Essay, Research Paper: Drugs Legalization

Alcohol and Drugs

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Although it is clear that society is unhappy with current efforts to stop
illegal drug smuggling, illegal drug use and distribution, no one seems to know
what should be done. With drug use and drug related crime on the rise, some
Americans argue that current drug law is too easy on drug offenders. Society at
large asks, "Can we ever stop illegal drugs and their use?" It is a
question that unfortunately has no easy answer. More and more people in America
feel that if this country cannot stop illegal drugs, drugs should be legalized
and controlled. Many people feel that this will eliminate the senseless violence
that often goes hand in hand with illegal drugs. Although moral issues collide
head to head with the idea of legalizing drugs, it seems legalization is the
answer to the problem, but it is this proposed solution that has society
divided. People often blame the criminal justice system for not doing enough to
catch drug offenders and incarcerate them. At times they feel that if the
problem is out of their sight, it disappears. The truth is that even if the
justice system locks up every drug offender, the problem is not solved. Even
inside jails and prisons, drug offenders continue their illegal sales and drug
use. The fact that drugs are still used and sold in correctional institutions is
evidence that building more prisons will not stop America's drug problem (Ostrowski
28). The call for legalization or decriminalization is not new, but until
recently, the legalization issue was carried by only a few proponents, including
libertarians, advocates of separate treatment of marijuana, and some cautious
economists. Most advocates of drug legalization justify their position on great
evidence that criminalization under current policies simply have not worked.
They also point out the inconsistencies of banning some mind-altering and
potentially addictive substances, while allowing others, mainly tobacco and
alcohol, to be produced, sold, and consumed freely. Advocates for legalizing
drugs point out the similarities between the war on drugs and Prohibition, the
nation's other widespread experiment disrupting a wealthy industry in
mind-altering substances. Some critics of the war on drugs say the drug issue
has been clouded by the failure to distinguish between the health problems of
drug abuse and addiction and the broader effects of a! legal ban on drugs (Nadelmann
84). Politicians are also challenging current drug control policy. Former
Baltimore mayor, Kurt L. Schmoke, called for a nationwide debate on the
legalization of drugs and for the first time ever, drug legalization was the
subject of congressional hearings in September, 1988 (Morse 117). The supporters
of drug legalization emphasize that not all barriers should be removed to allow
free access to dangerous substances. Just as the individual states regulate and
restrict the sale of alcohol by age and location, steps could be taken to keep
dangerous drugs such as heroin and cocaine out of the hands of children. A
regulatory setting might also be tailored to make it harder to obtain cocaine
and heroin, for example, than to buy marijuana. The war on drugs has been a
lightning rod for both political and cultural controversy, with critics and
supporters scattered all across the country. Despite the moderation of the
Clinton administration, many Americans now believe that America's drug policies
are not working and that a new approach may be necessary. It is clear that
prohibition is not the answer, but before Americans start talking about fixing
the problem, they must agree on what is broken.

Ostrowski, James. "Has the Time Come to Legalize." USA Today
Magazine 119 1990: 27-30. Morse, Stephen J. "War on Drugs Produces the
Crime." Los Angeles Times 08 Apr. 1991, sec.2: 7. Nadelmann, Ethan a.
"U.S. Drug Policy." Foreign Policy Spring 1988: 83-108.

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