What You Should Know About Drug Prohibition | Learn Liberty

What You Should Know About Drug Prohibition | Learn Liberty


Prohibitions do not eliminate the market for
illicit goods. Prohibitions do, however, increase violence and increase the risk of overdose.
The recent history of the United States includes two major periods of prohibition: federal
alcohol prohibition from 1920 to 1933, and the current war on drugs, which began in 1971.
During both of these periods, we witnessed increases in the homicide death rate that
correspond to enforcement of these prohibitions. Why do prohibitions lead to violence? First,
we have to recognize that prohibiting the production or consumption of a substance does
not eliminate its use. Almost half of high school seniors report using an illegal substance
in their life. Prohibition merely drives the market for drugs underground. Producers operate
in a black market, and consumers conceal their behavior.
Economics predicts a variety of adverse effects of black markets. The evidence confirms these
effects. In a black market, when disputes ariseóover sales territory, over product
quality, over correct changeóthe legal system is not available. Drug producers and consumers
must resolve their own disputes and may rely on violence to do so.
The underground nature of black markets has other negative effects. Consumers canít report
their drug dealers to the Better Business Bureau for having sold them low-quality cocaine.
The lack of legal, visible options to impugn the reputation of bad-faith drug dealers typically
leads to lower quality, and importantly, less predictable quality drugs, increasing the
risk of poisoning and of overdose. Further, law enforcement expends resources
to enforce prohibitions. The time that police officers spend chasing drug dealers and users
is time not spent catching murderers, thieves, or rapists. Prison space used to house drug
dealers and users is space not available for other, more serious criminals. One estimate
suggests that homicide rates are 25 to 75 percent higher than they would be in the absence
of drug prohibition. If your goal was to reduce the consumption
of marijuana, of cocaine, meth, or heroin, there are other policy choices available.
A policy regime such as the one we have with tobacco of high tax rates, minimum smoking
ages, and extensive education campaign, could keep the consumption of these drugs relatively
low while avoiding the violence and quality issues associated with a black market.
It might seem counterintuitive that prohibitions are not the most effective way to reduce the
consumption of a good, but economics points out that prohibitions generate black markets,
and black markets lead to other adverse effects.

64 comments

  1. Quote: Prohibition does not eliminate the market for illicit goods.
    Application: Drugs, prostitution, guns, gambling, blackmail (keeping your secret for a financial incentive), live transplant organs, loansharking, hell, even speeding on the highways. LAWS CANNOT STOP PEOPLE because criminals are defined as people who willfully IGNORE laws. Make more laws…they'll ignore those too. Only the civilized follow laws and that's because they CHOOSE TO.

  2. I like how she reasoned well without having to hammer each point in. But some people, unfortunately, might need the points hammered on (dumbasses that is). She said in 2 minutes what most TV programs on the subject say in 30-60 minutes.

  3. What is not mentioned here is that the laws that the government passes and enforces says something about society. If drugs are legalized, then this means that we will permit this appalling, disgusting, and immoral behavior in our society. It says that you can engage in activities that are immoral, and there is no punishment.

    If we make drugs illegal, it sends a message to everyone around the WORLD: this wickedness is NOT tolerated in our society — that we do NOT permit immorality.

  4. @GregoryTheGr8ster Whatever your opinion is on the use of drugs and how it is viewed by others is irrelevant, in a free society you should be allowed to do what you want reaping the benifits and/or consiquences.

  5. I agree, but it is weird to 'report low quality drugs.' they are already a health risk. Once the word spread the seller would go out of business anyway.

  6. What are you smoking? All of your resons to ban it are subjective and i can say the same about anything because disgust, immorality are all subjective therefore cannot be used as reasons to do anything logically. Do not try to impose your twisted morality on others and do not forget that morality varies. Also Alcohol has been proven to make some people violent and unpredictable while most drugs have not. If you want to make people quit, prove that it is bad for them objectively

  7. I like how you ask "what am I smoking?" I don't smoke anything — never have, and never will. Anyone who does smoke is a moron. Don't people know that smoking anything is bad for their health? How could anyone be so self-destructive? There's no excuse for smoking in this day and age.

  8. Also, my reasons ultimately are no more subjective than anyone else's reasons. If society overwhelmingly agrees that a certain activity is bad, then it IS bad — end of story. And if we then see that our government can't enforce the law, then everyone will realize that government can't enforce ANY law. It leads to anarchy, chaos, lawlessness, and the end of society.

    We CANNOT stop enforcing the law just because it is proving difficult to do so.

  9. Wow, this is the first time i see someone commiting 2 fallacies in 1 sentence. have you ever heard of argumentum ad populum? It is a fallacy which you just commited. To give an example 2200 years ago majority of civilised world agreed pants are barbaric and impractical.Also worshipping a god better could make you win a battle. Which we know are wrong.
    Second, you are overly generalizing. Can you do action X? No? Then you cannot do any action. All of your arguments are fallacious hence invalid.

  10. I see your reasoning in calling someone a "moron" also since people are doing it there must be a reason,if it is illogical and does more harm than supposed good then it is moronic. However you are again over generalising. There might be substance or a medicine which is good for the health which we possibly haven't found yet which should be taken by smoking. Just because smoking cigarettes etc is bad not every smoking ever can be bad.

  11. I was making a comparison to what is legal, and kills people all the time, tobacco.

    Government makes money off of it, sure, whilst people smoke their lives away… it's hard to believe in liberty for certain things if it kills people you know.

  12. if weed was able to cause terminal cancer do you think that it would be approved as an effective cancer side effect treatment? that seems like something that after all the people using it for all these years and all the clinical studies done on it would have shown up or not

  13. thats true raptor but people will do things regardless of the effects negative or positive for their own reasons. now this is just a theory of mine so stick with me here but things are generally best regulated when they are legal. you cant very well attempt to regulate something you have no control over so making it legal seems like the first step. give both the government and the average joes something to gain so it becomes a topic of interest.

  14. then maby it would become something of value for someone to help cure peoples addictions. Also if legitimate companies were to begin producing product in theory it should create safer substances that are not cut with say anti freeze or drano much like some prohibition era moonshine was. if something went wrong there would be someone to blame. someone to take legal suit against. someone for the government to place stricter regulations on. hell maybe even new jobs at the production plants

  15. First of all, there are very few empirical, long term studies of smoked marijuana use, Secondly, of the few which do, they are almost never any good, because a lot of weedies use tobacco, other drugs, or smoke weed in blunts, and the quality of marijuana varies.

    However, it definitely can cause emphysema, and encourage learning disabilities. Radiation and chemotherapy cause cancer, but they're used as cancer treatments, so of course weed could cause cancer and still be prescribed to patients

  16. I don't know…. it's a good argument you have.

    Thing is, aren't they prohibited for a reason, due to health concerns?

    I get it- if it were legal and regulated then the drugs would be safer, and the money could be collected if it were taxed, but-

    Would the money gained from the sale of legalised drugs outweigh the cost of the adverse affects- treating drug users in hospital or burying them?

  17. That's a great question! It's hard to tell because we don't have tons of empirical evidence to draw from but there is Portugal which, over 12 years ago decriminalized most drugs, meaning people don't arrest people for possession of small amounts of drugs but they still prosecute dealers, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. By treating drug addiction as a health problem rather than a criminal problem they've managed to actually halt the rising trend of drug addiction in their country.

  18. But alchol is heavily regulated.

    Of course you cant compare someone who is on meth to someone who is on alchol or sexually frustrated.

    Sure drunk people start fight.. but someone on meth is worse.. it often takes 10 police officers and sometiems multliple tazers to take down someone on meth.

    That dosent happen with alchol..

  19. ""if weed was able to cause terminal cancer do you think that it would be approved as an effective cancer side effect treatment?""

    Actually yes — for instance chemothperahy ( used to treat cancer) can also cause cancer.

  20. ""Nothing in meth, nothing in serotonin makes you super strong or ultra resistant to damage""

    People who deal with people on meth would tell you otherwise. of course you probably have never had to restrain on deal with someone who is out of control on meth.

  21. ""You might THINK you're superman, but you can still be hurt…""

    That is exactly the problem — you could break someone arm on meth and they will still keep fighting because they cant feel pain.. at least not at the time.

    But the injuries are real – in the sense that the next day they will be in a world of hurt

  22. My bad for not clarifying. I know prohibition doesn't work, but I have a lot of problems with coke and meth since those are really bad. Then again, if anyone chooses to use those and ODs, then they just removed their genes from the species and cut down on the surplus population.

    In all, not my problem if someone chooses to use them.

  23. people have really got to stop using drug use and immoral in the same sentence. that's like saying you're immoral for playing video games, it makes no sense

  24. Legalisation does not mean freedom to consume drug at will. It only means that those possessing small quantitites need not be jailed. They can go for treatment. Eminently reasonable. It leaves the Police to go after the big hoods, most of whom have somehow never been caught in about a hundred years of narcotics law implementation. Not in the US of A, nor elsewhere in the world. Only the drug users and srteet level pedlars get jailed.

  25. Huh? Atheists already are allowed to hold office. Are you saying that atheists are immoral? That's nonsense! You don't have to be religious to be moral.

    But if atheists are all about doing drugs, then that is wrong. Society has said so. Sometimes, pot smokers want to take a puff and blow it into our faces, just to piss us off. What makes you so self-anointed that you just defy society so blatantly?

  26. Morality is 100% subjective. You cannot impose your own morality on other people, just like you cannot force other people into your religion.

    And by the way, some Christians use drugs too. I heard that even Jesus himself had turned water into wine, hadn't he?

  27. Would you agree or disagree that this can't apply to firearms? People in the US today buy firearms to protect against drug running gangs and their customers as well as burglars and rapists. Prohibition in the US is unconstitutional, but many states have regulated the sale of firearms. The latter almost always have a higher murder rate than other states, but it could be argued correlation does not equal causation. Poverty in many pro gun states can lead to high gun violence.

  28. Wine isn't a drug, you silly. And Christians who use drugs aren't even true to their own religion… Those are the same kind of ''Christians'' who have sex with multiple partners before marriage and say it's okay as long as you love the other person.

  29. @animebest099 "Wine isn't a drug"
    You could use some education.  Wine contains alcohol, and alcohol is a drug.  And if you want to bring in Christians not being true to their own religion, skip the drug part and go right to the hate and judgmental nature of most Christians.  Jesus preached love, sacrifice and peace between all people.  You should read about it, it's written in the book you hold up as you're screaming at gay people.  I checked some of the other comments you've left. "Criminals should die" "Stoners are fucking disgusting".  How very christian of you.

  30. Well weed is illegal because it would destroy the medical care and drugstore industries. I now understand how regulation and control ruins wealth. Logically if a drug is not good for you it would go out of the market because the demand would get lower. Look at Holland it's doing just fine with drugs and prostitution!

  31. interesting philosophical point. if prohibition doesn't stop behavior, but only drives it underground, can't this logic be applied to any prohibition- murder, theft, rape, kidnapping? David Friedman would have to agree with me.

  32. Declaring a war on an inanimate object, is insanity. Criminalizing a medical condition is a crime. If alcohol prohibition required an amendment, why doesn't cannabis? What? Another illegal war? Another act of aggression?

  33. Interesting, but if we take away the ban on drugs, anyone (above a specified minimum age she talked about) can just go to a drug store and buy crystal meth. THAT IS DANGEROUS. Sure, not everyone would want to just try crystal meth, but if it becomes legal, nothing, not even extensive education campaigns and government taxation on such products, could prevent a dramatic increase on dangerous products such as meth, cocaine, and other drugs that are harmful to a person's health and those around him/her.

  34. Great reasons why drug prohibition is wrong! Even if Meth and Cocaine is legal I still wouldn't use it, same goes for any other smart and healthy person.

  35. Thats why I'm proud of my country. Uruguay, it's about to become the first nation in the world to complitly legalice and regulated the produccion and sall of marihuana.

  36. I have 2 questions though:

    First: If you claim that an effective disincentive for drug use is to increase taxes like how you did with tobacco, wouldn't there still be a black market in that case? Because the difference is that it's hard to make a black market for tobacco because the materials you need to make a cigarette. But it's way easier to make homemade marijuana.

    Second: If libertarian economics assumes that if there's large demand for a certain product, firms would compete to drive down prices. Wouldn't that still encourage drug use? 

  37. I'm all for the legalization part, but why tax it? Is it so that the government can have even more money to waste?

  38. i Started a Petition To End This Disastrous War… http://wh.gov/lv3bS …Plz Plz Plz Sign It… Help Save America!

  39. LearnLibery! please fix the "See our sources here: http://bit.ly/18IUBiB" link on the video description. It's broken, and I'm very interested in taking a look.

  40. lets not forget when you overstep your authority it leads to injustice, it is unjust to tell people what they can and cannot do with their bodies, as long as they are not harming someone else, the purpose of prohibition is not to stop drug use but to increase the profitability of it, after all there are many people in high places that want it to stay illegal to keep the prices up/profits up costs low (since the taxpayer is subsidizing it by robbing people fo their stuff and life such as civil forfeiture, taxes, higher costs of goods and services) it simply a way to increase prices on something. that is why gov seems all bent on prohibition of things perfectly lawful and just to do or have. like banning raw milk, or requiring permits to upgrade your home, or having a permit to start a business, or requiring compliance with tons of regulations and the reason given is always public safty, this is just so bogus to make ones roll with disgust. no it is about keeping profits high competition low. it is about passing the bills on to the public by private individuals running corporations taking the profits. this is what socialism is really about.

  41. "Regulation would lead to higher quality drugs and fewer poisonings" that would be true I f the basic ingredients of most drugs weren't toxic themselves.
    "Time spent chasing and arresting drug offenders is less time spent chasing murderers, rapeists, and burglars" who are far less common
    "Space taken up in jails and prisons by drug offenders is room not available for violent offenders" who are less common.

  42. What it essentially comes down to is… does the individual believe that the harms of drug abuse justify prohibition while realizing that prohibition comes with it's own set of harms PLUS continued drug abuse. 

    In other words, harms of prohibition vs harms of drug abuse. A lot of people say that we have more alcohol-related problems now than under Prohibition, but is this true? Food for thought. 

  43. Its about freedom of choice. If someone wants to use drugs, why shouldnt they be able to. Most problems are due to the fact that they are illegal. If someone wants to shoot heroin, better to get something you know for a fact is pure rather then oding on fentanyl cut shit off the street. Prohibition is retarded, its all about money

  44. the dutch are closing most of their prisons , no more crime ! The more laws they make and services they want the more we will have to pay in taxes to have much less.. None of their government imposed social interference and laws over the past 45 years has made America better but turned America into a horrible place to live.
      Our kids were the smartest in the world the whole world looked at America as something to aspire to …We are now not even in the top 20 for education and have more people in Prison than China a communist country with 1.357 billion people ..we have 316 million. As a result, our country now has 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prisoners. Americas prison population 2,193,798 , China 1,548,498, Russiah  874,161.
      The Dutch Netherlanders(Amsterdam etc) are closing their prisons, 19  so far only 12,000 detainees. In comparison, the United States “tough on crime” focused justice and prison systems are failing miserably. Overall, the incarceration rate is 10 times higher in the U.S. than it is in the Netherlands.The Dutch largely kept the Napoleonic Code( America uses British common law ) after their independence, but made it significantly more rehabilitative. The Dutch incarceration philosophy stresses the need to minimize hardships on the prisoner and emphasizes maximizing prisoner contacts with family and the preservation of community ties.

  45. That's what we need, a government funded on the backs of it's addicted citizenry. That can't go wrong.

  46. I dont see how education can contribute to lower consumption; or taxes, people will buy drugs on black market like they did before??? Best system would be that police is doing their job! If you smoke or gamble or some other drug you know what are you doing, but u cant help yourself-thats why they call it drug!!!

  47. There are some reasonable arguments posed both for and against legalizing drugs, but even if we don't legalize drugs just reducing penalties could be useful in reducing black market violence. If selling drugs would get a person at most a few years in jail then they would be less likely to resort to violence and risk longer sentences.

  48. What about Russia? The same thing happened over blue jeans so I claim the addiction is to market supremacy and control over human capital. The Council on Licensure Enforcement And Regulations has only documented 8 instances of de-licensing occupations over the last 40 years and there needs to be a fast track to abolishing all this nonsense.

  49. just because you consume drugs doesn't mean your a bad person. in 2018 california raised 345 million in tax-revenue money to be used for education for the defense department etc.

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