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Legalizing Drugs Would Benefit the United States (From Legalizing Drugs, P 32-48, 1996, Karin L. Swisher, ed. -- See NCJ-160030)

NCJ Number
S B Duke; A C Gross
Date Published
17 pages
Drug legalization would benefit the United States in several ways: save Federal, State, and local governments billions of dollars a year; lead to reduced crime and safer neighborhoods; and enhance public health.
Government at all levels spends about $100 billion a year on law enforcement and criminal justice programs to combat the drug problem, and about $35 billion is directly related to drug law enforcement. About $50 billion a year could be saved if drugs were legalized, and this figure could go as high as $150 billion a year if one considers the resources spent on ineffective drug suppression activities. Drug legalization could increase property values in cities but would not solve the problem of inner city decay and disintegration. If the illicit drug business no longer existed in cities, streets and schools would become safer. About one-third of inmates would not be in prison if it were no longer a crime to possess or traffic in illicit drugs. Further, if drugs were legalized, dangers to public health from using heroin, cocaine, and marijuana would be greatly reduced since legalizing drugs would probably reduce the use of harmful drugs. The main risk of drug legalization concerns the potential for increased drug consumption. Because the drug market is already saturated with a combination of legal and illegal drugs, however, virtually everyone who wants to get "high" already does so. The authors conclude that, considering all benefits and costs, the case for drug legalization is overwhelming. 39 notes