Monday, July 14, 2008

What about legalizing hard drugs?

Prompted by my earlier post on legalizing marijuana, Jack Point thinks that a good way of tackling the problem of hard drugs, such as heroin is for government to give it away for free for addicts and encourage them to voluntary enroll themselves to treatment. I think that has some sense to it and better than our current policy.

I'm generally skeptical of government programs, once it's passed through the parliament and other bureaucratic processes, it wouldn't be nearly as optimal as one would want to design it. Given budgetary constraints, poor service delivery in places like Sri Lanka, there would inevitably be restrictions on accessible quantity nor would most taxpayers be too thrilled for the fact that they are financing someone else's doping habits. I think the market would do a better job in the goals Jack Point outlines, except in extreme cases where the addiction is uncontrollable.

None of this, including marijuana legalization, will happen anytime soon. At least in places like Sri Lanka where we (or at least the politicians and other intellectual types) like to pretend some sort of morally superior to the west. Even in the U.S. where marijuana usage is rampant -- Barack Obama of all people admitted he "inhaled frequently" both cocaine and marijuana. He even put it in his book. But once the changes comes in the west, not just in terms of attitude, but particularly in marijuana policy and eventually hard drugs, I think you will see changes starting happen here as well.

On the question of whether or not this will significantly reduce crime, I recall this interesting exchange between Tyler Cowen and Megan McArdle.


Jack Point said...

Perhaps they should start by liberalising the distribution of alcohol.

It is an open secret that the licensing system is run for the benefit of politicos and their henchmen - its basically rent-seeking activity: the creation of monopolies that can assure profitable trade for favoured people.

This is why there is such an outcry against supermarkets being allowed to stock liquor - the local "wine shop" suffers.

The "Wine shops" are also the prime outlet through which imitation products are sold - this is where an illegal factory manufactures liquor with a label that is copied from a legal manufacturer.

The high taxes (which are not paid by the illegal manufacturers) ensure very high margins, a part of which is paid to the distributor.

Hilal said...

I am not for legalising highly addictive and destructive substances like heroine and meth. There is no coming back from those drugs..first time use can make you addicted to it and leave you with cravings for more. Ganja on the other hand is a plant which is pretty hard to get addicted to. If you can get addicted to weed then alcohol addiction isn't that far away.

Thanks for the comment on my Blog, appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

I just heard that they banned smoking cigarettes in Holland. But you are allowed to smoke pot in coffee shops as long as it is not mixed with tobacco! Specially trained cops will sniff your roll for tobacco contamination!
I had a good laugh!