There are four problems with street drugs; overdoses and deaths, criminal activity and addiction. All four can be satisfactorily resolved simply by legalizing them much as we did with alcohol. We know from that experience that prohibition did not work and neither did forcibly attempting to take on the criminal element. Taking the money out of the game takes out the criminals and broad availability of clean drugs takes away the deaths. I believe legalization will likely lead to more people, particularly young people, getting hooked on drugs and we should expect that addicts will drift into our country from other jurisdictions, but the costs of dealing with those problems are a fraction of the human and economic costs of dealing with the current protocols. Done correctly, legalization will help identify addictions and open the door to treatment while government revenues can be allocated to education.
The current process of legalizing marijuana is a good start; not because marijuana is a harmless drug, but because it opens the door to legalizing the entire spectrum of substances that people are prepared to ingest to make them feel better. I believe the majority of alcohol users drink sparingly just to take the edge off. I also believe teenagers turn to drugs to help relieve the stress of just being a teenager and grappling with the daily anxieties that face them. Bringing these issues into the open will assist the professionals who study such things to develop the required educational and treatment programs. We know the current cost of street drugs and we know the solution. We just need the courage and common sense to act.
As for implementation, we must be careful not to get too heavy-handed when these legal drugs are “bootlegged” to underage kids or we will still have a criminal element and deaths. Everyone knows that alcohol is provided to teens every day in spite of being illegal and everyone knows that this is not a high priority for law enforcement nor should it be. We need to take the same approach with legal drugs; officially and publicly illegal (to supply to teens) but not a criminal offence. Is this a slippery slope? Of course it is but the current slope is far worse and completely out of control.