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Drug Legalization

Drug Legalization. Arguments for legalizing drugs. Why drug laws should be repealed. Benefits. Benefits of liberty Benefits from drug use (pleasure, medicinal uses, social interaction) Experiments in living benefit others who learn from it

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Drug Legalization

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  1. Drug Legalization

  2. Arguments for legalizing drugs Why drug laws should be repealed

  3. Benefits • Benefits of liberty • Benefits from drug use (pleasure, medicinal uses, social interaction) • Experiments in living benefit others who learn from it • Limiting choices harms everyone by limiting information

  4. Liberty • Drug users are agents • Free • Voluntary • Informed • They don’t threaten rights of others • Mill’s bridge: can only warn of danger

  5. Critique of Government Action • You care most about your own good; you have stronger incentive to protect yourself than anyone else has to protect you • You know most about your own good; your choices are more likely to lead to happiness than those anyone else might select

  6. Costs • Costs • Courts (case loads, costs, delays) • Police ($20 billion/year) • Prisons ($10 billion/year— 1/2 prison population there for drug-related offenses) • Lost tax revenue: $10 billion/year

  7. Increased Harms • Enforcement is ineffective • Increased harms from drugs • Switches to stronger, more easily concealed drugs with higher profit margins • No controls on quality, strength, contamination • No information about reasonable use

  8. Other Harms • Other harms • Corruption • Violence • Loss of respect for law (inconsistency) • Injustice • “tyranny of the majority” • racial profiling • imprisoned African-Americans

  9. United States: 546 Georgia: 730 Texas: 700 Florida: 636 California: 607 Italy: 89 UK: 86 France: 84 Germany: 80 Holland: 51 Rates of imprisonment (100,000)

  10. Arguments for Drug Laws Why we shouldn’t legalize drugs

  11. Harms to Users • Drug laws succeed in discouraging use • Legalization would increase harms to users • More use, including underage use • More addiction • More illnesses, overdoses, deaths • Less recovery; treatment succeeds only when compulsory

  12. Harms to Others • Associates of users: family, friends, co-workers, customers, unborn • Victims of users: victims of accidents, violence, crime • Everyone else: increased health care, insurance costs, lost productivity

  13. Voluntariness • Voluntariness (competence): Is an addict really exercising liberty? • Voluntary slavery: Are we really “free not to be free”? • Analogy: • “give me your wallet or I’ll beat you up”— this is coercion, not freedom • But withdrawal may be worse than a beating

  14. Knowledge • Ignorance: Do drug users really have enough information to make reasonable choices? • Analogy: prescription drugs • Drug education? • Cognitive blindspot: Long-term consequences

  15. Communitarian Arguments • Offense to others • Moral harm • Agent: “debases the soul” • Others: bad example • Social cohesion (expectations)

  16. Liberal Arguments • Exploitation: drug suppliers would be using users, profiting from their weakness • Cf. Big tobacco, big alcohol, etc. • Support: insurance against weakness of will • Lower v. higher-order desires: we may want something we want not to want

  17. Liberal Arguments • Risk • Some drugs may be so harmful that it could never be reasonable to use them • Irrationality: we assume coercion, incompetence, or ignorance (Mill’s bridge)

  18. Conservative Arguments • Character • Drug use impedes character development • Society is not just for adults • Laws must help mold children into responsible adults

  19. Conservative Arguments • Tradeoffs • Other values are at stake: community, virtue, productivity, prosperity, safety, etc. • Increasing liberty to use drugs could place these in jeopardy

  20. Conservative Arguments • Tradition • Long tradition of drug laws • Society is complicated; we must find best laws by experimenting over long time • Product of reasoned choices • Good guide to human nature • Can’t predict effects of legalization

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