It has been widely reported that more than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses during the 12 months ended April 30, 2021, a record high. A large and increasing portion of overdose deaths is attributable to illicitly obtained drugs, especially fentanyl. Many addicts have no choice but to buy their drugs on the black market, so they can’t be assured of the strength or purity of the drug, or what other drugs might have been added to what they think they are buying. As a result, many overdose deaths are accidental.
Imagine if we treated drug addiction using a medical model rather than a criminal model? If addictive drugs could be purchased legally and were regulated as to strength and purity, many overdose deaths would be avoided. Additionally, people who become addicted might be more likely to ask for help to kick the habit if they weren’t afraid of getting arrested and put in jail. Finally, much of the crime and violence associated with the illegal drug trade would go away if our policy of prohibition were ended.
As I’ve written before, if a new pharmacy opens in your neighborhood, the existing pharmacies don’t start a shooting war to protect their turf. And if someone breaks into or otherwise trys to rob a pharmacy, the pharmacy calls the police. It is the prohibition that causes most of the violence.
Under a legal drug regime, it would still be illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants, and children would be prohibited from buying drugs. But a person who minds their own business would not be a criminal for using drugs in a peaceful manner.
Setting aside the moral aspects of your suggestion, I see two major hurdles which would need to be overcome in order for it to be successful: 1. Many addicts are underemployed or unemployed, without health insurance, and/or homeless. Without government stepping in to fund this program, nothing would change for a significant percentage of addicts. 2. To gain the advantage of regulated strength and purity, Big-Pharma would need to be involved. With its involvement would come unnecessarily high prices, putting the benefits of your suggestion completely out of reach, I would think, of the majority of addicts. For it to work, any and all possible ramifications would need to be studied carefully so that appropriate solutions could be implemented.