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Should we LEGALIZE Drugs?

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Found article on MSN, not written by me.

Every year, about 2 million people in the U.S. are arrested for drug offenses, including using or selling marijuana, heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine. About a third of the country's prisoners are held on drug charges or for crimes attributed to drug abuse.

But what if we legalized all street drugs?

More kids would decide to try drugs "just once," and more would get hooked. Some lives would be ruined. But other lives would be saved. Gang murders would fall sharply. Thousands of people now in jail would be free to find work and feed their families. We'd save billions on the war on drugs, and a new drug industry would create jobs and loads of taxable revenue.

Of course, it may sound like madness. And the gut feeling among many people is that it would be disastrous.

Don Semesky, the former chief of financial operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, D.C., asks: "Have you ever seen a meth addict, with all those sores and rotten teeth? And what they do to their kids? Do you want the government to be responsible for that?"

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Yet some economists, including American Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, have supported the idea of legalizing drugs. Friedman believed America's war on drugs was at the root of police corruption and caused thousands of unnecessary deaths, with few gains for ordinary citizens.

So just how would legalized drugs affect the economy and your standard of life?

Running some numbers

Let's look at two scenarios: if marijuana alone were legalized and if all street drugs were legalized. Either way, we assume there'd be strict regulation similar to that for alcohol and cigarettes, including age limits, licensing, quality control, high taxes and limits on advertising.

At first glance, on a "strictly numbers" basis, the effect on the country's pocketbook looks promising. We'd see:

Savings on drug-related law enforcement -- FBI, police, courts and prisons -- of $2 billion to $10 billion a year if marijuana were legalized, based on various estimates, or up to $40 billion a year if all drugs were legalized, based on enforcement costs from the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy. That's before the cost of overseeing the new drug regulations.

Increased productivity as fewer people were murdered, drug offenders were freed to find work and those stripped of their criminal record found it easier to get jobs (including running drug boutiques). However, how many of those now in prison would turn away from crime is unknown.

Video on MSN Money

Pot University

One school starts a certification process to sell medical marijuana, CNBC's Jane Wells reports.

Tax gains. Drug prices would have to fall sharply in order to squeeze out the black market. Still, Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer in economics for Harvard University, calculates the $10 billion-plus U.S. marijuana market could reap $6 billion in annual taxes. The $65 billion market for all illicit drugs, he estimates, might bring in $10 billion to $15 billion in taxes.

A new legal drug industry would create jobs, farm crops, retail outlets and a tiny notch up in gross domestic product as the black market money turned clean. A 1994 study by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C., suggested 100,000 jobs and 60,000 retailers could emerge from a legal marijuana industry.

So, seemingly we'd get a shower of money for the government coffers -- perhaps an initial $50 billion under the "all drugs" scenario -- and gains for business and the community. But at what cost?

Talk back: What's your view on legalizing all drugs?

The answer is that it all depends, mostly on how many more people would use drugs, which drugs and how much more they used.

Give me a latte and a joint

Currently, considering it can get you arrested (or kill you), drug use is surprisingly common. A 2006 federal government study said 20% of Americans 18 to 25 had taken an illicit drug in the month prior to the survey.

So what if a Starbucks-style chain of drugstores that fulfilled Abbie Hoffman's wildest dreams opened across the country? What if you could sit on a sofa, pick up a magazine and light up, or even shoot up, in a congenial atmosphere

Here's the second part of the article:

Europe offers some clues. In 1976, the Netherlands decided to tolerate (though not legalize) the selling of small amounts of cannabis in licensed coffee shops. At first there was little change in usage. But between 1984 and 1992, as shops opened rapidly, smoking of the drug doubled among Dutch 18- to 20-year-olds.

"In that case, it looked like changing the legal status was of minor importance, but opening commercial outlets mattered," says Mark Kleiman, the director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Moreover, what if drugs were glamorously promoted via YouTube or Facebook, or even big business? Peter Reuter, a professor of public policy and criminology at the University of Maryland, says it would be hard to block advertising because there's little proof that marijuana is harmful.

"I think we'd see a fair amount of promotion," he says. "Then you could have large increases in use."

Kleiman adds, "Imagine what Philip Morris and MillerCoors could do if we gave them cannabis to work with."

Would addiction increase?

One oddity that stands out in the research is that the Dutch are still only midrange users of marijuana by European standards. By some measures, they use marijuana far less than Americans, according to a recent World Health Organization survey.

It's thought that this is due to differing social norms, which raises another point. If drugs were legal in America, this could send a powerful signal to kids that drugs are OK. Add this to the lower price, addictive effects of some drugs and easy access, and drug use could rise quite a bit. To offset this, we could run campaigns warning against the stuff. That might work. It might not.

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The response from marijuana reform advocates is: "So what if use increases? It's harmless anyway." However, that remains unproved. Researchers worry about the high tar content, the risk of personal injury while someone is "high" and about any effects on students' work.

As for legalizing all drugs, Harvard's Miron argues that the increase in drug abuse would likely be small. "Millions of people don't smoke cigarettes. The same is true of alcohol . . . because they know that too much of it is not good for you," he says. People who are prone to abuse drugs are probably already abusing them, he adds.

That's hardly so, Reuter argues. Heroin and cocaine "are attractive drugs," he says. "Lots of kids would experiment, and maybe 3 or 4% would become dependent. So the increase in addiction might be very substantial."

The added costs

Whichever case proved true, there could be extra costs to U.S. taxpayers for abusers' medical treatment, family support, petty crime and lost worker productivity.

Just how much is hard to say. And how these negative economic effects might net out against the positive effects is virtually impossible to say. Data on drug-use behavior are thin and often contradictory.

Video on MSN Money

Pot University

One school starts a certification process to sell medical marijuana, CNBC's Jane Wells reports.Of course, everyone can have an opinion.

Semesky says, "Nobody is going to be better off." The Office of National Drug Control Policy puts the cost of drug abuse at $145 billion (.pdf file), including medical expenses and lost productivity. That's more than the cost of cancer. If drugs were legal, some of these costs would rise, some would fall. Semesky believes the net effect would be highly negative.

Miron says a small rise in drug abuse would be far outweighed by the gains from reduced violent crime, freed-up police resources, a more productive citizenry and reduced illness from bad drugs and dirty needles.

Rosalie Pacula, the director of the Rand Drug Policy Research Center in Santa Monica, Calif., says there are huge unknowns. But if you look at the effects of alcohol and tobacco abuse, she says, legalizing drugs would be "very, very risky."

Could this happen?

How likely is it that street drugs would be legalized?

The possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in 12 states, meaning offenders might get fined but won't be jailed or given a criminal record. Nonetheless, full legalization of marijuana is hardly likely. In a 2002 CNN/Time Magazine poll, 59% of respondents opposed legalizing marijuana, and 34% favored it. Although attitudes are getting more liberal, marijuana is not legal anywhere in the world.

As for other street drugs, don't even ask. The question of legalization is no more than an interesting academic exercise.

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Yes but only weed ... Anything else should still be illegal. Weed does not make you an addic plus it's less dangerous than cigarettes ... It's like drinking alcohol.

Never tried weed but sure I will. :P

Edited by Gycu X

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Yes but only weed ... Anything else should still be illegal. Weed does not make you an addic plus it's less dangerous than cigarettes ... It's like drinking alcohol.

I tend to agree that marijuana should be the only drug "legalized". However I would like to say that you can get addicted to it (people are addicted to alcohol and cigarettes) after all. And some studies have shown that pot is just as, if not more dangerous for your lungs as cigarettes. Since they aren't filtered, and many people don't know what else is in the weed.

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Yes but only weed ... Anything else should still be illegal. Weed does not make you an addic plus it's less dangerous than cigarettes ... It's like drinking alcohol.

I tend to agree that marijuana should be the only drug "legalized". However I would like to say that you can get addicted to it (people are addicted to alcohol and cigarettes) after all. And some studies have shown that pot is just as, if not more dangerous for your lungs as cigarettes. Since they aren't filtered, and many people don't know what else is in the weed.

When you smoke a cigars you usually don't smoke just one, you smoke the whole pack if you are addicted to it ... Whilst just one marijuana cigar is enough, granted you'll have problems if you smoke more <_< One cigar makes you smoke another, and another and so on, enough for you to make cancer, with marijuana it's different, you smoke it for fun ( the only drug not causing addiction ). Many people say they smoke cigarettes just for fun ... Yeah right! <_<

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If weed's illegal, then tobacco and alcohol should be illegal, too. I've never heard of anyone overdosing on pot before, but you can die of alcohol poisoning! So a drug that can kill you if you take way too much of it is perfectly legal, but a drug that at most impairs your senses isn't? What the fuck, Washington?

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I don't think they should be legalised. I have been told by many teachers that drugs are just as bad as alcohol.

I am not going to post any more because some will end up in an argument with someone like most topics nowadays, hence why I don't post in public much any more. That happened the other night there in the recreating the big bang topic. You can't even state your opinion without someone slagging you.

Edited by ThomasY

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I don't think they should be legalised. I have been told by many teachers that drugs are just as bad as alcohol.

I am not going to post any more because some will end up in an argument with someone like most topics nowadays, hence why I don't post in public much any more. That happened the other night there in the recreating the big bang topic. You can't even state your opinion without someone slagging you.

First of all I just went through that whole topic and didn't see one instance where your opinion was shot down or whatever. There was an argument going on between Connor, Llama and I and you said "For fuck sakes can we get back on topic" or something.

And obviously teachers are going to say that they're bad, it's kind of part of their job description. If they told everyone that drugs are okay then they would be fired.

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I say hell yes, legalize all drugs putting the DEA and the big drug companies out of business. Since I am not a user I think it should narrow the playing field by a large margin. Can you honestly say the public would elect a stoner as president or prime minster? I will be able to control people much easier. I could see walking into a bank and asking a blitzed clerk, "I would like $10,000 please?". The clerk says, "What's you account number?" "WHAT?! I just gave it to you for like the 6th time!"

Yes I say the more people with less functional brain cells the better!! :clapping:

Now here is my PSA about drugs

I love this topic!

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Hmm... let's see.

As for your stoned clerk, do you think he can DRINK on the job? He would get fired on the spot if he came in stoned. It's not like legalizing drugs means that there aren't any restrictions. There's restrictions on alcohol, so there would be on weed.

As for the president... yeah, I'm sure a stoned president will get into the race.

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Lots of back and forth debate in this topic, my opinion is that, if it boosts our economy, it might not be such a bad thing for the people who don't do pot. The people who do do it pretty much will die, and eventually the trend might settle down. of course, this means scores of new addicts, so a strict age limit should be set in place, unlike how the cigarattes age limits are always broken.

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unlike how the cigarattes age limits are always broken.

I walked out of school because literally EVERYONE my age but me smoked, and done drugs & got pissed all of the time, I just told my best mate 2 fuck off last week cuz I found a beer can in his room, pathetic I know, but I dont wana be around when its escalates

Edited by claude-5

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Only things that are natrully grown, and have a limiton how much you are allowed to smoke, and where you are allowed to smoke. Not Man Made drugs, as they can easily kill you.

You do know cocaine is a plant right..... and.... it can kill you....

OK, fine.

If we allow Cannabis, the 'thrill' of doing it (as far as lawbreaking is concerned) will disappear. Enter hard drugs, as an alternative the the previous 'thrill' of what we consider 'soft' drugs.

Not everyone who smokes cannabis does it to break the law. I smoke pot because I like it. I think it's ridiculous that people do it just to 'break the law', and I hope people that do it to break the law get into drugs, and then I can laugh at them when they die.

Anyway,

Legalize cannabis ftw.

Edited by Nate14

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