Here’s a good article in The Independent on the end result of idealistic wars against drugs. It’s something I’ve thought for a while but usually hesitate from articulating because of the seeming extremism of the statement: that the best way to combat drug use and addiction is to legalize drugs. But it’s really quite a simple formula: whatever you push underground is going to be run by the underground, which translates into armed street gangs, violence, and shattered families. It’s the end result of all idealistic and righteous actions: a blind eye is turned to reality in favor of some perfect universe that will never exist.
The fact is that there will always be a market for drugs. There is no eliminating this reality. In light of this, it is quite logical that there must be a legal acceptance of this drug use, and subsequent regulation. Instead, we condemn all drug users and drug trafficking like Calvinistic Victorians, and pretend that a ‘War On Drugs’ is something that could ever be won. Meanwhile, watching the nightly news, we shake our heads righteously at the latest gang killing, at the proliferation and ease of attainment of guns amongst the youth on our streets.
Gangsters are simply trying to make a living. They are black market businessmen. And we provide them with ample opportunity by turning our blind, righteously indignant eyes away from drug trafficking and addiction. The quickest way to turn a profit on the streets is through smuggling and selling illegal substances, and subsequently, through the illegal weapons market, because wherever there is a source of quick money and power on the streets, there will be turf warfare. The feds and local police, meanwhile, skim easy targets, like picking off stragglers in a pack, and pretend as if they are making a dent in this black market.
By legalizing substances currently prohibited, we can subject these substances to transparent control and regulation. We will eliminate one of the biggest black market employment opportunities on the streets, and then gangsters will have to turn to less profitable and appetizing markets, increasing the chances of ghetto youth turning to legit means to seek their way out of poverty.
But the campaign against drugs and drug users has been so effective that to even suggest that illegal drugs should be allowed and monitered on a controllable scale is to raise righteous and indignant hell in all the armchair moral crusaders in the nation. And frankly, I think there’s a certain level of interest in powers that be in the government and CIA to see that things are kept the way they are. Which can only lead one to think that they must be getting some good kind of payback from the illegal drug market. (Afghanistan, anybody? Lots of good poppy fields there, funny that we should have invaded it.) Meanwhile, families mired in poverty in the ghettos are broken apart by violence and the power struggles of street gangsters. As in any warfare, whether the War On Drugs or the War In Iraq, children bear the greatest casualties.