1. Legalized drugs would be great for the cartels./If you’re a legalizer, you’re probably getting donations from the cartels./Legalization will profit the criminals.
I realize the cognitive dissonance at work here. They’re thinking: Drug war=stopping cartels; therefore legalization=anti-drug-war=good for the cartels=profit. Of course, there’s a lot of faulty logic there, but it keeps them from actually thinking through logically what would happen to cartels in a legalized market.
It’s funny to imagine, actually. Think about a legal market in marijuana in the United States, with companies growing it, packaging it, selling it in stores and imagine a Mexican cartel trying to compete with that financially.
2. Why don’t you legalize murder and rape while you’re at it?
This one really bothers me and I don’t yet have the best quick response, largely because it’s so amazingly stupid that it requires a lot of remedial explanations to bring the person up to the level of sentience. And I find myself wanting to simply say: “No. You have the brains of a rock.” Which is petty, even if true.
One quick response often used is that drugs are a choice of the user and only affect the user, while murder and rape are actions that infringe on others. Then the moron responds that drugs do so affect others because druggies beat up people and steal, and… And then you have to explain that the drugs don’t do that – and that we arrest people who beat up people regardless of whether they’re on drugs, but by then you’ve lost everyone’s attention. It doesn’t matter that any basic understanding of natural and Constitutional rights would empirically know that there’s no comparison between drug use and murder/rape, but explaining that?
Another response is to note that if you arrest a dealer, it just creates a job opening for another drug dealer, while that isn’t true for murderer or rape. While true, this usually just confuses them.
If anyone has a good, solid, concise response for this one, I’d love to hear it.
3. Legalization won’t solve anything. The cartels aren’t going to go away and we’ll still have all that crime and violence.
This one I actually find rather funny in its blissful naivetÚ. I mean sure, they understand that violent criminals won’t suddenly become choir boys, but they seem to forget that without the drug profits, they’ll have a hard time recruiting new cartel members.
Howard Wooldridge gave a great answer to this one in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday:
Ronald Shafer (Letters, Dec. 30) worries about what drug dealers would do without their prohibition-generated jobs. The one million teens who sell drugs would begin flipping burgers and mowing yards. Serious thugs will rob banks where we will capture or kill them. Or was Mr. Shafer suggesting to continue prohibition as a jobs program for bad guys?
So what are the stupid arguments that drive you up the wall?