A microeconomic analysis of the legalization of marijuana Essay Example

Discussing a Microeconomic Topic: “Legalization of Marijuana”

. (Individual Rights, Drug Policy and the Worst-Case Scenario, author. Journal Title: Criminal Justice Ethics. Volume: 22. Issue: 1, 2003, p 41) The drug problem has been of vital concern in every era, however the increased use of it has escorted us to think in parallel ways, legalize or not to legalize. The legalization of drug would have to include the freedom to sell and manufacture it, since the freedom to produce something is the sine qua non of a legal market. One could distinguish further between a policy of restricted legalization in which it is legal to manufacture and sell a certain drug, but purchase is restricted via state licensed gatekeepers (doctors, pharmacists, and such like) and a policy of full legalization in which a drug’s legal status is similar to that of alcohol manufacture and sale is legal, and it is legal to purchase it in ordinary retail outlets

Arguments for Legalizing Drugs

  • Increased use of drugs has resulted in a tremendous increase in violence and everyday crimes.
  • Limitations on drug use has not resulted in reduced demand, instead the demand for cocaine, heroine etc is increasing day by day. Even the most strict laws does not help in refrained use of drugs..
  • Legalizing drugs would minimally impact current levels of drug use because users now buy the drugs they want for a price.
  • Legalization escorts us to realize all those efforts spent on drug law enforcement could be utilized in fighting all the crimes, arising from the use of drugs.
  • If drugs were made legal, otherwise law-abiding citizens who use them would not be subject to draconian drug law enforcement.
  • Drug smuggling would not be a problem if drugs were legal.
  • Under legalization, users would not have to worry about receiving adulterated substances or passing on illnesses related to drug use (such as AIDS or hepatitis).
  • Foreign experiments with legalization have been successful.

While these contentions may have some merit, abolishing a well entrenched, decades-old policy of drug prohibitions without more intense scrutiny and analysis seems irresponsible. It could be calamitous for teenagers, the largest at-risk group for taking drugs, who will experience a massive growth in numbers in the next few years.

Legalizing drugs in America would have international consequences involving foreign drug growing and trafficking, multilateral conventions, and bilateral agreements. The significance of these effects is rarely mentioned in drug debates even though the United States has been the principal sponsor of many international drug control pacts.

The nation’s drug problem is difficult to evaluate and quantify. How severe is it and how is it measured? Is it measured in the number of drug arrests, the amount of drugs seized, numbers of overdose victims, or the costs of drug-related crime? How bad does the public perceive the drug problem to be? Is there a relationship between the public’s perception of the drug problem, or drug salience, and those indicators that measure the problem itself, drug severity? And has the massive Federal anti-drug effort, as measured by drug funding, made any progress in stemming the tide of illegal drugs? These are difficult questions to answer, but nevertheless important in determining if our national drug effort is successful.

One of the major problems faced by today’s drug policy maker is the ambiguity, conflict, inconsistency, and unreliability of methods to measure and evaluate anti-drug programs. Too often our drug measurement efforts are narrow, one dimensional, and focus on one particular aspect of the drug problem.

rationality; logical processes produce logical, predictable results. It is quite rational for governments to implement programs that increase the benefits and decrease the costs of society’s illegal drug use and abuse. Drug law enforcement, for example, is a most rational of policy options. Arresting illegal drug traffickers involves cause and effect. It is a measurable activity. It conforms to basic economic theory and the laws of supply and demand. By increasing the arrests of drug traffickers, the ability of drug users to obtain drugs should decrease, increasing demand and drug prices, and decreasing overall drug consumption.
In most respects, the making of drug policy reflects the epistemological conflicts between rational and nonrational approaches to analysis. At first glance, drug policy is the epitome of

in his Careers in Dope, argues that heroin users are not the depraved, sick, or criminal monsters of lore but rational human actors whose addiction to an illegal drug makes simple survival a struggle. From a public choice and microeconomic standpoint, rational behavior takes place every day not only in government offices but also on drug dealing street corners. Sadly, market forces are alive and well with respect to drug dealing.(Waldorf, D. 1973 Careers in Dope. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.), Similarly, rationally based public choice theory applies to drug users and traffickers. Individuals involved in the drug marketplace come together to traffic drugs for their own mutual benefit, just as they come together in the marketplace at large. Each individual is making “rational” choices to maximize their own utility, either from the users standpoint in maximizing their drug-induced pleasure or from the drug seller’s standpoint in maximizing profit. Waldorf

While this topic focuses on the rationality of drug policy, it cannot ignore nonrational aspects. In fact, a related purpose is to identify policies that drug policy makers initially predict to cause rational effects, but instead create nonrational, unexpected and undesirable consequences. Illegal drug use is an emotional issue. The public has strong opinions on the tangible results of drug abuse and the consequences of drug-related crime and public health pathologies. They also have strong opinions on the intangible results, such as the immorality of illegal drug use. With a high emotional content, it should be no surprise that the making of drug policy is highly politicized. By its very nature, politics produces a drug policy process that can become very nonrational, subjective and value-laden.

describe a wicked problem as “having no agreed-upon criteria to tell when a solution has been found; the choice of a definition of a problem, in fact, typically determines its solution.” The drug problem aptly fits Rittel and Webber’s wickedness, for much of today’s drug policy making consists of predetermined solutions applied to an undetermined or ill-defined problem.(Rittel, H.W. and M. Webber. 1973 “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning.” Policy Sciences. 4, 2, 155-169) In many ways, America’s addiction to drugs is a wicked problem. There is no agreed-upon definition of what the drug problem is. To some, drugs should be eradicated because they are illegal, to others drugs are bad because they adversely affect one’s health, to others drugs cause crime, and to some, drugs are not so bad and should be legalized. Rittel and Webber

. (Measuring the War on Drugs, A Cybernetic Model for Analyzing the Relationships between Drug Severity, Drug Salience and Drug Funding, Richard D. White Jr.).) study of Operation Intercept. Despite being conducted over twenty years ago, his findings remain valuable lessons for today’s drug analysts and policy makersGooberman, L.A. 1974 Operation Intercept: The Multiple Consequences of Drug Policy. New York: Pergamon The complicated relationship between the rational and nonrational aspects of drug policy points to a troubling hypothesis: for every rational attempt to create and implement drug policy, there are also significant nonrational, unanticipated and negative consequences. An excellent example is Gooberman’s (

. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies compile a large amount of data on numbers of drug arrests and amounts of drugs seized, although there is debate over whether increasing law enforcement “body count” statistics are evidence of the success of enforcement or the failure of efforts to reduce drug demand.(Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1970-1996) Statistics on crime, especially when attributed to drug use, are important determinants of the severity of the drug problem. The Federal Bureau of Investigation annually publishes Crime in the United States, which reports the levels of drug-related crime, including drug murders

A few points about marijuana remain unarguable. The plant is at least 10,000 years old. Its medicinal applications began at least 4,500 years ago. Recreational use has also been around for thousands of years. Less than one-tenth of the people who ever try marijuana end up using it regularly. Fewer still develop troubles with it. Some fix the problems on their own. Many respond well to therapy. Current treatments are promising, but not perfect. A few facts about marijuana intoxication also seem clear. The experience is difficult to depict and varies dramatically from person to person and across situations. Some people feel more relaxed, happy, and alive. Others feel paranoid and anxious. After smoking marijuana, people experience time, space, and emotions differently.

In my view drug is of equivalent vitality to an individual, a Government and a nation. Now it depends upon the user how he manages to use it. Either in his own benefit or his taking of drug may become a predicament. Police arrest over half a million Americans each year for crimes related to marijuana. Government spends billions annually on marijuana control. Several authors suggest that alternative policies may prove cheaper, send fewer people to jail, and maintain respect for the law, but I think if drug use be constrained within policies and should taken with a legal concern, there is no way it would become catastrophic for us!

Works Cited

Martin H. Levinson, 2003, ETC.: A Review of General Semantics. Volume: 60. Issue: 2, p 125 An Extensional Approach to Drug Legalization,

Journal Title: Criminal Individual Rights, Drug Policy and the Worst-Case Scenario, author,

Justice Ethics. Volume: 22. Issue: 1, 2003, p 41

Richard D. White Jr, 2001, Policy Studies Review. Volume: 18. Issue: 2, p 122. Measuring the War on Drugs A Cybernetic Model for Analyzing the Relationships between Drug Severity, Drug Salience and Drug Funding,

Robert Weisberg, 2003, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Volume: 93. Issue: 2-3. p 467Norms and Criminal Law, and the Norms of Criminal Law Scholarship,

Mitch Earleywine, 2002, Oxford University Press, New York. Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence,