Libertarian Stance on the Drug War
When it comes to the vaunted War on Drugs in America, it’s an issue that has affected citizens for decades, starting most prominently in the 1970s. To understand this issue, it could take a considerable amount of research. But regardless of that fact, it’s important to realize that both of the primary parties in the United States take very polarizing viewpoints on what to do. Most conservatives advocate for outright criminalization of all substances, whereas those on the left want government to focus on treatment options. However, the oft-forgotten side of the political aisle with a very unique solution is the Libertarian Party. Rather than treating users as criminals Libertarians are very much in favor of making virtually all of these substances legal and to have no government interference.
This would dramatically shift the ways drugs and drug users are treated in America. While this is a very compelling statement, why precisely do Libertarians believe what they believe regarding drugs in the first place?
A Failed War
To understand why Libertarians are so fundamentally against the Drug War, you have to understand the Drug War itself. Since the 1970s, the United States has empowered law enforcement agencies both federally and locally to enforce drug laws as they see fit. With the creation of DEA under the Nixon Administration, it dramatically shifted the way that federal law enforcement views those that use and buy drugs. Rather than treating them as byproducts of a larger system, they decided to prosecute and apprehend those that were at the local level, sometimes for many years at a time. This is a terrible idea because what it ends up doing is causing more harm than good.
Hundreds of thousands of people have since been locked up for a long time for non-violent drug arrests, and these laws have incentivized agencies big and large to go after these criminals. Because of that, law enforcement has no incentive to change how it operates. It is instead incumbent on the legislature to try and decriminalize a lot of these issues because what’s happening is that many citizens are spending a long time in prison for simply possessing a drug.
As Libertarians, they believe that it’s a war that should end and no one should be in prison simply for possessing or using drugs unless it violates the NAP or hurts someone else directly.
The Individual and Smaller Government
Really, the prosecution and apprehension of drug users is an act of violence on the behalf of the state. As Libertarians, having a small state and less influence on what individuals do will ensure that money is no longer wasted locking people up for simply exercising their individual freedoms. In the Libertarian ideal, the individual is the most important aspect of society. Rather than thinking about the collective, we’re concerned about individual rights. And if someone wants to have the freedom to smoke marijuana or use some other sort of substance, they should have the right to do so without fear of imprisonment.