"[Drug use] does harm a great many other people, but primarily because it's prohibited. There are an enormous number of innocent victims now. You've got the people whose purses are stolen, who are bashed over the head by people trying to get enough money for their next fix. You've got the people killed in the random drug wars. You've got the corruption of the legal establishment. You've got the innocent victims who are taxpayers who have to pay for more and more prisons, and more and more prisoners, and more and more police. You've got the rest of us who don't get decent law enforcement because all the law enforcement officials are busy trying to do the impossible.
And, last, but not least, you've got the people of Colombia and Peru and so on. What business do we have destroying and leading to the killing of thousands of people in Colombia because we cannot enforce our own laws? If we could enforce our laws against drugs, there would be no market for these drugs."
Milton Friedman
(1912-2006) Nobel Prize-winning economist, economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan, "ultimate guru of the free-market system"
America's Drug Forum interview (1991)"America's Drug Forum" (1991)
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Reader comments about this quote:
Milton's comment reflects precisely what I've thought for years.
 -- EL, Klamath Falls     
    The proof is all around us.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
    The war on drugs has been a collossal failure. It would be better to just give the junkies all the free drugs they wanted. If they ODed, so what? They won't be bothering any one else any more. If they reformed so much the better. At least they woudnt be bashing some one's grandmother over the head to get drugs I'd they wanted them. There is no evidence to support that we would turn into a nation of drug users in that scenario.
     -- L. Hanson, Edmonton, Canada     
    The war on drugs is probably the most useless endeavor ever embarked on by anyone anywhere. And it isn't about public safety or for the public good. It's about control and the power to enforce (ridiculous) laws. After all, the power to enforce laws is the only power the government really has over us...so they make lots and lots of ridiculous laws that have nothing whatever to do with justice.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Good comments all. Additionally, the war on drugs also makes a great profit center available for certain government endeavors (buying guns for rebels, financing social engineering, etc.). The theological dogmas, propaganda, and misdirection (media, information, life styles, etc.) made available by the drug wars has thwarted the moral and mind set of the vast majority of society. In a de jure representative republic, where the government is limited by a constitution (not "We The People", the concept having existed a very long time ago in a land far, far away), the representative can not legitimately or lawfully do that which his sovereign (the individual in whom he is representing) can do. If an individual does not infringe on an innocent third party, can you as a neighbor arrest or punish that individual at law or justice. The answer is 'NO', neither can an individual representing you. It is only when a criminal despot, aloof in totality from 'We The People' - representing a foreign criminal, enforces compelled compliance and victimless crimes can such injustice be perpetrated.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Who benefits from the war on drugs? prisons, sheriff's depts, firemen, Highway Patrol, Marshal's, ATF, local police, DEA, Judges, the list of tax paid agencies is endless...what would be the benefit to those with a little power to vote to end the drug war?
     -- Abby     
    The War On Drugs has ALWAYS been the catalyst for the police state. The tremendous profits associated with the blackmarket pads a lot of politicians pockets. Asset forfeiture is essentially legalized theft of the property of someone who has harmed no one, not even himself. Here's an astonishing fact: more people die from legal, prescribed medication than all illegal drugs COMBINED. Who benefits? Politicians, lawyers!, big pharma, military/police, DRUG CARTELS, and totalitarians. Prohibition doesn't work -- or shoudl I say it really DOES work but not for the benefit of the people but of the fascist state.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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