Police officers have epiphany: time to legalize and regulate street drugs

August 17, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

In the Washington Post, two police officers make the case that it’s time to legalize and regulate street drugs.  Why?  To quit squandering tax dollars, to quit filling prisons with people who don’t belong there and to protect neighborhoods and police officers.

Only after years of witnessing the ineffectiveness of drug policies — and the disproportionate impact the drug war has on young black men — have we and other police officers begun to question the system . . .  Drug manufacturing and distribution is too dangerous to remain in the hands of unregulated criminals. Drug distribution needs to be the combined responsibility of doctors, the government, and a legal and regulated free market. This simple step would quickly eliminate the greatest threat of violence: street-corner drug dealing.

Here’s the “money” quote:

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that ending the drug war would save $44 billion annually, with taxes bringing in an additional $33 billion.


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Category: Addictions, Health, law and order

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (2)

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  1. Dave says:

    Legalize now!

    Every cop/sheriff/constable I've met was for legalization. They see drug crimes as a waste of time and resources, and a cloud that keeps them from getting to real crimes of robbery, rape, and murder. More often, the entire black market of drugs funds many of these "real" crimes. But we all know all that– so nevermind.

    I am hearted to see that legalization is starting to get some real and frank discussion. I predict this will boil down to two issues:

    1. A populace that will be okay with legalizing "some" drugs but not others, much like Dennis Leary thought that people are okay with keeping some animals that are cute and others are to be eaten: "Mr. Otter, you're free to go…" Mainstream America will shrug its shoulders at pot and maybe X, but cocaine, meth, and heroin are still "bad". The problem is that the black market already dwells in the bad stuff, and the core economic and enforcement problems will remain.

    2. Which leads to the second problem to be solved: taxation. I understand how the US Government makes its tax money from Tobacco and whiskey. (It actually had some battles in Kentucky 200 years ago to enforce its monopoly on controlling these markets.) Taxation on Tobacco and Whiskey are possible because these are complex operations that are difficult to hide– you can't grow tobacco in a corner of the backyard and get any real revenue.

    Pot, on the other hand, is a big fat weed. It will grow just about anywhere in the US, and doesn't rape the soil. As such, if/when pot is legalized, how will the government "regulate" and tax it? We will have thousands of backyard growers who simply sell to their friends in a grey market. Whatever possible tax revenue coming in will be eaten by a swollen staff of tax collectors.

    Eventually, there may be informal farmer's markets, and after that large-scale commercial growers– then we might see some viable tax structure– but the grey market will still exist.

    I've got a corner in my backyard all ready to go…

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    A former police chief urges that we legalize all drugs, not just marijuana, and makes a strong case for doing so. http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/144573/forme

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