Lifting, or at least loosening, drug prohibition should be one of the first decisions of any government that values freedom, a healthy non-violent society, families and the economy. “The Disaster of Drug Prohibition,” published on the Mises Institute website. In their opinion, this would stimulate entrepreneurship by increasing tax revenues, reducing the drug gray zone and contributing to the improvement of the health of the society. Currently, societies are losing the fight against drug mafias. Countries that have liberalized their laws regarding the official availability of certain psychoactive substances – in the opinion of the Mises Institute – are recording clear successes.
American legalization of “weed”
From the report, you can learn that more American states have legalized marijuana, and Oregon has even approved psilocybin therapy and decriminalized drug possession. Economic theory is supposed to make it clear that the war on drugs cannot be won. It is counterproductive because the criminalized reduction of the supply of illicit substances only increases their prices, increasing the revenues from their production and attracting newer and newer players to the market. use (including addiction). Empiria shows that the liberalization of drug prohibition and an approach based on treating patients, not punishing them, brings benefits – including economic benefits for society – believes Dr. Arkadiusz Sieroń from the Institute of Economic Sciences at the Faculty of Law, Administration and Economics of the University of Wrocław. Sieroń points out that In almost all referendums, Americans voted for the liberalization of drug laws. Thus, for greater freedom and economic rationality. In Mississippi, voters legalized medical marijuana. Arizona, Montana and New Jersey voted to legalize it for recreational use. In South Dakota – also for both of the above purposes. In Washington, DC – following the example of other cities (Ann Arbor, Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz) – psilocybin mushrooms and other natural psychedelics (Ayahausca containing DMT; peyote and San Pedro cactus containing mescaline; ibogaine and kratom) were decriminalized. In addition, psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient of “magic mushrooms”, was legalized in Oregon.
– In many other countries, marijuana is legal for medical purposes, including Poland – note the authors of the report.
How this war unfolded
The term “war on drugs” was popularized in 1971, when American President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse public enemy number one – just after the passage of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 a year earlier, criminalizing the possession of previously legal drugs. This war was about reducing the consumption of drugs by making them illegal and consequently reducing the supply. “It has been forgotten, however, that just as poverty cannot be eliminated by law, demand cannot be eliminated simply by banning consumption. As a result, while the legal supply has decreased, consumption has declined only slightly. As a consequence, drug prices went up,” reads the report. According to the UN, drug users accounted for 5.3% of the population in 2018. of the world’s population aged 15 to 64 (a total of 269 million people) compared to 4.8% (210 million people) in 2009. The Mises Institute believes that it is economic laws that prevent the War on Drugs from succeeding. The more it achieves its intended goal of reducing supply, the more it raises prices, which increases the revenues from illegal production. – If so, why not legalize it and simply tax it, instead of increasing the price in a roundabout way that generates so many negative effects? – the authors of the report ask. In other words, the war on drugs works in a way similar to a tax, in that it increases the cost of doing business.
Negative Effects of Prohibition
The negative effects of drug prohibition should be judged not by intention but by actual effects. Although it is hard to disagree with the fact that a world without addictions to various substances (including cigarettes and alcohol!) would be much better, the facts are that drug prohibition leads to a number of adverse effects and only makes the situation worse. Its consequence is an increase in the power of drugs, a decrease in the quality of products and an increase in crime. And also: the export of violence to other countries, the brutalization and militarization of police forces, the huge increase in the number of prisoners, significant financial and opportunity costs, the increase in the power of drugs. The war on drugs also means huge expenses. It is estimated that it has cost the US about a trillion dollars since 1971. The US federal government spends tens of billions of dollars a year on it, not even counting the state and local expenses and the costs resulting from increased violence and poorer health of citizens. Meanwhile, legalizing marijuana alone could save about $7.7 billion a year in non-enforcement costs, bringing in an additional $6.2 billion in taxes. Similar mechanisms of ostensible drug control exist in other Western countries. The War on Drugs is a complete failure. Contrary to official intentions, it did not make society healthier, did not reduce crime, and did not significantly reduce drug consumption, we read in the summary of the Mises Institute report.
*The author of the report on the war on drugs, Arkadiusz Sieroń, is a PhD in economics. He works as an assistant professor at the Institute of Economic Sciences at the Faculty of Law, Administration and Economics of the University of Wrocław. He is a member of the board of the Institute of Economic Education named after Ludwig von Mises and the author of many books on economics and economy.