Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Economic Drug Debate

I have never understood the modern right-wing anti-drug policy.

For the purposes of this polemic I will not separate hard and soft drugs. Even though I am generally anti-cocaine, I believe the argument holds for all drugs.

First lets make one thing clear: almost all of the negative effects of the drug trade have nothing to do with the drugs themselves. Though cocaine does rapidly age your heart it does not cause people to break into your car to steal your leather jacket. As well as creating high levels of un-motivation, heroin causes significant constipation; it does not cause people to rob corner stores that should be selling lotto scratchers.

Yes, it is possible, and arguably common, to overdose on harder drugs, but this is, undeniably, a result of lack of control/regulation in the manufacturing process.

In fact, prior to prohibition, overdosing was almost unheard of as these drugs were never refined to the point of causing overdoses. The over-refining of opium to heroin was unnecessary when it was legal to import a couple of hundred pounds of the stuff. The refining of heroin was a result of the simple fact that G-men are more likely to catch you if you import a hundred pounds of low grade opium than if you import a couple of pounds of high grade heroin. The pharmaceutical importation is the same.

Which brings us to the basic economic situation.

The pharmaceutical cost of a fifty dollar hit is about sixty cents. The fence will give the junkie approximately 10% of the original value on stolen goods. Therefore the junkie needs to steal $500 dollars worth of goods in order to get their $50 dollar hit that has a pharmaceutical value of about 60 cents.

This is worth repeating. The cost to you and me for that junkie's 60 cent hit is 500 bucks.

A hypothetical: what would happen if the government produced the drug and sold it to the junkie for a single dollar?

Well, the first thing that would happen is that governments at all levels would recover 25-30 per cent of their law enforcement budgets (or keep the budgets the same and dedicate those officers to the pursuit of rape, murder, fraud, &c.).

There are millions of lists of the positive fiscal results of ending prohibition and my intention is not to provide another here.

My intention is to underline the insanity of forcing us to suffer a $1000 dollar loss (ultimately it is us who pays: chiefly through increased insurance rates) for a buck's worth of drug.

It is not the drug that causes the junkie to steal the $1000 dollars worth of goods to pay for the one dollar's worth of narcotic, it is prohibition that causes it. It is prohibition that leave the control and taxation of narcotics in the hands of organized crime. Make no mistake, it is controlled and taxed. It is controlled with an iron fist and taxed up the proverbial ying yang --by organized crime.

It does not make sense that the pro-business right wing takes a pro-prohibition stance. Even if you consider the modern Christian Right: where in the bible does it say that you should not smoke pot?

The numbers do add up. It does not make sense.

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