Fellow L.O.G.(ger?) ED’s post on drug legalization is exremely sharp from my vantage point. He suggests legalizing pot (agreed), generally not taking the approach of viewing users as criminals (agreed again), but questions the legalization of hard drugs. He leaves us with this question:
This is a major stumbling block in the War to End the War on Drugs, and inevitably circles into the region of pragmatism vs. principle. Even if we knew, conclusively, that legalizing these substances would end the militarization of our police, destroy the cartels, and free a good number of non-violent offenders, could we reconcile that with consequences of societal acceptance of the sale of these substances?
This is a very thought provoking question as a hypothetical. I’m not sure it might play out that way (again thinking fairly hypothetically). There is another potential problem with governmental involvement/regulation of hard drug trade. Namely that the government (or government agents anyway) would become themselves a new cartel. They could easily become corrupted and seek to use the drug trade for their own financial and political increase. I mentioned the danger here of the militarization of the police, but another (potentially simultaneous) threat is that the police become themselves not that different from the previous cartels. The militarized police and/or ideological fighters in many countries (particularly but not limited to Latin America) have a tendency to originally oppose drug cartels and then find themselves overtime basically in the same game: e.g. FARC, Taliban, to name just a few.
In other words, there would be I think a strong potential for the creation of a grey market–of the ability of official cover for some to blur the lines on legal/illegal with regards to drug policy. Even if the market is legalized in one country, the pull might still be there to keep one’s activities in the black market. It’s interesting in that regard that ED mentions Crystal Meth, since that is one drug that at one point, coordinated multiple government effort could have without too much difficulty it seems essentially eliminated the industry. Heroin obviously is a whole other ball of junk (as it were).
[As a sidenote: I find it quite humorous that are first three threads are sex, drugs, and foreign policy. What no rock n’ roll?].