The Corner

Economy & Business

Re: The Downside Of Legalization

In response to Those Prisoners

Jonah, in your post this morning you write that “we shouldn’t sell legalization as a costless no-brainer.” I am not sure that any of the professional libertarians fighting for legalization ever make that claim. Also, libertarians are not shy to acknowledge the possibility of addiction associated with drug use. They, however, challenge the idea that every user automatically becomes an addict.

I would also add that Robert’s piece omits many of the benefits of legalization like the budgetary impact of ending the war on drugs, the ability of addicts to seek treatment without risking jail time, the end of the corruption of some on the police force produced by the war on drugs, a reduction in the scope and source of income for organized-crime organizations, the positive impact on the criminal-justice system, a transformation of the outlook of cities like Baltimore and the lives of people living there, among other things. In other words, there are many more benefits than the three listed in the piece (i.e., a reduction in incarceration, the end of an illegal market whose violence spills far beyond our borders, and an expansion of personal freedom).

From my experience, this is why serious advocates for legalization believe that there will be net benefits, to legalizing drugs. And that’s quite different from claiming that legalization is a costless no-brainer.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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