End the war on drugs, advantageous for everyone
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 23:03
In a free society, people should be allowed to consume anything they desire at anytime. This fundamental and essential element of freedom should, in theory, remain eternally consistent and unhampered.
Restricting the consumption of certain things based on what certain people deem hazardous or threatening is the epitome of hypocrisy. This can be observed through the government-implemented policy that is drug prohibition. Laced with unintended consequences, these laws exacerbate all the social problems they are supposed to ameliorate.
According to CNN’s Richard Branson, the United States currently houses the largest prison population in the world, estimated at 2.3 million. The number of those arrested for nonviolent drug charges is estimated to be 1.53 million.
Considering the secrecy involved in drug exchanges, the police force may resort to unlawful intrusive tactics to bring “wrongdoers to justice.” The abuse of court-issued warrants and undercover sting operations are two examples of such actions.
Prohibition costs are an absolute drain on the national purse. Harvard economics Professor Jeffery Miron explains the legalization of drugs can save our country $41.3 billion in prohibition enforcement and government expenditures annually. On the flip side, if all current illegal drugs were taxed at rates analogous to current “legal drugs” like alcohol and tobacco, we would yield a national tax revenue of $46.7 billion.
Intensifying the “war on drugs” does not reduce demand, and blindly throwing money at the problem won’t contain the wildfire that is drug use.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the percentage of Americans using illegal drugs has remained stable from 2002–11. Over these nine years, illicit drug use increased only 0.4 percent, marijuana use rose 0.8 percent and both cocaine and psychotherapeutics saw a decrease of 0.4 percent.
A common but threatening misconception regarding illegal drugs is that their trade often couples with high crime and violence. Society glimpses few stories depicting drug businessmen doing malicious acts to competitors, subordinates and innocent bystanders alike. These unfortunate circumstances aren’t because of any drug itself, or the adverse effects it causes. The act of selling, purchasing or consuming drugs is unlawful, causing it to hide underground, away from the public eye. Buyers and suppliers, therefore, cannot resolve disputes or conflict within the normal legality of the judiciary process, and resort to violence instead.
Public health also takes a back seat when placed in the same sentence as drug enforcement. Cancer patients, people with glaucoma and those with other severe medical conditions cannot use medical cannabis under laws of either the state or federal government. Despite evidence of its effectiveness proven by dozens of peer-reviewed studies, major government reports and evidence from medical organizations. Currently, only 18 states have laws enacted to legalize medical marijuana. Does restricting helpful medication to those who desperately need it sound feasible in our “free society?”
I understand citizens, especially those who have spawned children, desire protection and security as a result of our efforts to combat drug use, abuse and addiction.
So tell me: Why is our collective society unwilling to help people addicted to drugs and quick to imprison them? A recent Pew study estimates it takes an average of $30,000 to incarcerate one inmate. On the contrary, our nation only averages $11,600 per public school student.
Think of how our communities and lives could improve by using the billions of dollars we currently waste supporting this defective drug war. Treating drug abuse as a serious health issue as opposed to unlawful deviance would better our current economic qualms and overall public health, and permit us to better control violence by increasing efforts to stop serious criminals.
Prejudiced policy makers and media outlets, which use drug myths to fulfill their own self-serving biases, preach a plethora of misguided information. Legalization and proper legislation allows the presentation of honest and factual information to users and non-users about the properties, side effects and health risks associated. Drug ratification would also permit further research and advancement of a drug to its purest, and safest, form.
All controlled substances lack consumer safety features common to those of legal markets. These include warning labels, quality control information, manufacturer accountability and instruction sheets. Because the current market is so heavily concealed in secrecy, drug suppliers will often dilute (or cut) their product with other substances to increase profitability. Legalizing drugs will encourage users to recognize and purchase from credible drug manufacturers, which ensure a purer product than black market competitors.
Offering addicts and abusers the use of cost-effective rehabilitation clinics instead of hurling them into a crowded jail could save hundreds of thousands of lives and counter the spread of intravenous diseases.
The number of drug addicts in the United States that died from an accidental drug overdose in 2007 was 27,658, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. It further reports that 354,000 people contract HIV/AIDS by sharing syringes.
Nobody can deny drugs that are currently illegal can be unhealthful and addictive. Modeling glue, matches, household cleaners, countless over-the-counter drugs, lawn mowers and steak knives can be hazardous, but that doesn’t mean they are deemed illegal.
It isn’t illegal to step into Bomb’s Away Café and get a cold pint of beer on Tuesday night.
It isn’t illegal to pick up a pack of American Spirit cigarettes at the SuperEtte supermarket.