Drug Legalization Essay, Research Paper
Should Drugs Be Legalized In America?
As the nation’s drug problem persists, issues continue to haunt communities. The question is will legalizing drugs really help or will legalization make problems increase in our society? If drugs remain illegal, a number of complications that could appear as a result of legalization will never occur. Keeping drugs illegal poses a lesser problem than legalization. Drugs should not be legalized not only because legalization is bad for the country but also because it is morally wrong.
Several problems would result if drugs were legalized. First, if drugs were to be legalized, they would be cheaper than they cost now. If they were cheaper, then the drug dealers would be pushed out of business. Apparently this looks like a good thing, but once drugs are cheaper, then more people will experiment and as a result of this become addicted. William Von Raub, a drug analyst, states ?People start using drugs because they want to experiment??[therefore]??legalization could result in four to five million new drug addicts? (qtd. in Kronenwetter 60). A high increase of experimentation will occur as a result of a decrease in prices, and therefore there will be more drug addiction. Making drugs both legal and affordable will produce higher levels of use. Such was the case in the seventies: a high level of heroin was being used due to its abundance. As supplies diminished between 1973 and 1975, the prices increased, and heroin usage decreased. This proves that once drugs are cheaper more people will use them. Therefore, drugs should not be legalized. The Phoenix House, a cocaine treatment center, reported that there were fewer addicts as the price of cocaine increased. Also, if drugs were legalized and prices were cheaper, then it would be very difficult for users to control the amount of their intake each day. As McCuen says, ?Legalizing is no solution”.
Pro-legalizers say that because the prices are so high for drugs, users need to steal and cheat. Their theory is that if drugs were legalized then the rate of crime would decline because there would be fewer robberies. However, according to a British study, drug abusers do not commit crimes just to buy drugs; there also are other reasons in effect. In Britain, in the mid-seventies, addicts received free heroin from a government clinic. The test was to determine whether the users would continue to steal or stop because they didn?t need the money to buy drugs anymore since they were getting it free. The results indicated that they were convicted of crimes other than robbery while enrolled in this free drug program (McCuen 178). A study conducted for The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (NCASA) at Columbia University in January 1998 reported that, ?49% of state inmates convicted of violent crimes were under the influence of drugs during their crimes, 51% of state inmates convicted of property crimes were under the influence of drugs during their crime? (?Family?). The fact is, the crimes that most drug abusers commit are due to behavior caused by drug usage and not a result of needing money because of high drug prices. So, it cannot be said that addicts commit crimes only in order to obtain money to buy drugs. Rather, it is because they are using drugs which leads them to abnormal behavior. This proves that crime is more correlated with behavior due to drug usage than the need to rob or cheat for drugs. The NCASA also found that 80% of prison inmates (1.4 Million) have histories of behavior problems due to the use of drugs (?Family?). This means that they high when they committed their violent or property crimes. Henceforth, the pro-legalization theory of crime decreasing when the drugs are cheaper is incorrect.
I agree that legalization would cut down on some theft and robbery, but drug-associated crimes will never be eliminated completely. What about the muggings and burglaries that junkies would commit when they need more drugs, even when these drugs are cheaper? The drugs are not free, just cheaper. In addition, if drugs become cheaper and it is easier to get them, then there would be more violent crimes committed by those who are high on drugs because more people will be high.
If drugs were legalized, that would make them available in the local pharmacies. This would confirm the belief that drugs are harmless. But they are not. In America right now the biggest drug issue is legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Pro-legalizers talk mostly about medicinal marijuana. They always refer to the US Department of Health and Human Services finding on August 18, 1999; which discovered that ?Medicinal marijuana does not lead to increased non-medical marijuana use? (?Marijuana?). When asked about the results, Chuck Thomas, Director of Communications for the Washington D.C. based Marijuana Policy Project, said, ?Today’s findings should dispel the myth once and for all that medicinal marijuana sends the wrong message and leads to increased non-medical marijuana use? (?Marijuana?). This finding sends the wrong messages to adolescents today. The consequences of medical marijuana misinformation could be devastating. What?s most frightening is that it will increase adolescent use that has been climbing since 1991. Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Strategy (ONDCS), anticipates, based on past experience, that adolescent use could double in the foreseeable future. McCaffrey calls skyrocketing rates of marijuana use among adolescents a “wake-up call for America.” “Marijuana use, is highly correlated with future use of addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin” (qtd. in Magginis). Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) has found a link between adolescent marijuana use and cocaine experimentation. A 1994 CASA study found that those who experiment with marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than those who abstain (qtd. in Magginis). Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services, says, “Everyone needs to give our young people the clear and unambiguous message that drugs are illegal” (qtd. in Magginis). Dr. Alan I. Leshner, director of NIDA, agrees. “It is important that young people understand the harm and danger caused by illicit drug use,” (qtd. in Magginis). More adolescent use isn’t the only product of medical marijuana laws. These misguided laws undermine safe medical procedures. They fuel the drug legalization movement, which is morally wrong. A recent survey conducted by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), shows that 63% of the American population disagree with drug legalization, and 52% of the 63% feel it is morally wrong.
Leaders of the Pro-Drug Legalization Movement
New Mexico’s Gov. Gary Johnson, a key leader, has called for legalization of drugs including heroin and marijuana. His unwillingness to recognize the suffering caused by drug abuse is underscored by his veto of millions of dollars worth of drug treatment funds-money that would have helped New Mexicans with drug addictions to reclaim their lives. Ethan Nadelman, president of the Lindesmiih Center, has called for “making drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin legal” (qtd. in McCaffrey) and gone so far as to “propose a mail order distribution system based on a right of access? (qtd. in McCaffrey). He wants the government to begin by testing low potency cocaine products such as coke-based chewing gum. Nadelman continues, ?If some people want to distill those products into something more potent, let them” (qtd. in McCaffrey). Those who want to legalize drugs also go to extremes to confuse the public about America’s efforts to fight drug use. For example, pro-legalizers say that the Office of National Drug Control Strategy is waging a war on drugs. McCaffrey says in return:
Wars are waged by armies using weapons to kill enemies. The primary goal of the National Drug Control Strategy is to educate young people to prevent them from ever trying drugs. Nor are drug- taking Americans the enemy ? they require our help to break free of their addictions. -Police officers stop pushers from selling drugs to children – we are not at war with ourselves, we are protecting America’s future (?McCaffrey?).
George Soros, a New York City-based billionaire money manager, has given perhaps $15 million to various drug legalization groups since 1991 including a million dollars to support the successful legalization proposition campaigns. Mr. Soros reportedly gave the pro-drug Drug Policy Foundation six million dollars with a ?set of suggestions to follow.? These included, “Come up with an approach that emphasizes treatment and humanitarian endeavors? (Anderson)
William Bennet, a conservative politician says, “the basic premise? is that drug use is wrong” (qtd. in Kronenwetter 107). He believes that making drugs legal would mean denying that premise. For example, let?s say that the government issues a new law saying that rape is legal. Some people like to have sex in rape situations it turns them on, so the government decides to legalize it. The basic premise of rape is that it is wrong, yet the government (hypothetically speaking) could make it legal because a minority group in the population wants it. The same applies to drug legalization. A small percentage of the population want to legalize drugs according to the CADCA study, so the government should do it. Is rape morally wrong? Yes. Is drug legalization morally wrong? Yes. Rape and drug legalization are both morally wrong, no matter how you look at it.
“Legalization is plainly no panacea,” says Mitchell Rosenthal. Legalizing drugs is no universal remedy. It simply will not help. Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services, stated, “There is clear scientific evidence that drugs are harmful to one’s brain, heart, and lungs. It limits learning, memory, perception, judgment and complex motor skills like those needed to drive a vehicle? (qtd. in Rosenthal 107). Call it legalization or drug policy reform, the bottom line is that the ideas of people like Mr. Johnson and Mr. Nadleman would put more drugs into the hands of our children and make drugs more available on our streets. Should your child, using a fake ID, be able to buy drugs like cocaine, heroin, or marijuana at the local pharmacy? Should the driver of the 18-wheeler truck next to the family minivan be high on marijuana? Children should grow up with bright futures, not drug addictions. The only thing that can come out of drug legalization is more addictions, more violent crimes, and more usage by the children of the future.
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