Legalization Of Narcotics Essay, Research Paper
Legalization of Narcotics
Narcotics, or drugs, are substances that affect the body?s functions. They can stimulate the mind, make people depressed, or make them hyper. Marijuana, heroin, LSD, PCP, cocaine, and anabolic steroids are all considered narcotics. Narcotics are illegal in the U.S. Even though drugs are illegal, about 12 million people use them anyway. Many strict laws have been passed against drugs but they seem to have little affect. People still decide to sell or use drugs for recreational purpose. This is why narcotics should be legalized.
Before 1914, it was legal to make, sell, or use any type of drugs. Many of the drugs were used for medicinal use. This was before people found out how addictive and harmful drugs were. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 required medicine labels to show whether over the counter drugs contained narcotics. After the act was passed, many Americans did not buy medicine that contained narcotics. The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 made narcotics illegal except for medicinal purpose. On 1919 the Supreme Court changed the Harrison Narcotics Act. They made it illegal for doctors to prescribe narcotic drugs to addicts.
The Controlled Substance Act was created in 1970. The CSA turned fifty-five drug laws into one big one. This act sets the minimum penalties for the use or distribution of narcotics. State and local governments can make the drug laws stricter, but have to follow the minimal guidelines set by the CSA. The CSA divides narcotics into five categories called schedules. Schedule I drugs are only allowed for controlled experimentation. They have the highest potential for abuse. These drugs are: heroin, LSD, marijuana, and Ecstasy. Schedule II drugs are also restricted, but can be prescribed by doctors under special circumstances. These drugs are cocaine and PCP. Schedule III drugs have medical use, but can be abused. These are mostly painkillers and barbiturates such as codeine and morphine. Schedules IV and V are prescription drugs with low potential for abuse. Tranquilizers like Valium and Librium are Schedule IV or V. Also included are sleep aides and weak stimulants.
In 1973 the Drug Enforcement Administration was formed. The DEA is in charge of stopping drug trafficking and those who violate drug laws. There are DEA offices in every state and in fifty foreign countries.
The Drug Abuse Act of 1986 made mandatory minimum sentencing laws. A person who makes the mistake of buying, delivering, or dealing drugs can end up in prison for five years even if it is a first offense. This makes serious drug penalties more severe than an attempted murder crimes.
In the 1980s presidents Reagan and Bush began a ?War on Drugs?. In 1981, $1.46 billion were spent against drugs. It increased to $12 billion in 1992. The number of drug users has gone down. However, the amount of addicts has remained steady. Two thirds of the federal budget goes toward law enforcement. Police spend the majority of their time making drug arrests. Most of the time, there are small-scale users and dealers instead of big time dealers and suppliers. All this money spent on the drug war seems to have little affect, if any, on drug users.
In 1995, officials confiscated ninety-eight metric tons of cocaine. This was only just a small amount of cocaine that was used that year. Now that stopping the smuggling of marijuana has been a little more successful, more people began to grow their own. There are many loopholes in the losing fight against drugs.
Many people think that the drug problem in the U.S. is exaggerated. Only a minority of teenagers exposed to drugs actually use drugs regularly. Teenagers use alcohol and tobacco more than they use drugs and both are illegal since they are underage.
Legalization of narcotics is an idea that many people support. Some form of legalization is the best solution to the drug problem faced today in the U.S. Anti-drug laws cause more problems than they solve. Some people believe that there should be full legalization of narcotics. They believe that narcotics should be legal and sold like alcohol and tobacco. Others believe in ?controlled legalization?. There are two forms of controlled legalization. They are medicalization and decriminalization. Medicalization means that doctors should prescribe drugs to addicts and it should be free. It should be treated as a medical problem instead of a criminal problem. Medicalization is safer because it would make addicts receive pure drugs and not die from overdose. Decriminalization means that the use or possession of small amounts of narcotics is punishable by fines instead of a jail sentence. This continues to discourage the use of drugs. It also makes the criminal justice system easier by no having to deal with regular drug users.
There are many reasons why narcotics should be legalized. The fist reason is; the legalization of drugs would make streets and homes safer. A fifth of the murders and rapes, a quarter of car thefts, two-fifths of robberies and assaults and half the nation?s burglaries and thefts are blamed on drugs (http://www.tty.drugsense.org/12reason.htm). The high price of drugs usually leads to a rise in crime, for several reasons. Addicts have to turn to crime to finance their drug habits. Dealers and buyers are most likely to get assaulted. Police officers become targets for reprisals. The once quiet streets become dangerous battlegrounds among dealers and gangs. If drugs would be legalized, buyers would not have to turn to crime to support their habits. Dealers will be pushed out of the streets because customers will be going to safe retailers.
Another reason to legalize narcotics is to reduce prison overcrowding. Prison overcrowding is a known problem. Prisons are being filled up faster than they can build new ones. Out of 31,346 sentenced prisoners, 9,487 were incarcerated for drug law violations (http://www.tty.drugsense.org/12reason.htm). Prison overcrowding would no longer be a problem since there would be no drug offenders in jail. Since many addicts committed crimes to support their habits in the first place, there would be even fewer criminals in jail. The prison population would go down after repealing drug laws.
Police resources to fight crimes would free up. Police officers would be able to concentrate on real crimes rather than wasting time on small time offenders. They would be able to protect citizens better.
The court system would be unclogged. Thousands of drug cases would be eliminated speeding up the trail process for ?real crimes?. It would help judges and lawyers to handle other cases more thoroughly. There would be more time to handle each individual case.
Legalizing drugs could also eliminate corruption among police officers. Many cops these days can offer dealers protection in exchange for money or they can sell the drugs themselves.
Billions in tax money could be saved or spent on a better cause. In 1986, $6.2 billion was spent just to stop drug traffic. By trying to arrest users and smugglers, the tax money adds up to about $10 billion (http://www.tty.drugsense.org/12reason.htm). Taxpayers would also save on building more prisons to incarcerate user. The extra money can be used on better police protection or just into savings.
Organized crime would be put out of business. During prohibition, organized crime made billions on bootlegging. The same goes for drugs. Most of the money that is made is by selling drugs. This can save many lives.
If drugs were legal, they would come with warning labels and instruction sheets. The drugs sold would be pure and not laced with dangerous chemicals. This reduces the risks of overdosing and becoming an addict. If the customer knows what he is buying and knows how much he is going to take, it would be a whole lot safer.
The lack of hypodermic needles used by drug users causes them to be shared. This can cause the spread of AIDS and other diseases. Having needles cheap and available, drug users have little or no risk in spreading diseases.
Legalization of narcotics is a very controversial issue. There are many reasons that support the legalization debate. Legalizing drugs can save money on the economy and most importantly, save lives.