Drug prohibition fails to remedy the real issue, harms the economy and the civil liberties of the societies involved. For many Christians, legal prohibition of drugs appears to be a biblical mandate, but Summa Theologica says otherwise.
“In like manner many things are permissible to men not perfect in virtue, which would be intolerable in a virtuous man.
Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus law prohibits murder, theft and such like” (Summa Theologica, Question 96).
The Apostle Paul said essentially said the same thing, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.”
Put another way, laws should only prohibit those actions physically harming other persons, their property or their liberty. Perhaps more to the point is why Christians would want to use laws to attempt to remedy issues that must be dealt with via the heart of the individual?
Is not this idea of human laws fixing mankind’s evils the very thing that Christ came to put an end to? Would we persist in believing that the evils of sin could be fixed by man-made laws and not by a changing of the heart? Why then would we attempt to do so by way of increased legislation, when churches proclaim freedom from the very need to do so by way of the miracle of the cross? Such an idea is madness and undermines the very idea that mankind needs a savior. Else, we could simply legislate our way into heaven.
Using the force of law to prevent people from doing things we do not like is no different than others attempting to outlaw Christianity because they don’t like what it stands for. The fallout from this creates more harm to families than the original drug use.
If the moral argument alone is not enough, perhaps the economic costs are. The first victim of the War on Drugs is the Constitution. Nowhere in the Constitution is this war authorized. We can’t insist on adherence to the Constitution while demanding that the Federal government breach its limits. The increased police state as a result of this, increases the degradation of civil liberties and essential freedoms.
The second victim is the taxpayer. Prohibition costs taxpayer money – to the tune of $41B in 2010 alone according to the CATO institute. Additionally, every dollar spent on incarceration comes directly out of the taxpayers’ pockets as well. Cutting the non-violent incarceration rate in half would save $16.9B, most of which directly reduces the burden of states and localities. That still only gets incarceration rates back to 1993, but it’s a start. The United States currently has the highest per capita incarceration rate of any country in the world and is 240 percent higher than in 1980. There are also the individuals who are unintentionally harmed by law enforcement engaged in enforcement. Almost without exception, every wrong address raid by police that results in a family’s being handcuffed in their own home or the family dog’s being killed in front of their children’s eyes is a result of prohibition enforcement. Our love for our fellow man should demand that this end.
The third victim is every community affected by drug related gang violence. Gangs thrive because of their projection of power. Power that is projected by way of money. Money that is gained by way of selling drugs – a product they happen to have a monopoly on. When those drugs are stolen, they can’t very well go to the police for the protection of or recovery of their stolen property. Hello drug violence. Like alcohol prohibition, kill the monopoly on illicit goods and the violence dies with it.
The fourth victim is every family of an individual that is incarcerated for possession or use of drugs. The families of these individuals suffer through a severe drop in income, especially if that individual is the sole income earner. The children suffer from not having a parent to help raise them and a spouse suffers from not having their helpmeet available. If growing or possessing plants is so bad, then perhaps God should be arrested for creating the plants in the first place. If Christians aren’t willing to indict God for creating the plants, then perhaps they shouldn’t be so willing to incarcerate their fellow man for the crime of possessing that which their Creator has created.
The fifth and final victim is the United States’ economy. The legalization of drugs, like alcohol and cigarettes, would’ve resulted in revenue generation of $46.7B in 2010 alone. That doesn’t tell the entire cost though. There is also the lost wages of the individuals incarcerated as well as the cost to businesses of replacing those workers, their skills, knowledge and resulting productivity.