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NCJ Number: 136504 Find in a Library
Title: Drug Legalization: The Importance of Asking the Right Question
Journal: Hofstra Law Review  Volume:18  Issue:3  Dated:(Spring 1990)  Pages:527-565
Author(s): M A R Kleiman; A J Saiger
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 39
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Following a critique of the case for drug legalization, this article examines legalization as it applies to alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine.
Abstract: The critique of legalization proposals downplays the problem of what weights to assign various kinds of harm. Instead, it emphasizes the analytic side of the problem, as it identifies the probable consequences of various policies. This article defines drug legalization as "moving drugs along a spectrum of regulated statuses in the direction of increased availability." An examination of the consequences of legalization and prohibition focuses on the contrast between the harms caused by the licit drugs of alcohol and tobacco and illicit drugs. The fact that the licit substances cause more health damage than the illicit drugs suggests that prohibition tends, on balance, to protect health. From a public health perspective, the creation of a cocaine problem the size of the current alcohol or tobacco problems would be a major disaster. The case study of the legalization of alcohol concludes that any new legalization schemes for drugs would tend toward the relatively unrestricted availability that characterizes alcohol. The case study of marijuana concludes that the legalization of marijuana must be rated as a high-stakes gamble. Regarding the cocaine case study, the article reasons that now that crack is here, neither high-tax legal cocaine nor low-tax cocaine would be likely to result in a smaller cocaine problem than currently exists. 188 footnotes
Main Term(s): Decriminalization; Drug legalization
Index Term(s): Alcohol abuse; Cocaine; Marijuana
Note: From a symposium on drug decriminalization.
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