The issue of the legality of drugs is one of those things that I find amazing there’s actually a political debate about it. As usual, both the left and the right are wrong on this issue, and today I’ll examine this from a small government, personal freedom standpoint.
The right wing’s opinion on this, speaking generally (and yes, I know there are always exceptions) is that any and all drugs not prescribed by a doctor are pure evil and must never be used. All drugs must be illegal and the government must crack down on anyone using them, selling them, or bringing them into the country. This is even if it costs hundreds of billions of dollars (which is does), involves insane laws that violate the property rights and privacy rights of innocent citizens (which is does), creates a titanic degree of violent crime (which it does), and even creates wars in other countries (which it does).
Of course, the vast majority of right wingers, politicians included, either use illegal drugs or have used drugs in the past, making them piece of shit hypocrites on this issue.
The left wing’s opinion on this, speaking generally (and yes, I know there are always exceptions) is that some or all drugs should be made legal, but that the sale of these drugs must be tightly regulated, controlled, and taxed by big government. Yes, make pot legal, but no, don’t make it so anyone can sell it to anyone. Oh no, that’s too much freedom. Instead, create specific government regulated and sanctioned locations called “dispensaries” where citizens are authorized to purchase certain amounts of pot there. Oh, and be sure to tax the shit out of any drugs we legalize because we need to increase government spending even though government already spends $7 trillion a year.
As I said, they’re both wrong.
Separating Personal Opinions from Public Policy
Before we get into the issue of drugs, we need to cover another important concept first. A key to operating under a free society is to separate your personal, individual opinions regarding proper behavior from the laws you set that control millions of your fellow countrymen.
It’s no secret that I hate drugs. I’ve never done drugs and I never will. I think doing drugs is stupid beyond belief. Building a successful, happy life is hard enough without drugs… why the hell would you want to make it even harder by introducing drugs into the mix?
Regardless, I know that projecting my personal, emotional biases upon my society or using the force of government is a terrible idea if I want to live in a free society where I’m allowed to live my life as I choose. Therefore, even though I’m against drugs, I know that making drugs illegal just because I don’t like them isn’t a wise idea.
Both the left and the right don’t understand this, and project their personal, emotional biases onto society, using the force of government to coerce others to conform to their will. The left does this with guns, the right does this with drugs. “I don’t like it, it bothers me, so it should be illegal!” You can’t do this if you want to live in a free society where you are treated as a free citizen to live your life as you choose.
All Drugs Should Be Legal at the Federal Level
Step one to this process to simply make all drugs legal at the federal level. Technically, they already are. There is no authority in the US Constitution for the federal government to enforce any drug laws in any way, regarding the use, sale, or importation (other than perhaps taxing drugs imported into the country from other nations).
Making drugs legal at the federal level would effectively end most of the drug war, which is a good thing. The government would allow the states to set up any drug laws they wished, and border security regarding drugs would be gone.
States Can Do Whatever They Want
At the state level, states should be allowed to enact any drug laws they wish. If Texas or Utah wants to make all drugs illegal, and imprison people for life for smoking a little pot, they are more than welcome to do that. If California or Vermont wants to make all drugs legal across the board, and allow anyone to shoot up heroin or snort cocaine in public whenever they feel like it, then they are more than welcome to do that.
Then, private citizens can then choose to move to any state they wish, and most will chose to live in states that most reflect their value systems.
Right wing, anti-drug states would have stupid, wasteful, miniature drug wars inside their own states and on their borders. Since drug laws don’t work, none of their drug regulations will work, and taxpayers will waste millions. But many right wingers aren’t rational on this issue, so they probably wouldn’t care.
Left wing states would make drugs legal to a degree, and regulate and tax the crap out of them, creating gray and black markets where people would get their drugs by bypassing the regulations and taxes. It wouldn’t be nearly as bad as in the right wing states, but it would still be problematic. And again, most left wingers wouldn’t care since wasteful government doesn’t seem to bother them.
The few states that actually chose freedom (those states I would live in) would take a libertarian approach by legalizing all drugs and not tax or regulate them at all. You could just walk into your local grocery store and buy cocaine and heroin right next to the sugar and salt. People forget that you could do this in America all the way until the 1930’s, yet in the pre-1930’s, America wasn’t full of drug addicts like it is today. Hm.
The big problem today, at least in the US, is not just with illegal drugs, but with prescription painkillers. People are getting addicted to these things in droves, despite the government and doctor-controlled regulations upon their use and distribution.
In a free society, the concept of a “prescription” would not exist. You would simply go to your very inexpensive, free market, non-corporatist doctor (as I described here), and he would tell you what drugs you needed. You would then use the internet to determine which drugs would be best suited for your condition and your body, based on his recommendations, and then you’d go to the grocery store or Amazon and buy them. There would be no “pharmacy” where you need a doctor’s note to get the medicine you require.
This terrifies people because they worry that everyone would either turn into drug addicts or get the wrong drugs and perhaps kill themselves. As I keep telling people, this happens right now anyway. In a free market system and in the internet age, data on the internet plus the advice of your doctor would be more than enough to guide the 95% of normal, non-insane people to purchase the correct drugs they needed and avoid the incorrect ones. Since all drugs would be prescription free, there would be warnings for all kinds of third-party services and web sites clearly showing which drugs were unhealthy, dangerous, or addictive. Right now, most of this data is locked up and controlled by doctors and hospitals, which is stupid, and cause people to blindly follow what doctors tell them, even if it means taking addictive painkillers.
I agree that before the internet, such a free system would be dicey, but we live in the internet age now. We don’t need all these laws and regulations anymore.
This also gets into the emotional, cultural, political, and economic reasons why so many Americans today are doping themselves with all these damn painkillers, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.
As usual, since most people are right wingers or left wingers, most will vehemently disagree with most of what I’ve said here. That’s why our country is in the sad shape that it’s in.