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The Legalization of Drugs: An Essay In Economics And Philosophy

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In the light of Philosophy of Economics, Legalization of Drugs is a most warranted tropic among the US and rest of the globe.  Governments, non-governmental Organizations, donors and development partners are also emphasizing to stop Drug Abuse. At the same time Drug relevant parts are asking for Legalization of Drugs or Decriminalisation of Drugs As a result most our civilization is in serious threat to break down. Black market of Drug is hampering the economic Framework.  Psychopharmacological Link of drug intoxication relates with crime that affects social peace and Economic growth

Legalization or Decriminalisation of Drugs:

The legalization or decriminalization of drugs is like a suicide for a nation. By Expanding the use of Drugs It will make harmful, psychoactive, and addictive substances affordable, available, convenient, and marketable.  It would eliminate the social disgrace attached to illicit drug use and would transmit a message of tolerance for drug use.

Majority of Americans & People all around world seriously opposed the Drugs legalization or decriminalization.   Leaders of drug prevention, education, treatment, and law enforcement adamantly oppose it, as do many political leaders.  The pro-drug advocacy groups, who support the permissive use of illicit drugs, although small in number, are making headlines. Influencing legislation and having a significant impact on the national policy debate in the United States and in other countries.  The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is the oldest drug user lobby in the U.S.  It has strong ties to the Libertarian party, the Drug Policy Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union.


The use of illicit drugs is illegal because of their intoxicating effects on the brain, damaging impact on the body, adverse impact on behavior, and potential for abuse.  Their use threatens the health, welfare, and safety of all people, of users and non-users alike.

The Legalization would reduce price and increase availability.  Accessibility is a leading factor coupled with augmented drug use.  Amplified use of addictive substances leads to increased addiction.  As a public health measure, statistics show that prohibition was a tremendous success. So many drug users consign murder, and spouse abuse, rape, property damage, assault child and other violent crimes under the persuade of drugs.  Drug users, many of whom are unable to hold jobs, consign robberies not only to obtain drugs, but also to purchase food, shelter, clothing and other goods and services. Augmented violent crime and increased numbers of criminals will upshot in even larger prison populations.

Legalizing drugs will not abolish banned trafficking of drugs, nor the violence associated with the illegal drug trade.  A black market would still exist unless all psychoactive and addictive drugs in all strengths were made available to all ages in unlimited quantity. The drug laws deter people from using drugs.  Surveys indicate that the fear of receiving in trouble with the law constitutes a major reason not to use drugs.  Fear of the American legal system is a major concern of foreign drug lords.  Drug laws have turned drug users to a drug-free lifestyle through mandatory treatment.  40% – 50% are in treatment as a result of the criminal justice system.

A study of international drug policy and its particular effects on countries has shown that countries with lax drug law enforcement have had an increase in drug addiction and crime.  On the other hand, those with strong drug policies have reduced drug use and enjoy low crime rates. The United States and many countries would be in violation of international treaty if they created a legal market in cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs.  The U.S. is a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotics & the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and has agreed with other members of the United Nations to control and penalize drug manufacturing, trafficking, and use.  112 nations newly reaffirmed their commitment to strong drug laws.

Black Market of Drugs:

The economic activity involved in illegal dealings, unauthorized buying and selling of merchandise with Drug is called Black market of Drugs. The Drugs themselve may be illegal to sell, the merchandise may be stolen, manufactured without licence,  or the merchandise may be otherwise legal goods sold illicitly to avoid tax payments or licensing requirements. Black market of Drugs is conducted out of the sight of the law.

Many countries began to ban the possession or use of various recreational drugs at the beginning in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as the United States’ famous “war on drugs.” Many people use illegal drugs, and a black market runs to supply them. Law enforcement efforts to intercept illegal drug supplies. Though the demand remains high, providing a large profit motive for organized criminal groups continues Drug business.

The United Nations has reported that the retail market value of illegal drugs is worth 321.6 billion dollars. But the law enforcement efforts do capture a small percentage of the distributors of illegal drugs, the high and very inflexible demand for such drugs ensures that black market prices will simply rise in response to the decrease in supply encouraging new distributors to enter the market in a perpetual cycle.

The Black market of Drugs develops when the Drug Administration imposes restrictions on the production or provision of some drugs. These markets gravely hamper the formal drug Business and also seriously injurious for Public Health. Now a days Black market of Drugs stands as a part of in any known economy.

Black Market Price:

Due to increase in government restrictions, black market prices for the relevant drugs will rise.  Restrictions represent a decrease in supply and an increase in risk on the part of the supplierschain. In accordance with the theory of supply and demand, a decrease in supply making the product more scarce will increase prices, other things being equal. Similtinuously increased enforcement of restrictions will increase prices for the same reason.

Drugs acquired illegally can take one of two price levels. They may be less expensive than the legal market prices because the supplier did not incur the normal costs of production or pay the usual taxes. Otherwise, illegally supplied Drugs may be more expensive than normal prices, because the Drugs in question is difficult to acquire or produce, dangerous to deal with, or may hardly be available legally.

Most people would like to purchase the drugs in question from legal suppliers reasoning –

  • Consumers may feel that the black market supplier conducts business immorally,
  • The consumer may justifiably trust legal suppliers and get proper feedback and accountability,
  • Participation in Black Market of Drug is a criminal

Another phenomenon of a Drugs black market for Drugs those are simply unavailable through legal channels.  In the case of the legal prohibition of a product viewed by large segments of the society as harmless, such as alcohol under prohibition in the United States, the black market will prosper, and the black marketeers often reinvest profits in a widely diversified array of legal or illegal activity well beyond the original item.

Drugs Black markets can be reduced or eliminated by removing the relevant legal restrictions thus increasing supply and quality. People who advocate this may believe that governments should recognize fewer crimes in order to focus law enforcement effort on the most treatable dangers to society. Some people as the equivalent of legalizing legal crime in order to reduce the number of  criminal delicts. A concession that in their view only makes matters worse because of a perceived disappearing of their moral values. On the other hand the government could attempt to decrease demand. However, this is economically out of fashion and not as simple a process as decreasing supply.

  1. Psychopharmacological Link

            Many people associate drug intoxication with crime, sometimes even violent crime.  This so-called psychopharmacological link implies that people may commit crimes or sometimes violent crimes after using certain substances recognized as undermining judgment and self-control, generating paranoid ideas and/or distorting inhibitions and perceptions.

            Although all drugs that have an impact on the nervous system may cause these kinds of reactions, the scientific literature suggests that some drugs are more strongly associated than others with violence of this type.  Those drugs include alcohol,  PCP (phencyclidine), cocaine, amphetamines and barbiturates.  Inversely, heroin and cannabis are generally associated with a weaker desire to use violence to resolve disputes.([1][32])

            The following table is a summary of the main properties of illegal drugs that have been analyzed in relation to violence.



Marijuana Marijuana is generally associated with a reduced desire to use violence.


Like marijuana, heroin generally has the effect of lowering the desire to use violence.  In some cases, however, it appears that disturbed or impulsive behaviours may occur during a period of withdrawal.
Cocaine Cocaine’s main property is that it stimulates the central nervous system.  Cocaine abuse can cause paranoia, although that reaction appears to be infrequent among cocaine users as a whole.  Some report that cocaine use can also cause irritability and anxiety in users, especially at the end of a period of intoxication.


PCP is recognized for its many properties (hallucinogenic, analgesic and anaesthetic).  Like cocaine, it stimulates the central nervous system.  Empirical studies are particularly incomplete for this drug; however, PCP is second to alcohol as the drug most often associated with violence.
LSD Like PCP, LSD is known for its hallucinogenic properties.  It can therefore cause strange and violent behaviour.
Amphetamines The main property of amphetamines is that, like cocaine, they stimulate the central nervous system.  Amphetamine abuse can thus cause paranoia, irritability, anxiety and even toxic psychosis.

Sources:   S. Brochu, “La violence et la drogue,” L’intervenant, Vol. 16, No. 3, April 2000;

However, confirmation supporting this model is limited.  The few empirical elements are drawn from research that presents numerous methodological problems and does not really help to understand the specific effects of definite drugs.

Indeed, many recent studies have challenged the notion that psychoactive drugs stimulate violent behaviour in any systematic manner. This psychopharmacological model of the link between drug use and crime is based in particular on research data showing that a large number of arrestees and inmates had used drugs on the day they committed the crimes for which they were imprisoned.  The following paragraphs present research findings which show that many criminal acts, some of them violent, are committed in Canada each year under the influence of a drug.

            According to data from Statistics Canada’s 1997 survey Homicide in Canada, 50% of accused persons had used alcohol or illegal drugs before committing their crimes.  Another Canadian study conducted in 1999 – based on a questionnaire distributed to all new inmates incarcerated in federal penitentiaries showed:

  • Slightly more than half (50.6%) of the inmates had used drugs and/or alcohol on the day they committed the offence for which they were imprisoned,
  • Within this group, approximately 16% had used illegal drugs only and 13% had used a combination of the two.
  • Significant differences in the types of crimes committed by type of drug.

There was a rather clear distinction between accusatory crimes and violent crimes in the prevalence of use of drugs and alcohol.  While homicides and, more pronouncedly, assaults and wounding were predominantly alcohol-related, crimes such as thefts and break and enter showed a higher predominance of drug use on the day of the crime.

Similarly, self-report surveys in the United States have also indicated a link between criminal movement and the use of alcohol and illicit drugs.

According to self-reports from a 1991 survey with a sample of 14,000 State and 6,600 Federal prison inmates, 24% of Federal inmates and 49% of State inmates reported that they were under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs at the time of their current offence.  In State prisons, 32% of inmates reported they were under the influence of alcohol, and 31% reported they were under the influence of drugs (including 14% who were under the influence of both) when they committed their current offence. ([2][39])

This earlier link between alcohol use and violent crime has been demonstrated in a number of studies.  In 1991, the Research and Statistics Branch of Correctional Service Canada pointed out that “violent offences were more often committed under the influence of alcohol or both alcohol and drugs, rather than under the influence of drugs alone.”

In one of the analyses on drug-related homicides in New York, Goldstein contended that people driven mad by illegal drugs kill very few murder victims and people under the influence of alcohol generally commit that homicide related to psychopharmacological factors.  An analysis of 218 homicides in New York, committed in 1998 and presumed to be related to drugs, showed that only 14% involved the psychopharmacological factor and that 74% were related to systemic violence resulting from the illegal drug market and related drug trafficking.

            The 1999 study by Brochu et al. also gathered useful information for analyzing the link between the psychopharmacological effects of certain drugs and criminal behaviour.  The study, which dealt specifically with illegal drug use and crime, produced the following main findings:

  • 28% of the inmates questioned said they had committed all or at least most of their crimes under the influence of an illegal drug,
  • nearly 44% of inmates who reported that they had previously used illegal drugs believed that their drug use had increased their criminal activity, whereas 51% thought their drug use had had no effect on their criminal activity and nearly 5% contended that it had contributed to a decline in their criminal activity, and
  • Mearly 80% of inmates who used illegal drugs on the day they committed the crime for which they were incarcerated (16% of inmates in the study) stated that their drug use had facilitated they’re acting out. Of those, 83.1% reported that their drug use had altered their judgment, 33.6% that it had made them more inclined to fight, and 37% that it had made them more aggressive and violent.

            Although some of these findings offer invaluable information for understanding the meaning that inmates attach to their drug use and crimes, such as the data on drug use on the day of the crime, they are insufficient to show a causal relationship between drug use and criminal activity.  In other words, nothing in these findings clearly demonstrates that the criminal act would not have been committed if the individual had not been under the influence of drugs.

Moreover, the findings based on the link that the offender sees between his or her drug use and his or her crimes should be significantly clarified.  In the view of various researchers some inmates prefer to associate their criminal behaviour with their drug use.  This enables them to attribute responsibility for their actions to an outside cause, i.e., drugs.  Although for many inmates this association is indisputable, research has shown that some individuals use it as an excuse for their behaviour and to unburden themselves of part of the weight of the offence.

            According to Brochu, “while the general pharmacological characteristics of the most common [drugs] are quite well known, understanding of the specific mechanisms promoting violent behaviour appears extremely deficient.”  This may be explained by the complex nature of the variables involved, which include:

  • type of drug used (simultaneous use of more than one drug must also be considered);
  • method of use;
  • dosage (drugs are recognized as having variable effects depending on the user’s weight, height, sex and other characteristics),
  • the user’s predisposition (moods, expectations of drug use, general health, etc.) and
  • social environment (local atmosphere, companions, etc.)

            The psychopharmacological model is incapable to clarify why most drug users do not commit crimes of violent offences.  This deficiency forces recognition of the fact that the reasons for violence and criminal activity go beyond the properties of the drugs themselves.

            Even though many studies indicate that some people used illegal drugs the day they committed their crime. There is little empirical evidence in the scientific literature to establish a direct link between crime, violence and the psychopharmacological effects of drugs.

Economic-Compulsive Link

Substance abuse and criminal activity

            Moving on to crime and violence caused by the illegal drug market, this section examine a different aspect that may explain the link stuck between drug use and crime, i.e., the economic‑compulsive link, which assumes that drug users perform crimes to finance their drug use.  Specifically, according to this illustrative model of the drug-crime association, the convincing and recurrent need for drugs and their high value lead some users to execute crimes to obtain the money they need to buy drugs.  This model focuses on individuals who have urbanized a dependence on high-priced drugs and assumes that the large amounts of money associated with recurrent use of certain illegal drugs constitute an enticement for criminal action.

            This justification of the relationship between drugs and crime is well supported in the creative writing and the media.  Many people attribute a great percentage of crime to this economic-compulsive linkage.  According to Brochu:

[Translation] The police and the media, which seize every opportunity to dig up the drug-using past of persons, arrested for theft, foster this belief, deeply rooted in people’s minds.  The offenders themselves promote this association by swearing to anyone who will listen that the single cause of their involvement in crime is their heavy [drug] use.  For many, this announcement is indisputable.  For others, some reservation persists because, in some instances, there is a clear advantage to be gained in accepting the label of addict ”

            Many statistical studies hold up the theory of a link between compulsion of illegal drugs and criminal activity.  Some Canadian and foreign studies have exposed that the rate of use of illegal drugs is much higher among people who have been in contact with the criminal justice system than among the wide-ranging population.

            In his 1994 report, the Chief Coroner of British Columbia settled that law enforcement agencies generally admit that many chronic drug users commit crimes to support their reliance.  At the time, police officers in British Columbia estimated that 60% of crimes steadfast in the province were stimulated by, although not directly linked to, drugs. Furthermore, a report published in 1995 by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police stated that most crimes against property (such as theft, break and enter, and fraud), as well as prostitution, are committed by drug users in order to feed their habit.

            Some Canadian research conducted among inmates also provides empirical evidence supporting the economic-compulsive model.  According to one study conducted by Forget in 1990, more than one-third of the individuals interviewed at the Montreal Detention Centre said that they had steadfast their crimes for the purpose of buying drugs.  Similarly, the 1999 study by Brochu et al. showed that nearly two-thirds of federal inmates who had used drugs on the day of the crime for which they were incarcerated reported having devoted their crime in order to get money to buy drugs.

That was the case for inmates who had committed the following crimes:  theft (more than 83%); robbery (78%); fraud (70%); and break and enter (68%).  The study also appears to substantiate a strong link between the use of costly drugs and the commission of criminal acts.  Approximately 68% of cocaine users who answered the survey reported that they had committed their crimes in order to get the money they needed to buy drugs.  Once again, it is significant to understand this information carefully.  As discussed above, some offenders (consciously or not) use this strategy to justify their performance and reject liability for their actions.

            Usual use of illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine is expensive.  The amount washed-out by addicts on drugs varies from report to report.  However, researchers agree that drug addicts have three main sources of income:  social assistance, acquisitive crime, and the illegal drug market.  A study conducted in Quebec in the 1990s found that expenses related to daily cocaine use could amount to $43,000 a year.

In a more recent study of opiate users in Toronto, a sample of heroin users reported spending an average of $3,133 on heroin in the 30 days preceding the study.  Most respondents (89.7%) in the sample who had already been arrested said that they were arrested primarily for illegal performance also associated to their drug use or actions in which they were trying to get drugs or get money to buy drugs.


1) E. Single, “The Economic Costs of Illicit Drugs and Drug Enforcement,” Policy Options, Vol. 19, October 1998.

1) S. Brochu, “Drogues et criminalité :  Point de vue critique sur les idées véhiculées,” Déviance et société, Vol. 21, No. 3, 1997, pp. 307-308.

2)                     P.J. Goldstein, “The drugs/violence nexus:  A tripartite conceptual framework,” Journal of Drug Issues, Vol. 15, Fall 1985, pp. 493-506.

4)  <http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/rsrch/reports/r11/r11.e.shtml >

5)  <http://www.be.wvu.edu/div/econ/work/pdf_files/05-01.pdf>

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