Lesson 8: Crack

Milton Friedman, economist, wrote the following as an open letter to former Drug Czar, Bill Bennett:

Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, crack would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) Crack cocain is extreamly addictive but there are centers that treat crack addiction.

Richard Cowan wrote of what he calls the iron law of prohibition in The National Review:

The more intense the law enforcement, the more potent the drugs. If a dealer can smuggle only one suitcase full of drugs ... which would he be carrying - marijuana, coca leaves, cocaine, or crack? He gets more dollars for the bulk if he carries more potent drugs. The same thing happened during prohibition; the production of beer declined while spirits accounted for a larger part of total alcohol consumption. When one advocates drug legalization, a standard question is, "Well, marijuana is one thing, maybe even cocaine, but are you seriously saying you would legalize crack?" The answer is that crack is almost entirely a product of prohibition. It probably would not exist if drugs had been legal for the past 20 years.

This was the first time that the effects of prohibition were tested. This is when, as a direct result of opium prohibition, heroin was marketed and the drug pusher was born. Selling illegal narcotics had never before been considered a source of income. There was now a vested interest in inducting new users.

Heroin is crystallized morphine. It is more potent and addictive, less bulky and more easily concealed. Drug addicts were (and still are) exiled from society. Deaths of users were unheard-of before the pushers took over. Users were excluded from decent employment and forced into contact with criminals.

When it became obvious that opium prohibition backfired, we continued to try to suppress opiates and sweep the problem under the rug. People who fell into the dealers traps became sicker and sicker, beginning a self-fulfilling prophesy.

History Lesson #8: When a substance is made illegal, a newer, more potent (and more dangerous) form will inevitably be invented.

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