Marijunana Essay, Research Paper
Legalize It? :
Debating American Drug Policy
The controversy surrounding the legalization of drugs has raged since the late 1930s and it seems it will continue well into the future. 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. (Crown, 43)
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. The actual consequences of using illicit drugs on the body are much less than 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. 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.
With the treatment of drugs as a medical problem, we can then and only then focus on the real problem: people and the 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. (Crown, 93) Inexperienced smokers, accustomed to low trade domestic pot, could be adversely affected by the unexpected introduction of high potency Colombian or Jamaican supplies. 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. (Bakalar, 53) 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. Prohibition has set generation against generation, law enforcement officials against users, and the system of criminal justice against millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Statistics show that the prohibition of marijuana has not decreased consumption but instead done just the opposite. 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. 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 after.
The flip side of the discussion is that the legalization of marijuana would cause more problems then solving them. We spend 10.5 billion per year on health care involving alcohol, and an estimated 140 to 210 billion in lost worker productivity. 17,000 people a year are killed in alcohol related automobile accidents. (Crown, 101) The money we make off the excise tax for alcohol is not worth this. Drug legalization would not necessarily wipe out the market for illegal drugs. Gambling has been legalized in some areas, yet illegal gambling still thrives. On top of that, there is no real evidence that crime will go down if drugs are legalized. People see someone on pot acting passive and they assume that that is how the entire drug population will act. In a survey given by the Bureau of Justice, it was found that 25 percent of convicted inmates in jails, 33 percent of state prisoners, and 40 percent of youths in state facilities admit to being under the influence of an illegal drug at the time of the crime that they were arrested for.
In the Netherlands, where drugs were legalized, there was almost a 33 percent increase in gun deaths, almost all of them drug related. It has now become the leading country in Europe in the category of assaults and threats. It also has around fifty clinics set up to help addicts, even though it is smaller than West Virginia. Over three percent of the fifteen and over population in Rotterdam use cocaine. (Bakalar,125) This is the price of legalization that the Netherlands are paying. In England, heroin was made legal by prescription, and it experienced a thirty-fold increase, with many of the addicts staying with illegal suppliers. Switzerland opened a “drug park”, but had to shut it down after five years because of an increase in violence and death. The number of heroin addicts went from less than five hundred to 20,000 in five years. (Bakalar, 121) Many European cities became fed up with drugs, and formed the group Europeans Cities Against Drugs. Ironically enough, the coalition represented both England and Switzerland.
In our own country, Alaska experimented with legalization of marijuana, but when it got out of hand, its own citizens voted to make it illegal again. Children have grown up with constant messages of just say no, with drugs portrayed as bad in the media, and they are taught the harmful effects of drugs through D.A.R.E., and other similar programs. Even if, as pro-legalizers claim, there is not an increase in drug use among today’s society, our children will still be given an entirely new concept of drugs. Many contend that the war on drugs is not working. This is not true. The key to stopping drugs is education, and during the past fifteen years that is what has been emphasized. From 1979 to 1994, the amount of people who used drugs was cut by more than fifty percent, from twenty-four million to around eleven million. (Rosenthal, 94) Pretty strong statistics for an idea that is “not working”.
Although there are many negative aspects in the legalization of marijuana, I still believe that the good outweighs the bad. There are millions of people that are suffering from an illness or many illnesses, who live each day praying they die soon. My thoughts on this argument are that if you are destined to die at some point in your life then why live life suffering? Living life the way that you want to live it is something that everyone does and should not be limited on something that is harmful to you. People know the risks of doing marijuana, but ultimately the decision on what you should and shouldn +t do with your body relies on the individual and not the public or society.