We wrote recently here about the new American Prohibition Museum here in Savannah.
Alcohol prohibition had a
The constitutional amendment that prohibited alcohol in the US (the 18th amendment), was ratified in 1919, and
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
Fourteen years later, in 1933, the 21st amendment to the US constitution was ratified. It
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
If Section 2 of the 21st amendment sounds a lot like Section 1 of the 18th amendment, read it again closely. The 18th amendment prohibits the manufacture, sale, transport, import and export of alcohol. The 21st amendment prohibits the illegal transport, import, possession or use of alcohol.
In other words, we went from no booze to don't be stupid with booze.
During the years of alcohol prohibition, we saw the
The years of prohibition also cost the US
Extrapolated over 13 years and assuming no change, that's about $201.5 billion, pretty close to what we calculated for the prohibition years.
Cocaine overdose deaths are now
Deaths related to LSD
The best (read: no political agenda) stats I've found on marijuana-related deaths show that traffic deaths in which one driver had marijuana in his or her system
Washington state is also selling about
Alcohol and marijuana prohibition are probably the most parallel examples we have — both were at one time illegal and they brought about big business thanks to some combination of illegal trading and legal prescriptions.
Cocaine is rarely (if ever) still prescribed, though it used to be. Most of the opioid overdose deaths we see
There's good evidence that SSRIs — often prescribed to fight depression — lead to
The National Institutes for Health have a deep-dive on the pros and cons of
You probably, by now, have figured out where this is going, but I'm going to take it farther than you think.
First, I should disclose my drug practices. I am an occasional (two to three times per week) alcohol user; I will smoke several cigars a year (tobacco); and I have used marijuana recreationally fewer than three times in my life. I have not tried any of the other drugs mentioned here.
All drugs should be legal, taxed and regulated. You've read 1,000 words at this point; don't bail on me just yet.
I think alcohol serves as the best precedent we have to work from as a model. We have:
• An agency that controls the quality of the ingredients
• A uniform way to measure how much alcohol we get (ABV, paired with volume)
• A measure describing legal impairment
• A minimum age for purchase and consumption
• Rules on who can make, distribute and sell alcohol
Those are the basics. We need them for every drug, and legalizing everything allows us to write a catch-all for synthetics that haven't been invented.
It would, of course, take some research. We've learned that the brain finishes maturing around
If there's not a good way to measure levels of consumption (we use blood-alcohol content for alcohol, with a level of 0.8 percent meaning impairment, as far as driving is concerned), then there's a zero-tolerance policy. You can use the drug in your own home or whatever, but if you operate a vehicle or commit a crime such as theft or assault and have any of the drug active in your system, the penalties are higher because you're impaired.
If a drug is so dangerous it shouldn't be used, use fines and/or property forfeiture as the penalty. Some
[I got that 15 million number by taking Five Thirty-Eight's numbers that a quarter of the US population is in prison and 16 percent of those prisoners have drug offenses as the primary reason they're incarcerated.]
Even if a drug is so dangerous it shouldn't be used, you should probably be able to use it in your living room if you're just going to take the drug and leave everyone alone until it's out of your system.
The average prisoner in the US costs taxpayers
I'm having trouble finding good numbers for welfare programs (there are over 130 of them, with 72 of them assisting individuals), but I know from my days in retail banking that supplemental income (SSI) requires you to either work 30 hours per week or be permanently disabled. SNAP benefits (food stamps) are said to
We're starting to wander a little far afield here, but the point there is that even if every single person in prison on drug offenses alone was to be released and put onto SNAP rolls instead of contributing to the US economy via jobs, it would still cost less than keeping them in prison for nonviolent offenses.
In case you missed it in all the reading above we're not only talking about spending less money on people in prison (and also in not having to pay people to enforce drug laws including expensive long-term investigations and undercover stings), we're talking about more income from because all those newly legal drugs are regulated and taxed. Shops pay money to get licensed the way bars and liquor stores pay for licenses. If you have a product to distribute, it needs agency (something like the FDA, if not the actual FDA) approval. And then there are taxes on both the property from which the drugs are sold (new businesses, yay!) and on the drugs themselves — and that tax, like the taxes on alcohol and tobacco, can be higher than sales tax.
I think that about covers it. Your thoughts?