Legalizing Drugs: The Ultimate Alternative to Cease the Drug War
For years, the United States has constantly been in the midst of a war. As a matter of fact, it is a war that is extreme, costly, and very exposed. Not only is it fought within the U.S. boundaries, but also in foreign shores. This so-called war is the War on Drugs. No one can argue that drugs are like a plague in our society. However, as bad as the effect of drugs on our society is, the effect of prohibition is worse. Federal government has spent billions of dollars on the struggle to end this war.
Even the state and local government have spent millions of dollars to cease this war. Local reformers also contribute to this war by generating their own versions of the war and by recruiting as many community groups and leaders as they can to further the effort, but it all seems useless because no favorable results have been obtained so far. The best way to cease this everlasting war is to legalize drugs. Legalizing drugs will help the community as a whole because it will save many lives, help reduce crimes rates, improve research for medicine, and increase the government’s income.
By legalizing drugs, hundred of lives can be saved each year. Many of the deaths that are now categorized as “drug overdose” are, in fact, caused by drugs that are purer than the users’ accustomed dose. This will cause an overdose by merely taking the dose to which they are accustomed. Other deaths are caused by the drugs being “cut” or diluted with impure or dangerous substances. At present, drugs are cut with anything from relatively harmless things such as baking soda, powdered sugar, lactose and corn starch to poisons like strychnine and arsenic.
Legal drugs would fall under the supervision and standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), thereby insuring cleaner and purer drugs at consistent dosages. In addition, intravenous and intramuscular drugs could be packaged in single use syringes that are designed to be destroyed by the act of using them once. Thus, preventing the reuse and sharing of needles. This will reduce the spread of AIDs, hepatitis, and many other types of infections. Hence, more lives saved, as well as the reduction of burden on many public resources since many drug abusers cannot afford to pay for medical treatment. The government would have control of all drugs.
Once the government has control over the drugs, private industries would be in control of the sale of the drugs. Society learned from the, prohibition of alcohol during the 1920’s, “private industry is much easier to control compared to public industry or the black market” (Prohibition of Alcohol). Legalizing drugs with the appropriate regulation and control would severely limit the access of drugs to children. Just as minors cannot legally but alcohol, they would not be able to walk into a state regulated drug store and buy drugs. Under the present conditions, drug dealers do not care if he customer is 5 years old or 50 years old. These drug dealers are only concerned on the amount of money that goes into their pockets. New laws would be imposed to the people who can but drugs, how much a person can buy, and where the person can buy drugs. Therefore, this would create a safer and more organized society.
Legalizing and regulating drug production and sale will eliminate a plethora of drug crimes, as well as crimes related to drugs. Crimes such smuggling, producing and selling drugs would cease to be profitable. It will also limit the availability of funds to finance other crimes such as illegal gambling, prostitution, extortion and terrorism. Former Nobel Prize Winner for Economics, Milton Friedman states, “The legalization of drugs would simultaneously reduce the number of crimes and improve the respect for the law. It is hard to imagine any other single provision which could make a more significant contribution to the promotion of law and order (Legalization of Drugs).” Being one of the world’s leading drug-related crime nation, the United States needs to diminish the crime rate. The best option is to obtain this is by legalizing drugs or else like former U.S.
Secretary of State, George Schultz says “… will never obtain any results as long as we are unable to separate crime from the drug business and the incitement to criminality this causes” (Legalization of Drugs). Drugs will likely be cheaper. The supply would be relatively consistent. Market forces such as “supply and demand” will be less of a determining price factor. Nor will the risk factor to dealers and smugglers affect price. The cost of producing most illegal drugs is minimal, particularly in an industrial setting. Therefore, legalization will reduce crimes such as burglary, mugging, and prostitution.
Legalizing drugs would be useful in the medicinal world. It is probably one of the prime reasons why drugs should be legalized because it will be helpful for medical-related research. There are numerous ways in which drugs could be used in the medical field. For example, marijuana helps relieve pain caused by glaucoma. Glaucoma is a “group of eye diseases characterizes by an increase in intraocular pressure (Garcia, Matthews) ” in the eyeball causing damage to the optic disc and impaired vision which sometimes develops into blindness for many people every year.
Medical researchers found that as the dose of marijuana increases, the pressure within the eye decreases by up to a 30%, thus, lowering the risk of suffering from such a agonizing and dreadful disease (Garcia, Matthews). Cocaine is another drug which can be used because it was the first effective local anesthetic (Spillane, 2000). However, in the late 1880’s surgical procedures using local anesthetics was replaced by a general anesthesia solution.
Several countries South America such as Peru and Bolivia still use coca as both a general stimulant and for more specific medical purposes (Spillane 2000). There are, however, some recent and so far uncertain signs of reviving interests in cocaine from the medical institutions and even coca itself for other medical purposes to be used in researches as well as in diagnosis and treatments. Another illegal drug useful for medical usages is heroin. Heroin was once and is still used as a powerful pain-killer which is used to control intense chronic pains caused by severe diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis (Schaffer).
Researchers have found signs showing that heroin is significantly less harmful than most of the drugs which are given in its place. There are other ways drugs could be used for medical purposes, however, due to its illegal status there has not been many in-depth studies into the possible uses of illegal drugs as was initially hoped for. Not only will legalizing drugs help the medical community but it will take the medical world into a new horizon with these drugs.
The federal government does not know how to control the great amount of money that they have spent on the war on drugs, which still continues. Yearly, “the federal government spends around $20 billion dollars (Mann, 2001)” on issues related to the war on drugs. Not only does legalizing drugs help needy organizations, but it also helps the community. The money that the government annually spends on the drug war could be used for building rehabilitation centers for handicapped citizens, building more schools to educate people on drugs, or go into funds for a medical or scientific research. According to former chief of the Planning Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, Theodore R. Vallance, “the legalization of the now illegal drugs would result in a net saving of $37 billion annual savings for the federal government (Vallance).” The federal government will also benefit from the increase in income due to taxation and licensing of drugs. Just like cigarettes and alcohol, drugs would be taxed.
The tax imposed on these drugs should vary on how the drug affects the individuals who take drugs. Marijuana’s side effects, which as “loud talking and bursts of laughter, lack of memory in conversations, and chronic redness of the eyes (Glantz),” should have a smaller tax rate because its side effects are less severe compared to cocaine and heroin’s side effects. By placing different tax rates on different drugs, according to their side effects, users would start using softer drugs and the usage of harder drugs would be less common because of its high cost. People would have to either start paying to obtain harder drugs or they would diminish their drug use. Drug sales are probably the largest untaxed markets in the United States and around the world, hence, if drugs were legalized, the money from taxing drugs would be used for more serious problems.
In short, legalizing drugs will benefit the community at a larger extent. The overly fought, absurd Drug War has been, is, and will continue to be an absolute failure if the United States continues to struggle with it like it has done. Instead, actions needs to be taken and the ultimate alternative is to legalize all drugs. By doing so, a number of lives are saved in many ways. Legalization helps reduce crime, making the community a safer place to live in. Legalization also allows for the exploring or research in the field of medicine. Lastly, the government can save money, but its income will also increase.
Garcia, G., Matthews, L. “Laser and Eye Safety in the Laboratory.” New York: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (1995): 102
Glantz, Meyer D. “Correlates and Consequences of Marijuana Use.” Washington D.C.: METROTEC (1984):37
Mann, Judy. “Money Spent of Drug War Could Be Put To Better Use.” Washington Post (D.C.) 17 October 2001: C12
Nadelmann, Ethan A. “An Unwinnable War on Drugs.” New York Times. 26 April 2001: A23
Spillane, Joseph. Cocaine: from medical marvel to modern menace in the United States. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press (2000): 58-61
Schaffer, Clifford A. “Basic Facts About the War on Drugs.” Drug Reform Coordination Network. <http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/basicfax.htm#q16>