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Legalization Essay, Research Paper

Would Legalization Benefit Society?

Would legalization in anyway benefit society? That is exactly the point that Benson B. Roe and William J. Olson tackle in these selections. With Benson taking the pro side and William taking the con side. In both articles they argue over the effects that the legalization of drugs would have on our American society. Benson says that drugs are no worse than tobacco and alcohol. William will actually agree with this and say that we should prohibit tobacco and alcohol. This kind of statement is very key because if we as a society feel the same way as William than why is it that tobacco and alcohol are still legal? The topic has importance because it gives us a better understanding of the effects of illicit drug use.

Benson Roe cities many reasons as to why drugs should be legalized. Benson, a former heart surgeon and former chair member on cardiothoracic surgery at the University of California at San Francisco, has seen all the dangerous effects of drugs but in all of his years he has never once witnessed a drug related death. It is his belief that drugs are not evil, addictive, or poisonous. At lest no more than some of our legal drugs. After seeking information from the San Francisco Corner he found that the use of marijuana and heroin in small, clean dosages is relatively harmless. Most of these substances have been consumed in large quantities for many years and there has been no report of progressive or disabling diseases. As for addiction he points out that illicit drugs are no more addictive than some of our legal drugs like caffeine or even chocolate. Also for some people it seems easier to become an addict. So why prohibit some drugs just because of a few people who cant enjoy a drug without being addicted? And finally to say that illicit drugs are evil is no more right than to say that legal ones are not. In fact most reported deaths from drug use or abuse has come from two legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. So why is it that illegal drugs are considered evil and the ones that kill the most are not. Towards the end of the article he points out six ways that society could benefit from the legalization of illicit drugs. The first in no particular order would be purity assurance from the Food and Drug Administration that way there were no deaths from initial use. Then labeled concentration of the product in order to avoid overdoses. It would eventually lead to the obliteration of the drug dealers and the pushers. Which would lead to the end of drug related crimes. It would also save the taxpayers from expensive law enforcement, and could be a significant source of tax revenues. So from Benson s point of view society could benefit more from the legalization then from prohibition.

The con side argued by William J. Olson brings up many reasons as to why legalization of illicit drugs would be more harmful to our society. William argues that many advocates of legalization tell you that the dangers of illicit drug use is overstated, and that they are not as harmful as we perceive them to be. So is the use of illicit drugs and its overstated? William says maybe in 60 s and 70 s in a time when we knew little about the effects of illicit drugs, but in present day there is so much evidence that illicit drugs can kill how can we still argue for their legalization. In the beginning of the article he compares his ideas to that of Steven Duke and Albert Gross book, America s Longest War: Rethinking Our Tragic Crusade Against Drugs. In this book they argue that drug use is no more dangerous than extreme bike riding or hang-gliding. William rebuttals by giving some interesting facts about drug use of the job cite. For instance drug using workers are 3 to 4 times more likely to have on-the-job accidents, and 4 to 6 times more likely to have off-the-job accidents. He compares this with people s fetishes with extreme sports, saying that most extremists wont have these kinds of problems because of their extra curricular activities. Another thing William looks at is the international experiment that is currently going on in many European countries. He points out two countries where they have legalized illicit drugs. The first happened in 1987 in Zurich, Switzerland at Plazspitz Park at safe haven for heroin addicts. At first there were only a small amount of users but as word spread more and more addicts came to this peaceful place and turned it to a disaster area. The second of the two experiments takes place in the Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam, where they have chosen not to enforce anti-drug laws. Society reins this to be the best example of social tolerance of illicit drug use. Once again the Netherlands, just like Plazspitz Park, the European drug community flocked to the Netherlands. William goes into the tobacco and alcohol theory, which is that tobacco and alcohol are no worse than any of the drugs we consider to be evil or harmful. He actually agrees with this, but says that with the immense industrialization of these industries it is not feasible to prohibit these products. Even though we made the mistake of making these legal we cannot allow another drug just as addictive to enter or American homes. William believes we cannot stop people from using illicit drugs but at the same we cannot give up and the legalization of harmful substances commence.

I truly believe, after reading both articles, that there is no valid reason as to why the legalization of illicit drugs would in any way harm society. That is anymore than the war against drugs has already done. We as a society can no longer look in the other direction about this situation any longer. A descion must be made and I believe that it should be to stop this war and come to the realization that we can never eradicate illicit drugs. All we can do is control it, form laws for its use, and make a cleaner drug. Take into account that alcohol and tobacco kill more people ever year than all illicit drugs combined, and tend to be more addictive. We also cannot deny that with the legalization of illicit drugs more tax revenues will be brought in, and the war that we fight on our own streets can finally end. It seems as if the government enjoys ruining people s lives over a victimless crime.


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