The case against legalizing drugs

By Tom Quiner

One of my favorite bloggers is JuwannaDoRight (

On occasion, I reblog one of her gems here at Quiner’s Diner.

I seldom disagree with her. If I do, I need to think long and hard as to why. You see, she tells her stories and makes her case with a rare combination of heart and intelligence.

She made a very credible case for the legalization of drugs in a recent post (“Who is killing off the drug cartels of Mexico?”).

She points out the problem:

“The United States of America spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year fighting a war on drugs which are presently illegal.  The reason for this battle is that we are the major consumers of these products and they regularly find their ways across our southern borders and are distributed throughout our nation.  Precisely because they are illegal – they are expensive – which makes their providers very wealthy people.”

Legalization, she says, could reduce our drug problems:

“If they were legalized and dispensed through government outlets, they would sell for a small fraction of their current cost – making the business of being in the drug trade far less lucrative.  Instead of continuing to pour hundreds of millions of dollars a year into a black hole fighting a battle that we are obviously not only not winning but not breaking even on, we could find a new revenue source to help out our failing recovery and regulate (a word my liberal friends like to use) the dispensation of this commodity.”

It’s a fair argument. But I’m still against the legalization of new drugs. I guess I was really affected by a speaker I heard many years ago at a breakfast club I was in.

I don’t even remember his name, but he was a rich guy. He had the world on a string. Beautiful wife. Beautiful kids. Fancy cars. Huge house. Country club membership.

He got hooked on crack cocaine. He said the high was beyond his ability to describe. He simply wanted to experience it again. And again. And again.

His addiction was immediate. His life began spiraling out of control.

It didn’t take long, maybe a year or two, and he was ruined.

His wife left him. He was broke. He was broken.

He lost everything.

He went through rehab and eventually weaned himself off the drug.

That didn’t mean he didn’t still crave the drug.

Here’s what haunted me about his talk. His final line was this: “If you were to give me a choice and say, ‘you can have your wife back, your family, and all your wealth, or you can get one more hit, which would it be?’ I am sorry to say, I’d take the hit.”

The high was too deliriously high for a mere mortal to handle. And the carnage left in its wake was devastating to him, his family, and his community.

Some people are more susceptible to drug addiction than others. Would we run the risk of ruining even more lives by easy access to drugs, even if they became controlled substances?

That is my concern.

JuwannaDoRight addresses my concerns:

“Of course the fear is that if they were available at a smaller cost, wouldn’t more people want to start taking and using them?  There is certainly that possibility.  But I would argue that many people take drugs simply because they are illicit and because there is, in their minds, a certain sexiness about them for that reason only.  Take that away and they might lose their interest in them entirely.”

That guy I heard speak put the fear of God into me about drug use in our society. I have seen first hand how good kids from good families got into such hot water by their dependence on drugs. The addiction happens so fast.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Let’s keep drugs illegal.


  1. Monte Gray on May 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Well, guess what…. Keeping drugs illegal won’t stop people from using them. All it does is makes criminals out of users instead of getting them help. If this gentleman you talked about had’nt had to spend a fortune to get his fix, then maybe he would’nt have gone broke, and lost his family. If his addiction had been out in the open, maybe his loved one’s or friends could have gotten him help. I don’t agree in the abuse of drugs as it’s bad for the body the good lord gave us. But the money we’re spending to defeat this problem is being wasted. Whats more immoral? Continuing the same path that has been uselessly followed since I was a youth, or to try a new tactic? Alcohol is potentially as destructive as any other “illegal drug”. Having been a victim of a drunk driver I’m fully aware on how it can change one’s life! Yet, even with all the drunks picked up every week I don’t see anyone advocating making alcohol illegal. Yet the argument could be made that alcohol should be illegal as it’s so destructive when used irresposibly, whether your talking about drunk drivers or domestic abuse! But, I guess since the majority of adult Americans imbide in alcohol we won’t see this change! I agree with Juwanna on this drug issue. Legalization should be tried. She said it would save millions.. I would like to correct her on this. It would save billions!

    • quinersdiner on May 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      As I said, this is a credible case to be made. However, certain drugs are more quickly addictive than alcohol. I am reticent to open the floodgates in light of what I have seen and heard.

  2. Kurt Johnson on May 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    It is wrong to err on the side of more government force against adults who do no harm to others. If people are peaceful, then government should not use force to prohibit their voluntary actions. People should be free to buy and sell drugs as long as they don’t use force or fraud against others. If a person’s addiction is such that they harm others, then it is a proper role for our government to stop them. I have much faith that people, left to their own devices, will do much to voluntarily educate all and help those who need it. Voluntary associations, and the mindset that created them, have been harmed by forced government welfare programs.

  3. juwannadoright on May 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Dear Tom,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post on the legalization of drugs. I understand your point about how drug usage can destroy lives and was moved by the man whose speech you heard. I have seen exactly the same happen to several acquaintances – ruined lives and marriages. It is tragic.

    I also remember reading a story in The New York Herald Tribune when I was a youngster about an elderly woman who was taking the subway to do some shopping. A junkie came up to her and grabbed her purse to get money for his next fix. This 78 year old woman resisted and had a heart attack, dying as a result of this assault. This too is tragic.

    I will be the first to admit that I don’t know if legalizing drugs is the absolute best answer to this question. But I think that we might all agree that what we have tried in the past has been an abysmal and very costly failure. And if we continue down the same path we will have met Einstein’s definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

    One out of six children in America goes to bed hungry every night. If we were to abolish the DEA and started taxing the products that they are trying to eradicate, perhaps we would have enough money to feed at least some of these kids. If they went to bed nourished, maybe they would not turn to drugs as a way to make themselves feel better about the world into which they were born.

    It is an essential tenet of our faith that man has free will. That we don’t always exercise it to make the best choices is obvious. Some people will obtain and use drugs although they are illegal – and some will do so if we were to legalize them.

    But if I were to focus my sympathy toward anyone, I would direct it to the hungry kids in America – and to 78 year old ladies who are riding the subway to do some shoppinng.


  4. skyedog27 on May 25, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Portugal legalized all drugs 10 yrs ago. According to news documentaries and other sources it has been successful. I am inclined to agree with Juwanna on this one based on Portugal’s apparent success. It can’t hurt…might help. How do we know until we try?

  5. Marcus on October 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

    If your crack addicted friend had not tried to hide his shameful disease and sought help, don’t you think he could have stopped his disease from ruining his life?
    The taboo that we place on addiction and drugs makes peopel hide their disease, and like any disease, addiction will ruin you if you do not get help.
    Our society has problems with alcohol addiction not because alcohol is dangerous, but because people have issues that they need to work through.
    Let’s say you tell your son/daughter that crack/meth/marijuana/alcohol/gambling/sex are dangerous and that you don’t want them doing them because they could get addicted. Well, your child gets addicted and they choose to hide it from you because you’ve taught them that it’s shameful.
    Most people in prison for parole violations are there for drug violations. They always say they went back b/c of METH. It’s addictive, and we’re sending them to jail instead of letting them stay with their families and rehabilitate. The Drug was disproportionately affected people of color and the poor since those with a say in our society don’t lose loved ones in this War.

    We need to teach our children that addiction is a disease that cannot be hidden. Not treating any disease is ruinous. This is why we need to legalize and destigmatize drugs. Too many lives are ruined because prohibition encourages people to hide their disease.

    • quinersdiner on October 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Good insights. I respectfully disagree with your conclusion that we should legalize drugs, but I don’t dismiss it out of hand. It IS a provocative premise. Thanks for writing.

    • Marcus on October 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      sorry that should be addressed to Tom, not Juwanna.

      • quinersdiner on October 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm

        Got it … I knew you were addressing me, Marcus. Thanks for writing. Please come again.