To Legalize Or Not To Legalize…

Dear Reader, 

Remember the year 1986?

Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” topped the charts…

The U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger met its catastrophic demise…

And so did the nuclear power station at Chernobyl…

People lined up to see Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Top Gun in the theaters…

And Nancy Reagan’s War On Drugs was sweeping schools across the U.S…

The famous slogan of “Just Say No” was a battlecry for teachers, parents, and lawmakers alike. 

They thought that teaching children some cursory facts about drugs and giving them a slogan would help to stem the tide of illegal substances in the U.S.

This fad and the matching slogan lasted well through the 1990s. In all, 70,000 police officers signed up to teach and 200 million school kids – 114 million of which were in the U.S. alone – went through the program. 

Per procon.org, the economist Dr. Edward Shepard estimated that D.A.R.E. cost $1-1.3 billion annually (about $173 to $268 per student per year) in order to implement the program nationwide. 

Was This Effort Worth It? 

Did we save many people from the scourge of addiction, or did we waste time and taxpayer money?

Well, it depends on who you ask…

According to the Harvard Law Bulletin, drug use has fallen over the last 25 years…

Which is good!

But…

A half a million Americans now sit in jail for drug related offenses.

That’s 500 million people sitting in prison… 

Not contributing to society… 

Wasting away and costing taxpayers thousands of dollars every day.

And sure, some of them were dealers and even kingpins – heading organizations and slinging substances that would get lots of innocent people hooked into this endlessly downward spiral of addiction…

But that also counts people who were guilty of relatively minor offenses – including unsuspecting family members of drug offenders whose worst offense was being present when their drug dealer brother, boyfriend, or cousin was in the car at the same time. 

That’s not to say that all of those affected are innocent of criminal activity. 

On the contrary – most of those who got caught are guilty on some level…

Even if it’s only guilty of using drugs and becoming addicted to them. 

At some point, you’ve got to review the numbers… 

How many are addicted? 

How many are criminals? 

How many are casual users?

And the statistics – how many could live a full life, how is this affecting others in the community, and how much is this costing the taxpayer?

And once you’ve analyzed all of that, you probably start to wonder…

What Would Happen If We Just Voted To Legalize It All? 

In many places, either medical and / or recreational marijuana are legal, and the consequences have not been dire yet…

What happens if we just legalize all drugs?

When Gary Davidge came to visit me on the set of London Real recently, I asked him this same question.

Gary is the manager for a homeless drop-in centre in Shoreditch, London.

Every day Gary works hands-on helping the homeless community, serving some 6,000 meals to over 500 people last year. In the past decade he has introduced pre-abstinence groups and education programs. 

In the next five years, plans to launch specific programs to those in the stages of addiction recovery.

Gary is a pioneer in the area of serving and rehabilitating the homeless, so I knew he’d have a unique take, but what he said actually surprised me. 

You see, I thought he’d agree whole-heartedly with the legalization of all drugs, but instead, he took a larger view. 

Not too long ago, the country of Portugal decided to win their war on drugs by ending it entirely. Instead of punishing citizens for various drug-related infractions, they said, “Fine, it’s all legal now. Have at it.”

And that approach really seemed to work.

According to the New York Times, Portugal’s heroin-addicted population once numbered around 100,000 people…

Thanks to this new decriminalization initiative, that number is now down to about 25,000.

Amazing change, right?

But Gary doesn’t think it’s… 

A One-Size-Fits-All Answer 

And, after careful consideration, I think I agree. 

In our conversation, Gary pointed out that the culture of Portugal values a much more close-knit family unit.

Instead of children and young adults dealing with the spectre of addiction on their own, instead they have close family members to turn to – people they can trust no matter what. 

That really helps when it comes time to decision-making time. 

In Britain and the U.S., I don’t think we don’t feel that way anymore.

Or, at least we are too busy to sit down at the dinner table and have hard conversations about these things. 

Think about it. 

When’s the last time you sat down with family – and you DIDN’T have your smartphone in your pocket, distracting you as often as humanly possible?

I know this happens to me. I bet it happens to you, too. 

Here’s a thought about where all of this “connectivity” had gotten us. 

Maybe we don’t have a drug problem so much as we have a culture problem. Maybe the answer is not stiff penalties, or a complete lack of penalties. 

Maybe the answer is to keep the legal status quo and instead of punishing those who are caught in its wrath, perhaps we need to support them instead.

More holistic treatment programs for those who are addicted… More education and support for their loved ones… 

And on a personal level, more family dinners and close conversations with our kids…

Maybe we’ll never win a full scale war on drugs…

But I bet we could keep it down to a dull roar with just a few changes in how we vote and how we live our personal lives…

Keeping our loved ones close and having a little compassion for those who are struggling would probably do a whole lot more good than “Just Say No” ever could.

Regards,

Brian Rose

Brian Rose
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored

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Brian Rose

Brian Rose is an MIT graduate, with a degree in engineering. Upon finishing school, he immediately began working on Wall Street. An advanced technical trader, Brian was trading a book of $100 million at the age of 22. He spent years on Wall Street, working in New York, Chicago and London. He made millions, but...

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