Raedwald is a bit of a puritan when it comes to drugs. In response to Guido's call to legalise everything on the basis that in most towns past 1am, drugs are easier to get than booze - the billions we spend interdicting supply are spent in vain and it would be better to regulate, tax and control the drugs market, he asks "what happens to the drug-dealers?
Legalising drugs won't eliminate criminals. As arguments go, 'prohibit a substance in order to provide something profitable for criminal classes to do' has to be the most wrong-headed and fatuous example of an attempt to justify ones prejudices that I've seen from this normally excellent, or indeed any other, blogger.
The drug-dealing scum would just turn to alternative criminal activity. At best this might be burglary, mugging and robbery. Or the profits to be made from dealing illegal handguns (and would those who advocate legalising drugs also advocate legalising handguns on the same basis?). At worst, our welfare ghettoes may grow to resemble Brazilian favelas, where a 'hit' can be bought for $50 and human life becomes cheaper than beefThe problem is, Altria, sometime most profitable company in the world, and the likes of Diageo and many, many others will tell you that recreational drugs are a very profitable industry. The murders and violence associated with the illegal end of it are a result of turf wars over that highly profitable trade, which in a legitimate business result in advertising hoardings, not corpses. Al Capone demonstrated that prohibition merely changes the destination of the profits: to whom would you rather profits from drugs went: Shareholders and pension funds (via legitimate companies), or gangsters? Without these profits, many of the Drug dealing scum would indeed do something else, and it may not even be criminal.
Booze and fags are highly taxed and regulated. From whom and to whom one sells and how the product in marketed are all subject to controls "for the children". The products themselves are subject to quality control and are reasonably safe. The Government generates tax to pay for associated health costs (and then some, so the NHS argument is bunk too)
Many of the health and social effects are caused by the muck the drugs are cut with, and the fact that users (lets get away from the idea that all drug takers are 'addicts') do not know the strength of the junk they're taking in advance. There's no quality control. Nor is there any meaningful attempt to prevent selling to minors: Heroin and crack in particular are subject to a highly effective pyramid marketing scheme by which the only way to fund a habit is to become a dealer, thereby causing users to recruit other users.
The "drug-dealing scum" might have remained functioning members of society if their tipple was legal, and wouldn't have to deal to fund their habit. If their junk was of high quality, injected with sterile needles, then they would be at less risk of the infections which make junkies so ill.
Every argument in favour of retaining drug prohibition can be shot down by anyone prepared to apply logic. The war on Drugs is insanely futile and counter productive. Anyone, who thinks the 'war on Drugs' is winnable, or even worth fighting, is an idiot.