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Will Legalizing Drugs Reduce Crime?

It will only transfer young thugs from one sort of illegal activity to another.

by
David P. Goldman

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July 18, 2013 - 11:15 am
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Enlightened opinion holds that legalizing drugs (at least some drugs, e.g., marijuana) will reduce the catastrophically high American incarceration rate. As Fareed Zakaria wrote last year in Time magazine:

Over the past four decades, the U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion fighting the war on drugs. The results? In 2011 a global commission on drug policy issued a report signed by George Shultz, Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan; the archconservative Peruvian writer-politician Mario Vargas Llosa; former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker; and former Presidents of Brazil and Mexico Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Ernesto Zedillo. It begins, “The global war on drugs has failed. … Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption.” Its main recommendation is to “encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.”

As Zakaria observed, “The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and Britain–with a rate among the highest–has 153. Even developing countries that are well known for their crime problems have a third of U.S. numbers. Mexico has 208 prisoners per 100,000 citizens, and Brazil has 242.” For African-Americans, the rates are terrifyingly high. In an earlier post I quoted a Pew Institute survey noting that “more African American men aged 20 to 34 without a high school diploma or GED are behind bars (37 percent) than are employed (26 percent).”

Why should decriminalizing drugs, though, reduce crime? Criminals do not get involved with drugs because they like drugs, but because they like crime. They tend to be young, unskilled, and marginalized and unlikely to earn a living in the legal economy, while the illegal economy offers them opportunities — especially for those who hold their lives cheap.

The overall unemployment rate for Americans aged 16 to 19 years has reached levels not seen during the postwar period:

Graph of Unemployment Rate - 16 to 19 years, White

It’s considerably worse for minorities.

FRED Graph

Forty-five percent of blacks aged 16-19 presently are unemployed, up from 25%-30% during the two George W. Bush administrations. Enormous numbers of young Latin Americans are unemployed as well; it is estimated that the Mexican drug cartels employ 500,000 of them. Decriminalizing marijuana would give a windfall to cigarette manufacturers, for example, but erase the income available to young, unskilled unemployed Americans. If they can’t make a living selling pot, they will sell whatever drug we continue to criminalize, or engage in some other form of remunerative criminal activity, just like the Mexican cartels, who are as happy to make money through kidnapping (for example) as through drug sales.

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Top Rated Comments   
I don't really care if it reduces crime. We can handle crime with more "shall issue" concealed carry laws, Castle Doctrine laws, and Stand Your Ground laws.

What legalizing drugs will, hopefully, do is reduced number "wrong doors" kicked down, families terrorized, and pets shot. That is what turned me from being a "drug warrior" to (somewhat of) a drug legalizer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If we don't keep regurgitating illogical propaganda on the drug war, police resources might be freed up to reduce incidences of violent crime. And we can't have that. Won't someone PLEASE think of the poor murderers and rapists?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Prohibitionists love to scare people away from Marijuana Legalization by clumping Marijuana Legalization in with other really dangerous drugs. Let's not do that, okay? Marijuana Legalization makes sense.

The "War on Marijuana" has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful "War on Drugs" that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

Instead of The United States wasting Billions of more dollars fighting a never ending "War on Marijuana", lets generate Billions of dollars and improve the deficit instead. It's a no brainer.

The Prohibition of Marijuana has ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to prison and are being given permanent criminal records, which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

Marijuana is way safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

It is also safer than tobacco and caffeine. Marijuana is the safest and healthiest recreational substance known to man.

Even The President of the United States himself, along with a long list of successful people have used marijuana. Has it hurt their chances at succeeding in life?

If the President had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may very well have still been in jail today. Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record.

Let's end this hypocrisy now!

The government should not attempt to legislate morality because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (69)
All Comments   (69)
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tdiinva . Obviously you haven't paid attention to this very forum when it reported that TM was very likely suffering from the effects of "Lean" a cocktail of skittles, Arizona Watermelon Punch and Robitussen DM cough medicine. This drug is damaging to the liver when used frequently and induces paranoia and violent tendencies. 17 yr old Mr Martin had liver damage in the toxicology report consistent with such abuse. If you are going to comment please speak from some semblance of authenticity rather than what your great aunt told you when you were 12.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I usually appreciate the level headedness of PJ contributors but wow what a disappointment this turned out to be. Unsupported conjecture, hollow logic, blantant distrust of an entire race, and silly reliance on Koopalready disproved theory and that's the best parts. Lovers of liberty are not afraid of temporary chaos to ameliorate a vicious injustice.In fact we should welcome this catharsis just as we should welcome a similar catharsis with tax policy, health care, regulation..... well with the current statist apparatus too many categories to list. But to continue ruining the lives of weed smokers, eaters to satisfy an ego driven naivete born of fear and loathing of an alternate form of relaxation is just insulting. To suggest that hundreds of thousands of growers that would result from legalization could be intimidated by a new mafia is laughable and it's evidence of a lazy approach to the entire subject. Letting church deacons decide this because of what they heard in health class 40 years ago makes our side look real stupid and out of touch. This is why our side keeps losing office seekers,volunteers,but most importantly voters.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
my buddy's sister makes $72/hour on the laptop. She has been unemployed for eight months but last month her payment was $12389 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on this site http://max47.com/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So what Mr. Goldman is saying is that if we end the failed drug war and no longer can incarcerate young blacks, we'll just have to find some other reason to incarcerate them. Beautiful. Welcome to post-racial America kids!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr. Goldman is correct in all he states except that we already have many job training programs which are a joke -- Job Corps for example. Unless black people suddenly turn away from Government and back to God we this will be a problem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Perhaps the author is unaware that possesion of marijuana remains a crime in many states and a number of people are incarcerated for possesion. Also "dealing" is a way of saying "enganging in commerce" which is not per se a criminal activity, again many are incarcerated for selling a quality to product to eager customers . Stopping the prosecution of those engaged in non-violent purely consensual activities cannot possibly be harmful to society despite what propogandists, like the author, may claim.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
my roomate's mother-in-law makes $67/hour on the internet. She has been without a job for seven months but last month her income was $19364 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site http://www.wep6.com
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Because of the black market price for a pound of pot goes for around $4-6k, MS-13 and other Narco trafficante drug gangs set up illegal grows on State and National Park land, with armed guards who are usually illegal immigrants and lots of toxic chemicals. Legalize pot and you stop that flow of easy money, environmental damage and occupation of Public land with the resultant price plunge.

Pot prohibition enables and funds violent criminals, just like Alcohol prohibition did in the 30s. Get rid of it. Legalize it for use above the age of 21, like booze. Reefer madness is no way to go through life.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
(Wow! I can see each letter now as I type with my new glasses as new world opens to me for my 13 heavens.)
"For some years I have argued that America needs to revive the Depression-era idea of a Civilian Conservation Corps and similar entities to get young people..."
Young people need structure up at 5 in the morning ,obey boss even when he slave driver then dream of college,self employment to make millions and give all your money away to the Jesus "worthy" poor.
I believe all plant drugs should be made legal to only grow on land you own to be used as medicine if crisis time: you cut off leg using chain saw and you grab the "poppy" to take away the pain.
Those who own land use the medicine only for their family . Thos who own land and sell their medicine to drug dealers should be thrown in jail and their land given to the good people who obey the laws of the higher authority
Using drugs other than for sickness is evil including beer and wine which should be used after a hard days work on the weekends not for breakfast lunch and dinner. I could see nice camera from the modern state in every home to enforce good behavior but best to let God and the angels only use their cameras for inspection as to where the immortal soul will go in the afterlife
As far as my 13 heavens on earth only my 4 wives are allowed to enter. Nor even my 5 th wife is worthy yet as three months is needed to purify her. Even then I gradually slip in the 13 heavens into the great city so the "Rahab" not have culture shock and awe as she accept my strong hard strokes to create children worthy of the 13 heavens even in the great city
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
People who want to legalize drugs like to talk how ending Prohibition reduced crime except that it didn't. The Mafia grew in power after prohibition and was at the peak of their power in the 1960s. The mob lost it's mojo more from the American way of "shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations. " By 1980 the founders were all gone and feds were able break organizations. It didn't end organized crime it just enabled new groups to take over. That is exactly what happened in years before prohibition when the Italian-Jewish mob violently took over from the Irish. If all it took was legalization to drive out organized crime was legalization than explain how organized crime controlled gambling and prostitution in Nevada for such a long time..

If you chose the path of legalization then it is an all or nothing proposition. If you just legalize marijuana then organized crime will simply use their operations to mask criminal activity and launder money. This is exactly what goes on in most of NYC's legal bondage houses which the Russian uses as a cover to run illegal activities.. Do you think that somehow legalization will make the effects of drugs disappear?

Those of you who want to make the argument that the war on drugs has failed need to explain crime has fallen over the last twenty years. Sounds to me like that would indicate success.

Those of you who make the equation legal drugs equals less crime are first order thinkers. Legalized drugs means more drug users which in turn means more people on the dole and more people who resort to criminal behavior to support themselves because addicts don't normally hold jobs. Before you make a judgement you have to compare the cost of the current regime versus the legalized drug regime. Since this a Conservative/ Libertarian blog you also have factor in the effect of increased dependency on the government on voting patterns. The results of Libertarian policies usually just end up creating more welfare supporting voters. This is also a cost of drug legalization.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
tdiinva,

"People who want to legalize drugs like to talk how ending Prohibition reduced crime except that it didn't"

No, that's not what anyone is saying at all. What we say is that ending Marijuana Prohibition will reduce reduce/eliminate crime related to the growth, possession, transportation and sale of Marijuana. Just as with the end of Alcohol Prohibition, we don't have many rumrunners, speakeasies, and moonshiners to bust these days, do we?

Nobody is suggesting that the end of alcohol prohibition ended crime altogether or that ending marijuana prohibition is end all crime either. That would be ludicrous.

We do recognize that the "War on Drugs" has not decreased the supply or demand for drugs, and that marijuana prohibition is a colossal waste of our tax dollars.

"If you chose the path of legalization then it is an all or nothing proposition."

No, it isn't at all. Marijuana Prohibitionists use this ideology to clump Marijuana Legalization in with legalizing other, much more serious, and really dangerous drugs.

We could just legalize marijuana with the understanding that it is wrong to incarcerate and penalize otherwise hardworking, taxpaying citizens for choosing a substance way safer than alcohol with proven medical benefits, in the privacy of their own homes.

"If you just legalize marijuana then organized crime will simply use their operations to mask criminal activity and launder money. This is exactly what goes on in most of NYC's legal bondage houses which the Russian uses as a cover to run illegal activities.. Do you think that somehow legalization will make the effects of drugs disappear?

Again, nobody who supports Marijuana Legalization is suggesting that by it's legalization that miraculously all crime and/or the mafia would suddenly just disappear. That is absurd!

What we do believe is that it is wrong to prosecute otherwise hardworking, taxpaying adults for choosing to consume a nontoxic plant that is way safer to consume than alcohol, in the privacy of their own homes.

We do recognize that the "War on Drugs" has not decreased the supply or demand for drugs, and that Marijuana Prohibition is a colossal waste of our tax dollars.

"Those of you who want to make the argument that the war on drugs has failed need to explain crime has fallen over the last twenty years. Sounds to me like that would indicate success."

Nobody is suggesting that The War on Drugs is directly linked to the statistics of all crimes.

We do recognize that the "War on Drugs" has not decreased the supply or demand for drugs and in that way it is a complete and utter failure that has wasted over a trillion of our tax dollars.

Instead of the United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending "War on Marijuana", let's Legalize Marijuana Nationwide and generate billions of dollars instead. Improving the deficit. It's a no brainer.





1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You should refrain from posting while high. My experience from many years ago informs that things look good until you come down and you think how could I ever write such drivel.

I don't have time for an extensive rebuttal so I will concentrate on why you have to legalize all drugs not just weed. If you end "marijuana prohibition" then organized criminals will merely set up fronts and legal distributors. That is exactly what the mob after prohibition ended. They controlled the wholesale liquor trade into the 1980s. They will then use the legal business to enhance their illegal activities. Anybody who sets up an independent shop is going to get a visit from a rough gentleman asking for "protection" money, i.e., the organizations cut of your business. He may apply some friendly persuasion. Someone will not cooperate and end with his shop burned, legs broken or just plain dead. Then everybody gets the message. You are going to get that anyway but total legalization cuts off avenues for illegal activities.

You would do better to actually think about these things instead ofparroting talking points.

You must be a city boy so I recommend that you be very careful if you ever decide to hike in the Eastern Mountains. You know those moonshiners you no longer exist? When you stumble on to one their stills you are going to get the Deliverance treatment.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
tdiinva,

"You should refrain from posting while high. My experience from many years ago informs that things look good until you come down and you think how could I ever write such drivel."

Really? Is that all you got? Wait a minute, of course it is. Accusations of being "high" is exactly what one should expect from prohibitionists when backed into a corner. Not facts, not a valid argument. Weak, very weak.

By the way, my "drivel" as you call it has over ten times the amount of likes when compared to your nonsense writings which a big fat ZERO people seem to agree with.

"I don't have time for an extensive rebuttal so I will concentrate on why you have to legalize all drugs not just weed. If you end "marijuana prohibition" then organized criminals will merely set up fronts and legal distributors."

Of course you don't have the time (or facts or logic for that matter) for any sort of rebuttal that makes sense. A-typical of prohibitionists when their tired old propaganda has been effectively rebutted.

Again, as I said before NOBODY that supports Marijuana Legalization has ever tried to imply that Legalizing Marijuana would in anyway reduce or eliminate all other types of unrelated crime such as money laundering, illegal gambling, or anything else The Mafia might have it's hand in.

So please Sir, stop with the "We can't legalize just marijuana because it wont reduce and/or end all other types of crimes unrelated to marijuana.

That is a ridiculous argument to make Sir. Is that same silly argument really all you got and the entire reasoning behind you supporting continuing the failed and expensive " War on Marijuana "that has not decreased the supply or demand for Marijuana one iota, but has cost us Billions upon Billions of dollars?


"You must be a city boy so I recommend that you be very careful if you ever decide to hike in the Eastern Mountains. You know those moonshiners you no longer exist? When you stumble on to one their stills you are going to get the Deliverance treatment."

"You must be some arrogant, ignorant, back-wood, bible thumping, redneck hillbilly, so I'd be careful to read what I've wrote first, and then try to come up with some valid points when debating with this "city boy".

I never said Moonshiners don't exist, but I did mention we don't have that many around anymore ever since alcohol prohibition ended. Would't you agree that the vast majority of people now get their alcohol legally ever since the end of alcohol prohibition?

By the way if I ever do stumble upon a Moonshiner, I doubt I'll have any issues because unlike you, I believe in minding my own business, not telling other people how to live their lives, and I believe a little live and let live goes a long way to ensuring a stress free, long and happy life.

You don't like Marijuana? Then by all means Sir, don't use it. The rest of us are capable of making our own choices about Marijuana and we don't need your or the governments approval.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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