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Essay/Term paper: Legalize drugs

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Alcohol and Drugs

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Such an issue stirs up moral and religious beliefs; beliefs that are contrary to what America should "believe". However, 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. 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. Physically, the actual consequences of using illicit drugs is much less than of 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. Within the last thirty years many groups have their attempts. 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. Prohibition breeds disrespect for law©enforcement; the agency that "should" hold the highest respect of the American society. Money spent on prohibition is an overwhelming figure that is not needed and is obviously accomplishing little. Those who want to be controlled by a substance should have every right to do so, because this right has equal jurisdiction as any other human right that has emerged from the sea of oppression and persecuted freedoms. Á Šthe deaths resulting in the acquiring of alcohol have all but disappeared. When all non©medical dealings in alcohol were prohibited in the United States in 1919, the results were very similar to today's drug trade. Alcohol oÔ quality was brewed illicitly; importers were considered criminals and behaved as such; protection rackets, bribes and gang warfare organized crime in the United States. (Boaz, p.118) The enforcement budget rose from $7 million in 1921 to $15 million in 1930©©$108 million in 1988 dollars. In 1926, the Senate Judiciary Committee produced a 1,650©page report evaluating enforcement efforts and proposing reforms. In 1927, the Bureau of Prohibition was created to streamline enforcement efforts, and agents were brought under civil service protection to eliminate corruption and improve professionalism. In that same year, President Hoover appointed a blue©ribbon commission to evaluate enforcement efforts and recommend reforms. Three years later Prohibition was over and alcohol was legalized.(Boaz, pps.49©50) Immediately, the bootlegger stopped running around the streets supplying illicit contraband. People stopped worrying about drunks mugging them in the streets or breaking into their apartments to get funds to buy a pint of wine. We now deal with alcohol abuse as a medical problem. Let us deal with the drug problem in the same way. Let us try not to repeat the mistakes of the past by continuing to escalate a war that is totally unnecessary.(Boaz, p.120) The repeal of alcohol prohibition provides the perfect analogy. Repeal did not end alcoholism©©as indeed Prohibition did not©©but it did solve many of the problems created by Prohibition, such as corruption, murder, and poisoned alcohol.(Boaz, p.50) We can expect no more and no less from drug legalization today. Á ŠUnited States has not tried to ban the use of tobacco on aÔcigarette smoking is one of America's most dangerous drug habits. Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, is exceedingly poisonous. When isolated and taken orally, it can bring death in a matter of minutes. Cigarette tobacco contains about 1.5 percent nicotine; an average cigarette yields six to eight milligrams of the drug. Cigar tobacco is potentially more lethal; a standard©size cigar contains about 120 milligrams of nicotine, twice the amount of a lethal dose. What apparently Ô °Ô °irony is that tobacco which can be seen as just of a danger if not more so than many illicit drugs of today is considered a "good" and perfectly legal drug among the American society. Á Šterrible, controlling substance that alters the mind and kills. This is a true statement; howeverÔ lead to more deaths in the United States than do illicit drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the official 1988 toll of drug©caused deaths in 27 U.S. cities, the best available measure of the nation's "drug problem," was, for cocaine products, 3,308; for heroin and morphine, 2,480;Ô course, for marijuana, zero. "Emergency©room mentions" for cocaine in the same cities totaled only 62,141. For comparison, smoking killed 390,000 last year and alcohol killed at least 100,000. Alcohol is responsible for more fetal damage than crack and remains the major menace on our highways.(Boaz, p.123) Ôstates that approximately 57 million people in this country are addicted to cigarettes, 18 million are addicted to alcohol and 10 million are abusing psychotherapeutic drugs. By comparison, crack, heroin and hallucinogens each accounts for one million addicts. Further, the report states that every day in this country 1,000 people die of smoking©related illnesses, 550 die of alcohol©related accidents and diseases, while 20 die of drug overdoses and drug©related homicides.(Lynch, p.8) The war on drugs might as well be non©existent; supporters argue that theÔ government'sÔ needs to be focused on more abused drugs that do more harm to the American people, such as alcohol. Á Štherefore drug decriminalization, gives his views on governmental involvement in drug related issues. Nadelmann believes that the government should use the tax system to discourage consumption among kids, and even among adults to some extent. Nadelmann states, "I think it's legitimate for government to play a role in trying to discourage people from using cigarettes. If they want to put the information out there, that sounds fine. But I find incredibly distasteful is the way that they're demonizing cigarette users now. What's happening now, with [FDA Commissioner David] Kessler, is they're heading in a prohibitionist direction, which is something I would regard as very bad on both policy grounds and ethical grounds." Nadelmann continues to point out that, "Progress in the rights ofÔtechnology sophisticated environment, may redound to the benefit of the drug issue. I think also that the war on cigarette usersª©if you want to call it that©©is raising the issue of individual autonomy vis©a©vis drug use in a context to which tens of millions of Americans still relate. And the more that cigarettes get tarred as a drug, the more the connection is going to be prominent. You're going to have tens of millions of Americans beginning to identify more and more with the heroin, cocaine and marijuana users. At the same time, you're going to have these arguments about individual rights and the freedom to use drugs in your own home.(Reason, July 1994 p.43) The personal rights and freedoms issue is a pressing point that supporters of prohibition must look towards and decide on what their beliefs are on how deeply government should interact and limit the actions of people. Á Šcall for a crusade or an exterminatory witchhunt. In the Netherlands, the focus is pragmatically centered on minimizing the harm that addict population does to itself and the rest of society. The record speaks for itself: American adolescents use marijuana at about twice the rate of their counterparts in Holland, where marijuana and hashish have been freely available for more than 17 years. The only drug that causes traffic fatalities and violence in Holland is the same one that causes these problems here©©alcohol. Over a 17©year period in Holland, during which possession and use of hard drugs have been treatedÔunder 22 years of age who use heroin or cocaine has dropped from 15 percent to less than three percent. (Perrine, p.12) In Holland, a Dutch reformed parish operate a methadone dispensary and a needle exchange. There are designated areas where drugs can be used, and permitting such areas is controversial, even in tolerant Holland. Drug legalization in England and Holland has had mixed results. While there has been a slight increase in drug use in those countries, the number of crimes associated with drugs has decreased. However disagreeable, the visible presence of junkies in countries like England and Holland plays its part. Dutch adolescents have no problem seeing that this is hardly a glamorous and exciting life©style and that it does not even provide much pleasure. Reality, even disagreeable reality, is remarkably educational; and the attempt to legislate reality out of existence is remarkably counterproductive. (Perrine, p.12) In the U.S. there were eleven states that decriminalized the personal use of marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse(1992), there was no increase in its use in those states.(Riga, p.7) Anti©drug supporters argue that corollations cannot be made between the United States and other countries;Ô however, the way in which people conduct themselves and how society responds to this is very similar around the world. Ô °heightened awareness of the destructiveness of drugs, and in self©pride programs for society's "have nots." The United States has cut back drastically on its alcohol and tobacco consumptionÔare dangerous. The same thing must be done for other drugs. Pragmatically, the legal and controlled sale of drugs would not only reduce crime but channel valuable resources into treatment.(Riga, p.7) With the treatment of drugs as a medical problem, we can then and only then focus on the real problem:Ô people that Ô Á Šand adulteration of 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. Inexperienced smokers, accustomed to low©grade domestic pot, could be adversely affected by the unexpected introduction of high©potency Colombian or Jamaican supplies.(Schroeder, p.54) 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. Since purity varies greatly, consumers caÔ produce the desired effects. If a personÔ percent heroin and take a five percent dose, suddenly he hasÔ nearly doubled hisÔ open market would face different incentives than pushers. They rely on name brand recognition to build market share, and onÔincentive to provide a product of uniform quality; killing customers or losing them to competitors is not a proven way to success. (Pragmatist, p.3) With majorÔ how drugs should be made and what they should be cut withÔ dangerous approach may be taken. Á Šwell be the schism that has been created in the American society. Prohibition has set generation against generation, lawªenforcement officials against users, and the system of criminal justice against millions of otherwise law©abiding citizens. The effect of prohibition has not been a decreased marijuana consumption©©statistics show that the opposite is true. 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.(Schroeder, p.55) 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. Á Šthe prohibition of drugs yearly is an unnecessary and overwhelming figure. The total annual cost of the drug war, are about $100 billion dollars annually.(Duke, p.3) For instance, the Air Force spent $3.3 million on drug interdiction, using sophisticated AWACS surveillance planes, over a 15 month period ending in 1987. The grand total of drug seizures from thatÔof the Coast Guard and Navy, sailing for 2,500 ship days at a cost of $40 million, resulted in the seizure of a mere 20 drugªcarrying vessels.(Wink, p.1) Ô were not enough, domestic production of marijuana continues to increase. It is the largest cash crop in ten states and second largest in the nation, second only to corn. Revenues from drug trafficking in Miami, Florida, are greater than those from tourism, exports, health care, and all other legitimate businesses combined.(Wink, p.2)Ô have a lower cost than throwing people in prison. It costs $52,000 a year to detain someone at Riker's Island. However, a years stay at Phoenix House in New York, for example, costs $15,000.(Yoffe, p.1) If it is not already obvious, the way in which the government goes about it's drug war is inoperative. Money that is spent is a waste; Ô education and treatment. If politicians cannot see this, than we are losing the drug war in our policies and in the minds of our "greatest" law©makers, not on the streets. Á ŠÁ ` ` ¹concluded that the prohibition of drugs criminalised users, forced them into contact with professional criminals, tempted entrepreneurial young people from impoverished backgrounds into a lucrative criminal life, encouraged gang warfare, resulted in people taking impure mixtures in often dangerous methods, and created heavy policing costs. It is, in short, not drug abuse itself which creates the most havoc, but the crime resulting fromÔother Western governments, to contemplate some form of licensed sale of drugs which would deprive the pushers of their market while obliging registered addicts to take treatment. The key to beating the traffic is to remove its prodigious profitability and to deglamorise drug abuse by a heavy programme of public education.(Boaz, 122) The government can continue harassing, humiliating and jailing drug users in the name of helping them stay away from evil. It can continue fostering violence and corruption in the name of protecting our society. Or, America can begin fighting drugs through peaceful means, taking the problem away from police and jailersÔ doctors and educators. Legalizing drug use©©with certain restrictions©©would eliminate the terrible collateral damage wreaked by the war on drugs. It would respect the right of individuals to make personal choices about what they consume, while still holding them responsible for the harm they cause others. It would free up real money for prevention and treatment programs that currently enjoy more lip service than funding. And it would encourage people with problems to seek help rather than take them underground. Any new approach to drugs must begin by replacing hype and demagoguery with information and analysis. It must discriminate between the uses and misuses of drugs. It mustÔ alsoÔ for paternalistic moralizing for hypocritical double standards.(Boaz, p. 135) Legalizing drugs would not be a panacea. Many people would continue to use them recklessly andÔjoin their ranks. But scare scenarios of a prostrate, addicted nation have no basis. Clearly, there will be some increase in drug use if drugs are made legal and accessible at a reasonable price. Yet the benefits of legalization will outweigh the negatives: less crime, less Ô available for greater rehabilitation efforts, fewer jail cells and prisoners, better utilization of law enforcement personnel, greater respect for the law, fewer corrupted policeman, and fewer deaths from impure substances. Furthermore, taxes from these legalized substances will fund treatment centers and educational outreach. If we can distribute condoms and clean needles to control the spread of diseases, why can't we bring ourselves to distribute drugs cheaply and legally? The same arguments made about cause and effect ought to be made here as well. Granted, America has a vast and terrible problem with the issue on drugs in the 1990s, but as Robert Kennedy opined, "If the alternatives [are] disorder or injustice, the rational choice is injustice. For when there is disorder, we cannot obtain or maintain justice."(Boaz, p. 120)  

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