"Drug use is not a victimless crime" argued a friend recently. Drug users harm themselves and other people too, said my friend; they are all victims.
Well, as I've explained before, yes it is a victimless crime. Drug use may well make of the user a 'victim,' but as long as nobody initates force against another, no crime is involved.
As I explain here, a crime is when somebody does initiates force, or its derivative fraud, against someone else: Cue Card Libertarianism - Force In fact, that's what moral governments are set up for: not to protect us against ourselves, but to offer protection for each of us against the initiation of force by others. This gives us the 'moral space' in which to live our own lives in our own chosen way, as I point out here: Cue Card Libertarianism - Government
Being free gives no guarantee of success. Freedom means we are free to succeed, and also free to fuck up. 'Free to get it right' means you must also be free to make mistakes. And being free means we must take responsibility for our actions and our mistakes, as I argue here: In Dreams Begins Responsibility
So if you want freedom for yourself to win or to fail, then you must accept that same freedom for others too, which means you must accept freedom right across the board. You may disagree with another person's choice of recreational activity, but you are not morally entitled to bring down the weight of government force against them just for that.
Freedom is not something that you can cherry-pick; not something from which you can pick or choose according to your own prejudices; freedom is indivisible: allow a government to take freedom over here, and you have given it the power to also take freedom over there. Pretty soon freedom becomes challenged and tied up in all directions, and big government gets biggerand better at tying us up.
By that standard, any man's battle for his own freedom is our own battle too. So a 'victimless crime' is one in which no force has been initiated against anyone else. If you choose to inflict harm against yourself that's your business. ~If~ you do. Drug use is a victimless crime--the classic textbook example of a victimless crime-- as I say here: Cue Card Libertarianism - Drugs
Further, in the present environment of prohibition, it's no accident that organised crime and petty crime is intertwined, nor that organised crime is heavily involved with providing something that is illegal. It's interesting that people such as Eddie Ellison, former head of the Scotland Yard Drug Squad, says he and many other British policemen have now come to the conclusion that practical policing means that drugs should be made legal. Making them legal, says Eddie and other practical policemen like him, removes drug profits and the control of drug quality from criminals and corrupt policemen, and slashes the costs enormously -- removing the need to steal to pay for drugs, and removing the criminal connection between drug supply and drug use.
Removing drug laws from the books means police can concentrate on protecting you and me from real crimes that ~do~ involve the initiation of force, instead of spending time, energy and effort on people committing 'crimes' only against themselves -- 'crimes' which are never going to stop: If it's not possible to keep drugs out of prison, then how in hell are you going to keep them out of people's home?
Frankly, too many people have a blind spot on this subject. Admit it. You do. Arguing for legalisation of drugs is not an endorsement of using drugs, any more that arguing for freedom of religion is endorsing going to church.
It's simply arguing for freedom.
People will still say, "don't expect me to be happy paying for other people's lifestyle choices." Neither should any of us be made to, and there perhaps is the nub. None of us should be paying for the lifestyle choices of drug users, but nor should we for the lifestyle choices of racing-car drivers, skydivers, alcoholics, left-wing academics, people who eat too many pies or church-goers.
The problem here is not with drug use per se, nor with the misunderstanding of victimless crimes: the problem lies in the ethic and existence of the welfare state, which demands that you do pay for the lifestyle choices of others. When I hear the objectors to drugs call for the demise of the welfare state, I'll know they've understood the issue.
Here's the crux of it all: As long as people are using drugs without initiating force against anyone else and they're taking responsibility for their actions, then what they do is entirely their business. It's not yours. It's not mine. And it's not the business of Jim Anderton or any other Drug Czar either.
If users or suppliers ~do~ initiate force, then they should be convicted for that, and without any bullshit about 'diminished responsibility' either.
But convictions for crimes in which there is no physical coercion is a victimless crime. That ain't hypocrisy, that's the truth of it. Drug use is a victimless crime.
So now let's translate the objection that my friend really has to legalising drugs. She says "Drug use is not a victimless crime," but what she means is "I don't like drugs." Fine. Her business. I don't like Pink Floyd. But I don't demand that anyone write a law about it, nor do I ask for the criminalisation of otherwise law-abiding Pink Floyd users. There are many objections one can make about Pink Floyd users, but making them criminals is not a valid action.