Legalization Of Narcotics Essay, Research Paper
According to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, approximately 5000 Americans each day try marijuana for the first time. This is with the restrictions the United States government has on narcotics now. Imagine how many thousands of scenarios such as David s there could be if drugs were made readily available.The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines narcotic as A drug (as opium) that in moderate doses dulls the senses, relieves pain, and induces profound sleep but in excessive doses causes stupor, coma, or convulsions. 2 Illegal narcotics include almost anything in the families of amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens, opioids, phencyclidine, and barbiturates. Drug addiction is a form on enslavement. It pathologically alters the nature, character and impairs the judgement of a human being. In 1906 Teddy Roosevelt passed the Pure Food and Drug act which restricted the sale of Dangerous or ineffective medicine. 3 In 1914, the Harrison Narcotic Act implemented even more strict narcotic control laws. These acts however, did not completely stop the spread and consumption of illegal narcotics; it just created a war on drugs.The war on drugs began back in 1981 when Ronal Regan began pouring billions of dollars in an effort to help rid the nation of illegal substances. It is by far one of America s most expensive projects. According to the National Review, America spends nearly seventy billion dollars per year on narcotic related operations. This money is spent on prisoners who are already in jail for related drug charges, the trial time of our judiciary in drug related cases, and the time and expense of over four hundred thousand policemen helping to fight the drug war. This money spent does not include the expenses for sponsoring and funding programs such as D.A.R.E and drug rehabilitation centers that use the twelve step program. A survey conducted by the Palm Beach Post referring to the drug war in America states In the 50 years that the U.S. public has been asked to name the most important problem facing the nation, it is virtually unprecedented for any other social issue to appear at the top of the list. 4 The legalization of narcotics is a raging issue among teenagers, parents, politicians, and economists. Some of these people feel that America should legalize narcotics and use the money that is spent on fighting the drug war on better political agendas such as education and health care reform. Some also feel that we have foughtthe drug war for many years, and we should stop, due the fact that drug usage has not had a significant decrease in the past 10 years. Narcotics should not be legalized due to the reasons that if narcotics were legalized, drug use would spread exponentially, which may lead to a substantial increase in drug abuse, crime, and many domestic problems.Economist Dr. Richard Gilbert, the president of the Canadian Urban Institute and has written extensively on both drug and urban issues in America. He believes drug business dealers cannot survive if dealers only sold to dealers, as well as dealers not being able to survive if they couldn t sell to the majority of inner-city residents. Furthermore, he believes in order for a drug business to thrive, there must be a ready source of customers. If drugs were legalized and sold under heavy restrictions, which include a minimum age requirement, this would produce revenue for the government as well as put illegal wholesale dealers out of business due to the customers buying the narcotics from a different legal source. A survey of 8098 Americans taken by the National Comorbidity Survey showed that 51% of males and females from the ages of 15-54 have abused illegal drugs more than once in their lives. When they were asked the reason for repeating their drug abuse, over 80% of those surveyed said it was due to the availability of the drug. In other words those, 80% of the 8098 surveyed would not have been repeat offenders of illegal drug use.had they not had a connection to get more. The availability of narcotics is one the reasons why we have repeat drug abusers. This is proven with the availability of cigarettes compared to the availability of heroin. Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance in tobacco that is poisonous in concentrated amounts. Anyone who is over eighteen can walk into a liquor shop or grocery store and purchase cigarettes. Those who are under the age of eighteen usually have older peers or strangers walking buy a liquor shop who will be asked to purchase cigarettes for them. Over 46 million Americans smoke, approximately 3,000,000 of those are teenagers and children. According to the National Clearing House of Drug and Alcohol, there are 7000 new smokers per day. There is no denying the fact that cigarettes are readily available to virtually anyone. Heroin is an opiod which starts off as opium and is refined many times to become and psychologically. Daily use for only a short time results in addiction. Heroin use is much more serious and deadly than cigarette use. An individual withdrawing from the high from heroin may experience lethargy, hallucination, convulsions that may lead to a shock or coma, and extreme mood swings, which may lead to domestic violence. There are and estimated 600,000 heroin addicts in the United States today. There are also and estimated 286 new heroin users a day. The reason for the significant difference between heroin and cigarette users is due to the fact that heroin is illegal. Heroin, unlike cigarettes is not made readily available. If drugs were legalized and sold under tight controls as Dr. Richard Gilbert suggests, there would be minimum age requirement set, which would most likely to be eighteen or twenty-one. This however will not stop minors for gaining access to heroin or any narcotic for that matter, just as the minimum age requirement doesn t stop minors from gaining access to cigarettes.According to USA Today, the legalization of narcotics might temporarily take some of the load off the criminal justice system. A policy of this nature though would impose many additional costs on the health care and social service systems, schools and the work place. To put it simplistically, the legalization narcotics will save some government spending on law enforcement. However, if narcotics were legalized, taxpayers will be paying for increased welfare services and health care services for junkies. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that criminals commit six times as many homicides, four times as many assaults, and almost one and a half times as many robberies under the influence of drugs as they do in order to buy drugs. Distribution of illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana are controlled by organized crime. The harvesting, processing, and distribution of these drugs is a multi billion dollar international industry. It is highly unlikely that legalization will change the control that organized crime has over the industry. In fact, legalization could strengthen the position of organized crime worldwide. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency a kilo of heroin has a street value of 250,000 dollars. It costs approximately 50 dollars to illegally produce a kilo of heroin. A five thousand percent markup. It would cost the U.S. government anywhere from 1,000 dollars to 5,000 dollars to produce a kilo of heroin depending on the refinery process and standards of production. For example, a small time drug dealer may produce heroin in their garage, putting no standards into consideration; while the United States government will have create regulations and standards, which will take time and cost money. If the American government decides to legalize narcotics, this does not mean narcotics will be sold at a less expensive price than an illegal drug wholesaler or drug czar would sell them for. It would only create competition due to the fact that narcotics will not be inexpensive to produce for the U.S. government. A minimum age requirement will force illegal drug wholesalers and drug czars to focus on targeting minors, and it would be virtually impossible for the U.S. government to produce a profit if prog-rams such as D.A.R.E. are still around. Further more, even if narcotics were to be legalized and sold by the U.S. government, there is nothing that will stop illegal wholesalers and drug czars from continuing their business. All of these factors taken into consideration may actually strengthen illegal drug wholesalers and czars, and place the war on drugs right back into square one. Joseph P. Kane has served as a chaplain at Riskers Island for over twenty years. He helped develop a curriculum on criminal justice issues for many high schools and is co-editor of Who Is The Prisoner?, which is a collection of original articles about the U.S. criminal justice system. In an article he wrote for American Press, he asserts: Legalizing addictive drugs would probably increase their use. At least we know that the repeal of alcohol prohibition had that effect. So, how can we responsibly legalize narcotics? For the same reasons that we keep alcohol legal! Just as we do not choose to return to Prohibition because we do not want gang wars, a growing disrespect for law, astronomical illegal profits, corrupted law enforcement personnel or the sickness and even deaths from impure substances, so we do not want our loved ones– whether addicts or social users who want a buzz from a drug or a drink–to become involved with outlaws.5Kane s Statement ignores a few very important factors. Death rates from cirrhosis among men came down from 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 to 10.7 per 100,000 in 1929. During prohibition, admission to mental health institutions for alcohol psychosis dropped sixty percent; arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct went down fifty percent; welfare agencies reported significant declines in cases due to alcohol related family problems; and the death rate from impure alcohol did not rise. Furthermore, Alcohol unlike illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine, has a long history of broad social acceptance dating back to the Old Testament and Ancient Greece. Largely because of this, the public and political views favoring prohibition in the early century was brief. Today though, the public overwhelmingly favors keeping illegal drugs illegal. In fact, according to Palm Beach Post Wire Services, 77% of adults want tougher laws against drug users, and 92% want tougher laws against drug sellers. The Swiss began a national experiment of prescribing heroin to addicts in 1992. The four-year-old plan, started in the city Zurich, is strategically arranged to determine whether it will reduce drug and prohibition related crime, disease, and death by making pharmaceutical heroin legally available to addicts at regulated clinics. Ethan A. Nadleman is the director of the Lindesmith center, a drug research institute in New York. He believes The results of the experiment have been sufficiently encouraging that it is being extended to over a dozen Swiss cities. The Dutch and Australians are initiating similar experiments. There are no good scientific or ethical reasons not to try a heroin-prescription experiment in the United States. 6 While there is truth in Nadleman s statement, he forgets to mention the facts. The fact is Switzerland s plan has had many disastrous consequences. Switzerland s Needle Park, touted as a way to restrict a few hundred heroin addicts to a small area, turned into a repulsive tourist attraction of 20,000 heroin addicts and junkies that had to be closed down before it infected the city of Zurich. The ventures of England, the Netherlands, and Italy into drug legalization have had disastrous effects as well. In the Netherlands, anyone over the age of 17 can walk into a marijuana coffee shop and pick different types of marijuana just like one might choose different flavors of ice cream. Adolescent pot use there jumped nearly 200% while it was dropping by 66% in the United States. As the availability of drugs rose crime did as well. The complaints from city residents about the decline in their quality of life multiplied. Dutch persistence in selling pot has angered European neighbors because its wide open attitude towards marijuana is believed to be spreading pot and other drugs beyond the Netherlands borders. England s attempt allowing any doctor to prescribe heroin was quickly curbed as heroin use increased almost exponentially.In Italy, personal possession of small amounts of drugs has not been a crime in since 1975. Under decriminalization, possession of two to three doses of drugs such as heroin generally was exempt from criminal sanction Italy is infrequently mentioned by supporters of legalization, despite its lenient drug laws. This is because today Italy has over 300,000 heroin addicts, the highest rate of heroin addiction in Europe. Seventy percent of all AIDS cases in Italy are attributable to drug use. William F. Buckley, a writer for the National Review, was asked by the New York Bar Association to speak of America s current situation with the war on drugs. He stated: We are speaking of a plague that consumes an estimated $75 billion per year of public money, exacts an estimated $70 billion a year from consumers, is responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the million Americans who are today in jail, occupies an estimated 50 per cent of the trial time of our judiciary, and takes the time of 400,000 policemen–yet a plague for which no cure is at hand, nor in prospect.7Even though America is not winning the drug war, progress is being made. The National Household Drug Survey, the nation s most extensive evaluation of drug usage, reports from 1979 to 1994, marijuana users dropped from 23 million to 10 million, while cocaine users fell from 4.4 million to 1.4 million. The drug using portion of the population is also aging. In 1979 10 percent were over the age of 34; today almost 30% are. Furthermore, the number of hardcore addicts has held steady at around 6 million, a situation most experts attribute to the unavailability of treatment and the large number of addicts. The U.S. government focuses more on eliminating the drug problem rather than just stopping the spread. This is the reason why the war on drugs has not been as successful as desired and also the reason why there have been arguments about legalizing narcotics altogether. There are many alternatives, rather than legalizing narcotics that will help reduce drug use, abuse, related crimes, and related domestic problems.Most of the money used to fight the drug war goes to federal agents, police, judges, court personnel, prison contractors, correctional officers, and parole officers. A very little amount goes towards the rehabilitation of those who use and abuse drugs. Addicts or junkies without out money have to wait four months before they receive therapy for free. The cause of rejection to such drug therapy programs result in never breaking the burden of addiction. A drug user incarcerated in New York City cost more than 150 dollars per day, while a drug therapy program costs only 75 dollars per day. Drug rehabilitation centers using the twelve step program have proven to be effective towards drug addicts and families with drug related problems. The twelve-step program, which is based on spiritual healing, is widely used by many drug rehabilitation centers and is very versatile towards many forms of addiction. The basic idea of the twelve-step program is for addicts to admit that they have been powerless when it comes to controlling their addictive behavior on their own. Meetings of various twelve-step programs are held daily in almost every city in the country. There are no dues or fees for membership, just a long wait. If the U.S. government focuses more on funding drug rehabilitation centers that use the twelve step program along with the help of the drug rehabilitation centers recruiting addicts, the result will be a decrease in the number of drug and alcohol addicts which will in turn decrease the money America spends on fighting the drug war. Many programs such as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education or D.A.R.E have been proven to be very effective. D.A.R.E s goals are to teach students at a young age the skills to recognize and turn down the opportunity to engage with alcohol, tobacco, illegal narcotics and any form of destructive behavior. They also promote a close relationship between the police department and the community. A survey taken by D.A.R.E. showed that 98.2 percent on students who were involved with the program, believed it was effective in teaching the concept of consequences. If programs such as these that teach drug education at a young age are emphasized more, the result would be less drug use by adolescents. Many challenges face federal, state and local law enforcement as we deal on a daily basis with the crime and violence drug trafficking creates. The situation however, should never justify the legalization of narcotics. Many people contend that the legalization of narcotics will solve our current crime problems, reduce drug abuse, and lessen the violence and profit associated with drug trafficking. They are simply wrong and uninformed. Legalization of narcotics would be a disaster that this nation should not have to face. The arguments for legalization are theoretical and hypothetical ideas that this nation should not testLegalization would increase risks and costs to individuals, families, and communities to every part of the nation without compensating benefits. Greater availability of drugs would lead to greater use and more overall problems associated with drug abuse. Society would battle with more transportation crashes and more industrial accidents due to impaired judgment, more educational failures, more homelessness, more destroyed careers and families, more child abuse and domestic violence, more AIDS, and more babies born addicted or handicap. Above all, legalization would send our children the wrong message. Our children are our most precious natural resource and they deserve the best this nation can offer. America must not abolish its responsibility to ensure that they have the safest, healthiest possible environment to grow up in; and a healthy environment certainly does not, cannot, include deadly drugs. Legalization is a simplistic response to a complex problem which took years to develop, and which requires some time to fix. It is the experience of many local police officers that crime is not only committed because people want to buy drugs, but more often because people use drugs. Drug use changes behavior and exacerbates criminal activity. Legalization would lead to increased use and increased addiction levels:Legalization sends a message that drug use is acceptable, and would encourage use among groups who do not use drugs now. When drugs have been widely available in the United States as morphine was at the time of the Civil War and cocaine was at the turn of the century both use and addiction rose.Any tax revenues reaped from legalizing and taxing drugs would soon evaporate into drug treatment costs, health care costs for drug related diseases, and the high costs associated with the increased family violence that would result. Despite our daily frustrations at the enormity of the drug problem in our nation, and indeed, around the world, we cannot afford to diminish our efforts to improve the quality of life for all Americans. . 2. ETHAN A. NADELMANN We turned to Mr. Nadelmann to pursue the inquiry. Formerly in the Political Science Department at Princeton, he is now the director of the Lindesmith Center, a drug-policy research institute in New York City. He is the author of COPS ACROSS BORDERS: THE INTERNATIONALIZATION OF U.S. CRIMINAL LAW ENFORCEMENT.