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Legalize Drugs?


DP Veteran
May 21, 2005
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I want to start with a prediciton. At least one person is going to say to themselves, "Bah, another pot-head liberal!", skip past all the points I am about to make, and continue to hold the same prohibitionist opinions as before. If you are that person, I thank you for at least reading this far, and I sincerely invite any well-reasoned counter arguments you may have - but only if you will fairly and objectively consider all of my points too.

I also want to point out what I feel is a common goal between pro and anti-prohibitionists. That common goal is to minimize the negative effects these dangerous drugs have on our society. Nobody can deny the harmful effects of most illicit drugs on the user's body. Nobody can argue with the belief that being addicted to any drug is a bad thing. The main question to answer is, what's the best way to handle this problem? And by "best", I mean "least harmful". Remember that our common goal is harm reduction.

Drug prohibition has made America's drug problem worse. The war on drugs has handed the trade over to gangs and organized crime on the black market. Just as alcohol prohibition in the 1920's gave us Al Capone and the mafia, today's drug war has given us the Crips, the Bloods, and Pablo Escobar. The criminal element in America has a monopoly on the drug trade, and it's a multi-billion dollar industry to fight over.

Drug prohibition inflates the cost of drugs, leading users to steal to support their high priced habits. It is estimated that drug addicts commit 25% of all auto thefts, 40% of robberies and assaults, and 50% of burglaries and larcenies.

Nearly half of all police resources are devoted to stopping drug trafficking instead of preventing violent crime. As a result, six out of ten federal inmates are in prison for non-violent drug-related offenses. It has been estimated that every drug offender imprisoned results in the release of one violent criminal.


Some drugs have withdrawal symptoms that can be fatal. Quitting cold-turkey can kill the addict. So it's not surprising that some will commit crimes if it means they get their fix. The higher the price of drugs, the higher the chance they will have no choice but to quit cold-turkey or steal to get more drugs.

Legalize does not mean glamorize, it means de-stigmatize. It's not illegal to be an overweight, alcoholic chain smoker, but these are three traits that most Americans seek to avoid. There's a lot to be said for how we as a society condone or condemn certain things, regardless of whether or not it's against the law.

Drugs are easier to get now than if they were legal. Under prohibition, drugs are sold by thugs who could care less how old their customer is, or whether they're severly addicted and need help. Drugs should be sold by reputable distributors who are strictly monitored by the police and bound by law to maintain certain ethical standards for distribution, similar to the way we handle alcohol and tobacco today.

Decriminalization will not result in more intoxicated drivers on the road. This myth is based on the assumption that, if drugs became legal, otherwise law-abiding citizens will not only start using drugs, but will also start breaking the law by driving under the influence. Not only is this myth not logical, it is not supported by statistics in other countries that have decriminalized drugs, such as the Netherlands, England, and Canada.

Decriminalization does not mean being allowed to use drugs in public. We have public drunkedness laws for good reason, in my opinion, and there's no reason why the same laws shouldn't apply to any intoxicating drug.
In a decriminalized environment, drug users are not automatically prone to commit other types of crime. The fact that many crimes in America today often involve drugs is actually because of prohibition, not in spite of it.
Nobody should be intoxicated while at work, behind the wheel, operating machinery, or anywhere else that requires them to be alert and attentive. Each of us are responsible for what we do, when, and where.

Drug use is actually safer in a legal environment for a number of reasons, not the least of which is better quality control. Drugs in Liverpool, England were most likely never hidden in a box of laundry detergent or doused in gasoline to cover the scent from drug dogs. They probably weren't made using cheaper yet more dangerous ingredients. And the "potency" can be regulated and is easily known to the user, which undoubtedly reduces the number of overdose deaths.

The Reagan and Bush era Supreme Court has upheld police powers to detain and interrogate travelers who bear a resemblance to "drug couriers," to engage in surveillance, including secretly taping conversations and sifting through garbage. An anonymous tip is now sufficient grounds for a search warrant, meaning the police no longer have to verify that their source is reliable. New anti-crime legislation entails granting the police the power to submit as admissible evidence any property gained as a result of entering your home without a warrant. The new legislation also includes extending mandatory death sentences to include drug convictions which do not involve a homicide, and to limit federal death sentence appeals thereby speeding executions. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that a mandatory life sentence for a first-time drug offender acting as a drug courier is not cruel and unusual punishment.


I have two older brothers who are recovering drug addicts. I watched their lives get totally wrecked by drugs. And when they were finally ready to give it up, I watched their chances of social recovery totally wrecked by the legal system and its bias against drug users, both past and present. The younger of the two has spent the better part of his adult life in prison for non-violent drug posession charges. Thankfully he's out now and has been clean for several years, but because of his "criminal" record, hardly any company wants to hire him. It was hard enough for them to overcome the addiction, so why should we make it even harder to reestablish themselves in society when they finally decide to get clean? We need a system that encourages drug addicts to get clean and better themselves. Harm reduction!

Drug addiction is a medical problem, not a legal problem, therefore drug addicts should be handled by doctors and medical experts, not by judges and prison guards. Education is how we've reduced the number of alcoholics and cigarette smokers over the last decade. Education, not incarceration, is the only way to win the war on drugs.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Oops, one more thing. Date-rape drugs, who'se sole purpose is to incapacitate the victim so the assailant can take advantage of them, should remain illegal IMO.
I don't really have a problem with marijuana being legal, but most of the others are too addictive and destructive to legalize.

I don't think it should be legal to sell marijuana, but growing it/smoking it in private doesn't bother me.
I agree with Gandhi>Bush, but I think we should go further. All drugs should be legalized for recreational use with strict penalties for irresponsible use and optional rehabilitation services. As long as somewhat doesnt sell them, im fine with it. It is the persons choice to do what they want to their own body. With strict punishment for irresponsible use, the users will think twice before driving on crack, since if they kill someone they can get charged for murder.
I think it is, somewhat, the governments responisiblility to look after the health of it's citizens. By allowing the use of heroine or other hard drugs, it fails in this responsiblity. Heroine's addictive properties create a great chemical dependence and even when someone wants to kick the habit the withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. Even with treatment and rehad the habit/chemical dependence isn't always rid of completely. It's always that one last fix. It's a cycle that the government should try to prevent from being started.
Gandhi>Bush said:
most of the others are too addictive and destructive to legalize.
The most destructive drug in our society is alcohol. We learned 80 years ago that this fact alone is not a good reason to criminalize its use.

Do you believe legalization would make the drugs more dangerous or less dangerous? I argued above that it would make them less dangerous. It seems you're assuming that the legal status of drugs make them less likely to be used, but that's not necessarily the case. Legal or not, people will get them if they want them. The laws only determine HOW they are obtained, not WHETHER they are obtained. Except possibly after a big drug bust where the drug is simply not available for a short time. And that does very little, if anything, toward the end of encouraging people to quit.

Gandhi>Bush said:
By allowing the use of heroine or other hard drugs, it fails in this responsiblity (to look after the health of it's citizens).
I disagree. The government fails in this responsibility when it allows the DEA to ignore the advice of medical experts at the Institute of Medicine and the American Medical Association, spread lies and exaggerated propoganda about the effects of drugs (like marijuana being an "addictive gateway drug"), and taking a hard-nozed zero tolerance stance in the face of overwhelming evidence that this actually causes more problems than it solves. That's where the government has failed in its responsibility to its citizens.

Gandhi>Bush said:
It's a cycle that the government should try to prevent from being started.
That I agree with. My disagreement lies in what the best way is to prevent it. Twenty years of war on drugs has shown us one undeniable fact: prohibition does not prevent it from being started, but honest and thorough education does. Zero tolerance is an admirable but unrealistic goal, and the real casualties in the war on drugs are the addicts themselves.

There's an economic theory that predicts the prohibition of any mutually beneficial exchange is doomed to fail.

I agree with Blackflagx about having strict penalties for irresponsible drug use that could lead to harming other people.
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I believe there ought to be a judicial commission of oversight established to look into reforming how policy is set forth in dealing with drug users. As a conservative, I actually go against the grain with many Republicans. I believe we ought not to charge, convict, and toss in jail for however long, someone who's only crime is being addicted to drugs. There ought to be a community program, funded with private and public monies, that seeks to rehabilitate individuals who are truly addicted.

I agree that there should ALWAYS be harsh penalties, including hefty jail time, for those who are irresponsible, wreckless, and an endangerment to society, whether intentionally or by accident, and those who continually end up in such a program and show complete lack of regard for themselves ultimately. HOWEVER, there should continue to be rehabilitation for those individuals as well within the correctional system, perhaps on-site.

I once believed legalizing marijuana was just plain idiotic. That was when I was, oh, let's say, under 18 and depended on my parents to think for me. I am on the fence now, regarding this issue, but leaning towards Binary_Digit's argument, and others like him (or her, sorry if you're a female). Cocaine, Morphine, Codine are all legal and used very often in the medical profession. Marijuana yields rehabilitating results for those that genuinely need it. I'm not quite sure, however, that legalizing marijuana would solve a portion of the problem. And therein lies the bigger issue. Legalizing any drug does not solve a huge chunk of problems. Granted, it would mean the government will be even more stringent and watchful and regulatory, which is good. But, the argument can be made that it really will not matter. People are still using FDA approved, government-regulated drugs and using it for recreational purposes. And it is no small number, by any means.

The crackdown on drugs, in my opinion, should be, as stated at the onset of my response, an overhaul of the judicial systems regarding narcotics and narcotics abuse. There should also be a "re-awakening" of the D.A.R.E. and "Just Say No" programs popular across elementary and middle schools during the 1980s. There needs to be a serious community involvement with young people. States should look into tax credits and incentives for businesses, both profit and not-for-profit, who involve themselves in such a drug-awareness community outreach.

Being a realist, there will always be access to drugs via the black market. There will always be individuals who will be addicted to drugs that can be bought OTC. I'm not quite sure marijuana and other drugs will be legalized any time soon. Maybe not even after we're all long and gone. But I do think there is going to be serious debate for a very long time. This is an issue that is being raised quite often on campuses everywhere quite frequently. I wouldn't be surprised if this issue reached the floor of the House and Senate within a decade. But legalizing certain drugs, in my opinion, just will not be realized any time soon.
Marijuana yields rehabilitating results for those that genuinely need it.
That brings up a good point about medical marijauana. Unless something new was discovered recently, marijuana is good at relieving symptoms, but it doesn't actually cure any problems that doctors know of. It's pretty hard for them to get legal, standardized marijuana for study, so they don't know whether or not it's usable as a cure for anything. Some patients have side effects with Marinol (legal doctor-prescribed THC pill) that they don't have with smoked marijuana, but I think that probably goes both ways.
I stand corrected. You're right. It helps relieve a temporary pain, not cure the symptom. Overlooked that statement of mine.

But another point to bring up is doctors issuing medicinal marijuana to patients in states that do not allow such practices to prescribe it to their patients. Undocumented, of course. I did know someone who was disabled and truly in ailment who had possession of marijuana and smoked it twice a week after work. A little uncomfortable when I took him home once and he talked about it. I felt bad, but then felt like calling the feds to shut down his doctor's practice, revoke his license, and send him to jail. At the very basis of this action is equivalent to drug dealing, I thought.

Perhaps states should look into that type of practice. Actually, I'd like to know the statistics on that happening. Only if doctors would be willing to admit to such a survey.
Absolutely,I will call it "pot', because that is what we call it! I have yet to see a person smoke it, and kill someone, or drive and run over someone. It pacifies and relieves tension. It is better than a barbiturate, it is not addictive, it is natural, and it would pull our economy out of the slump that it is in! Further more the poor man would have his shot at something he does well; growing pot. Consider this the next time you hear about a drunk driver plowing into someone! :drink
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