Timothy Hsiao writes:
In other words, freedom isn’t just the bare ability to do something; it is the ability to act under the influence of properly functioning cognitive faculties. This point is pivotal in making sense of the legal concepts of consent, coercion, and competence. Young children are unable to enter into legally binding contracts because their cognitive capacities are not fully developed. Likewise, insanity defenses are based on the understanding that cognitively disabled or insane persons cannot be held criminally liable for their actions. There cannot be freedom without rationality. (…)
Prohibition makes drugs more expensive and less available, which in turn reduces drug use. Alcohol prohibition, which many think ended in failure, actually reduced per capita alcohol consumption by about 30 to 50 percent. Cirrhosis death rates, admissions to state mental hospitals for alcohol psychosis, and arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct also declined dramatically. While is true that alcohol prohibition did ultimately fail, it failed for political reasons. In terms of reducing alcohol use, prohibition was a success. And given that excessive alcohol consumption impairs clear thinking (in addition to the $250 billion annual cost that it imposes on the nation), it is worth asking whether we should bring back some form of stringent alcohol regulation for reasons considered earlier.
Of course, not all drugs are used recreationally. Alcohol can be consumed as a mild social lubricant without the intention to get drunk. But this is not true of marijuana, as the whole point of non-medical marijuana use is to get high (and, as we will see, most cases of so-called “medical” use are indistinguishable from recreational use). Nobody smokes a joint wanting to avoid the high. So too with heroin, cocaine, and other drugs. These drugs would be the target of prohibition, since their paradigmatic use is abuse, unlike alcohol.
It is true that there will still be some who will go through the effort to illegally obtain drugs even if prohibition is enacted. Perfect compliance, however, isn’t the standard of success when it comes to lawmaking. Laws against murder, assault, and theft don’t stop all of these crimes, but nobody is proposing that we legalize these things.