I think that non-addictive substances, and possibly even addictive substances which are currently illegal should be legalized. After all, Alcohol, Tobacco and Caffeine are already legal.
In many states, marijuana is the largest cash crop. The US does a huge trade in drugs every year, and we are losing all of that potential tax money! If we legalized drugs, and taxed the heck out of them, then many of us, especially the poorer segments of society, may not need to pay taxes at all anymore. (Unless they used drugs, of course.)

Many would argue that if drugs are legalized, then people would use them. It's a lame argument, and current drug usage levels prove it to be untrue. People use drugs whether they are legal or not. Many people in our fragmented society use drugs for a variety of reasons. Making the drugs illegal does not help these people. Dealing with the causes or roots of the individual drives and societal conditions that precipitate drug addiction works much better than writing and enforcing laws.

In The Netherlands], many drugs are legal. In France, they are not. Drug usage in France is considerably higher than drug usage in the Netherlands. The deciding factor is probably more closely related to the quality of life than to whether or not the drugs are legal.

In addition, no matter what we do, there will always be some portion of the population which is addicted to a substance. Alcohol was one of mankinds earliest inventions. It is in our nature to seek recreation, and enjoy the feelings that (some) drugs create. The fact that drugs are legal or illegal will not alter this.

So, I say let's legalize drugs, go for the tax money, and stop making people who use drugs feel like criminals. If we bring drug addiction into the light of day, we'll be better able ot deal with it, and help those who want help. We'll be able to tax a trade which is recreational, and perhaps save on the amount of money which is taken out our paychecks.
Just a quick little comment:
I agree with many of the points raised by this node. However, as an ardent bud smoker, I would stand to lose money if marijuana was actually legalized and taxed in the way generosity describes. As it becomes more and more available, controlled by the government and what the market will bear, I fear it will greatly increase in price and possibly decrease in quality. I do certainly feel the use of marijuana should be decriminalized. I also feel strongly that even the more addictive and damaging substances should be decriminalized, to a lesser extent. It is extremely important to take steps toward making drug laws less of a vehicle for racism and more of a way to focus on the fact that it is an issue of health and poverty. But, I digress. I suppose any further statements I make while on this soapbox should be continued elsewhere.
stylee: I doubt it. They don't call it weed for without good reason. I imagine a good portion of the people who smoke pot would have their own little garden to provide for themselves.

If taxes get too high, the same thing that happens with tobacco now will happen, people will find ways around them - through smuggling, or going to the black market.

As it is now, drug economics are the same as alcohol economics were during its prohibition - it's sold at an inflated price because it can only be manufactured and sold in secret.

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