I should be clear: I am talking about the legalization of harder drugs, so none of this applies to marijuana legalization.
Kathleen Frydl, a drug policy historian, summarized some of the FDA’s failures: From the misguided approval and branding of OxyContin, on the basis of information the FDA knew to be faulty, to the puzzling approval of the similar single-entity, extended-release opioids of Opana in 2006 and Zohydro in 2013, the FDA operates on the belief that opioids are beneficial in managing chronic pain, although there is to date no persuasive evidence of their effectiveness, and only mounting proof of their morbid risk.
Over the past decade, opioid producers and suppliers have spent more than $880 million at the federal and state level lobbying lawmakers to stop new regulations on their drugs, while calling on policymakers to actually loosen access to painkillers.
So increasing the severity of the punishment doesn’t do much, if anything, to slow the flow of drugs.
But the drugs remain illegal for big companies to produce and sell for profit — effectively stopping the kind of commercialization that’s spurred the tobacco, alcohol, and opioid epidemics.