It's an incredibly simple idea really. In one stroke, you reduce income to gangs and other criminal organizations, reduce prison populations of non-violent and often otherwise productive citizens, and reduce costs spent by Lew Enforcement agencies following and prosecuting minor, victimless 'crimes' instead of chasing after more dangerous criminals.
So what to decriminalize? Cannabis is an obvious choice, it's being pushed for already. But honestly, I have to say all but the very most dangerous of the recreational drugs should be decriminalized. This comes from some one who has no intention of partaking in these substances, and who does not smoke, rarely drinks, and always in moderation when I do drink.
There are a multiple reasons behind this. 1) Prohibition doesn't work. History shows us that. 2) the only reason most (not all) drugs are related to violent crime, is because the drugs themselves are illegal. When alcohol was illegal, it was related to gang activity too. Now it's legal, you don't find criminal gangs trying to sell it on the streets. 3) If there is no threat of jail or fines, someone who is addicted is much more likely to seek help once they realize that they have a problem. 4) If some one is determined to self destruct, making a method of it illegal isn't going to stop them.
For the most part, law adjustments will be easy. All intoxicants should follow the same rules as alcohol (age to purchase/imbibe, being drunk in public, etc), and if it's smokable, then it has to also follow all rules for smoking, the same as tobacco. However, a more generalized rule shoudl be added, making 'being intoxicated while [...]' be an additive to any crime, increasing penalties. I believe in responsibility for ones own actions, and that includes making the choice to be intoxicated in the first place. If you tend to get so drunk that you make bad choices, you need to make the decision to not drink. And that same goes with every other mind altering chemical. If you make the choice to take it, you are taking responsibility for every action you do while under the influence.
A small set of drugs (PHP topping the list) are however to dangerous. Taking them even once creates a high risk of violence towards others, or similiar issues, thus making it necessary to keep them illegal. Others are dangerous to make in most settings, such as meth, which would remain illegal to create in a home brew operation, even if it is otherwise legal to take.
Natually, Taxes could now be applied to these intoxicants, much like it's applied to alcohol and tobacco. This increases revenue to the government with out raising general taxes, which is good.
But are drugs the only things that we can decriminalize? Not by a long shot. This next one will get short-sighted feminists, and conservative religious types, equally outraged. Legalize prostitution.
Yes, I understand prostitution usually takes advantage of women in vulnerable positions. No, I wouldn't want any woman I know to become a prositute. Once again I reffer to the issue of prohibition, and to an insight others have had before me: It's legal to have sex, and it's legal to sell stuff including services, but it's illegal to sell sex. How does this possibly make any sense?
Naturally, pimping is kept illegal, as it involves coercion of the prostitutes into doing that job, and not seeking a way out, so depending on circumstances, would include rape, blackmail, theft, and conspiracy to rape (he's working to have others effectively rape her, as she's unwilling, even if they don't know she's being forced, so they don't know they are participating in rape).
Again, LE agencies don't have to spend time and money on vice squads for this issue, which I consider a legitimate if degrading way to earn money for anyone, male or female. And it would involve normal income tax of course, as well as taking away another source of income for gangs.
The third thing is gambling. This is a state by state law in the first place, and people just travel to go do it elsewhere anyway, such as indian reservations. Make it legal, you reduce underground bookies and such, and again, remove income from gangs.
So if all three things are decriminalized and legalized, you increase the revenue of the government, thus reducing national debt, you redirect money to much more important issues, decrease prison populations, and you automatically weaken the power and influence of gangs, both internal and external.
All three of these things are false sins in the first place. Some religions are offended by them for ideological reasons, but we are a free country, not bound by what the Muslims, Christians or other religions want. They can continue to impose their additional restrictions upon their own adherents, and let the rest of us do as we please.
The government, despite the potential for increased revenue, would rather keep these things illegal, because it gives them more excuses to be strong and powerful and intrusive into our lives. By decriminalizing these, we reduce the power of the government over us. This is a good thing.