Why do these three statements sound contradictory? There is no reason all drugs have to be legalized to end the Drug War. The Drug War is destroying our cities and our Constitutional rights and must be ended. But across-the-board legalization is just as extreme as the Drug War and besides, it will never happen in America. Keeping drugs illegal is fundamental to solving the drug problem. Legalizing drugs would lead to a substantial increase in drug use and, even worse, an increase in drug abuse and addiction. Eighty percent of the drug problem’s cost to society stems from drug use itself, the adverse health effects, loss of productivity, and the need for eventual treatment. When compared to the remaining twenty percent of the cost from law enforcement and drug-related crime, it is obvious that legalization makes as little sense financially for society as it does morally.
Most Americans do not realize how extreme the Drug War actually is. Last year there were over 400,000 arrests for marijuana. The average time served in prison for selling marijuana is four years, compared with just one year for rape or manslaughter. The Government can search through garbage without probable cause, confiscate property without a trial and force you to prove your innocence to get it back, drug test your children, and jeopardize their future, all in the name of the Drug War. The Drug War treats drug crime as more important than violent crime. It treats drug crime as more important than our God-given Constitutionally protected rights. Ending the Drug War is not about legalization. It is about ending extremism while maintaining a real commitment to solving America’s drug problem. Maintaining this commitment provides an important argument that appeals to exactly the group that has the most to fear from marijuana legalization, parents.
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The fact is that legalizing marijuana will help protect America’s children from LSD, ecstasy, mushrooms, cocaine, heroin, and other hard drugs. Conservatives are absolutely correct in identifying marijuana as a steppingstone drug. Marijuana is a soft, illegal drug that bridges the gap between soft, legal drugs and hard, illegal drugs. Government propaganda and zero-tolerance policies cannot change the reality that marijuana is a soft drug. The only way to remove marijuana as a steppingstone is to legalize it. An increase in juvenile marijuana use is inevitable; the real danger is that this will lead, as it did in the Sixties, to an increase in hard drug use. Legalizing marijuana will finally end the mixed messages teenagers currently hear and allow a credible condemnation of illicit drug use. Fifteen years of the Drug War have done nothing to solve America’s drug problem. This is because the core of the problem lies in drug use itself. Marijuana legalization will lead to a dramatic decrease in illegal drug use and finally begin to solve the problem. Everyone needs to do their part in putting an end to the drug war. We can begin by writing a letter to our Congressman and go from there. If you would like to put an end to the war on drugs we need to legalize marijuana and take a stand.