Ending the War on Drugs

5 Apr

The Libertarian Approach to Ending the War on Drugs

By Gemma Stopford
It’s official: America is in the midst of a drug epidemic. Statistics indicate that 23.5 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol – that’s one in 10 Americans over the age of 12. The use of heroin is skyrocketing throughout the country and 2.4 million Americans are using prescription drugs non-medically. Studies show that a shocking 78% of the US teen population have drank alcohol and 42% have tried other illicit substances. Clearly little attention is being paid to anti-drug laws or even legal age limits. The Libertarian Party feel that it is time to offer a new approach that focuses more on individual responsibility rather than enforcing nannying policies that don’t deter people from abusing illicit substances, only hide them from the public eye. Here are some of the main reasons that we believe a Libertarian ideology may benefit communities when it comes to ending the so called ‘war on drugs’.
Shut down black market

Historically, people are fairly accepting of the fact that as soon as the government makes something illegal, a black market will open up to supply the demand. In the 1920’s alcohol was made illegal in America and almost immediately a black market opened up to meet the demand of the vast amount of civilians still wanting to drink. Of course the streets became dangerous, crime rose and unsafe alcohol blinded and poisoned people.
The same principle applies to drugs. Making them illegal won’t stop people being able to get them, it just means that the black market thrives at the expense of the economy, freedom and safety of civilians. Obviously the price rises when a substance becomes an illegal which means drug dealing is a lucrative business. Suppliers become greedy and territorial, often fighting and killing one another in an attempt to maintain their profit margins. Because of the outlandish prices they are asking, genuine addicts become desperate and turn to crime in order to get the money they need to fund their habit. All of this makes our streets dangerous once more. There are also no government checks so the drugs they are selling are often contaminated, causing injury or death to those who buy them – but the statistics clearly demonstrate that even this doesn’t deter users. Legalizing drugs gives the government the opportunity to regulate them, make them safer and shut down the unethical, multi-billion dollar black market – ultimately making our society safer. 
Reduce stigma

If something is illegal it automatically has a negative social stigma attached to it. It is well documented that addicts tend to suffer from low self esteem and this coupled with the fear of getting into trouble with the law may actually prevent them from seeking help for their addiction. Of course this could work the other way; many people enjoy the negative stigma surrounding drugs and the idea of social rebellion entices them. Legalizing them might make them seem less attractive to impressionable young people or help genuine addicts get help without the fear of persecution.
Because let’s face it, the statistics show that people are not refraining from using drugs. Making them illegal only drives the issue into the criminal underworld where information, safety restrictions and rehabilitation are not accessible. Legalizing drugs means breaking the stigma and bringing the issue out into the open where is can be properly monitored and discussed. 
Reinstate our civil liberties

Libertarian’s believe in civil liberties and if this means making the choice to ingest illicit substances then it should be down to the individual to make that choice for themselves. This doesn’t mean that Libertarians are ‘pro-drugs’ only that they believe in the everyday man’s freedom to make his own decisions about his own life providing that his choices are harmless and inconsequential to others. Ultimately some people will always choose to drink, smoke, eat junk food or, in this case, take drugs. Many are of no threat to society and are just ordinary people making their own choices which may or may not be particularly ‘good’ for their health. But who are we to judge them?
Libertarians also oppose the way in which law enforcements can brand us all ‘suspects’ at a whim and therefore take our belongings or pry into our personal lives/finances if there is any police suspicion that we are in any way involved with drugs. This goes against the notion of a free state and the innocent until proven guilty mantra.  

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