At first glance, a self answering question. Drug abuse is illegal in and of itself, it’s already a crime. Does shoplifting encourage crime? Does illegal immigration encourage crime? It’s already a crime.
Perhaps that’s putting too fine a point on the debate. Other articles on this topic seem to assume that this is a discussion about collateral crimes rather than the original sin.
A person that is willing to break one law, say buying an illegal substance, is certainly already displaying the propensity, or at least a willingness to break the law. People who respect or fear the law, those for whom the risk outweighs the benefit will avoid breaking it.
Drug (related) crimes are indeed widespread, rampant and obvious. However the greatest amount of violence in the illicit drug culture surrounds the sale and distribution of illegal narcotics, not the use of the narcotic itself.
History merely repeats itself and we are fools to ignore it, but we are indeed ignoring it. During prohibition violent crime surrounded the manufacture, sale and distribution of an illegal substance. The gang wars, murders, massacres, bombings, were all over the manufacture, sale and distribution of illegal alcohol.
Once prohibition was repealed the gangs had to switch businesses, there was simply no longer a profit to be made on the gang-controlled black market for alcohol. Alcohol related crime nosedived.
There was also an important side benefit to the repeal of prohibition: The legal-but-regulated alcohol industry had to toe the line. Health and safety measures were established and enforced.
A bottle of legal rotgut, even the cheapest, was at least tested and deemed safe to consume in moderation. This could not be said of the bathtub gin and moonshine available during prohibition.
Yes drug-addled addicts commit crimes, primarily to raise the scratch to replenish their supply, once again more of an issue of the black market nature of the industry. Boozed up thugs commit crimes as do sober folks. Cigarette smokers commit crimes, as do people who enjoy potato chips.
How much the product ingested directly contributes to the propensity of people to commit other crimes is what should be the determining factor in this discussion.
That people are willing to break certain and very strict laws in the first place, to choose to use an illegal, potentially addictive, unregulated and potentially deadly substance, is the root of the matter.
The person who chooses to use even light narcotics like marijuana are risking quite a bit. If busted the otherwise harmless pothead risks losing his job, his driver’s license, risks serving time, heavy fines and confiscation of property. This minor league doper already calculates that this heavy risk is worth the brief benefit.
So is it any surprise that people who are willing to take those risks, ignore the law to that degree, might not also be inherently predisposed to risk breaking other laws?
Do drugs actually cause criminal activities or are they merely another thread in the behavioral fabric of those prone to some level of criminal behavior in the first place? That is the better question.