Susanna Cornett has a longish post explaining why, even though the war on drugs hasn’t been particularly successful, we should continue to wage it. She points out the horrendous social costs of alcohol abuse and illegal drug use and argues that the incidence of these problems would assuredly increase with legalization.
I agree with this point, although think it somewhat overstated. My guess is that the percentage of society with a proclivity toward self-destructive behavior is essentially fixed as is the number prone to addiction. Still, we’d almost certainly have more people experimenting with “hard” drugs in a society where they’re legal than in one where it’s punishable by law.
Further, I wonder about directionality in the correlations Susanna and others point to between intoxication and other bad behavior. Is it the alcohol that makes people commit assualts, or is it just that jackasses are more likely to get drunk?
My inclination, nonetheless, is to increase liberty and to punish people for the actual consequences of their actions rather than merely the potential consequences.