Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in search after his own happiness. In vices, the very essence of crime – that is, the design to injure the person or property of another – is wanting.
~Lysander Spooner, Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication of Moral Liberty(1875)
As a preface to this article, allow me to quote from the “About Us” page here at DumpDC.com in regard to our stand on individual liberty and property rights.
What is the best way for a seceding state to deal with the recreational use and sale of drugs?
America has already tried Prohibition once. It was a dismal failure.
Some Americans in 1919 convinced the whole nation of the evils of alcohol. Consequently, Amendment XVIII to the Constitution was ratified, thereby making the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes prohibited.
Almost overnight, the distillery industry in America was legislated out of business. Most distillers and bottlers went out of business altogether. Many were able to switch to other products and stay alive.
Demand for alcoholic beverages did not change. In fact, the “forbidden fruits effect” kicked in big time. A gigantic black market in alcoholic beverages was instantly created. People turned to home brews and moonshine. During Prohibition, thousands of people ingesting unsafe alcoholic beverages died. And organized crime, almost unknown in America in 1919, flourished and found its foothold supplying America with banned booze. The mobs began long-running turf wars for the right to sell booze in certain areas, from small towns to entire states. Many innocent bystanders were killed in the turf wars. And, prices skyrocketed, reflecting demand and the increased costs of providing a banned substance…costs like buying off cops.
Law enforcement personnel learned quickly that it was much more profitable to protect the bootleggers and smugglers than to arrest and jail them. Consequently, law enforcement at every level…from the local cop to the halls of the FBI…was corrupted by the money flowing from illegal booze.
By 1933 Americans, from the highest levels of society to the lowest, had seen the utter failure of Prohibition. And the 25th Amendment was ratified that year on December 5th. How ironic that on the 5th, it became legal once more to buy a fifth.
The American experiment in prohibition lasted the better part of 14 years. Once it ended, people mostly purchased their alcoholic beverages from “legal” distillers and brewers once again. Alcoholic beverage providers competed, which increased quality and lowered prices. The turf wars ended, since the black market dissolved.
Unfortunately, by the 1970s, those same people who had experienced the failure of a “War on Alcohol” were gearing up to try it again…this time in a war on recreational drugs. Yet again, Americans would be unable to resist the temptation to use force in an attempt to control their neighbors.
Drug use opponents followed a similar path laid down by the Prohibitioners in 1919. Instead of a constitutional amendment, they layered on criminal laws and statutes outlawing nearly every kind of recreational drug.
The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was formed in 1930 under the Department of Treasury. So we see that the Federal Government was not then philosophically against drug use…they only wanted to tax it. But by 1937, Congress began to criminalize drug use. In 1970, President Richard Nixon began the so-called “War on Drugs” with a vengeance.
In today’s America, merely possessing drugs can get you a prison sentence. Consequently, our nation’s prisons are stuffed full of drug users and drug dealers. Law enforcement can even confiscate your personal property…like your car or house…on only the SUSPICION of drug possession or sale. Law enforcement spends an inordinate amount of time, effort and money in a futile attempt to stem the drug trade. And, just like during the first Prohibition, law enforcement from top to bottom is bought off by the drug dealers and criminal gangs for protection.
Law enforcement’s morality is distorted and corrupted by the war on drugs. The Federal Government has dumped hundreds of billions of dollars in the laps of state and local police agencies to recruit them into the drug war. Most all that money comes with strings attached…the strings that the money must go towards fighting drugs. State and local police agencies cannot resist the temptation of that much money, and become willing accomplices in the drug war.
And the profits from illicit drug manufacture, importation and sales are so monstrous and irresistible that some reports say that even the CIA runs drug smuggling operations to pay for its activities that Congress either doesn’t approve of or doesn’t know about.
The War on Drugs is a major foreign policy issue, affecting American relations with every other nation of the world. The wizards in Washington (dunces in DC?) send hundreds of billions of dollars around the world to buy off foreign governments in the hopeless effort to stem drug importation. It is estimated that only 10% of the drugs smuggled into America are interdicted.
Once again, “prohibition” has created death, destruction, gun fights, drive-by shootings, turf wars, deaths due to overdose, unsafe product, bribery on a massive scale, monstrous price increases for product, overcrowded prisons and a warped foreign policy. Individual liberty and individual property rights are trampled by law enforcement officials in their quest to control drug use and sale.
But don’t forget that in the nation’s prisons, one can get any kind of drugs known to man. So, if the prison systems cannot even prevent drug use and sales INSIDE the prisons, why should “free” Americans lose their individual liberty and property rights in the misdirected drug war?
Keep in mind that all these efforts do nothing to reduce or eliminate the DEMAND for drugs.
So then…what is the best way for a seceding state to deal with the recreational use of drugs?
DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!
That’s right. Pass NO LAWS making the sale and consumption of drugs of any kind illegal.
The laws that best protect the ENTIRE populace’s individual liberty and property rights are those laws that prevent or prosecute fraud or theft. All other laws that could be considered are efforts to legislate morality, and protect people from the consequences of their own choices. Let us leave people alone in their choices of food, drink, drugs or any other activities in which no force or fraud are present. If we will cease our attempts at controlling others, we can concentrate our efforts against those who would try to perpetrate force, fraud or theft upon us.
The seceding state that most closely embraces this philosophy of governance will be the state most likely to succeed as a new sovereign nation. Said another way…
Look at all the dumb things that the US Federal Government does now, and do just exactly the opposite in every case. Your success is nearly assured!
The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be. Try to make people moral, and you lay the groundwork for vice.
~Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching circa 490 BC
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© Copyright 2010, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.