Legalization Facts by Pete Guither Heading Image
Options for Legalizing Drugs

When some people hear about legalization of drugs, they seem to think that the word "legalization" means a complete lack of control - total anarchy. And you'll hear them talk about "legalizers" in bizarre notions.

Oh, yes, he's a legalizer. If he has his way, heroin will be sold to 8-year-olds at the 7-11 in pre-packaged syringes, next to the bubble gum.

Of course, this is nonsense. In fact, legalization is much more nuanced.

Legalization: A status where responsible adults may legally acquire, possess, and use a particular drug, although there may be restrictions on time, place and manner. Legal does not mean unregulated. In fact, when it comes to drugs, most supporters of legalization call for some regulation and control.

Consider gasoline. It is an extremely dangerous substance -- it can cause severe health problems or death if inhaled, can be fashioned into an explosive and can cause damaging fires. It is a legal substance (responsible adults may acquire, possess, and use it), but it is subject to control and regulation. It can only be sold by licensed dealers, and there are regulations as to how it may be used, in what kind of containers it may be stored, and so forth.

Legalization of drugs is fully compatible with regulatory efforts restricting access to children, forbidding use while driving or while working in safety-sensitive jobs, banning use in certain locations or situations, controlling the means for manufacture and distribution (including taxation and labeling), and creating standards for purity and potency.

The first step in discussing legalization or criminalization is to fully understand the proper arguments. Once you do, it's time to consider what legal drugs might look like.

Every drug is different, and may call for different schemes of legalization. Caffeine and alcohol, for example, are two legal recreational drugs and they have very different regulatory systems.

Over the next few months, this site will explore a variety of options for a number of currently illegal drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. We'll gather ideas that have been generated elsewhere, along with adding our own.

Send questions and suggestions to pete (at)