Saturday, July 16, 2011


Carl F. Worden

Portugal legalized ALL previously banned street drugs just over ten years ago, and they did it intelligently. Instead of criminally prosecuting drug users and dealers, Portugal now handles matters relating to drug use as medical issues. At the time Portugal took this action, there were over 100,000 heroin addicts. Ten years after Portugal took this action, there are only 40,000 heroin addicts.

Do I have your attention?

Illegal drug dealing is deemed a crime in the United States, but it must be dealt with differently than other classes of crime. For example, the criminal justice system in the United States works fairly well by incarcerating violators who commit crimes like robbery, burglary, rape and murder, but it hasn't had any effect on the illegal drug trade due exclusively to the high profitability in being an illegal drug smuggler/dealer. For every drug dealer the cops take off the street, there are two more willing to kill each other to fill the vacancy. Portugal recognized this difference, so they decided the very first step in their plan of action would be to immediately make illegal drug dealing unprofitable. How does one do that? Simple. All they did was allow licensed pharmacies to sell those previously illegal drugs over the counter upon demand at no more than 15% over actual cost of manufacture.

The illegal drug trade in Portugal collapsed overnight! No illegal drug smuggler/dealer could possibly compete with pharmacy-grade drugs being sold by the Portuguese government at a margin of only 15% over actual cost of manufacture, because the true cost of manufacturing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc. is extremely low. To add a cherry on top, the Portuguese also prohibited advertising of any kind for the previously banned drugs, and of course they prohibited the sale of such drugs to minors.

Call it a crime if you like, but in reality, drug dealing is an obscenely profitable business, and the only way you can effectively destroy such a business is to make it unprofitable. If it takes a government to do that, so be it, but remember this Portuguese Model is not based on theory but on hard facts and solid results. You can't argue with that kind of success, so those threatened by such a prospect resort to lying, as in, "Are you going to believe what you see, or what I tell you"?

A great example of this was the debate over allowing average law-abiding citizens to carry concealed guns in public. Those against the idea argued that armed people in road-rage incidents or having a heated discussion in a bar will pull their guns and start shooting wild-west style. That didn't happen, and now that over 30 U.S. states have enacted concealed carry laws, the proof is in the pudding. If you allow law abiding citizens to carry a concealed gun in public, you are in fact increasing a quasi-police presence without having to pay for it. Criminals carry guns concealed as a matter of doing business anyway, so you might as well match their firepower with a bunch of carefully screened, law-abiding citizens who are packing a big surprise of their own. After all, when did you ever hear of a rape being committed with a marked patrol car nearby? Criminals try to commit crimes when the cops aren't around or cannot respond in time to stop them. Armed citizens can be found anywhere and anytime, and they aren't driving marked cars or wearing police uniforms. As such, arming law-abiding citizens not only reduces violent, public crime, but it is also cost effective.

It was a severe government financial shortfall that caused Portugal to change their street drug interdiction policy, and the results are nothing short of spectacular, so why isn't anyone with our own government pointing to Portugal as the model the U.S. needs to follow if we are to defeat the illegal drug trade permanently? In fact, why is the Portuguese Model being ignored here? When you talk to most people you meet in the course of the day, ask them if they've heard that Portugal won their own War on Drugs and you'll get a blank look in return. This, in spite of the fact the Portuguese Model has a 10-year successful track record. Of the very sparse comments I have heard spoken here of the Portuguese Model, the usual response is, "It won't work here".

My ass it won't work here! There are certain principles of business which apply to all free-market environments, and one of those principles is that a business must be profitable on its own without government subsidies. The profitability of the illegal drug trade in the United States and anywhere else is D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T upon those drugs remaining illegal, therefore it is a government subsidy of sorts which keeps the street drug trade profitable -- by L-A-W!

What complicates a rather simple remedy here are all the people employed in legal endeavors that are dependent on street drugs remaining illegal. They are comprised of the DEA and all those employed by drug interdiction agencies throughout the United States. They are attorneys, judges, prosecutors and rehabilitation facilities. They are corrections officers. They are individuals who secretly make millions from the illegal drug trade and desperately no not want to see the Portuguese Model implemented here, because they know full-well what will happen if it is. They are local and state law enforcement agencies that receive large annual grants from the feds for their interdiction efforts. I could go on and on, but whenever the media wants an interview with an "authority" to discuss the prospect of drug legalization, who do they ask? They ask the very people I've just listed here who have a stake in keeping street drugs illegal!

The usual picture these tainted souls paint is that the use of currently illegal drugs will explode. Well sure, if you just stop arresting drug dealers and let them keep pushing their poison on our kids, that could very well happen. But the Portuguese Model put those street drug dealers out of business overnight because the Portuguese Government literally destroyed their motive for pushing those drugs. For example, If a street dealer entices a new user through the usual system of distributing free drugs at a party, the new user can just go to a licensed pharmacy to buy the same drugs that are pharmacuetically pure and sold at a fraction of what the street dealer can sell them for. When you destroy the motive for selling illegal street drugs, that being the obscene profitability, you destroy the business altogether, and that business is dependent upon getting new users to enter the market.

Can you imagine the effect that would have here? The Mexican drug cartels would cease to smuggle and sell drugs, which is what all the fighting is about in Mexico anyway. The street gangs all over the U.S. would immediately lose their prime source of revenue. Burglaries in the United States would plummet, and so would insurance rates. Street crime would take a steep dive, and the prospect of somebody having to sell your bloody Rolex Watch for $250.00 for their next fix would be but a bad memory. Violent property crimes like home invasion robberies and street muggings would drop dramatically. Finally, the cost to local, state and federal budgets to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate people for drug crimes would be replaced by the substantially lower-cost remedial measures necessary to encourage current drug users to seek medical help in overcoming their addiction. After all, if current illegal drug users can go to licensed pharmacies to buy their drugs of choice, the pharmacy can give the addict information on where to go and who to contact. If the Portuguese Model produced 60,000 less heroin addicts in just ten years, it would work just as well here.

Don't hold your breath.


Post a Comment

<< Home