Legalization of Drugs


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 ofÔtechnology 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, lawªenforcement 
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 thatÔof 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 andÔjoin 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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