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Monday, May 4, 2009

Milton Friedman on Legalizing Drugs

Economist Milton Friedman superbly answers the major objections to drug legalization in this short video.

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Highlighted quotes from the video:

Why legalize marijuana?

"I see America with half the number of prisons, half the number of prisoners, 10,000 fewer homicides a year, inner cities in which there's a chance for these poor people to live without being afraid for their lives, citizens who might be respectable who are now addicts, not being subject to become criminals in order to get their drug, being able to get drugs for which they're sure of the quality."

Isn't it a gateway drug to harder substances?

"The effect of criminalization is to drive people from mild drugs to strong drugs... Crack would never have existed in my opinion if you had not had drug prohibition. It was drug prohibition- why was crack created? Because cocaine was so expensive." [Cocaine was so expensive because of drug prohibition.]

But what about the morality of legalization?

"It's not an economic problem at all. It's a moral problem. The economics part of it- I'm an economist- the economics problem is strictly tertiary. It's a moral problem. It's a problem of the harm which government is doing. Look, I have estimated statistically that the prohibition of drugs produces on the average, 10,000 homicides a year."

Isn't it good to discourage drug use?

"The case for prohibiting drugs is exactly as strong- and as weak- as preventing people from overeating. We all know that overeating causes more deaths than drugs do... where do you draw the line?"

What scares you the most about the notion of drugs being legal?

"Nothing scares me about the notion of drugs being legal. What scares me is the notion of continuing on the path we're on now, which will destroy our free society."

Sponsored notes:

Those who have suffered a drug overdose are often individuals who were reckless with the way they do their drugs, from the dosage to mixing it with other substances.