[Author’s note: This series of articles article was mostly “purloined” from my recently released volume, Uncommon Sense, a book that offers solutions to modern political conundrums based on ancient Jewish wisdom. This is the second in a planned series of five or six essays that will run each Thursday on TheBlaze. Each installment will make an entirely different modern application of the same fundamental concept. Last week’s submission began with an explanation of the core idea the essays are based on.]
Using heroin, cocaine and other such substances can ruin any life. The United States of America has therefore been waging a massive and decades-long war on drugs, both on the Federal and local level. In essence, the government is saying that the people cannot resist this particular temptation, so it is attempting to prevent drugs from being available.
A civic matter is something public that is entirely beyond the ability of individuals to deal with, such as road building or enforcing truth in packaging. The personal struggle to avoid harmful substances, however, is a component of one’s personal obligation to live morally. Accordingl
For years, governments have waged a war on drugs. But has it worked? D.B. Ganz doesn't think so.
y, the ancient Jewish view is that the government should end this war and legalize all drugs. They should perhaps only be sold to adults with identification in special government owned stores as alcohol is in some states. Otherwise though, the sale of drugs should not be restricted – end of story!
The theoretical idea being put forth is that restrictions on drugs should be dropped, for it is a moral issue. I would like to add some practical considerations of my own that further support this view.
Common sense dictates that it only makes sense to wage war if it accomplishes something. In the case of this war, the battle against drugs has been terribly expensive and most ineffective. Roughly 25 years ago, an FBI field agent in an anti-drug unit told me “we cannot win this war. Because of the huge profits, whenever we manage to break up a drug ring, another one quickly takes its place.”On May 13, 2010, Fox News carried the following story on its website: “After 40 years, the war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence is even more brutal and widespread. Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked. ‘In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,’ Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. ‘Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.’”
Drugs are now available almost everywhere in the U.S. to those who seek them. Hence, legalizing them will likely not lead to higher domestic drug use. In the Netherlands, the sale of some drugs such as marijuana has been permitted for many years. Yet, one does not hear that the Dutch people have a higher rate of marijuana use than other nationalities. Also consider what happened in the U.S. during the prohibition era between 1920 and 1933. The laws fostered ubiquitous criminality, and despite the restrictions, alcohol was available nearly everywhere. The notorious prohibition-busting gangsters of the time, such as Al Capone, became so famous that Hollywood still makes movies about them. The government finally accepted the futility of what it was doing, and prohibition ended. As far as I know, this did not lead to an upsurge of alcohol use.
Another point to consider is that the U.S.’s present policy of outlawing drugs is highly inconsistent. Obesity and smoking harm the public far more than drugs, and a recent British study concluded that alcohol is more harmful than either heroin or cocaine. Still others ruin their lives by gambling away their every penny. Yet, the U.S. does not outlaw cigarettes, imprison the obese, or prohibit alcohol and gambling. It is accepted that people must either act responsibly or deal with the consequences to themselves and their families. Why should drugs be treated so differently?
It is also true is that the policy of outlawing drugs has created a wonderful business opportunity for criminals in the U.S., Latin America, and the world over. Countless murders have resulted, and the huge profits often end up funding other forms of criminality. For example, the poppy grown for heroin in Afghanistan is a major source of revenue for Muslim Taliban terrorists who battled the U.S. military in that country for 10 years. Decriminalizing drugs will dramatically lessen the profits from the illegal drug trade by eliminating its biggest market, America.
These additional arguments I have added further support the general notion that the role of government should be confined to civic matters and it should get out of the “morality business,” including its war on drugs. A government’s duty is to protect people from others - not from themselves. That is their own job.
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