CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In Philadelphia last spring, a man riding a city bus at rush hour injected heroin into his hand, in full view of other passengers, including one who captured the scene on video.From Our AdvertisersIn Cincinnati, a woman died in January after she and her husband overdosed in their baby’s room at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The husband was found unconscious with a gun in his pocket, a syringe in his arm and needles strewn around the sink.Here in Cambridge a few years ago, after several people overdosed in the bathrooms of a historic church, church officials reluctantly closed the bathrooms to the public.
If we legalize and regulate addictive drugs, much of these enormous profits from the illegal drug business would decrease dramatically. When alcohol was re-legalized after prohibition, armed gangs were disbanded and killings decreased greatly. The quality of the alcohol improved with regulation and quality controls.
Many economists, at least privately, admit that we should legalize addictive drugs to ameliorate the negative effects. Herbert Stein and Milton Friedman are two famous right of center economists who have called for legalization.
Legalization would allow us to win the war on illegal drug trafficking, and it is probably the only way to win the war on drug trafficking. Decriminalization would be an immediate place to begin, to get tens of thousands of petty drug users and sellers out of our jails.
We have a heroin epidemic in New England and the rest of the country right now. Some of the heroin is bad, and kills people outright. If heroin was legal and regulated, doses would be unhealthy for you, but wouldn’t stop your heart. Countless young people, including my son Austin, would be alive after experimenting with the drug. It is the illegality of these drugs that make them unregulated. Bad batches kill people, like my son Austin. He slid into drug dealing primarily because of the extraordinary profits created by the fact that the market was illegal. The huge illegal profits are destabilizing whole countries, starting with police forces, prosecutors and judges.Today politicians in some South American countries are either bought or intimidated into working for cartels.