On the right: End drug war

The rightist Nevada Public Research Institute has called for an end to drug prohibition.

“Nevada governments spent roughly $258 million in 2008 to enforce drug prohibition within the state's borders,” the group said in lengthy paper on Nevada issues titled Solutions 2013. “This includes $51 million for policing, $62 million in judicial expenses and $150 million for corrections. As these figures indicate, enforcing the prohibition of a substance for which there is significant demand can be a costly proposal.”

Where drug warriors tend to blame drug-related violence on drug use, NPRI argues that drug prohibition causes it:

“Because buyers and sellers within black markets cannot turn to the legal system to solve disputes or protect property rights, only violent means remain. Indeed, many scholars argue that prohibition increases the rate of violence in society. When the legal system fails to recognize property rights and contract law, black markets thrive, generating opportunities for individuals to now profit through the most unscrupulous of behaviors. Drug cartels, narco-terrorism and gang violence spread—as America now witnesses daily on its southwestern borders. Because of such effects, researchers have found, higher public spending on prohibition enforcement leads to higher murder rates and other violent crimes. Hence, prohibition enforcement appears to be a public safety expenditure that actually endangers the public safety.”

NPRI also asserted that prohibition creates a market and ending prohibition reduces drug use: “Significantly, in Europe also, in the decade since Portugal decriminalized the possession of all drugs, usage rates in that nation have declined across the board.”

On marijuana—the Nevada Legislature is now considering making it legal—NPRI contends that there is a good fiscal reason for doing so: “Of the $258 million that Nevada taxpayers spent to enforce drug prohibition in 2008, nearly $50 million was spent to counter private citizens' ability to possess small amounts of marijuana: More than 7,000 citizens were arrested for simple possession of marijuana.”