On the 10th of February, popular American conservative talk show host, Michael Savage did a program about the drug problem and specifically about the vexed issue of drug legalization. Although often described as a typical arch-conservative, in reality, Savage is a genuinely independent thinker who frequently presents unique solutions to pressing problems.
Unlike Savage, I am a firm supporter of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. For decades the crime, poverty, and degeneracy that has come as a direct result of the drugs problem have crippled a country that could have otherwise had a justifiable measure of peace and prosperity. Duterte realizes this and more importantly, his enthusiastic supporters who vote for him in election after democratic election, understand this too. He has a clear moral and public mandate to hit the drug lords and users in a hard way.
But is Duterte’s solution apropos for countries like the US and European states? I agree with Savage in thinking this is not the case, in spite of our mutual moral opposition to drugs and everything they represent on both a cultural and medical level.
In countries where the use of drugs is either negligible or endemic, the only solution is a hard ban enforced by tough policing and harsh sentences. But in first world countries, it is fair to say that the drug problem is both sectarian and unavoidable. It impacts more than one segment of the population to be sure, but never the less it is a problem that is ingrained among people with certain lifestyles, certain backgrounds, and certain psychological flaws.
Savage correctly states that even when people in western countries take tough measures to cut down on the supply of narcotics, the demand will still persist and as a result, supplies will always find their way in, even with tough customs checks and with border walls.
The question then becomes one of pragmatism. From the drug lords to the street dealers, the biggest problem associated with drugs for the wider, straight public, is the crime associated with the illegal drug trade.
No good person should have to live in neighborhoods populated by dealers who will not hesitate to kill a man over $90. The first victims in such instances are often the poor, the young and ethnic minorities, although, in the wider sense, everyone is affected negatively.
If drugs were prescribed by health officials and sold by legitimate businesses, this problem would go away. Alcohol bootlegging, for example, is no longer a problem and as Savage pointed out on his radio show, in a country like America where the legal drinking age is unusually high at 21, no grown man would risk prison, arrest, and humiliation to purchase booze for an adolescent. That same adolescent, as Savage says, could often buy hard drugs from someone at his school with no consequences.
Many who are ideologically opposed to drugs, will not agree that this pragmatic justification for legalization is worth it. I disagree and to ascertain why it is important to understand the drug demographic.
In 1st world societies like America, Britain, Canada, France or Spain, drugs are consumed by a combination of the aloof affluent and those at the economic bottom of society. In many ways, the fact that affluent individuals with economic and social opportunities, waste much of their lives on drugs, is a more frightening concept than the idea that drugs would appeal to those who feel life has cheated them from birth.
Seemingly wholesome celebrities, those in the creative arts, finance, the legal profession, big business, well known public figures and decent salaried individuals do drugs. Not all of them of course, but a frighteningly large minority. I have witnessed first-hand, well-known and publically respectable figures transform themselves into disgusting and often aggressive beings when on drugs. I cannot name names for legal reasons, but were I in court, under oath, I would name these names with one hand on the Bible, without a second of hesitation.
These people have money as a safety net to generally protect themselves from prison. Even if the illegal drugs were hard to come by, money is no object. These individuals would get them by hook or by crook. But if legal alternatives were available, they would soon avail themselves of such an option.
If hard drugs were licenced in a manner similar to a prescription and sold through high-priced special medical suppliers, not only would the public be safe from drug dealers and drug barons, but there would be a public record of individuals who consume the substances which would make life easier for police in understanding the motives behind otherwise unexplainable assaults, rapes, and even murders.
As for those at the bottom of the economic ladder, I firmly believe that many would shy away from expensive, prescribed narcotics for reasons other than unaffordability. Many economically poor drug users, turn to drugs because of false associations they make between drugs and economic advancement (through selling and even personal connections), the glamor of the ‘rock star’ lifestyle and personal escapism.
If the mystique was taken away from the culture and no one could make a living selling drugs on the black market, many would turn away from drugs in this part of society, this would especially be true if affluent people making fools or worse yet criminals of themselves were exposed to young impressionable people in drug education classes.
A young person, especially one who is upset with his or her circumstance, would be more readily moved by images of well-known figures being arrested for rape and assault or otherwise making disgusting fools of themselves than they would be through a medical analysis of the dangers of drug abuse.
Studies have shown that first world countries that legalized or otherwise decriminalized drugs have lower usage rates and reduced crime rates.
In places where drugs will be supplied and demanded in one form or another, I believe this is the only logical solution. In this sense, I take a broadly libertarian line on the issue, though I am the first to admit it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every culture and every situation is different.
For those who disagree, I must restate that the government’s job is to protect good people in society from external threats. The first line of protection is the police, the last line is the military. It is not the government’s job to protect people from their own stupidity. Such people will be punished by God or the mortician, depending on one’s religious outlook.