The weakness of anti-legalization arguments

January 28, 2013
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This is a comment by Transform’s Steve Rolles in response to a particular article, but it would be appropriate as a response for just about any argument against legalization.

Neil McKeganey’s key concern with legalisation and regulation of drugs appears to be his assumption that use and abuse would rise. This is a legitimate concern, but itself assumes punitive prohibitions are an effective deterrent – the evidence for which is strikingly weak.

McKeganey provides none. Comparisons between countries with different enforcement regimes show no clear pattern, nor is there evidence that increasing penalties decreases use, or vice versa. The influences on drug misuse appear to be mostly social, cultural and economic; with enforcement policy having, at best, a small impact.

And this, of course, is the heart of the matter. After eliminating those whose arguments in favor of criminalization are self-serving, every other argument against legalization boils down to the assumption that legalization, regardless of the levels of regulation involved, necessarily means significantly higher levels of abuse than a criminalization model.

And we are somehow supposed to ignore the fact that after decades of experimentation with criminalization, there is no hard evidence of this supposed fact.

On our side of the argument, on the other hand, are reams of documented evidence of the harms of criminalization.

It’s really a no-brainer.

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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