The Libertarian Party asks:
SHOULD WE RE-LEGALIZE DRUGS?
Should We Re-Legalize Drugs?
Libertarians, like most Americans, demand to be safe at home and on
the streets. Libertarians would like all Americans to be healthy and
free of drug dependence. But drug laws don't help, they make things
The professional politicians scramble to make names for themselves
as tough anti-drug warriors, while the experts agree that the "war on
drugs" has been lost, and could never be won. The tragic victims of
that war are your personal liberty and its companion, responsibility.
It's time to consider the re-legalization of drugs.
The Lessons of Prohibition
In the 1920's, alcohol was made illegal by Prohibition. The result:
Organized Crime. Criminals jumped at the chance to supply the demand
for liquor. The streets became battlegrounds. The criminals bought off
law enforcement and judges. Adulterated booze blinded and killed
people. Civil rights were trampled in the hopeless attempt to keep
people from drinking.
When the American people saw what Prohibition was doing to them,
they supported its repeal. When they succeeded, most states legalized
liquor and the criminal gangs were out of the liquor business.
Today's war on drugs is a re-run of Prohibition. Approximately 40
million Americans are occasional, peaceful users of some illegal drug
who are no threat to anyone. They are not going to stop. The laws
don't, and can't, stop drug use.
Organized Crime Profits
Whenever there is a great demand for a product and government makes
it illegal, a black market always appears to supply the demand. The
price of the product rises dramatically and the opportunity for huge
profits is obvious. The criminal gangs love the situation, making
millions. They kill other drug dealers, along with innocent people
caught in the crossfire, to protect their territory. They corrupt
police and courts. Pushers sell adulterated dope and experimental
drugs, causing injury and death. And because drugs are illegal, their
victims have no recourse.
Half the cost of law enforcement and prisons is squandered on drug
related crime. Of all drug users, a relative few are addicts who commit
crimes daily to supply artificially expensive habits. They are the
robbers, car thieves and burglars who make our homes and streets
An American Police State
Civil liberties suffer. We are all "suspects", subject to random
urine tests, highway check points and spying into our personal
finances. Your property can be seized without trial, if the police
merely claim you got it with drug profits. Doing business with cash
makes you a suspect. America is becoming a police state because of the
war on drugs.
America Can Handle Legal Drugs
Today's illegal drugs were legal before 1914. Cocaine was even found
in the original Coca-Cola recipe. Americans had few problems with
cocaine, opium, heroin or marijuana. Drugs were inexpensive; crime was
low. Most users handled their drug of choice and lived normal,
productive lives. Addicts out of control were a tiny minority.
The first laws prohibiting drugs were racist in origin -- to prevent
Chinese laborers from using opium and to prevent blacks and Hispanics
from using cocaine and marijuana. That was unjust and unfair, just as
it is unjust and unfair to make criminals of peaceful drug users today.
Some Americans will always use alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other
drugs. Most are not addicts, they are social drinkers or occasional
users. Legal drugs would be inexpensive, so even addicts could support
their habits with honest work, rather than by crime. Organized crime
would be deprived of its profits. The police could return to protecting
us from real criminals; and there would be room enough in existing
prisons for them.
Try Personal Responsibility
It's time to re-legalize drugs and let people take responsibility
for themselves. Drug abuse is a tragedy and a sickness. Criminal laws
only drive the problem underground and put money in the pockets of the
criminal class. With drugs legal, compassionate people could do more to
educate and rehabilitate drug users who seek help. Drugs should be
legal. Individuals have the right to decide for themselves what to put
in their bodies, so long as they take responsibility for their actions.
From the Mayor of Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke, to conservative writer
and TV personality, William F. Buckley, Jr., leading Americans are now
calling for repeal of America's repressive and ineffective drug laws.
The Libertarian Party urges you to join in this effort to make our
streets safer and our liberties more secure.