People who use a lot of drugs are sad, pathetic, and dumb. They are not the subject of this post. Prohibition is. I think in North America, and especially our sad southern neighbor, the USA, the prohibition of soft drugs like marijuana is a travesty of justice, a huge waste of resources, and basically just stupid on a massive scale. Legalize Mary-Jane and you deprive organized crime of a massive income stream, you provide the government with a nice new taxable buisness, you give yourself a real way to keep the drug away from kids while allowing adults to do as they will, and you stop wasting criminal-justice dollars fighting an unwinnable and unjustifiable war. I have been, up till now, on the fence about harder drugs.
Harder drugs give some credence to the harm-prevention arguement behind drug laws. Herion and its ilk really do destroy lives, reducing people to anti-social wreaks incapable of functioning in society, willing to do anything for that next fix. Part of the predicament of these people is because of the social marginalization that comes from doing something illegal, but the problem would still be very bad if what they did was fully legal. I think if I was running things I'd try to make it legal but unpleasant, deprive the crime world of as much income as possible without giving clear state approval for drug use.
But now I think full legalization of all narcotics would be, on the balance, a good thing. This is because of Afganistan. Here we have a country where dirt-poor starving people can make thousands of dollars, a true fortune to them, by planting poppies. The only alternative is food crops which don't provide a fraction of the income. There are also the warlords and taliban making profit from this trade. Full legalization would allow all of those poor farmers to come under the protection of the elected government, meaning the NATO forces there could stop trying to enforce drug laws against peasants and fight the asshole warlords, who would have much less income because their product would no longer be a monopoly. This is a paralell to the priohibition of alcohol in the 20th century. The idea that just because something is bad that a total state ban on it is good is absurd. Whenever you try to impose any law on people there is a cost. When the state tries to impose a ban on something people do in private, to themselves, it is not only over-reaching its moral authority, but also its capacity to impose its will. The good that a well run state can do is undermined when it tries to over-reach in this way, and in the case of Afganistan, this could lead to the demise of the state.
To those who would complain I don't understand the devastation that drugs can cause, I would argue that that damage, however severe, is not in my estimation on par with the damage of war, imprisonment, violence and death that are the alternatives offered. If I was given the power, I would scrub all herion, and the plants that produce it, from the world forever. Likewise with every other recreational narcotic, including Mary-Jane, alcohol, nicotine, and maybe even caffine. I can't, and no one can, or likely will, have the power to do that. Drugs are here to stay, so we can act like adults and minimize the damage, or act like idiots and pretend we can win the mindless 'war on drugs'.