Economics is important to social policy. The Iron Law of Prohibition is just another example of how economic literacy drives sound policy. While someone may want to ban drugs for the sake of keeping people safe, drug prohibition does the opposite.
The truth is that drugs become only more dangerous when the government prohibits them. Even though this may fly in the face of surface-level thinking, it truly is common sense when one thinks about it.
The Iron Law of Prohibition: Ban it to Make it Stronger
Think like a drug dealer for a moment. If you are going to risk imprisonment to sell drugs to people, you are going to get as much money as possible. Because of this, your goal is going to be to increase the potency of the drugs as much as possible. This is the main premise of the Iron Law of Prohibition. Basically, as drug laws become more restrictive, dealers have no choice but to increase the potency of the drugs. This is because prohibition is an artificial increase in the cost of doing business for drug dealers.
This increase in potency allows dealers to transport more drugs in less space. In other words, the drugs become stronger, more addictive, and deadlier. As much as one wants to get people off of drugs, government prohibition is the worst way to go about it.
Fentanyl, for example, is a direct result of the prohibition of opioids. Due to the current crackdown on the synthetic drug, things are getting worse nevertheless. Drugs that are stronger than fentanyl are now emerging. This is because dealers are seeking a profit. The risk of imprisonment causes the cost of business to skyrocket, meaning they have to make more in order to make doing business worth it.
Why Wouldn’t You Want to Make a Dealer’s Job Harder?
While one may think making a dealer’s job harder is a good thing, the truth is, however, far from that. This hurts drug users far more than they would be hurt in the status quo. It reduces their options to dealers who are risk-seekers. As a result of this, users are far more likely to encounter tainted drugs, leading to devastating side effects.
I don’t use drugs. The drug war failed me personally when it led to my father developing an addiction and eventually dying in 2004 due to an overdose. I have seen firsthand how drugs can ruin lives. Prohibition, however, is not the solution.
In truth, prohibition has only made things worse. The drug war is a blatant failure, for it has made drugs stronger and less accountable to market forces. If you want drug use to decline, legalize all drugs.
For the skeptics, have you ever done heroin? The answer, I assume, is no. If you haven’t done heroin, ask yourself whether or not you would do it if it was legal.
The answer, I also assume, is no. Anyone who wants to do heroin, meth, or cocaine are already doing it. Banning drugs does not reduce drug use. Instead, it makes drug use more dangerous. Legalization with no taxation or regulation, for that matter, is the only humane solution to the failed drug war.