I didn’t have much of an opinion about illegal drugs back when I started to work for the police.
Oh, I had heard the arguments in favor of legalizing all drugs. This was back in the early 1990s, and our prisons were beginning to fill due to the so-called “War on Drugs”. Legalization advocates would point out that the economic cost of illegal drugs would be extremely low if they were suddenly acceptable. All the crime, violence, and social costs that came from addiction would disappear if the price wasn’t artificially inflated. Remove the drug laws and remove the profit incentive for gang bangers and pushers to do war in the streets. Make drugs cheap and there wouldn’t be any reason for junkies to commit crimes to feed their habit.
Like I said, I had heard the arguments in favor of legalization but had yet to form an opinion. Then I started to meet junkies up close and personal.
It was pretty obvious pretty fast that legalizing all drugs wouldn’t turn these people into productive members of society. Stick them in prison long enough to dry out, let the physical cravings fade, even enroll them in mandatory drug treatment programs as a condition of their parole, and they would go seek out more dope just as soon as they could. There was simply something in their emotional or mental makeup which caused them to decide that dumping poison in their bodies, poison which would eventually destroy their health and kill them, was the best option.
It was at this point that I came to the realization, false though it may be, that those who advocated drug legalization were a bunch of cold and calculating bastards. Let the price of illegal drugs fall as far as they said it would and we would have corpses littering the streets in a few days. Solve the problems which came from illegal drugs by allowing the addicts to kill themselves with the substance of their choice. At least the prisons would have more room.
I’m taking you along on this trip down Memory Lane due to an essay I read over at Cowtown Cop. In the post, he relates some amusing anecdotes about busting addicts that would visit a dope house in his jurisdiction. It is worth your time to read it for that alone, and I recommend it. But he also has a very brief word about the subject of this post.
“If the bad folks who sell and use the dope don’t come there anymore you see crimes like robbery, aggravated assault, theft and burglary just kind of dry up. Whenever I hear someone calling for across the board legalization of drugs I always wonder if they are a user themselves or just incredibly naïve about the types of people who use and sell dope. Even if heroin and cocaine were legal the bad folks would still commit crimes to supply their habits. It’s not like they would suddenly become fine upstanding, hardworking citizens the day it becomes legal. They still won’t be able to hold a job and will still be the same dysfunctional addict that they were before.”
Sound wisdom, I think.