The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has their hearts in the right place, trying to stop drug money from flowing to terrorists. But their methods are all wrong.

Drug use is not currently a victimless crime ? because lots of drug money flows to terrorists.

At least twelve major terrorist groups profit about $1 billion per year from illegal drugs.

It’s a huge problem. So what to do? The White House’s solution is to run television ads telling people not to do drugs.

That’s right ? in order to get people to stop using drugs, they’re running TV ads telling people to stop using drugs.

It’s a nice thought, but since that strategy has never worked to curb drug use in the past, I don’t think it’s suddenly going to start working now.

We need another angle. Economics may provide a fresh view. Why does marijuana, which is about as easy to grow as tomatoes, sell for so much more?

The answer is easy. The government is effectively giving a monopoly to the black market by making drugs illegal.

It’s simple economics. Outlaw the sale of a certain good, and there will be very few sellers of that good. Those that choose to sell, thus breaking the law, are left with very little competition. They can charge high prices and make a killing, as long as they don’t get caught. And history has shown us that for the most part, drug dealers don’t get caught.

If drugs were legalized, they would be a lot cheaper. And they would be produced and sold by law-abiding companies. The terrorists would be out of business.

The cost-benefit analysis is simple. The cost of legalizing drugs is that a moderately lareger number of people would use drugs. The benefit ? or rather, one of the many benefits ? is that the drug money currently flowing to terrorists would be completely cut off. The decision is easy.

For a nearly perfect analogy, turn back the clock about 80 years.

In the 1920s, alcoholic beverages were illegal in the United States. But people still drank, and the money went to organized crime. Prohibition meant big profits for organized crime.

Today, drugs are illegal. But people still do drugs, and the money supports a different kind of organized crime, terrorism.

In 1933, prohibition ended. Now, alcoholic beverages are produced by law-abiding companies, which provide many legitimate jobs and support the economy. If drugs were legalized, they would do the same.

Bock can be reached at dbock@campustimes.org.



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