Although there are no panaceas for the worlds drug problem, legalizing them could help do things like unclogging our court systems or freeing prison space for real criminals. Now this isn’t to say that legalizing the production, sale and use of controlled substances would create a "heaven on Earth," but it would alleviate many of the nation's social and political problems. Legalization would not only reduce drug-related crime, but save the U.S. billions of dollars.
In 1984, a kilogram of cocaine worth $4000 in Columbia sold at wholesale for $30,000, and at retail in the U.S. for some $300,000. At the time, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman noted that the wholesale price doubled in six months "due to crackdowns on producers and smugglers in Columbia and the U.S." The consequence of this drastic factory-to-retail escalation resulted a rise in crime. Addicts now must pay hundreds of times the costs of their habit, and often turn to crime to finance their addiction. Also, those who deal in the selling of the drugs become prime targets for assault because they carry extremely valuable goods. The streets become battlegrounds for competing dealers because a particular block or corner can rake in thousands of extra dollars a day. Should drugs be legalized, the price would collapse, and so would the drug-related motivations to commit crime. A pack of cocaine becomes no more dangerous to carry than a pack of cigarettes. The streets would be safer to walk, as criminal drug dealers are pushed from the market.
Legalization would also deflate prison overcrowding. Out of 31,346 sentenced prisoners in federal institutions, drug law violators were the largest single category, totaling 9487. By legalizing drugs, there would be no more drug offenders to lock up. Since many drug users would no longer be committing violent or property crimes to pay for their habits, there would be fewer real criminals. This decrease in inmates would bring the...