By this point in the book, I suspect you realize that resolving these issues employs precisely the same analysis. If you take a moment to pause and consider the question of drug use for yourself, I expect your analysis will be the same as mine, regardless of how you or I feel about drug use. You already understand our personal preferences are entirely irrelevant to the analysis. The entire 3LP analysis is simple, predictable, strictly principled, generally easy to apply, totally just, and has the nice benefit of being the only analysis compatible with a free and peaceful world.

As you may have already concluded, the issue of drug use is another easy one to resolve. As with the previous issues, and without any allegiance to any other particular agenda, we honestly seek to determine whether someone is violating the 3L Legal Principle. The answer to this question always informs us only whether the conduct ought to be legal. Whether you or I would personally engage in the conduct or actively discourage others from doing so is an entirely different analysis involving the 3L Moral Principle or our personal higher moral judgments based on concepts beyond the scope of the 3LM.

‘With the issue of drug use, there are two pieces of property to consider: the drugs in question and the body in question. Because competent adults are the iron-fisted dictators of their bodies, they are the sole decision-makers over what substances they ingest. Assuming the competent adult intending to use the drugs in question voluntarily is either the owner of the drugs or consuming the drugs with the owner’s permission, there is no violation of the 3L Legal Principle. As such, the conduct ought to be legal. This conclusion is the end of the legal analysis for the person committed to the 3LP.

However, like many issues, we could add additional facts that change the analysis. In any event, we analyze any other facts with the same 3LP-based process. What if the competent adult is ingesting a substance owned by another person without the owner’s permission? Because people are the iron-fisted dictators of their property, the competent adult consuming another person’s property without the owner’s permission is aggressing against the owner’s property. While lawyers sometimes refer to this type of aggression as a “trespass to chattels,” most people recognize this type of aggression simply as a “theft.” With these additional facts, the competent adult is now violating the 3L Legal Principle, and we can conclude this conduct should be illegal. We would reach the same conclusion if one person ate another person’s lunch without their permission.

What if a competent adult drives a motor vehicle after consuming some drug? Again, we analyze the new facts with the same 3LP-based process. Suppose any person is creating a substantial risk of harm to another person or their property by driving a motor vehicle after consuming a drug or for any other reason. In that case, that person violates the 3L Legal Principle. As such, the person committed to the 3LP will conclude the conduct should be illegal and terminated immediately. We generally call this type of conduct “reckless driving,” which is already correctly unlawful in most places.

Of course, if the person ingesting any drug is a minor or an incompetent adult, they should not legally be permitted to make their own decisions about consuming drugs. Usually, a parent or guardian is empowered to make decisions for the minor or incompetent person. If the drug user is located on another’s property, the property owner is entitled to determine under what conditions any person can enter or remain on the property. Property owners are not obligated to allow others to use drugs or to do any other particular thing on their property. Property owners are the iron-fisted dictators of their property.

The same analysis applies to all variations of all questions involving the manufacture, transportation, sale, and consumption of all drugs. While I would, and often do, attempt to dissuade others from using harmful drugs, we should abolish all paternalistic laws calculated to protect competent adults from themselves. Because such laws coercively control what competent adults are allowed to ingest, they violate the 3L Legal Principle. Further, such laws are incompatible with a free or peaceful society or world. It would be difficult to identify any other area of the law that has caused more violence in our world than laws prohibiting competent adults from ingesting certain drugs.

It should also be evident that competent adults who voluntarily decide to use harmful drugs do not have a legitimate right to force others to financially subsidize the negative health consequences of their unwise decisions. Absent a special relationship like parent-child; no person has a right to live at the expense of another. The same is true for the consequences of other risky conduct like sky-diving, scuba-diving, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, or even repeatedly overeating unhealthy foods. Our choices have consequences. While helping others who unfortunately engage in unwise decisions is morally laudable, forcing people to assist violates the 3L Legal Principle. There is no better way to encourage responsible behavior than to recognize competent adults legally and financially bear responsibility for their actions.

I suspect nothing I wrote here surprised you about how the 3L Legal Principle applies to drug use and the drug war. Regarding the 3LP, this is all that needs to be said. However, people not entirely committed to the 3LP may be concerned about how such a society could thrive. Much is written on this subject, arguing we would be better off without the drug laws.xv As you may expect, a free society is always most desirable for peaceful people who seek to live their best lives.

When I started practicing criminal law in 1994, I could find few people, even among my fellow criminal defense attorneys, who supported the legalization of marijuana. People relentlessly confronted me with arguments claiming society would be in ruin if we legalized marijuana. Fortunately, attitudes on this issue have evolved, and marijuana is now widely available. The sky has not fallen as predicted.

We should expect the same result from legalizing all drugs. It would strain logic to imagine legalizing methamphetamine would bring a rush of otherwise competent and productive people wanting to experiment. We could say the same about most dangerous drugs. However, those competent adults who desire to experiment are entitled to try whatever they want so long as they do not violate the 3L Legal Principle. In any event, in a world where all drugs are sold legally to competent adults, we can expect people would engage in those transactions safely and responsibly instead of on the street in the black market, which gives rise to a host of additional, often violent, problems. We could also free up resources to identify, arrest, and prosecute the small percentage of people who commit the majority of victim crimes.

As a long-time criminal defense attorney who often represents people in federal court on large-scale drug conspiracy cases, I routinely have legally protected and privileged conversations with high-end drug dealers. Most high-end drug dealers are sophisticated business people operating in an illegal market. I can tell you with absolute confidence this group of people is most disappointed with the trend toward legalization. If you oppose legalizing any drug, you are on the same side of the argument as the illegal drug dealers. Sophisticated drug dealers do not want the drug war to end because they realize their drug dealing days would also end. If you oppose the dangerous and violent world of the illegal drug trade, simply applying the 3LP is your best weapon.