Alcohol is legal, and that doesn't stop people, specially teenagers, from abusing it. It's also proven tobacco addiction starts during adolescence. In this case, legalization is just removing responsibility from the people who profit from it, since in practice the law isn't protecting who it's supposed to protect. Just because something is legal doesn't make it ethical.
Then, we know legalizing certain drugs will only move traffic to worse drugs. Legalize marijuana and dealers will move more crack, just like the mafia moved from alcohol to cocaine after they lifted the prohibition in the US. Now what, the government will legalize crack too? Make even more unethical businesses operate under the law, knowing these products will be abused by teenagers just like alcohol and tobacco today?
There's no easy solution, and no one is addressing the real issue: that substance abuse is cultural and heavily promoted. You talk to young people, and their concept of having a good time is "getting wasted". Dysfunctional families and poverty only worsen the issue.
The big question to me, is what causes more harm: drug use, or the criminals that it funds? I'd wager the latter; drug use can be dealt with as a medical problem (I'm living proof) to some extent, murderous cartels, warlords, and corruption around the world can't be.
Something to think about anyway!
Tons of counterfeit cigarettes cross the border between Paraguay and Brazil, and that funds crime syndicates. A legal and regulated product. Now imagine if marijuana or anything else is legalized... they will do the same thing to avoid taxation, which would go to fund health assistance, and buyers won't care about where it comes from - they'll just care that their fix is available for cheap.
That drugs should be dealt with as a health issue, I don't disagree with, but legalizing substances isn't a silver bullet to stop crime, crime is rooted on other issues (education, poverty, lack of assistance).
Yep, that's true (or maybe it's some illegal drug, but statistics on those aren't very reliable). Now just imagine what would happen if the entire brazilian tobaco market consisted of trafficked products. How big a mafia could you sustain with 10000 times more money?
Anyway, that question nowadays is completely academical, as Brazil currently hosts a single big mafia, that takes it's toll whatever economical activity happens here.
I'm all for discussing legalization if we are talking about individual liberties (in which case, drugs can't be heavily taxed, to avoid a black market), but Kofi Annan and Fernando Henrique are presenting it as a solution to crime when there's no data back it up (the countries that legalized drugs so far don't face crime and poverty to begin with). So far it's just wishful thinking.
That said, it can still be a net positive, even if it doesn't fix all issues. That's what I'm arguing here :) Not that it matters, I doubt we'll see something as dramatic as that in my lifetime!