This post at Say Anything got me wondering about how best to curb drug use in the country. I think the stupidity the post points out in asking how New York City could think it's a good idea to facilitate heroin use while propsing to try and tax sugary drinks and salt out of people lives is obvious.
But it got me thinking: what if drugs were legalized and sold exclusively through licensed dealers? The misguided propensity for government to try and legislate behavior might be put to good use for once. If drugs were a legal commodity, open to taxation, the government could simply tax it out of existence the way it is attempting to with cigarettes.
There would be problems of course. As the taxes went up users would likely do whatever was necessary to get the money for a fix. There would inevitably be a database of known drug users which would raise all sorts of ire with the privacy crowd.
Long term, however, would this approach work? I don't think we'll know in my lifetime; the political backlash of this would likely be too much for any Congress to draft the legislation. It would be interesting though to try this approach on marijuana, a drug which is lumped in with the likes of heroin and methamphetamine, narcotics with far greater negative consequences on society.
This line of thinking puts me in an uncomfortable place, as I dislike taxation as behavioral engineering. Think of this as an intellectual exercise (and one I'm well aware did not originate with me).
What do you think? If the government announced tomorrow that marijuana was legal and for sale by licensed dealers, and subsequently taxed it at higher and higher rates to curb its use, would the tactic succeed in ending, or at least greatly diminishing, its use?