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Legalize everything

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That’s the provocative title on the latest issue of This Magazine.

Of course, they don’t mean everything, everything. There’s no passionate defense of rape and grand theft auto, for example. But it was a good, thought-provoking set of articles.

The most in-depth article was Legalize Hard Drugs. And they do mean hard drugs, not just pot; and they do mean legalize, not just de-criminalize; and they do mean in the sense of being able to go into some LCBO-like entity to pick up your heroin, not having to get a prescription from your doctor. So rather farther than most Canadians would agree to go.

Still, it’s a surprisingly compelling argument. Prohibition hasn’t worked all that well so far. All it’s done is fund the gangs and dealers who make the world more dangerous for everyone. Ounce per ounce, marijuana is more valuable than gold, the article points out—even though it’s a weed. And the only reason it’s that expensive is that it’s illegal.

Money current spent prosecuting and jailing the never-diminishing number of dealers willing to take the risks for profit margins like that could be spend on product quality control, reducing the dangers of the drugs, and addiction treatment and prevention. It’s certainly a queasy-making idea to think of government supplying cocaine, which can bring on an instant heart attack, but they do sell cigarettes, which kill when used as intended. And alcohol, which has damaged many lives. And gambling, which is a terrible addiction problem for many. The line between legal and illegal substances is arbitrary.

But my favorite article was Legalize Music Piracy, because it laid out a plan that apparently has been tossed around for some time, but I hadn’t heard of it before:

  • All broadband Internet users who want to share music files would pay an extra monthly fee (estimated at about $3).
  • Those users could then download as much music as they wanted, keep it as long as they wanted, and share it with others.
  • Fees would be pooled to pay the artists.
  • Download stats would be maintained so that the more popular an artist, the greater their share of the fee pool.

Doesn’t that sound perfectly reasonable? Musicians like it. Music fans like it. ISPs are OK with it. The only ones truly and deeply opposed are record companies. And they just haven’t done much to endear themselves to most of us.

2 thoughts on “Legalize everything

  1. Not a well known fact, but Portugal decriminalised all drugs back in 2001, and a recent study shows that they now have the lowest incidence of drug use in the EU. The CATO institute publicised the study, i think. If you google for it, you can probably find it online.

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