Your comparison of a drug dealer to anyone who sells cigarettes and booze is interesting. I believe that even with the huge tobacco lobby at work, most tobacco products will be illegal within twenty years, and rightfully so. Booze is a different story because it is well tolerated by many who use it and not as addictive as amphetamines, opiates or nicotine.
I can't argue against legalization of marijuana because too many studies have suggested a low addiction and personal harm factor. The addiction and personal harm factors for cocaine, heroin and meth far surpass those for marijuana though, and I believe that if you are to make an argument for legalization it has to overcome the harm caused by using a substance.
Even with this academic B.S. aside, you have been to the streets where non-addicted dealers see what their product does to their customers, the desperation the ability to drop all semblance of humanity just to get high. Why do you defend those who lack the moral clarity to continue selling these substances when they see what it does to people? Or to put it another way, I have never seen a male heterosexual cigarette smoker offer to perform oral sex on a male 7-11 clerk just to get a pack of cigarettes. (Same goes for a marijuana user-It's not the price it’s the drug.)
I like your last point! And it's valid. I think the answer is quite simple: cigarettes are not as bad as crack and heroin. Yes, cigarettes kill a lot of people, but a nicotine addict is not like a crack addict.
But I don't believe there is a fundamental difference between one addictive drug and another. Alcohol does ruin lives. Cigarettes kill people. But heroin and crack can do it in a particularly ugly manner (not that throat cancer is pretty).
Here's the point: regulation does not equal approval. If regulation could lower drug use--and there's every reason to think it can--then we should regulate.
Plus I refuse to play the "moral clarity" game. There are recreational cocaine users just like there are recreational drinkers.
I don't believe drugs are evil. I think some drugs for some people are bad. I think heroin and crystal meth are very bad for almost all people. Many of my best friends regularly use alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and ecstasy without fucking up themselves, their families, or their jobs. They're not evil.
But my point isn't to encourage use. Quite the opposite: it's to discourage use. And since the U.S. has the highest usage rate in the world for pretty much every illegal drug, it's safe to say our current war on drugs doesn't work.
The idea of condemning the morality of drug dealers to me is a little silly. Unless you're willing to say capitalize is evil (and though it may be, I'm not), I'm not going to say drug dealing is evil. They used to say that about music, sports, and alcohol. Is it wrong to sell to drugs addict? Maybe. So what about methadone clinics?
And besides, condemn all you want, if we lock up one drug dealer, another will sell. That's the problem: we CAN'T STOP drug dealing. Repeat that. We can't stop drug dealing. Once we accept that, we can figure out the best way to deal bad substances. And if regulation can lower usage, lessen addiction, and raise money all at the same time, why not give it a try?