Over on Facebook, there is yet another discussion about legalizing drugs versus policing or other costs. Whenever I find such debates, I always link to this excellent examination of that very debate by Theodore Dalrymple.
Dr. Anthony Daniels (Dalrymple being his pen name) provides a keen insight into the arguments in favor of legalization, adding light where he finds it most necessary.
I can’t excerpt the whole thing, though looking back, I may have already managed it over time, but here’s a taste on the matter of drug prohibition catalyzing criminality.
It is of course true, but only trivially so, that the present illegality of drugs is the cause of the criminality surrounding their distribution. Likewise, it is the illegality of stealing cars that creates car thieves. In fact, the ultimate cause of all criminality is law. As far as I am aware, no one has ever suggested that law should therefore be abandoned. Moreover, the impossibility of winning the “war” against theft, burglary, robbery, and fraud has never been used as an argument that these categories of crime should be abandoned. And so long as the demand for material goods outstrips supply, people will be tempted to commit criminal acts against the owners of property. This is not an argument, in my view, against private property or in favor of the common ownership of all goods. It does suggest, however, that we shall need a police force for a long time to come.
It is a very long read which I promise, if you’re truly interested in the subject and open to opinions you might find contrary to your own, worth the time.
Here’s one more paragraph to pique your interest.
In any case, there are reasons to doubt whether the crime rate would fall quite as dramatically as advocates of legalization have suggested. Amsterdam, where access to drugs is relatively unproblematic, is among the most violent and squalid cities in Europe. The idea behind crime—of getting rich, or at least richer, quickly and without much effort—is unlikely to disappear once drugs are freely available to all who want them. And it may be that officially sanctioned antisocial behavior—the official lifting of taboos—breeds yet more antisocial behavior, as the “broken windows” theory would suggest.
If you’ve read it before, why not reread it.
It is on my list of things that need re-reading every six to twelve months.
I hope you agree.
Note: Reformatted in 2021 for Grok 3.0