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by Peter Moskos

January 24, 2009

Decriminalization versus regulation

There tends to more talk about drug "decriminalization" than legalization. What's the difference? Decriminalization is "safer." But it's not enough. It can even do harm. I talk about this a bit in my book.

In general, legalization involves regulation while decriminalization is set up around less government control. I believe that many drugs are too dangerous to remain unregulated. Hence I support regulation and legalization.

Decriminalization also focuses more on the casual user. I don’t believe users should be locked up. But the harms from drug prohibition are primarily seen in the distribution of drugs. Users aren’t killing each other, dealers are.

Decriminalization almost always ignores the area of the market which has the greatest harms. Decriminalization tends to buy into the myth that users are harmless or victims needing treatment and dealers are evil and need to be locked up. This is an absurd assumption on all fronts. It would be akin a war on bartenders.

We as society can and should control how people get drugs. It’s a shame we don’t.

1 comment:

BG said...

the town I live in is constantly having wars on its bartenders.