The CATO Institute has published articles supporting the legalization of street drugs, citing the economic benefits. Articles on their web site claim we could gain approximately 46 billion in new revenue from tax receipts on the likes of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc. All governments could save about 41 billion, with state and local governments saving the bulk by the legalization.
Others are telling us the war on drugs has failed and we must call a truce or a surrender. But, mainly, just do away with the prohibition and start taxing. I suppose we need the tax money for education and infrastructure, or maybe for Wall Street.
The current administration, to their credit, are shying away from any repeal of the prohibition on hard drugs. They must understand what a complete disaster that would be.
Most people who have done serious study on legalizing possession and production of street drugs say this would worsen the problem of drug abuse. First, it would lower the price, which would include more people and more frequency of use. That is, if the tax rate would be consistent with alcohol taxes. It would probably take a lower tax rate to shut down the black market.
Of course, our policy on alcohol is a complete disaster, with a continuing liberalism of regulatory policies. Alcohol kills more people than all illicit drugs combined by about 5 to 1. Alcohol is cheap and state governments don’t raise taxes on alcohol in any meaningful way. The Feds have not adjusted for inflation of the federal tax; the effective rate now being about 20% of what it was 60 years ago.
Henry Ford learned long ago if you want to sell cars you have to make them affordable. Same with these drugs.
CATO Institute needs to always remember there is this direct correlation between affordability of alcohol-drugs and homicides and traffic-related fatalities. When the price goes down the deaths go up. We have the experience of cheap alcohol; now think of the catastrophe cheap drugs will produce !
CATO articles like to talk about economics, which is a cold attitude, considering to subject matter. Why don’t we consider economics is other disciplines ? What if we ceased enforcing speeding laws ? Think of what all the eliminated traffic troopers and parked cruisers would do to boost government revenue. No speeding tickets would also mean no rise in auto premiums. This would mean tens of thousands of dollars plowed into the local economies. Maybe it is time to stop the war on speeding ! After all, we can never cure speeding, no matter how much we seem to spend in the effort. Even the camera-cops cannot keep drivers from speeding above the limits.
After the oil embargo of 1974 the speed on interstate highways was reduced to 55 mph. The first year there was a 17% decrease in traffic fatalities. In 1987 the politicians buckled under to complaints and raised the speed limit to 65mph on some interstates. In 1995 they repealed the speed control law. The University of Illinois did a ten year study(1995-2005) that concluded the raised speed limit cost 12,500 deaths. NHTSA estimates 13,000 lives a year are lost to speeding.
Responsible people know there is heavier considerations than economics concerning drug legalization. Human considerations should always outweigh economics; be it drugs, speeding, or other disciplines. But, when it comes to drugs I believe it is also in our economic interest to preserve prohibition. When you start adding up all the secondary economic effects of repeal there will be enormous economic costs. Simply, we would have a higher use and more negative effects. It would be an eye-opening experience I hope never happens.
Maybe, the Libertarians take positions like harmful drug legalization, not because it makes sense or will workout, but because it conforms to their wild west ideology.
It is true we should have more creative enforcement of our laws and practices in combating drug enforcement and possession. This would offer a higher resistance to the illegal drug traffic and save lives to boot. We want worry about the economics.
In the final analysis, it is just as silly and wholly impractical to legalize street drugs as it would be to abandon all speeding laws.