career, you can't make that assumption. A gifted writer can always play with the rules to achieve a greater effect. Illegal drugs-and here I refer chiefly to cocaine, heroin, PCP, and methamphetamine-have three prices that are much higher than what they would be if the sale were legal. Fifteen billion dollars are fed into the federal drug control budget annually. You can buy cocaine or heroin that has been cut five times or 20 times, and cut with sugar or rat poison. Cut all of these three prices-the cash cost, the risk of not getting a decent quality, and the absence of searching and running risks-and the total price reduction would not be by a factor of 20 but probably by a factor.
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Very few walk in on their own. When I mentioned in my last column that our federal (and many state) drug laws were irrational, I was immediately greeted with the demand that we solve the problem by legalizing drugs. Suppose we have 15,000 people killed by drunken drivers. First, under legalization the cash price would be lower. The notion that a state of freedom exists in America is completely voided by narcotic laws. Maybe-if the crime committed by users seeking money to buy drugs and the dealers protecting their right to sell drugs falls by an amount greater than the increase in crime committed by addicted users who are no longer capable of holding a job. Drugs are now purchased in most cases from people who offer no meaningful promise of quality. Fortunately, the author is so well known that most people will make the effort to understand his points. I think that the harm to others from drug legalization will be greater than the harm-and it is a great harm-that now exists from keeping these drugs illegal.
Or how many pregnancies that now are harmed by fetal alcohol syndrome will be harmed by fetal drug syndrome. The Food and Drug Administration does not require accurate labeling, and unless you are a repeat customer, you probably have no idea what you are getting.
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