The legalization of drugs has been the ongoing subject of conjecture, debate and contention. Marijuana has already been legalized in some jurisdictions, but the majority of street drugs are still illegal. Some believe that all drugs should be legalized. While others believe the system should remain as it is. Below are the costs and benefits of legalization.
Benefit: Increased Taxes For Governments
A number of economists have pointed out that legalizing drugs would be a bonanza for both states and the federal government, as it would generate billions of dollars of revenue which could be taxed. These experts point out that this has already be done successfully with alcohol and cigarettes for decades.
Cost: Drug Overdoses and Deaths Will Increase
Others argue that if drugs such as cocaine, heroin or crystal meth are legalized this will lead to a massive increase of addiction, overdoses and death. They also point out that because there is no standardized way to manufacture many street drugs, they will contain all sorts of chemicals and ingredients that could cause allergic reactions in some of those that use it.
Benefit: Legalizing All Drugs Will Reduce Government Expenses
The federal government spends a tremendous amount of money each year dealing with drug related issues through agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency. In fact, since President Nixon first initiated the War on Drugs back during the 1970s, the American government has probably spent many hundreds of billions, with few results. The U.S. is currently in the midst of a heroin crisis which in some ways mirrors the crack cocaine crisis of the 1980s. Legalizing drugs will save the federal government billions of dollars each year which can be put to other, more productive uses.
Cost: Drugs Adversely Affect The Behavior Of Individuals
If drugs are legalized and made widely available to virtually anyone who can afford them, this will lead to an unstable society where more people will become addicted or exhibit the dangerous behaviors that are associated with these substances. Critics point out that allowing people to legally buy and use drugs such as PCP or crystal meth would put the lives of virtually anyone around them in jeopardy, as such individuals would behave unpredictably. This has already been seen with alcohol, a legal substance that is responsible for numerous traffic fatalities not to mention the many people who have committed crimes while under its influence. Legalizing other, more dangerous drugs will make the problem worse.
Benefit: Legalization Will Crush Drug Cartels And Stabilize Latin America
The demand for drugs in Canada, Europe and the United States has led to the formation of powerful cartels in Latin America which in some cases have become so strong they could wage war with their respective governments. During the 1980s it was the Medellin Cartel that waged war against the Colombian government, while in the 2000s it was the Los Zetas of Mexico that fought the Mexican military. Supporters of legalization believe that legalizing drugs would weaken cartels tremendously, forcing them to either become legitimate corporations or disappear entirely, stabilizing Latin America and bringing prosperity to a region that has historically been impoverished.