Prohibition lessons: Why don’t we just legalize all drug use?

Sep 7, 2016, 10:00 AM
drug use, safe injection, legalize heroin, safe-injection sites, safe injection, snohomish county...

I stood outside one cold evening watching drug deals through binoculars with two undercover cops. We focused on one little block. The cops would radio ahead, swoop in and get the guy.

While we waited for more illegal deals, I turned and asked, “Why not just legalize this stuff?”

That began a whole conversation with two people who are in the business of stopping “this stuff” from happening. One of the officers told me saw where I was coming from, but that, in essence, it would be giving everyone permission to destroy themselves.

Here’s the thing. I’m a Libertarian. My view: You do you.

Related: Homeless advocate argues Seattle’s camping proposal with Dori

I always point to what happened during prohibition. When all of a sudden we decided to stop selling alcohol, the number of murders spiked, crimes and organized crime went up. When they cut prohibition, rates of robbery, burglary, murder and assault went down, according to an analysis by the Cato Institute.
So let’s legalize it all. If you want to inject junk into your body, good for you. See you later. That’s your choice, society has no right to stop you. My right to swing my arm ends at your beautiful nose.

My co-host Tom, a bleeding-heart liberal, is slightly skeptical. He says this attitude means I have no sympathy for an 18-year-old kid who gets addicted to heroin and dies. That’s not true.

We know personal stories – like Penny Legate losing her beautiful daughter to heroin — and thousands of others that are terribly sad. I just don’t think more government fixes the problems. Or more police.

Would you arrest somebody with diabetes who is having a diabetic shock on the street? No. You’d call an ambulance because he or she has diabetes. If somebody’s got heroin and injecting it into their system, they are sick. You do not put a sick person in jail. You put a sick person in a hospital and give them medical treatment. To continually pick up a sick individual and jail them, how are you affecting the sickness? Zero.

It costs tens of thousands of dollars to pick somebody up out of the gutters, put them through some rinky-dink court system, and send them back out on the street. We are subsidizing the habit by not treating the sickness so that we can facilitate this criminal idea that makes people feel good that we’re rounding up drug users and putting them in jail. It doesn’t do anything for anybody.

Even in the rich confines of Sammamish and Issaquah, we have a heroin problem and these kids have all the money but are missing parents that are involved in that part of their lives.

“If we legalize it, though, we’d have even more deaths on our doorsteps in those cities,” Tom countered.

But would we? Or would we have less death because we could take some of the money spent on criminalization and use it for treatment?

That’s why I say we put down the binoculars and handcuffs and legalize it all.

Tom and Curley on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to tom and curleyTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 3pm for The Tom and Curley Show.

Tom and Curley Show

Tom and Curley

segregation, homeless affordable housing, apartments, housing...
Tom and Curley Show

Rep for landlords says Seattle needs to focus on ‘real solutions’ to fix housing crisis

Brett Waller, director of government affairs for the Washington Multifamily Housing Association, explains the recent housing bills in Seattle.
16 hours ago
Tom and Curley Show

Tom & Curley Show interrupted by a squirrel

In the middle of reading letters from listeners on Monday, John Curley was interrupted by his dogs bringing a squirrel inside his cabin.
15 days ago
Jay Inslee, pause, reopening, vaccine order...
Tom and Curley Show

Not much point in suing over Inslee’s vaccine order, says former state Attorney General

The vaccine order from Gov. Inslee for state workers stands on pretty firm legal ground, according to former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna.
2 months ago
Seattle crime...
Tom and Curley Show

Should Seattle council shoulder the blame for city’s ‘violent crime spike’?

The Tom & Curley Show discusses a recent column from Seattle Times' Danny Westneat titled: "How the City Council left Seattle in a no man's land on crime."
2 months ago
cell phone video...
Tom and Curley Show

Tom & Curley: Mistaken identity story out of Edmonds has an added twist

Tom and John discuss the case of mistaken identity from a viral video out of Edmonds that led to death threats, but there's another part of the story.
2 months ago
Tom and Curley Show

What will it take for you to return to King County Metro post-pandemic?

As vaccinations against COVID-19 are on the rise, how would you feel about commuting to work on a Metro bus again? Tom & Curley weigh in.
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Prohibition lessons: Why don’t we just legalize all drug use?