Armed conflict has a way of entrenching itself into the fabric of a society. Whether it involves a military force overseas or para-military law enforcement back home, if there’s an army being raised you’re almost guaranteed that someone, somewhere stands to reap huge profits off the imminent bloodshed.
Such is the case with the multi-billion dollar drug prohibition/incarceration business. As fruitless as it has proven itself, hundreds of thousands of people still depend upon the illegality of narcotics to earn their living. These inherently pro-prohibition people – DEA’s, jailers, lawyers – could find themselves out of work were drug use treated as a health issue instead of a criminal issue.
This is why the pro-legalization party has such an uphill battle to fight. A movement can have facts and justice and majority support on their side, but without the political clout equivalent to that wielded by the powers which profit from the status quo, draconian policies will continue to hold.
In a bid to bring drug policies up to the 21st century, libertarian think tank the Cato Institute are set to host a major conference today involving many prominent scholars and international leaders. The influential group will analyze global drug policy and propose practical alternatives, such as legalization.
If I had the opportunity to present a case against drug prohibition, it’d be a sweet infographic showing the darkest parts of prohibition contrasted with the light of legalization.
First, we’d look at the death toll along the US-Mexico border, where 11,000 people have been killed this year by criminal drug enterprises. These gangs would not have such tremendous reach without drug prohibition. Few industries pay quite like the hugely inflated narcotics market.
Then we’d look at Portugal, who legalized all drugs almost a decade ago to a resounding success. It turns out, giving users care instead of punishment actually resulted in a decline in drug use. And, without the need to hire armies, legalization ends up being cheaper to taxpayers while being less detrimental to society.
Yeaaaa… that’d make one sweet picture. The prohibitionists wouldn’t even know what hit ‘em!