July 30, 2018 | David McKim
Libertarians can improve our society on many of our most troubling issues. On one issue in particular, we’re at a crossroads, a perfect time for libertarians to be heard. I’m talking of course about the Drug War.
The Drug War is rooted in prohibition philosophy, which the United States tried from 1920 to 1933 by banning alcohol. The result was a black market rife with violence. Making a substance illegal increases risk and cost, which leads to highly profitably cartels fueled by wealthy criminal enterprise. The more federal funding for the DEA and other enforcement increases, the more El Chapo’s there will be in our world. As cartels grow, our streets devolve into violence when competing cartels kill one another and addicts resort to stealing to pay for a fix.
We know we can’t combat drugs with law enforcement or military force. We’ve been trying for decades, and what’s worse is now some of those drug cartels have armed themselves with armored military vehicles, planes, fortified vessels, and military grade weapons. Even their hired guns sometimes have military or police training. The D.A.R.E. generation may be acting with the best intentions at heart, but the result is a devastating epidemic. When one supplier is arrested another replaces them, and the mass incarceration of dealers and users increases the tax payers' burden while creating a culture of hostility toward law enforcement.
Did you know that the average incarceration costs taxpayers over $30,000 a year per inmate, with high security facilities costing over $100,000? Furthermore, over 65% of those convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison end up re-offending and put back into the system, and over 50% of individuals in our prison system were put there for drug-related offenses. This means generation after generation, our prison population and the cost to tax payers are growing at a rate faster than what our taxes can keep up with! What’s even more concerning?
Many of our prisons are reaching or have exceeded peak capacity for housing inmates. If our prisons are full of non-violent offenders sentenced for drug-related offenses, what happens to our ability to prosecute and incarcerate our most violent offenders for things like rape, murder, or other felonies?
So if we can’t combat them with law enforcement or the military, how can we effectively battle the black market drug world and the violence it leaves at our doorstep?
Let’s entertain another strategy: Use the full power of business markets against the criminals.
Legalizing recreational drug use gives us a new way of fighting them that puts them in a position of regularly losing business, leaving fewer resources to operate their criminal organizations. When customers get their pack of joints from the Wal-Mart lockup the way they do their cigarettes, then suddenly the profits shift course and they're no longer supporting gangs or cartel. The life blood of that violence, the financial backing, begins to disappear and it shifts into the hands of legitimate people making a living, paying taxes, and respecting the law. Recreational legalization is the silver bullet in the heart of drug cartels.
What are some of the things you think we could do if we saved $30,000 a year plus judicial expenses for every inmate we didn’t sentence for a non-violent crime?
Are there ways that our society could benefit from a major reduction in the crime rates surrounding illegal drug activity?
What are some of the possibilities you see with certain drugs becoming safer as companies are held to legal safety standards?
David McKim is a Washington born libertarian activist currently residing in Ohio. He serves as Chief of operations for Softwired Web, a locally owned Washington Internet Marketing business. He's also the CEO of a Marketing Agency startup of his own - Creative Revolution inc in Ohio. His diverse background of hobbies and interests fuel his drive for learning. Washington's economy, affordable living, personal liberties, and poverty struggles are issues he deeply cares about.