In of the gangs who oversee the

            In
our society, there are many social and economic problems that our government is
working towards solving. These problems can range from marriage equality, to
congressional term limits and even racial profiling. However, the policy issue
I would like to discuss today would be the legalization of drugs. After many
years of prohibition on almost all drugs except alcohol, there are
signs pointing towards our drug laws soon coming to a change. Researchers and
policymakers have become aware that the system that’s currently set up
regarding prohibition is not meetings it’s necessary goals. The explosion of
new psychoactive chemicals, along with technological expansions and
advancements that have created new and underground circulation of these drugs, makes
these researchers and policymakers genuinely question whether modern law
enforcement can keep up with the massive number of criminal organizations that are
currently profiting from this (Butler).

In the 1920s, the United States
decided to ban the sale and use of intoxicating liquors, a policy which led
to the opening of thousands of illegal bars across the country, then eventually
leading to the quick rise of the mafia (History.com staff). Once the government
realized the prohibition of alcohol was a bad idea, they reversed it, and criminals
and the authorities switched their focus to drugs. The decades after were able
to see very strict drugs regulations and laws put into place. For example, the 1961
UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and the War on

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Drugs fronted by US President
Richard Nixon (Peters and Woolley). Even with the billions of dollars spent on prohibition,
imprisonment and getting rid of drugs, drug use continues to rise. The United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes estimated that around 243 million people use
illegal drugs, and the global trade is worth around $435 billion (Unodoc.org).

This money is absorbed by an immeasurable number of criminal groups as well as even
terrorist organizations.

In the United States, harsh drug laws
have led to the development of an extensive prison industrial complex, with the
prison population rising exponentially since the 1970s (Flatow). This
has been characterized by huge racial inequalities in arrests, prosecutions and
sentencing. Meanwhile, evidence from several countries has shown the dangers of
trying to forcibly take control of the gangs who oversee the market. In many large
parts of Mexico, the ongoing drug war started by its President Felipe
Calderon in 2006, has resulted in the collapse of law and order, with tens of
thousands of people having been killed since then (Lakhani).

When dealing with the war on drugs, many
defend it as necessary in order to prevent the spread of drug abuse and the
problems that come along with it. However, those against the war on drugs point
out that the programs are expensive, ineffective, counterproductive, and
immoral. Opponents also argue that most, if not all, drugs should be made legal
and regulated by methods like those in place for alcohol and tobacco products (Griffin).

Prohibitionists almost always point out the social harms that come with the
legalization of drugs in order to continue the war on drugs. They also tend to
point out that most prison and jail inmates are normally involved with illegal
drugs, and that even trivial drugs, such as marijuana, have been shown to
have serious negative effects on one’s health, and that illegal drugs destroy
the most underprivileged communities

 

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(Pizzo). In their opinion, in order to
address these problems, harsh penalties for drug crimes should be out in place to
halt prospective drug users and traffickers.

In response to prohibitionists, critics first
question whether our criminal justice system itself is even the right, or
appropriate place to tackling what is truly a health and personal problem. They
bring up example of alcohol and tobacco products containing nicotine
(Johansen). Like illegal drugs, those substances pose serious health challenges
to their consumers and produce an enormous cost to society; however, society
addresses those problems through means unlike arrest and punishment.

Drug war critics also communicate that,
despite massive efforts by drug enforcement agencies to seize drug use,
research surveys have suggested that drug-use patterns have remained remarkably
stable since the war on drugs programs began during the 1970’s (Griffin).

Meanwhile, this long drug war has compromised the lives of valuable
law-enforcement personnel and misused precious financial resources. Prohibitionists
respond by pointing out a small decrease in the use of some drugs during the
1990’s as possible evidence of the drug war’s success. However, their critics stand
that those decreases may be due to improvements in the national economy that eased
the social conditions that tend to drive drug users or to sheer changes in the
drugs of choice.

Among the other arguments advanced in
favor legalizing drugs is the need to protect the health and safety of addicts.

Because these illegal drugs are unregulated, there can be no guarantee of the
safety and pureness of the them. Another line of argument concerns the impact
of drug law enforcement on the innocent. They also argue that if drugs were
legalized and regulated, the current black market, and most of the crime,
health risk, and social cost associated

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with
drug use, would be greatly reduced. There is significant evidence that, under
the current drug legislation, arrests disproportionately affect black over
white communities, though drug use and sales are equal between populations.

African American men are imprisoned in state prisons on drug charges at
thirteen times the rate that white men are; that figure increases to fifty-seven
times for federal prisons (Kain). Part of this inequality is caused by police
targeting low-income communities, which have a higher population of African
Americans and other minorities. Those in favor of decriminalization argue that
it would improve the cycle of poverty and incarceration that the drug culture
of these neighborhoods creates.

Prohibitionists counter with several
effective criticisms at those who support legalization. First, even if it is
true that prohibition has failed to get rid of all drug use, a consequence of
legalization could be a result in increased levels of use as the legal penalties
of drug crimes are removed. Finally, government’s legalization of drugs might
send a message, especially to young people, that drug use is acceptable,
therefore encouraging the spread of drug abuse.

            In
my opinion, it would be the smartest, and safest way to tackle the war on drugs
if we our government simply made all drugs legal. Like I previously mentioned,
since all these drugs are illegal, consumers have no way of knowing if the drug
they are receiving is safe, and pure. They also must go through black markets
for these drugs, once again effecting the safety of these individuals. They
have no idea who they are meeting with and what these dealers are capable
of.  Drug use and addiction is definitely
a mental health issue, and should be treated like so. We shouldn’t be throwing
addicts in jail, we should be sending them to hospitals and treating them like
alcohol and nicotine addicts, if anything. Lastly, drug legalization would do a
lot to improve

 

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our economy when it comes to minor drugs
like Marijuana. We could easily tax on these and decrease our national debts
and deficits.