Last week’s 75th Anniversary of the end of Prohibition and the repeal of the 18th Amendment provided an easy platform for the Legalization Lobby to make its case for ending drug prohibition. They argue that federal regulatory schemes outlawing drugs are not effective in combating dangerous use and actually exacerbate abuse and drug-related crimes.
The Legalization Lobby frequently points to other countries in Europe as success stories for legal drug use, attempting to show the United States’ apparent lack of foresight on the issue.
Yet recent news out of Amsterdam – perhaps the most well-known of Europe’s cities to experiment with drug legalization – explains that the city intends to close many of its marijuana cafes located in its Red Light District. Why? The city’s move is intended to combat crime and reform its image as a haven for criminals.
Amsterdam shows what the United States has already experienced firsthand: legalization does not work. Alaska’s experiment with legalization in the 1970s failed miserably, resulting in a marijuana use rate among the state’s teens at more than twice the rate of other youths nationally.
Furthermore, the argument that there is not a significant link between crime and drug use is misguided. Most drug crimes are committed by people on drugs: six times as many homicides are committed by people under the influence of drugs as those committed by people who are looking for money to buy drugs.
Overall drug use is down by more than a third in the last twenty years. In light of this remarkable success and the news that drug legalization might not be as lucrative nor as safe as once thought, this is hardly the time to give in to pressure from the Legalization Lobby.