Are Drugs The Answer? Essay, Research Paper
Are Drugs the Solution?If drugs were legalized many of the problems that face society will diminish. Removing legal penalties from the production, sale, and use of illegal drugs would remove many of our biggest social and political problems. Many of these problems that would be eliminated include ending prison overcrowding, freeing up police resources, unclogging the court systems, saving tax money, making drugs safer for those who choose to use, stabilizing other countries, eliminating much of the governmental corruption, helping slow AIDS and other blood born viruses, breaking down organized crime, ridding the loss of personal liberties, and making our homes and streets safer. Legalizing drugs would make our streets and homes safer. Two-fifths of robberies and assaults and half the nation’s burglaries and thefts are reportedly due to illegal drugs. In a 2 1/2-year study of crime, it was found that a 10 percent increase in the price of heroin alone produced an increase of 3 percent total property crimes in poor nonwhite neighborhoods. Armed robbery jumped almost 7 percent and simple assault by nearly 6 percent (Lawrence, 1991). Remember, this was only a 10 percent mark up on heroin alone. The reasons are not difficult to understand. When law enforcement restricts the supply of drugs, the price of drugs rises. Due to supply and demand, addicts must shell out hundreds of times the cost of the goods, so they often must turn to crime to finance their habits. The higher the price goes, the more they need to steal to buy the same amount. The streets become literally a battleground for “turf” among competing dealers, as control over a particular block or intersection can gain thousands of additional drug dollars per day. If and when drugs are legalized, their price will collapse and so will the various drug-related motivations to commit crime. Junkies will no longer need to steal to support their habits. A packet of cocaine will be as tempting to grab from its owner as a pack of cigarettes is today. Retailers will push drug dealers out of the retail market when drugs become legal (End the Drug War , 1998).It would put an end to prison overcrowding. Prison overcrowding is a serious and persistent problem. It makes the prison environment dangerous and inhumane. Governments at all levels keep building more prisons, but the number of prisoners keeps outpacing the capacity to hold them. Legalizing drugs would immediately relieve the pressure on the prison system. Since there would no longer be “drug offenders” to incarcerate, drug users would no longer need to commit violent or property crime to pay for their habits (Lawrence, 1998). There would be fewer “real” criminals to house in the first place; Instead of building more prisons, we could pocket the money and still be safer.Drug legalization would free up police resources to fight crimes against people and property. The considerably large police efforts now used against drug activity and drug-related crime could be redirected towards protecting innocent people from those who would still commit crime despite no drug laws. The police could protect us more effectively, as well as they could focus their resources on catching rapists, murderers, and the remaining criminals who commit crimes against people and property (Eldredge, 1996).Legalization would unclog the court system. If you are accused of a crime, it takes months to bring you to trial. Guilty or innocent, you must live with the anxiety of the trial to come until the trial finally begins. There simply aren’t enough judges to handle the rising amount of cases. Because it would cut crime and eliminate drugs as a type of crime, legislation would wipe tens of thousands of cases off the court schedules across America, allowing the rest to move sooner and quicker. Prosecutors would have more time to handle each case ( End the Drug War , 1998).It would reduce governmental corruption. Drug-related police corruption takes one of two major forms. Police officers can offer drug dealers protection in their districts for a share of the profits. Or they can seize dealer’s merchandise for sale themselves. Seven Philadelphia police officers were indicted on charges of falsifying records of money and drugs confiscated from dealers. During a house search, one man turned over $20,000 he had made from marijuana sales, but the officers gave him a “receipt” for $1,870 (Swisher, 1995). The huge profits from the illegal drug trade are a powerful motive for law enforcement agents to partake in the illegal activity. Legalizing the drug trade completely would eliminate this motive to corruption and help to clean up the police’s image. This again would put less strain on our court systems and make this type of activity less tempting for law officials.Legalization would save tax money. Efforts to stop the drug traffic alone cost $8 billion in 1992. If we ad the cost of trying to incarcerate users, traffickers, and those who commit crime to pay for their drugs, the tab runs well above $15 billion (End the Drug War, 1998). This is all money that we could be using towards education and welfare reform. The crisis in inmate housing would disappear, saving taxpayers the expense of building more prisons in the future. The savings would be put towards better police protection and quicker judicial service. Or maybe it could be converted into savings for taxpayers or perhaps a portion of the costs could be put towards the budget deficit. All these things could be possible; however, it takes legalization to make this all possible.It would break down organized crime. The Mafia, organized gangs, and the Cartel stand to lose billions in drug profits from legalization. Members of organized crime, particularly at the top, stand to lose the most from legalizing the drug trade. The underworld became big business in the United States when alcohol was prohibited. Even to this day we talk about how prohibition caused many problems we are still plagued with today. When alcohol was re-legalized, honest manufacturers took over. The risk along with the high profits diminished from illegal bootlegging traders of alcohol. Even if organized crime wanted to keep control over it, the gangsters could not have targeted every manufacturer and every beer store. The profits from illegal alcohol were very small compared to the amount of money that illegal drugs produce today. Illegal drugs are the Mafia s last great source of illegal income. Legalizing drugs would rid this form of income from organized crime. Smugglers and pushers would have to go out of business. If we are concerned about the influence of organized crime on government, industry, and our own personal safety, the best way to foil this organized crime would be to legalize drugs (Witkin, 1997).Legal drugs would be safer. Legalization is also a consumer protection issue. Because it is illegal, the drug trade today lacks many of the consumer safety features such as instruction sheets, warning labels, product quality control, manufacturer accountability. Driving it underground makes any product, including drugs, more dangerous than it needs to be (End the Drug War, 1998). Nobody denies that currently illegal drugs can be dangerous. But so can aspirin and other countless over-the-counter drugs and common household items. Practically anything can kill if used in certain ways. Like heroin, salt can kill if enough is consumed. Today’s drug consumer literally doesn’t know what they are buying; the stuff is so valuable that sellers have an incentive to cut or dilute the product with foreign substances that look like the real thing. This can be extremely dangerous because many of these foreign substances can be deadly. Since purity varies greatly on the street, consumers can never be really sure how much to take to produce the desired effects. Manufacturers offering drugs on the open market would face different incentives than pushers. There would be a powerful incentive to provide a product of uniform quality. After legalization, pharmaceutical companies could safely try to win each other’s customers with better information and more reliable products. Even pure heroin on the open market would be safer than today’s impure drugs that we have now. As long as customers know what they’re getting and what it does, they can adjust their dosages to obtain the intended effect safely (End the Drug War, 1998). So basically, legalizing drugs would promote consumer health and safety.
Legalization would help slow the spread of AIDS and other blood born diseases. Because IV drug users use hypodermic needles to inject heroin and other narcotics, access to needles is restricted. The deficiency of needles leads users to share them. If one IV user has infected blood and some enters the needle as it is pulled out, the next user may shoot the infectious disease directly into their own bloodstream. Before the AIDS epidemic, this process was already known to spread other diseases, for the most part it was hepatitis B (Rude, 1997). Legalizing drugs would eliminate the restriction of the sale of hypodermic needles. With needles cheap and freely available, the drug users would have little need to share them and risk getting someone else’s virus.Legalization would halt the loss of other personal liberties. Hundreds of corporations have used the so-called costs of drugs to justify testing their employees for drugs. Nobody makes a test for urine levels of sugar or caffeine a requirement for employment or grounds for dismissal. Legalizing today s illegal drugs would make them safer, decreasing the drive to test for drug use. Not only do drug tests allow nothing except discrimination, but also there are no proven studies to show that a worker is less able to perform their job if they have done drugs in the past (Lawrence, 1991). As long as they keep the drugs from hindering their performance at work, there isn t a problem. There weren t any studies that showed someone is more likely to commit crime at work because they have used drugs before they took a drug test. Not only do drug tests discriminate against those who have to take them; they invade people s constitutional rights.It would stabilize foreign countries and make them safer to live in and travel to. The connection between drug traffickers and rebellious groups such as gangs is fairly well documented. South American revolutionaries have developed a symbiotic relationship with coca growers and smugglers: the revolutionaries protect the growers and smugglers in exchange for cash to finance their rebellious activities (Witkin, 1997). Legalizing the international drug trade would affect organized crime and eliminate overseas crime as much as it would in the United States. A major source for revolutionary funding would disappear. So would the motive for kidnapping or assassinating officials. Once again we could walk the streets and travel the roads without fear of drug-related violence. Smugglers would no longer wreck countries.Once drugs are legalized, not only will everyone realize that the current policies we have are ineffective, but we are putting all the blame on illicit drugs when alcohol has a much larger contribution to the problems that plague our nation. Alcohol is one of the most heavily abused substances in the world, but it is socially acceptable and drugs are not for some reason. A report conducted by National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York found that alcohol played a role in more violent crimes than crack or powder cocaine. More than any other drug, alcohol was found to be more closely associated with violent crimes such as murder, rape, assault, and child and spousal abuse (Lawrence 1998). The problem with alcohol is that the large industrialized companies that manufacture it have such a large influence on our government that alcohol will always be readily available no matter what the consequences are (Swisher, 1995).If drugs were legalized many of our political and social problems would be eliminated. Ending prison overcrowding, freeing up police resources, unclogging the court systems, saving tax money, making drugs safer for those who choose to use, stabilizing other countries, eliminating much of the governmental corruption, helping slow AIDS and other blood born viruses, breaking down organized crime, eliminating the loss of personal liberties, and making our homes and streets safer are some of the major achievements that would result from legalization. The common misconception is that drugs are killing our society when really it is our policies and the way we are currently handling the issue. So much money, time, and effort can be saved if we legalize drugs. Work Cited End the Drug War Internet Web Page at: http://www.bradley.edu/campusorg/libertarian/lpdocs/leaflets/ReLegalizeDrugs.html Lawrence, Richard. The Case for Legalizing Drugs. Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated March 1991 Swisher, Karin. Legalizing Drugs. Greenhaven Press, Incorporated September 1995 Lawrence, Karl. Drugs and alcohol linked overwhelmingly to U.S. prisoners. Jet MagazineJan.1998: 9-11 Eldredge, Dirk. Would legalizing drugs serve America s national interest? Insight on the NewsSept. 1996 1-11 Witkin, Gordon. Drugs, power, and death: Mexico s Tijuana cartel, shooting for the top. U.S. News & World Report. August 1997 Rude, Chuck. FBI SWAT team paramedic and EMT Instructor. Personal Interview. 1997 APA documentation