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Legalization Of Drugs Essay, Research Paper

Such an issue stirs up moral and religious beliefs;

beliefs that are contrary to what America should “believe”.

However, such a debate has been apparent in the American

marketplace of ideas before with the prohibition of alcohol in

the 1920’s. With the illegality of alcohol the mafia could

produce liquor and therefore had considerable control over those

who wanted their substance and service. The role that the mafia

played in the 1920’s has transformed into the corner drug dealers

and drug cartel of the 1990’s. The justification that legalized

alcohol under Amendment 21 in 1933 should also legalize drugs in

1996. With the legalization of drugs a decrease in deaths

related to drug deals would occur and also the price would lessen

because bigger businesses could produce drugs at a cheaper price.

Thus, reducing crimes that are committed to support a drug habit.

Another drug that has played a major role in American society is

nicotine. For hundreds of years, cigarettes have been a popular

legal drug within the United States. Only through legalization

and education has the popularity and the use of cigarettes

declined within the past ten years. Physically, the actual

consequences of using illicit drugs is much less than of using

drugs like alcohol or cigarettes and the consequences will be

diminished. Illicit drugs can and will be made safer than they

are in the present system. In making comparisons, the best is to

look at how countries are functioning that have less enforcement

on drugs and what the statistics were after drugs were

decriminalized. Within the last thirty years many groups have

their attempts. The use of drugs is a victimless crime much like

homosexuality. Homosexuals have fought for a great deal of

freedom that is based on their basic human rights; the right to

make decisions and act freely based on what is protected under

the Constitution, so long as anyone else is not affected.

Economically, the production of drugs in the United States would

benefit the financial well being of the American government and

people. Taxes should immediately be placed on drugs thus

resulting in a significant increase in government income. The

more money that government receives is more money that they can

put towards the education of how drugs effect the human mind and

body. Prohibition breeds disrespect for law?enforcement; the

agency that “should” hold the highest respect of the American

society. Money spent on prohibition is an overwhelming figure

that is not needed and is obviously accomplishing little. Those

who want to be controlled by a substance should have every right

to do so, because this right has equal jurisdiction as any other

human right that has emerged from the sea of oppression and

persecuted freedoms.

The deaths resulting in the acquiring of alcohol

have all but disappeared. When all non?medical dealings in

alcohol were prohibited in the United States in 1919, the

results were very similar to today’s drug trade. Alcohol

quality was brewed illicitly; importers were considered

criminals and behaved as such; protection rackets, bribes

and gang warfare organized crime in the United States.

(Boaz, p.118) The enforcement budget rose from $7 million

in 1921 to $15 million in 1930, $108 million in 1988

dollars. In 1926, the Senate Judiciary Committee produced a

1,650-page report evaluating enforcement efforts and proposing

reforms. In 1927, the Bureau of Prohibition was created to

streamline enforcement efforts, and agents were brought

under civil service protection to eliminate corruption and

improve professionalism. In that same year, President

Hoover appointed a blue-ribbon commission to evaluate

enforcement efforts and recommend reforms. Three years later

Prohibition was over and alcohol was legalized.(Boaz, pps.49?50)

Immediately, the bootlegger stopped running around the streets

supplying illicit contraband. People stopped worrying about

drunks mugging them in the streets or breaking into their

apartments to get funds to buy a pint of wine. We now deal with

alcohol abuse as a medical problem. Let us deal with the drug

problem in the same way. Let us try not to repeat the mistakes

of the past by continuing to escalate a war that is totally

unnecessary.(Boaz, p.120) The repeal of alcohol prohibition

provides the perfect analogy. Repeal did not end alcoholism??as

indeed Prohibition did not–but it did solve many of the problems

created by Prohibition, such as corruption, murder, and poisoned

alcohol.(Boaz, p.50) We can expect no more and no less from drug

legalization today.

United States has not tried to ban the use of tobacco on

cigarette smoking is one of America’s most dangerous drug habits.

Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, is exceedingly

poisonous. When isolated and taken orally, it can bring death in

a matter of minutes. Cigarette tobacco contains about 1.5

percent nicotine; an average cigarette yields six to eight

milligrams of the drug. Cigar tobacco is potentially more

lethal; a standard size cigar contains about 120 milligrams of

nicotine, twice the amount of a lethal dose. What apparently

irony is that tobacco which can be seen as just of a danger if

not more so than many illicit drugs of today is considered a

“good” and perfectly legal drug among the American society.

A terrible, controlling substance that alters the mind and kills.

This is a true statement; however lead to more deaths in the

United States than do illicit drugs. The National Institute

on Drug Abuse reports that the official 1988 toll of drug-caused

deaths in 27 U.S. cities, the best available measure of the

nation’s “drug problems” was, for cocaine products, 3,308; for

heroin and morphine, 2,480; course, for marijuana, zero.

“Emergency-room mentions” for cocaine in the same cities

totaled only 62,141. For comparison, smoking killed 390,000

last year and alcohol killed at least 100,000. Alcohol is

responsible for more fetal damage than crack and remains the major

menace on our highways.(Boaz, p.123) States that approximately

57 million people in this country are addicted to cigarettes, 18

million are addicted to alcohol and 10 million are abusing

psychotherapeutic drugs. By comparison, crack, heroin and

hallucinogens each accounts for one million addicts. Further,

the report states that every day in this country 1,000 people

die of smoking-related illnesses, 550 die of alcohol-related

accidents and diseases, while 20 die of drug overdoses and

drug?related homicides.(Lynch, p.8) The war on drugs might as

well be non?existent; supporters argue that the government’s

needs to be focused on more abused drugs that do more harm to the

American people, such as alcohol.

Therefore drug decriminalization, gives his views on

governmental involvement in drug related issues. Nadelmann

believes that the government should use the tax system to

discourage consumption among kids, and even among adults to some

extent. Nadelmann states, “I think it’s legitimate for

government to play a role in trying to discourage people from

using cigarettes. If they want to put the information out

there, that sounds fine. But I find incredibly distasteful is

the way that they’re demonizing cigarette users now. What’s

happening now, with [FDA Commissioner David] Kessler, is they’re

heading in a prohibitionist direction, which is something I

would regard as very bad on both policy grounds and ethical

grounds.” Nadelmann continues to point out that, “Progress in

the rights of?technology sophisticated environment, may redound

to the benefit of the drug issue. I think also that the war on

cigarette users if you want to call it that–is raising the

issue of individual autonomy vis-a-vis drug use in a context

to which tens of millions of Americans still relate. And the

more that cigarettes get tarred as a drug, the more the connection

is going to be prominent. You’re going to have tens of millions

of Americans beginning to identify more and more with the heroin,

cocaine and marijuana users. At the same time, you’re going to

have these arguments about individual rights and the freedom to

use drugs in your own home.(Reason, July 1994 p.43) The

personal rights and freedoms issue is a pressing point that

supporters of prohibition must look towards and decide on what

their beliefs are on how deeply government should interact and

limit the actions of people.

Call for a crusade or an exterminatory witchhunt. In the

Netherlands, the focus is pragmatically centered on minimizing

the harm that addict population does to itself and the rest of

society. The record speaks for itself: American adolescents use

marijuana at about twice the rate of their counterparts in

Holland, where marijuana and hashish have been freely available

for more than 17 years. The only drug that causes traffic

fatalities and violence in Holland is the same one that causes

these problems here–alcohol. Over a 17-year period in Holland,

during which possession and use of hard drugs have been treated

under 22 years of age who use heroin or cocaine has dropped from

15 percent to less than three percent. (Perrine, p.12) In

Holland, a Dutch reformed parish operate a methadone dispensary

and a needle exchange. There are designated areas where drugs

can be used, and permitting such areas is controversial, even in

tolerant Holland. Drug legalization in England and Holland has

had mixed results. While there has been a slight increase in

drug use in those countries, the number of crimes associated with

drugs has decreased. However disagreeable, the visible presence

of junkies in countries like England and Holland plays its part.

Dutch adolescents have no problem seeing that this is hardly a

glamorous and exciting life-style and that it does not even

provide much pleasure. Reality, even disagreeable reality, is

remarkably educational; and the attempt to legislate reality out

of existence is remarkably counterproductive. (Perrine, p.12) In

the U.S. there were eleven states that decriminalized the

personal use of marijuana. According to the National Institute

on Drug Abuse(1992), there was no increase in its use in those

states.(Riga, p.7) Anti?drug supporters argue that corollations

cannot be made between the United States and other countries;

however, the way in which people conduct themselves and how

society responds to this is very similar around the world.

Heightened awareness of the destructiveness of drugs, and in

self-pride programs for society’s “have nots.” The United States

has cut back drastically on its alcohol and tobacco consumption

are dangerous. The same thing must be done for other drugs.

Pragmatically, the legal and controlled sale of drugs would not

only reduce crime but channel valuable resources into

treatment.(Riga, p.7) With the treatment of drugs as a medical

problem, we can then and only then focus on the real problem:

people and adulteration of supplies of drugs. Without some system of

control, it is argued, that there is no way to guarantee the

purity or strength of any given cannabis preparation. Wide

variations in THC(delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol) concentration

could have deleterious effects on users. Inexperienced smokers,

accustomed to low?grade domestic pot, could be adversely affected

by the unexpected introduction of high?potency Colombian or

Jamaican supplies.(Schroeder, p.54) Today’s drug consumer

literally does not know what he is buying. The drugs are so

valuable that the sellers have an incentive to “cut” or dilute

the product with foreign substances that look like the real

thing. Most street heroin is only three to six percent pure;

street cocaine ten to fifteen percent. Since purity varies

greatly, consumers can produce the desired effects. If a person

percent heroin and take a five percent dose, suddenly he has

nearly doubled his open market would face different incentives than

pushers. They rely on name brand recognition to build market share,

and on incentive to provide a product of uniform quality; killing

customers or losing them to competitors is not a proven way to

success. (Pragmatist, p.3) With major how drugs should be made

and what they should be cut with dangerous approach may be taken.

As well be the schism that has been created in the American society.

Prohibition has set generation against generation, law?enforcement

officials against users, and the system of criminal justice against

millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens. The effect of

prohibition has not been a decreased marijuana

consumption–statistics show that the opposite is true. Rather,

prohibition has bred disrespect for the law and the institutions

of government, and many have argued that that is too high a price

to pay for even a successful program.(Schroeder, p.55) A loss of

respect for governmental agencies can be seen as one terrible

event that has occurred within America. Plans that would breed

and boost respect for these agencies should be desired and sought


As the prohibition of drugs yearly is an unnecessary and

overwhelming figure. The total annual cost of the drug war, are

about $100 billion dollars annually.(Duke, p.3) For instance,

the Air Force spent $3.3 million on drug interdiction, using

sophisticated AWACS surveillance planes, over a 15 month period

ending in 1987. The grand total of drug seizures from that?of the

Coast Guard and Navy, sailing for 2,500 ship days at a cost of $40

million, resulted in the seizure of a mere 20 drug-carrying

vessels.(Wink, p.1) They were not enough, domestic production of

marijuana continues to increase. It is the largest cash crop in ten

states and second largest in the nation, second only to corn.

Revenues from drug trafficking in Miami, Florida, are greater than

those from tourism, exports, health care, and all other legitimate

businesses combined.(Wink, p.2) They have a lower cost than

throwing people in prison. It costs $52,000 a year to detain

someone at Riker’s Island. However, a years stay at Phoenix

House in New York, for example, costs $15,000.(Yoffe, p.1) If it

is not already obvious, the way in which the government goes

about it’s drug war is inoperative. Money that is spent is a waste;

education and treatment. If politicians cannot see this, than we

are losing the drug war in our policies and in the minds of our

“greatest” law?makers, not on the streets.

As I concluded that the prohibition of drugs criminalised

users, forced them into contact with professional criminals, tempted

entrepreneurial young people from impoverished backgrounds into a

lucrative criminal life, encouraged gang warfare, resulted in

people taking impure mixtures in often dangerous methods, and

created heavy policing costs. It is, in short, not drug abuse

itself which creates the most havoc, but the crime resulting from

other Western governments, to contemplate some form of licensed

sale of drugs which would deprive the pushers of their market

while obliging registered addicts to take treatment. The key to

beating the traffic is to remove its prodigious profitability and

to deglamorise drug abuse by a heavy programme of public

education.(Boaz, 122) The government can continue harassing,

humiliating and jailing drug users in the name of helping them

stay away from evil. It can continue fostering violence and

corruption in the name of protecting our society. Or, America

can begin fighting drugs through peaceful means, taking the

problem away from police and jailers doctors and educators.

Legalizing drug use??with certain restrictions??would eliminate

the terrible collateral damage wreaked by the war on drugs. It

would respect the right of individuals to make personal choices

about what they consume, while still holding them responsible for

the harm they cause others. It would free up real money for

prevention and treatment programs that currently enjoy more lip

service than funding. And it would encourage people with problems

to seek help rather than take them underground. Any new approach

to drugs must begin by replacing hype and demagoguery with

information and analysis. It must discriminate between the uses

and misuses of drugs. It must also account for paternalistic

moralizing for hypocritical double standards.(Boaz, p. 135)

Legalizing drugs would not be a panacea. Many people would

continue to use them recklessly and?join their ranks. But scare

scenarios of a prostrate, addicted nation have no basis. Clearly,

there will be some increase in drug use if drugs are made legal

and accessible at a reasonable price. Yet the benefits of

legalization will outweigh the negatives: less crime, less

available for greater rehabilitation efforts, fewer jail cells

and prisoners, better utilization of law enforcement personnel,

greater respect for the law, fewer corrupted policeman, and fewer

deaths from impure substances. Furthermore, taxes from these

legalized substances will fund treatment centers and educational

outreach. If we can distribute condoms and clean needles to

control the spread of diseases, why can’t we bring ourselves to

distribute drugs cheaply and legally? The same arguments made

about cause and effect ought to be made here as well. Granted,

America has a vast and terrible problem with the issue on drugs

in the 1990s, but as Robert Kennedy opined, “If the alternatives

[are] disorder or injustice, the rational choice is injustice.

For when there is disorder, we cannot obtain or maintain

justice.”(Boaz, p. 120)

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