Essay Writing Help on Drug Legalization

Drug Legalization

          Drug legalization has been a hotly debated issue in the United States for many years. Those against drug abuse have often pointed out the myriad problems associated with drugs and substance abuse as a justification why drugs should not be legalized. Some of the problems commonly cited against legalization of drugs include acute toxicity and addiction/ drug dependency syndrome associated with drugs’ use (Fox, Oliver and Ellis 2). Drugs’ use also has a positive correlation with HIV/ AIDS spread, domestic violence, school dropout, mortality rate and crime among others (Boles and Mioto 157-161). On the other hand, those who support legalization motion point to the insignificant achievement of the government’s war on drugs and the high number of incarcerated victims of drug use as the reasons why drugs should be legalized (Brenner 173).

Under the federal law of the United States, possession, sale and use of drugs (Cocaine, Hallucinogens, Heroin, LSD and Marijuana among others) is illegal. However, the last four decades have seen a raging debate as to whether drugs should be legalized or not. The federal government has allowed States to pass laws that legalize the use of marijuana. This has seen several states pass laws that have legalised Marijuana use for recreation and medical purposes. However, this move has not been taken without criticisms. This paper presents the arguments in favour of and against legalization of drugs in the United States.

Drug legalization in the United States

         Drug legalization opponents use deleterious effects of drug use as the reasons why the government should not legalize their use. Research shows a positive relationship between drug and substance abuse with violent criminal activities, sexual abuse, HIV/ AIDS, school dropout rates and general recklessness in the affected society (Boles and Mioto 4). According to the DEA 2012 report (17), many violent criminal activities in the United States are committed by agents who are under intoxicating influence of drugs. Thus, the DEA believe that drug legalization will lead to increased drug use and exacerbate the current state of affairs. According to Terkel (16), legalization of drugs will result in increased violence and other drug related ills such as robbery with violence and increased experimentation among the youth with devastating results.

         Contrary to this position is the argument advanced by the proponents of drug legalization. According to this group, criminal activities associated with drugs result from criminalization of the drugs in question. Brenner, one of the proponents of drug legalization argues that criminalization is the reason for proliferation of the black market for illicit drugs and turf wars which are associated with violent crimes (158). According to Brenner (162), decriminalization of drugs will result in the collapse of drugs’ black markets and turf wars since there would be no need for drug dealers to protect their collapsed tuffs. Benjamin and Miller (175) also hold the same view that decriminalization of drugs’ use will weaken the economic backborne of organised drug gangs leading to their eventual collapse to the benefit of the society.

        This position is supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In their 2013 report, UNODC observes that the global increase in drug consumption and the negative consequences of the drug war in the previous 50 years underscores the need to review the enforcement approach (71). According to UNODC  2012 report, the punitive approach taken by the United States government against drug offenders has led to increased incarcerations with unintended societal consequences. The United Nations also observes that criminalization of drug use is the bloodline of organized crime and drug cartels. This position taken by the United Nations serves to explain that decriminalization of drugs will result in reduction of unnecessary incarcerations of drug abusers from the minority groups in the United States which is being viewed as racist. In his 2011 quartely message on the relationship between drug war and racism in the Uunited States, McWhorter (5-9) argues that criminalization of drugs is an avenue of exercising racism because the drug war has led to an unprecedented increase in the number of Americans of African origin in prisons. Drug war has also led to an increased perception among minority groups (Americans of African and Mexican Oorigin) that they are deliberate targets of law enforcement. According to McWhorter (7), the United States government ought to undertake the cost-benefit analysis of drug war and realize that time is ripe to relax on the policy and concentrate of rehabilitating the negative consequences caused by the war.

         Another contentious issue about legalization of drugs is centred on the billions of dollars spent by the American government to enforce drug laws. The proponents of drug legalization observe that the amount of money spent by the government to enforce drug laws is unjustifiable considering that the results are scanty. The fact that consumption of drugs is still high after many years of fruitless effort by the government to curb it should serve to explain why the mission should be abandoned (UNODC 18). Brenner (173-176) uses the low rate of success in arresting marijuana smokers as a justification why the government is fighting a lost battle and thus it should legalize drugs. According to Brenner (174), out of the 25 million United States citizens who used marijuana in 1987, only 378,000 cases were detected. He uses this to justify why many cases of illicit drug use will always go undetected and therefore the fight is fruitless. According to Brenner, the government is better of fighting other crimes with high rate of success than fighting drug use. He goes on to argue that the billions of tax payers’ money wasted in enforcing drug law should be used in rehabilitating, treating and educating the drug addicts so as to help them abandon the abuse of drugs and re-integrate back in their respective societies.

            Brenner’s position is also held by the United Nations Office on Drugs. According to UNODC’s 2011 report, the United States government spent an average of $100 billion in 2005 in the war against drugs. The report projected a turnover of $330 billion in 2012, a figure that dwarfs the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) of many economies around the world. According to the United Nations, the war against drugs has failed because the black markets perpetuated by the war generate high profits used to undermine the government’s efforts through bribery and intimidation (21). While not directly advocated for, the United Nations report underscores that the United States government need to decriminalize drug use and instead use the billions of dollars wasted in drug war to rehabilitate the negative consequences of drug war.

         Another point of contention that brings the opponents and proponents of drug legalization at loggerhead is the drugs’ connection with the main stream economic systems. Those opposed to the criminalization law argues that legalization of drugs will be a financial windfall for the economy of the United States. According to Brenner (181), de-criminalization of drugs will free the billions of dollars wasted in unsuccessful drug war to be used for infrastructure expansion of the healthcare and education systems. They also argue that control of drug market (instead of criminalizing it) will decouple drugs from criminal activities and thus the market will generate revenue that will lead to the growth of the American economy. According to Serrano, legalization and control of drugs will necesitate the drug users to access drugs at an affordable cost without coming into contact with criminal cartels. Serrano argues that criminalization of drugs has enhanced proliferation of black market for drugs because it has raised the cost of accessing them. Thus, decriminalization will lower the price and lead to the eventual collapse of drug cartels.

            Those opposed to drug legalization contend that legalization of drugs will magnify the already negative consequences of drug market to the country’s main economy. This position is supported by DEA (17) in their 2012 report on the war against drugs. According to the report (17-18), legalization of drugs will result in increased fatal accidents, increased domestic violence, increased drug related crimes and increased number of drug-related health complications whose management and treatment cost will smother the income from the drug market. DEA observes that legalization of drugs is licensing drug dealers to profit from addiction of other people and indirect murder (20).

        The medical use of drugs is another hotly contested point in the drug legalization debates. Marijuana can be used as a medicine for easing pain by people suffering from a variety of illnesses. Thus, the proponents of drug legalization have argued that marijuana should be legalized for medical use. However, those opposed to legalization of marijuana argue that the myriad of negative consequences of using marijuana invalidates the medical benefit of marijuana. According to DEA’s 2012 report, smoking marijuana intoxicates the users’ brains which is a recipe for crime, violence and health complications (20). DEA observes that negative consequences of majiruana outweights its medicinal value and thus should not be legalized. DEA (2) also believe that the proponents of legalization of marijuana are disingenuous in their committment with an interest of exploiting the sick people to legalize drugs for their own selfish gains. DEA uses studies that show that prolonged smoking of marijuana causes lung damage, impaired judgment and other health complications to invalidate the arguments advanced in support of legalization of  marijuana (DEA 35). DEA also observe that rejection of the medicinal value of marijuana by American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Glaucoma Society (Jampel 75-76) is an indication that marijuana is harmful and thus should not be legalized (3).

         The afore-described arguments underscore that both opponents and proponents of drug legalization have valid views in suppport of their positions. In general the proponents of drug legalization hold views that criminalization has institutionalized crime and racism in the United States since it has led to mass incarceration of drug users from minority groups. Others believe that the government has lost the drug war despite spending billions of tax payers’ money and thus should abandon the war and instead invest the colossal amount of money in controlling drug use and infrastructure development. They contend that drug use has been on the increase in the last 50 years despite the government’s effort to curb it. Some proponents of drug legalization view the whole criminalization issue as an infringement on the individual freedoms to choose that which is right for them and therefore, should be reversed. Others still believe that drugs such as marijuana has medicinal values and therefore, their use should be legalized.

          On the contrary, those opposed to legalization of drugs base their arguments on the general negative consequences of drugs and susbstance abuse. Documented research undercores a positive corellation between drug use and domestic violence, violent criminal activities, medical complications of the brain, school dropout, HIV/ AIDS, fatal road accidents and general failure in life (Fox, Oliver and Ellis 3). They thus argue that the negative consequences of drug use are sufficient reasons why drugs should not be legalized. They also use medical research evidences to invalidate medicinal values of marijuana and also argue that legalization will not reduce and instead will increase crime and drug related consequences.

          In my view, the opponents of drug legalization are more convincing in their arguments than their proponent counterparts. There is empirical evidence that links drug and substance abuse to a number of health and social ills such as intoxication and criminal actitivies. According to Fox and his colleagues (1-6), many agents of domestic violence and criminal actitivies commit crimes while under the intoxicating effects of drugs.  Boles and Mioto (156) also found a positive relationship between aggression behaviour and drug abuse. Drug and substance abuse is also correlated positively with HIV/ AIDS spread, school dropout among the youths, unintended teenage pregnancies and fatal accidents (Sorensen and Copeland 19-21). The myriad of problems associated with drug abuse should surely serve to inform the government to tighten the enforcement of drug laws. Those supporting the legalization debate base their arguments on unverified scenarios and the scanty achievement of the war on drugs. For instance, the argument that legalization will lead to the collapse of drug cartels and allow the drug market to contribute meaningfully to the American economy is an unverified theory.

 According to  Benjamin and Miller, legalization of drug use will not lead to the collapse of the black market for drugs since the cartel have many lifelines (175). It will be able to survive on other criminal activities such as prostitution, loan sharking, child pornography and gambling (175). It is also worth noting that the war on drugs in the United States is not targeted to the minority groups but to the illicit drug cartels and drug abusers. It might be a sheer concidence that drug abusers of Americans of African and Mexican origin are the ones providing market for the illicit drugs and not that they are targeted by the law enforcement agencies.

Works Cited

Brenner, Todd Austin. “The Legalization of Drugs: Why Prolong the Inevitable?” Evans, Rod L. and Irwin M. Beren. Drug Legalization, For and Against. Open Court: La Salle , 1992. 158-186. Print.

Benjamin, Daniel K. and Roger Leroy Miller. Undoing Drugs. New York: Basic Books, 1991.

Boles, Sharon M. and Karen Mioto. “Substance Abuse and Violence: A review of the literature.” Aggression and Violence Behaviour 8.2 (2003): 155-174.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA Position on Marijuaana. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 2013. Print.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization:. New York: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012. Print.

Fox, Thomas Peter, Govind Oliver and Sophie Marie Ellis. “The Destructive Capacity of Drug Abuse: An Overview Exploring the Harmful Potential of Drug Abuse Both to the Individual and to Society.” Internal Scholarly Research Notices (2013): 1-6.

Jampel, Henry. “American glaucoma society position statement: marijuana and the treatment of glaucoma.” Journal Of Glaucoma 19.2 (2010): 75-76. Print.

K.Benjamin, Daniel and Roger LeRoy Miller. Undoing Drugs: Beyond Legalization. New York: Basic Books, 1991. Print.

McWhorter, John. How the War on Drugs Is Destroying Black America. Washignton DC: CATO Institute, 2011. Print.

Serrano, Alfonso. How Latin America May Lead the World in Decriminalizing Drug Use. 9 October 2012. Electronic. 21 March 2015.

Sorensen, James. and Amy L. Copeland. “Drug Abuse Treatment as an HIV Prevention Strategy: A review.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol 59. iss.1 (2000): 17-31.

Terkel, Susan Neiburg. Should Drugs Be Legalized? New York: Franklin Watts, 1990.

United Nations Office On Drug and Crime (UNODC). 2008 World Drug Report. Geneva, Netherlands: United Nations Publication, 2008. Print.