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NCJ Number: 137158 Find in a Library
Title: Answering the Critics of Drug Legalization
Journal: Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy  Volume:5  Issue:3  Dated:special issue (1991)  Pages:823-851
Author(s): J Ostrowski
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 29
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article analyzes and critiques many of the arguments made against the legalization of drugs by five of its leading critics: former National Drug Policy Director William Bennett; New York Governor Mario Cuomo; and the academics James Q. Wilson, James A. Inciardi, and Duane C. McBride.
Abstract: Generally, all the critics of legalization present their arguments without the benefit of a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of drug prohibition. Also, their critiques of legalization have been methodologically unsound, often arguing with a simple non sequitur: "Drugs are bad; therefore, they should be illegal." To establish their case, prohibitionists must demonstrate that drug use would increase substantially after legalization, that the harm caused by an increased drug use would not be offset by the increased safety of legal drug use, that the harm caused by any increased use would not be offset by a reduction in the use of dangerous drugs that are already legal, and that the harm caused by any increased drug use would exceed the harm now caused by the side effects of prohibition (e.g., crime and corruption). In the absence of data to support these propositions, neither the theoretical danger of illegal drugs nor their actual harmful effects is a sufficient basis for prohibition. The unifying theme of the arguments against legalization analyzed for each of the five men is the undemocratic belief of an elite that although they themselves are sufficiently intelligent and responsible to avoid harmful drug use, the bulk of the American people must be forced by laws and the criminal justice system to engage in healthful and safe behaviors. With all our imperfections and limitations, we Americans are still better able to manage our own lives than politicians, bureaucrats, police officers, and drug czars. 96 footnotes
Main Term(s): Drug legalization
Index Term(s): Cost/Benefit Analysis; Drug law enforcement
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