DRCNet Response to the
Drug Enforcement Administration
Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization

Questions To Ask

DEA Statement


There was consensus among the participants at the Anti-Legalization Forum, too, on the need to ask a number of questions of those proposing legalization. Too often, the specifics of how to implement a system for distribution and sale of legalized drugs are never discussed. Instead, simplistic rhetoric is used to deflect serious consideration of the many questions that must be thought through before one can evaluate the ramifications of their proposals. This is the great weakness of the pro-legalization position. Participants in the Forum suggested that the following questions be asked consistently in order to illustrate the shallowness of the legalization concept. It is obvious from this statement that the people who prepared this booklet have never read the most basic research on the subject. If they are really interested in the actual proposals for reform they should refer to the Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy. These studies each proposed their own set of reforms which are amazingly consistent over the last 100 years. What is most amazing is that the DEA tries to ignore the fact that they exist and these questions have been answered in detail many times before.
Should all drugs be legalized? The more appropriate question is: For which drugs is it beneficial to throw hordes of people in prison? Answer: none
Who will determine which segments of the population will have access to legalized drugs? Who determines this now? At the current time, the only restrictions on the sale of drugs are those imposed by organized crime.
Will they be limited only to people over eighteen? Nearly everyone agrees that the restrictions on these drugs should be at least as tight as the restrictions on the sales of alcohol.
Will cocaine, heroin, LSD and PCP be made available if people request them? Are they available now? The DEA itself admits that it has never had any significant impact on the flow of drugs.
Who will sell drugs? The government? Private companies? Who sells them now?

We have only three options for those who will regulate the drug market:

  1. Government, with proper regulations and taxes to address the social problems;
  2. Private Industry, with proper regulations and taxes to address the social problems;
  3. Organized Crime, with no regulations or taxes to address the social problems.

The DEA believes that Organized Crime is the best group to control the commerce in drugs. It seems obvious that either one of the other two choices would be preferred.


And who is liable for damages caused by drug use and the activities of those taking drugs? Who is liable for the much greater damage caused by alcohol? The rules should be the same as for alcohol.
Who will collect the revenues generated by the drug sales? Who collects them now? The DEA seems to think that these revenues are best sent to the drug lords, rather than being collected in taxes where they might be used to address social problems.
How will a black market for cheaper drugs be controlled? How is it controlled now for illegal drugs? How is it controlled now for alcohol? At this point, the black market for illegal drugs is out of control. The major point of "legalization" is to bring these drugs under better control.
Who will bear the costs to society of increased drug use? Who bears the cost now? At this point, the entire cost is borne by the taxpayer, with no recompense from taxes.
How will absenteeism and loss of productivity be addressed by business? The same way it is addressed for the problems of alcohol and tobacco. By comparison with the problems of alcohol and tobacco, the problems of illegal drugs are relatively minor.
Will the local drug situation in a community dictate which drugs are sold where? Who determines where drugs are sold now? Criminals currently control the location of the outlets. This is in contrast to the regulation of alcohol, where the location of the outlets is controlled by local government.
How will society care for and pay for the attendant social costs of increased drug use, including family disintegration and child neglect? These costs would be paid through tax revenues on the sale of drugs. This is as opposed to the current situation where there are no tax revenues. What would be tax revenues currently goes to the drug lords as profits.
Will people still need prescriptions for currently controlled medications, such as antibiotics, if drugs are legalized? Yes. Antibiotics are an entirely different class of drugs with an entirely different set of problems and, therefore, would justify an entirely different set of regulations.
Will legal drugs require prescriptions? That depends on what you mean by "legal". For example, both alcohol and penicillin are "legal" but have different requirements for purchasing them.
Can anyone, regardless of physical or medical conditions purchase drugs? Can anyone purchase these drugs now? Can anyone purchase alcohol or tobacco now? The rules should be the same as for alcohol or tobacco.
How will we deal with the influx of people to the United States who will seek legal drugs? We won't have to. Once the United States adopts more sensible drug policies and stops pressuring the world to support prohibition, this will cease to be a problem.
Can we begin a legalization pilot program in your neighborhood for one year? Yes. As the New York City Bar Association recommended, we should allow states and communities to determine their own approach to the problem, as they do for alcohol, so that we might have a number of different programs from which to draw ideas and information. The one thing we should not do is to stay locked in to a single national policy which -- by definition -- cannot work.
Should the distribution outlets be located in the already overburdened inner city? Where are they located now? Matters affecting the inner city should be decided by the people of the inner city.



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