Is there a good case to legalize drugs that are currently illegal? Drug advocates point to lower costs in law enforcement and imprisonment of those convicted of drug-related crimes. They tend to assume that drug use rates, and the problems related to it, will remain the same.
However, it is highly unlikely that the drug use rate will remain the same if drugs are legalized. Just as the abortion rate skyrocketed when abortion became legal, it is likely that drug use will go up with legalization. In addition, corporations that sell the illegal drugs will be able to advertise their product to ensure more people use it.
Alcohol is a highly problematic legal drug. Many people are addicted to it, and it causes many deaths every year for reasons ranging from alcohol poisoning to drunk driving accidents. But many people who drink alcohol simply have a glass of wine or beer with a meal, or while relaxing in the evening, without desiring to get drunk or even slightly intoxicated.
The currently illegal drugs seem to be used universally with the desire to experience the intoxicating effects of those drugs. Does anyone snort cocaine hoping not to experience a high? The state of intoxication, whether caused by alcohol, marijuana or heroin, causes a variety of problems, such as intoxicated driving or violent acts, which would not occur in the absence of intoxication.
The care of children is one area in which drug legalization might cause severe problems. There are very few, if any, mothers who are addicted to heroin or crack who are also good mothers. Some of the most horrifying examples of child abuse are committed by drug-addicted parents or stepparents. It seems very likely that legalizing drugs will increase the numbers of children who are abused in this fashion.
Legalizing drugs might also have the effect of making it more difficult to protect children from abuse. As the law stands now, if there is a complaint about possible child abuse or neglect, and illegal drugs are found in the home, the children can be taken into state care at least temporarily. If drugs are legalized, it’s likely that the authorities will not be permitted to use this as evidence against the parent, any more than they can use the presence of a bottle of cooking sherry as evidence of parental alcohol abuse. But are children really safe with a heroin-using parent?
Advocates for the legalization of currently illegal drugs may believe they have a case. However, unless human nature changes, it’s likely there will always be such a sharp downside in the use of marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other drugs that we will always be better off by keeping such drugs illegal.