Posted by: CJ | December 7, 2009

Why legalization is a good idea…

Our current regime of imprisoning people for drug expenses is expensive. It costs a lot to imprison people, at least to imprison them without human rights abuses. (For comparison, here’s a piece, with lots of pictures, about a Colombian prison.) Kevin Drum has written before about the huge costs, particularly not in the US, of us keeping so many recreational drugs illegal. And the benefits of legalization would be many: ability to regulate the sale of drugs, big money suddenly being in legitimate sale of drugs instead of illegal selling, huge amounts of money from taxing the sale of drugs. The only downside, really, is the self-righteousness and hurt feelings of everyone who didn’t do them, who feels like the users, the bad people, are being rewarded for being bad.

So file this Atlantic piece under the same heading. Mexico has a major problem with drug cartels. Particularly that the drug cartels are making so much money they rival the state in terms of raw power. So the only institution really capable of trying to control the drug cartels is the military. But giving the military that much power is leading to huge abuses of power, as well as making a military coup more likely.

Things would be so much simpler if we just gave up on the drug war. Like most other wars, it’s a mammoth expense for no particularly good reason. If we could admit that banning alcohol was wrong and didn’t do us any good, I’d like to think we can do the same with recreational drugs.


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