The Day After

It is clear that most of the serious problems the public associates with illegal drug use are, in reality, caused directly or indirectly by drug prohibition.

Let’s assume the war on drugs is given up as the misguided enterprise it is. What will happen? The day after legalization goes into effect, the streets of America will be safer. The drug dealers will be gone. The shoot-outs between drug dealers will end. Innocent bystanders will not be murdered anymore. Hundreds of thousands of drug “addicts” will no longer roam the streets, shoplifting, mugging, breaking into homes in the middle of the night to steal, and dealing violently with those who happen to wake up. One year after prohibition is repealed, 1,600 innocent people who would otherwise have been dead at the hands of drug criminals will be alive.

Within days of prohibition repeal, thousands of judges, prosecutors, and police will be free to catch, try, and imprison violent career criminals—criminals who commit 50 to 100 serious crimes, including robbery, rape, and murder, per year when on the loose. For the first time in years, our overcrowded prisons will have room for them. Ultimately, repeal of prohibition will open 75,000 jail cells.

The day after repeal, organized crime will get a big pay cut—$80 billion a year.

How about those slick young drug dealers who are the new role models for the youth of the inner cities, with their designer clothes and Mercedes convertibles, always wearing a broad, smug smile that says crime pays? They snicker at the honest kids going to school or to work at the minimum wage. The day after repeal, the honest kids will have the last laugh. The dealers will be out of a job, unemployed.

The day after repeal, real drug education can begin and, for the first time in history, it can be honest. No more need to prop up the failed war on drugs.

The year before repeal, 500,000 Americans will have died from illnesses related to overeating and lack of exercise, 390,000 from smoking, and 150,000 from drinking alcohol. About 3,000 will have died from cocaine, heroin, and marijuana combined, with many of those deaths the result of the lack of quality control in the black market. The day after repeal, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana will, by and large, do no harm to those who choose not to consume them. In contrast, the day before prohibition repeal, all Americans, whether or not they choose to use illegal drugs, will be forced to endure the violence, street crime, erosion of civil liberties, corruption, and social and economic decay caused by the war on drugs.

From Thinking About Drug Legalization by James Ostrowski, in The Crisis in Drug Prohibition, edited by David Boaz)