General Question

Drewseph's avatar

Should drugs be legalized? And why?

Asked by Drewseph (533points) October 8th, 2010

Or should they not?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

40 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

I think they should be. I don’t know how the process should work initially, but we have to foresee the many, many problems that will be short-term but immediately apparent. There are a lot of answers about why the laws should or should not be in effect here and here.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Hell yes. Making them illegal doesnt stop people from taking them, it just makes criminals out of otherwise upstanding citizens. Legalizing them destroys the black market and takes money and power away from gangsters. This whole mexican drug cartel issue would be non existent if drugs were just legal. Also studies show that if we legalize the rate of drug abuse goes down because people are more likely to get help when they have an issue instead of fear of jail and what not. Portugal seems to be doing pretty swell with what theyve done with drugs.

Seek's avatar


Take the money spent on putting hard working, tax paying citizens in jail, and put it into a nationwide education/advertisement program, informing people of the (actual) dangers of drug use (avoiding “reefer madness” nonsense), and let people make their own choices.

If someone wants to smoke crack until their heart explodes, they have the right to do just that. And then, maybe some of these kids will actually see the negative effects of drug use and say “Hm, that doesn’t look nearly as much fun as my friends say it is”.

meiosis's avatar

Yes. The state has no business regulating what adults put in their bodies, especially if in doing so they create the conditions for criminals to prosper, and for otherwise law-abiding citizens to be criminalised for harming no-one but themselves and (possibly) their loved ones.

RocketGuy's avatar

Gotta make it hard for people to abuse it, then cause public harm – car drivers on crack, bus drivers totally stoned, pilots having LSD hallucinations…

wgallios's avatar

No, people do stupid things when they are on drugs. Most people have no self control, and drugs like meth are extremely addicting.

Imagine you are a 3 year old kid, your parents just overdosed on something and they haven’t woken up in days, and you haven’t eaten. Is it fair to that child who could potentially die because their parents took drugs and overdosed? @Seek_Kolinahr lets just say I was one of those kids.

Or perhaps you’re laying in bed one night, and some guys break into your house and start stealing things so they can get more money to purchase drugs?

Try calling your best friend, and asking him how their family is doing only to find out their brother has died from an overdose.

A man walks down the street shooting at houses because he is way too messed up on PCP.

I’ve seen all these happen and then some. Drug abuse is something that is not victim-less. It’s not about the money, or the person taking the drugs, its the people around them. Its not fair to them. Would you honestly feel fine if you knew that your neighbor was heavily addicted to heroine? Lets just say their behavior wouldn’t be ideal to live around.

Aster's avatar

That is one hard question. I wonder if someone is 21 and can go to the local gas station and buy heroin or coke behind the counter would doing that affect their quality of life and/or their life expectancy? Or would those who would never consider doing drugs in the first place buy them if they were that easily available and they could not get arrested? GQ and worthy of discussion!

El_Cadejo's avatar

@RocketGuy that makes no sense at all. Alcohol is legal but its still against the law to drive intoxicated, why would these drugs be any different?

@wgallios im pretty sure all the negative things you mentioned already happen fairly often. Thing is if its legalized and we decide to actually educate instead of the propaganda bullshit we are currently doing im sure there would be a drop in such instances. Also with it legal people are more likely to seek help for their addiction problems.

wgallios's avatar

@uberbatman I’m sure regardless of legal or not, someone addicted to heroine is going to get it regardless. When you see a homeless guy behind a dumpster shooting up, they aren’t homeless because heroine was illegal (as if their situation would have been completely different if it was only legal), they are homeless because their addiction spiraled out of control. Legalization had nothing to do with it, Propaganda had nothing to do with it, it was their poor choices that landed them where they are at.

I’ve heard it happen a million times: guy loses his job, starts stressing how hes gonna feed his family, starts taking drugs to ease the stress, then it spirals out of control. Next thing you know they lose the house, the mom leaves with the kids, and hes out on the streets. The mom now has to tell those kids, “Sorry, you can’t see daddy because we don’t know if he’s alive”.

There is no such thing as a hardworking heroine addict. You are never going to go into an office and hear, “Oh Dave’s out today, I guess his withdrawals are going a little harder than expected”

Seek's avatar


What @uberbatman said exactly. Remove the stigma and fear of prosecution, and many more addicts will be willing to enter rehabilitation and counseling.

@Aster – I am 24 years old. I have been legally permitted to purchase one of the most deadly addictive substances known in the United States for six years. Yet, I have never once purchased a cigarette. Do you know why? Because I know what they can do to me. I know they are full of tar, rat droppings, and over a hundred carcinogenic chemicals. My grandmother – who has been a chain-smoker for well over 60 years – is currently fighting lung cancer that can be directly linked to her favourite smokes. My stepfather has emphysema from his 40 years of two packs of Camels a day.

No one is afraid to talk about how they’re trying to quit smoking, or how it feels to be addicted, or the effects of that drug “nicotine” on their bodies. There are public service announcements, articles in Women’s Health and a billion other magazines talking about the dangers of using tobacco…

I firmly believe anyone who picks up smoking these days is either stupid or suicidal. And yet, I still maintain they have the right to do it if they want to (as long as I don’t have to breathe it as well).

Seek's avatar

@wgallios I know people who use drugs every. single. day. and still maintain jobs and families. Illegal drugs aren’t a multi-billion dollar industry built on the backs of homeless people without jobs.

Plucky's avatar

@wgallios Alcohol can cause the same thing you described “Imagine you are a 3 year old kid, your parents just overdosed on something and they haven’t woken up in days, and you haven’t eaten.” ....yet alcohol is legal.

I think legalizing drugs would be a good thing. Look at how other countries are doing now that they have legalized certain drugs. It’s silly that cigarettes and alcohol are legal and others are not. But…look how much money government makes from those two drugs. Meh. It’s always about money. Not alot of money to be made from hard core meth, coke, heroin, etc addicts ..they die too soon.

I’m not a drug user. I used to have issues with drugs but underwent treatment in a live in rehabilitation facility for a year and a half. I have not had any drugs for about 12 years. So I am not “for” the use of drugs but I am for people’s rights to poison their bodies if they so choose to.
As for dependent family members involved ..we already have that issue with alcohol, cigarettes, perscription drugs and “illegal drugs” (so maybe spend some money on education,prevention and rehabilitation for those that want help).

Aster's avatar

‘So I am not “for” the use of drugs but I am for people’s rights to poison their bodies if they so choose to.”
Even if they’re raising children?

iamthemob's avatar


Anyone who puts their child at risk will be subject to legal mechanisms already in place. And the legality of the destructive chemical of choice has done nothing to prevent this from happening so far.

Seek's avatar

@Aster Yes. If the drug use contributes to neglect, it will then become grounds for a CPS investigation. If it turns out drugs are a contributing factor, the judge would be able to restrict the rights of the accused as they already do in such situations.

Aster's avatar

“I know people who use drugs every. single. day. and still maintain jobs and families.” I can see and have heard there are hundreds of thousands who use painkillers daily and maintain their jobs. And more who smoke weed and can do it. But meth? For how long can a person do meth and maintain job and family.
I think, but am not sure, you can do it with heroin but crack? How long can you smoke crack and get to the office by 8am?

buster's avatar

They should be legalized so I quit going to jail and meeting with a probation officer.

Seek's avatar

@Aster And that’s where individual responsibility kicks in.

It’s not society’s job to make sure you can get to work in the morning. It’s yours. And it’s certainly not society’s responsibility to punish you for doing things that keep you from making it to work. Society has other problems it could be paying for – like health care and public schooling.

Aster's avatar

I agree, Seek. It just worries me to picture dozens of kids racing to the gas station for crack after classes. No; it’s not my job to make sure… or is it? Do I have a responsibility to keep our towns reasonably sane? I guess not. Let the whole world go up in smoke. (-:

Seek's avatar

You seem to be under the impression that the fact that something is legal automatically makes that thing popular.

I did stress in my original post that along with legalization would need to come an extensive education campaign stressing the real dangers of drug use. Think of how many people already simply choose not to do drugs. Not because it’s illegal, but because they just don’t want to. Those people aren’t going to go apeshit just because they aren’t going to be arrested for it. I personally don’t even take NyQuil because I don’t like how my body reacts to it. Again – personal responsibility.

Let me ask you this: If drugs were made legal tonight, would you be in line at the gas station for your dose of legal smack? No? Why, then, would you assume the general masses would go drug-mad?

Aster's avatar

I don’t think the masses would go drug mad but I think school kids with their “experiment” mentalities would. And if you don’t think so, you have a different view than I of how kids react to the “new kid on the block.” if I don’t reply to your rebuttal, it’s dinner time.
Thanks for the brain stimulation; I need it.

Seek's avatar

@Aster But kids experiment already. With drugs that are always unregulated and often laced with things the kids aren’t expecting. So, if the kid takes too much, what’s going to happen? Worst case scenario, he’s afraid to tell anyone anything, and he dies. Best case, he tells the doctors, they get lucky and are able to treat him properly, and he has a drug charge on his record and his friend who had the stuff goes to jail, too.

What part of drugs being illegal solves this issue?

wgallios's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr A person should take some responsibility for what they are doing a not abuse drugs, but at the same time, the government does have some responsibility in ensuring the wellness of it’s people. If they didn’t care about the well being of people they wouldn’t offer assistance such as Section 8, welfare, Social security, etc.

I think @Aster brings up a good point, alcohol, marijuana, and things like prescription pain killers are much easier to attempt to carry on a normal life. However drugs like heroine, and meth, its only so long that you can keep the ruse going before it consumes you. I’m sure making something that damaging even more available isn’t going to improve anything.

Perhaps the question might be a little too broad. Should certain drugs under regulation become legal (marijuana).. maybe? Meth, cocaine, heroine, ecstasy .. I would say no.

Seek's avatar

Social services are not at all related to this debate.

Did you know that considerably more people die each year due to prescription drugs than illicit drugs?

How about This from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, in which it demonstrates 508 deaths in 2009 due to “legal” drugs, and only 86 due to illicit drugs?

(I’m looking for solely non-biased links, by the way. I have a wonderful table from “” but the source is a broken link, so I won’t post it here.)

“The Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported that As many as 106,000 deaths occur annually in US hospitals due to adverse reactions to prescription drugs that are properly prescribed by physicians that use them as directed by the drug companies.
Even worse, the National Council for Patient Information and Education reported that an additional 125,000 deaths occur annually due to adverse reactions to drugs that the physician never should have prescribed.”

From Scientific American
In fact, by 2006, overdoses of opioid analgesics alone (a class of pain relievers that includes morphine and methadone) were already causing more deaths than overdoses of cocaine and heroin combined.

“Teens and others have different attitudes in using these drugs,” often presuming the prescription substances are safer and less addictive than illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin,”

It appears to me that an education campaign on the dangers of drug use is functioning quite well – as most American children go through the D.A.R.E. program among others, learning the dangers of illicit drug use. It’s not informing the public of the dangers of drug use – regardless of which drug is being used – that contributes to these deaths.

iamthemob's avatar

For those concerned about kids using these drugs – I’ll point out that it’s much easier for kids to get drugs than liquor and cigarettes now because the entire supply is heavily regulated by the government.

Drug dealers working on the black market don’t give a damn who they’re selling to.

wgallios's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I’m sure those numbers are biased based off legality. If you legalized illicit drugs I’m sure that statistic would change entirely. What are the numbers of prescription drug users versus illicit drug users. A better statistic would be to see the ratio of people who use to amount of people who die from that use.

Seek's avatar

Well, you find (or fund) that study, and I’ll be more than happy to take a look at it.
However, I don’t think that really makes a difference. If “legal” drugs are killing several times as many people per year as “illegal” drugs, it seems to me that there is a touch of hypocrisy being brushed under the rug by those who profit off of said “legal” drugs.

Plucky's avatar

@Aster That is why I said “dependent” family members in the last paragraph (by “dependent” I meant childrend, elderly or anyone else that is dependent on someone for survival). We would do what we have (and have not) been doing already. Just because something becomes legal doesn’t mean the effects and consequences of it change in every day life. We already have parents that are using around/near their children. That will not change if the drugs become legal. People find a way to do what they want to…no matter what the legalities are.

iamthemob's avatar

I think we shouldn’t fool ourselves that there might not be a potentially significant uptick in the rate of use and probably addiction in conjunction with the legalization of drugs generally. This will likely again be short term – but we have to realize that the process, any process, of decriminalization and legalization would have to be approached very carefully.

Plucky's avatar

@iamthemob I agree with you there. The legalization of drugs would have to be done in careful small steps for sure.

mandybookworm's avatar

NOOO people already have a relaxed view on drugs. By legalizing them people would have an even more relaxed view. Not good indeed.

iamthemob's avatar


That’s conclusory…did you look at the rest of the thread? I don’t feel like people have a relaxed view of drugs at all…

mandybookworm's avatar

I didn’t look at the rest of the thread. However I know people who have a very relaxed view on drugs. Your right though. Looking at the thread first probably would have been a good idea.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, in combination with good education. But I would define a maximum dosage for each drug, not only for people driving cars or operating machines, but also for parents caring for at least one child 16 years old or younger.

So for parent it should be illegal to exceed a 0.15 or 0.18 % blood alcohol level. Similar thresholds might make sense for other psychoactive substances such as cannabis.

RocketGuy's avatar

How about druggies who get brain damage? Are we supposed to take care of them? We already spend enough taking care of cigarette smokers and their cancers.

iamthemob's avatar


Do you think more tax dollars would be spent on healthcare for drug issues (which already happens anyway) than on enforcement, prosecution, and imprisonment for drug users and sellers? And would that not be offset by tax dollars and sin taxes on the drugs themselves once regulated by the government?

Consider also that people in prison are the only people guaranteed free health care in the U.S.

Plucky's avatar

…. So @RocketGuy, it’s ok to spend millions of tax dollars on all the other “legal” drugs (inluding the ones we get from our doctors) ...but not ok for this? Don’t even get me started on the drugs they put in our food, cheap food, that are ruining our immune systems and health. Point is dollars are already spent on taking care of the people that are sick from FDA approved drugs and food. By the way…you can get those same “cancers” from things other than cigarettes.

RocketGuy's avatar

@iamthemob – describe to us your vision of a legal-drug world. Is it drug dealers opening up little co-ops? People casually shopping for their drug of choice, then chilling out with their purchases in their living room, not bothering anyone? Able to keep a decent job, despite residual drugs, to afford supporting themselves and their health care? They wouldn’t drive to work, and work all day, stone right?

Seek's avatar

@RocketGuy It would be no different than such legal drugs as nicotine and alcohol.

Yes, it would still be illegal to operate heavy machinery under the influence of mind-altering substances. There are laws in place for that purpose already. It would be the discretion of the employer to determine whether they hold a drug-free environment or not, just as some employers today hire only non-smokers, or choose to allow drinking on the job. It would be the personal responsibility of each employee to maintain a good rapport with their employer.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr has framed the issue well. The peripheral effects of drugs can be regulated and criminalized so that the harm caused by drugs is what is targeted, rather than criminalizing behavior which includes a great deal of use which doesn’t and won’t cause any harm at all – just like smoking and drinking.

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