With legalization of marijuana being a current trending topic as it's being legalized in Colorado, I got thinking about what would happen if all drugs were legalized (including hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine). Would it wipe out the crime associated with the drug trade and allow police time and in turn government spending to be spent elsewhere. Or would it go completely wrong and end up with a society [more] riddled with drugs and federal drug monopolies?

I was reading that in Portugal, in 2001, it became the first country to decriminalize the possession of all drugs for personal use. They also implemented state-funded drug therapy schemes to get users off drugs which after their introduction, more users were committing to drug therapy programs than before. Also rates of HIV infection and drug-related deaths have almost halved since the legislation. They have, as of 2011, a drug-death rate of 1.3 (per 100,000 people), ranking well below both the US and UK. 

On the other hand though, Thailand, has the 5th lowest drug-related death rate in the world, they have extreme sanctions of drug dealing and drug-use (death penalties) etc. Although I can't see this happening in developed Western societies and also I question the thoroughness of the statistics found in Thailand, (I can imagine a lot of deaths go unreported). 

I'm not saying by any means that this would work in other countries, they probably didn't have a huge drug problem to begin with, but could this potentially work elsewhere and help lower drug-related deaths + the monopolies of illegal cartels?

I'm not sure about how the economics of the drug trade would work after it would be legalized, would illegal organizations be replaced by legal monopolies such as tobacco companies?

It's clearly not a straight-forward discussion but I just wanted to add a bit of food for thought in the current debate that seems to be happening over drug use. Personally, I find it difficult to side on which side of the debate. I can accept that strictly penalizing drugs is the Western world hasn't really solved anything, but would following the suit of Portugal work? I tend to take quite a libertarian view on issues but I'm undecided here...

Thoughts gentlemen?

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Replies to This Discussion

I believe any adult should have the right to do whatever drugs he wants.

Well, I am definitely against drugs morally, but politically I'm all for more freedom. At the very least I would say it should be left for each state to decide. Certainly not something within the federal government's realm of responsibility.

And a grown human being should have the right to kill their brain cells and become a vegetable if they so choose. I just don't see why this is a government responsibility. Its neither an act of aggression or property rights issue, therefore not the government's responsibility. No matter how hard the drug...

You know, Steve, I agree with you-people should have the right to kill those brain cells.  And the way they handle it in certain "socialist" Western European societies is to give the users their own physical "zone" patrolled by police so they can destroy themselves away from others so they can't harm anyone but themselves.

Does the Libertarian Party have a stance on that?  After all, people can be a danger to others while they're doing stuff like that.  Would you advocate that the state pay for the forced residency of people who are killing themselves with drugs?

that again would be violation of freedom. You should be able to do what you want on your own private property. If you commit an act of aggression, or violate someone's property rights under the influence, that's one of the few occasions when the government steps in and throws the book at you. But it is never the right answer to police "possible" future crimes. 

Mmmmm... I am conflicted on this. When my mother was going through chemotherapy (and my grandmother, for that matter), the only thing that helped to alleviate the nausea was a little pot. My father and I had to go into the hood to buy it, essentially making us criminals for trying to save the life of a loved one. I think it's certainly no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco- less so than alcohol, in my opinion. I do think in some circumstances, it is beneficial. For example, my brother is so incredibly intelligent, he really needs the occasional doobie just to relate to other human beings. He's kind of like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. I have a triple of rotgut whisky on Friday nights, he smokes a blunt with his friends. So long as neither of us try to drive within about eight hours, I don't see the harm.

As far as hard drugs are concerned, that's where it gets sticky. I suppose my assessment is based on the amount of collateral damage certain drugs can tend to do to people other than the user.

Both in my personal and professional life, I have seen a lot of unsettling things as a result of the use of illicit stimulants. Most of it has been from methamphetamine, but I've seen a little PCP and a fair amount of crack cocaine as well. Nothing good ever comes about from it. Users get paranoid, jumpy, and unpredictable. That can cause problems within the confines of their own homes (the number of domestic abuse calls I have been on almost invariably involve meth or crack), let alone when users run low and supply and have to venture into public in their altered state.

Certain "Hard Drugs" I do find a bit more innocuous than others. Heroin users are almost completely harmless, unless they've been cut off from their supply and starting to feel the first withdrawal pangs. Most just want to shoot up and nod off in a corner.

Psychedelics- while they can sometimes cause erratic behavior when combined with the right individual and surroundings- are pretty harmless to the populace at large. Users just want to noodle to some Phish and pretend they're a bird.

Ecstasy and Molly are a little more concerning to me, but only in the sense of the harm they can inflict upon the user. In that sense, I say let it be; if it's legal to give yourself cancer or cirrhosis, why should it not be legal to cook your brains at a party? It's your funeral and my paycheck, either way.

IN summation, while I cannot fully condemn nor condone, I tend to lean towards the idea of individual freedom, in moderation. I will confess t being a hardcore nicotine addict; I've tried to quit, but me without nicotine makes Charles Manson look like Charlie Brown. To each their own.

Truly insightful post.

I think immediate outright legalization is a recipe for problems.  But, I think the feds ought to gradually withdraw themselves from the business of protecting people from their own stupidity.  You can't outlaw stupidity ... if it ain't heroin, it'll be marijuana.  If it ain't marijuana, it'll be oxy.  If it ain't oxy, it'll be booze.  If it ain't booze, it'll be tobacco.  If it ain't tobacco, it'll be gambling.  They'll just find something you haven't outlawed yet, as you gradually try to outlaw every vice you can think of.

But, I'm also against seatbelt laws, helmet laws, open container/ drinking-and-driving laws (as differentiated from drunken driving laws), and I think the vast majority of traffic laws are a mechanism for police-driven tax shakedowns ... so I may be outside the mainstream on how much I like the government protecting me from myself.


You can give Narcan to reverse opiate overdose.

You can give Flumazenil to reverse benzodiazepine overdose.

You can give Valium to prevent seizures from meth overdoses.

Kids, there ain't no cure for stupid.

Jack then YOU pay for the cost of treating any injuries you God forbid could incur by not wearing a seatbelt.   By that statement alone you invalidate your entire rap for personal responsibility. 

Eh... While I disagree on principal and experience, it is certainly within his rights as a sentient being to oppose it. Is that not what we are talking about here? The freedom of a person to do what they wish with their own life? Even if JB and I don't always see eye-to-eye, I'm sure he always fastens his kids in. Honestly, I'd be willing to wager he'd still belt himself in even if seatbelt laws weren't compulsory. Who would provide for his family without him? That's the distinction, I suppose; at what point do the decisions we make about our lives begin to have negative repercussions upon others?

I wear a seatbelt.  I'm against seatbelt laws, not seatbelts, smart guy.

And, I'll gladly pay for any injuries I cause myself.  And, plenty of those I didn't cause myself.



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