Professor Mark J. Perry's Blog for Economics and Finance
Monday, December 05, 2011
Milton Friedman: Why Drugs Should Be Legalized
On the 78th anniversary of the end of Prohibition, here's a classic Milton Friedman interview above where he explains why both alcohol and drugs should be legalized.
When asked if it's not true that the drug problem is an economic problem, Friedman responds:
"No, absolutely not, it’s primarily a moral problem. It’s a problem with the harm which government is doing. I have estimated statistically that the prohibition of drugs produces on the average 10,000 additional homicides per year. It’s a moral problem that the government’s going around killing 10,000 people. It’s a moral problem that the government is making into criminals people who may be doing something you and I don’t approve of, but are doing something that hurts nobody else.
Most of the arrests for drugs are for possession by casual users. Now here’s somebody who wants to smoke a joint. If he’s caught, he goes to jail. Now is that moral? Is that proper?
I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that our government should be in the position of converting people who are not harming others into criminals, of destroying their lives, putting them in jail, that’s the issue to me."
Exhibit A: As an example of how the War on Drugs ruins lives (not to mention economic potential and an NFL career), consider this story of Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly, who recently got sentenced to six years in prison for being addicted to codeine pills. (ht/Roman)