Building on the Arguments for the Legalisation of Drugs

In an excellent post on knife crime, Lenin points at an interesting correlation between the rate of knife crime and the enforcement of drug laws.

What about drugs? Andrew Resignato at Florida State University has summed up a wealth of literature on this topic, and concludes that there is in fact scarce data to support the thesis of a positive correlation between drug use and violent crime. On the contrary, there is a much stronger correlation between the enforcement of drug laws and violent crime. Drug users who do have to support the cost of their habit (inflated by dint of its control by criminal cartels) through crime tend to opt for non-violent means. On the other hand, the more investment in policing to control the sumptuary habits of the poor, the more likely there is to be violent crime. This is unsurprising. Create an illicit capitalist economy in the hands of extra-legal cartels embroiled in competition with one another, with that competition delegated down to those lowest in the hierarchy, and you get a great deal of violence in the process. I strongly suspect that states which impose drug laws are well aware of this, and that their function is to facilitate a strongly interventionist police force with ready-made pretexts for detaining and imprisoning people considered dysfunctional to the society’s requirements. It keeps ‘problem’ populations, generally the urban poor, under tight surveillance. It criminalises them before they have necessarily even broken the law.

Can’t find the Resignato report right now, I’ll post a link up when I do. If credible, it appears to provide some weight for the argument that enforcing drugs laws can lead to a higher rate of crime, and actually be more damaging to society than the use itself.

Proper post, on Israel and terrorism, coming later today!



Filed under Social Policy

2 responses to “Building on the Arguments for the Legalisation of Drugs

  1. Regrettably, the report is unavailable to anyone who isn’t a subscriber to the journal ‘Applied Economics’, but if you know someone who is, you can get it here:

    Alternatively, e-mail me.

  2. crossdale

    Thanks, Athens saves the day!

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