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The War on Drugs

Drug prohibition is expensive, does not work, and causes more harm than the behavior it is intended to suppress, therefore the war on drugs should end and the legalization should begin. In 1999 alone, the government issued a whopping $17.1 billion towards the war on drugs. That’s roughly $600 per second. According to the United Nations, profits in illegal drugs are so inflated, that three-quarters of all drug shipments would have to be intercepted to seriously reduce the profitability of the business. Current efforts only intercept 13% of heroin shipments and 28%-40% of cocaine shipments. Obviously, international drug businesses aren’t getting very hurt by our $17.1 billion war on drugs project, so why even waste the money?

That money must have been obtained from our tax dollars considering that 60 percent of all U.S. inmates are drug offenders. Obviously, the $17.1 billion didn’t help very much, because the percent of imprisoned drug offenders still remains steady. In federal court today, low-level crack dealers and first-time offenders sentenced for trafficking of crack cocaine receive an average sentence of 10 years and six months. This is only 18% less than the average prison sentence received by those who committed murder or manslaughter, 59% longer than the average prison sentence received by rapists, 38% longer than the average prison sentence received by those guilty of weapons offenses. A person is arrested every 20 seconds for drug violations in America.

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The number of female inmates has tripled since last year, and the majority of them are low-level drug offenders. 80 percent of all female prisoners are mothers, and 70 percent are single parents and drug offenders. I wonder why so many children are neglected? All this can change if we are willing to experiment and break away from an orthodox style of thinking and governing. Obviously, the war on drugs isn’t working, so it’s now time for a new solution, but first, we must be willing to agree as a society to accept the fact that drugs do exist, and that they will continue to exist until the end of time. Drugs that are currently legal and socially accepted in our society such as tobacco and alcohol are the leading causes of all deaths in America.

Annually tobacco kills 430,700, alcohol 110,640, adverse reactions to prescription drugs 106,000, suicide 30,575, homicide 18,272, all licit and illicit drug-induced deaths 16,926, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin 7,600, and marijuana 0. Tobacco and alcohol are the leading causes of death in America yet licit and illicit drugs and marijuana are amongst the lowest causes of death in America. Over 75 million Americans have tried marijuana, 25 million have tried cocaine, 5.9 million have tried crack, 3.05 million have tried heroin, and more than 87.7 million Americans aged 12 or over have used an illicit drug at least once. Obviously, prohibition is not the answer, because as long as there are drugs, then there are users.

Although we know the effects of drugs can be harmful, it is still our decision to use or abuse them. The use of drugs should still be part of our liberty that we are all granted in part of being American. Many other products that we all use daily can be potentially hazardous, but it is still in our liberty that we are able to use them. However, if the government were to legalize drugs they would only be sold in their safest, cleanest, and purest form. A large part of drug-related deaths occurs largely from the use of laced drugs. When drugs are bought off of the street, especially from unknown sources, they can be extremely dangerous and can easily cause sudden death. Use of crack by the urban poor and the criminal market for crack have become the most feared problems of drug abuse. A 27-year-old man from San Francisco, California quoted, “Heroin may be safe, maybe. But if you’re gonna buy it on the street, chances are it’s gonna be cut with aspirin, or powdered milk, or rat poison, or speed, or Comet…and all that’s is so bad for you!”

Also, many diseases are spread through the use of needles and then sharing them amongst other drug users. The spread of infectious diseases like AIDS and hepatitis through syringe sharing by injection drug users is one of the most serious threats to public health being faced today. More than a third of all reported AIDS cases in the U.S. had contracted AIDS directly or indirectly through shared needles, drug injectors, their sexual partners, and their children, over 128,000 had died. The government could easily slow down the spread of disease through needles simply by selling heroin for example in a certain dose, packaged with a needle intended for one-time use. Therefore when the user returns for another package, he/she gets a new needle and disposes of the old needle because its use is pointless.

These drugs should however be strictly regulated and not made available to just anyone. Just like tobacco and alcohol, an age limit must be required before the drugs can be purchased. Also, a limit on the sale of certain drugs to any one person is a possibility as well. If drugs became legal and sold and taxed by the government, then they could definitely make a pretty penny off of them. Drugs, legal or illegal undoubtedly consume the largest market amongst all consumer products in the world. The cost of drugs, if sold by the government, would be substantially less than the street cost. Street value is much highest than the actual value of the drug mainly because of the risk involved with the transfer from grower or maker to the distributor, from distributor to seller, and from the seller to buyer.

If drugs were cheaper legal then no one would want to buy drugs off of the street anymore. This would basically put a stop to street drug dealing, which would be extremely beneficial in many ways. Violence caused by drug selling would virtually diminish. Drugs would be much more difficult to obtain for kids, which in essence could help kids focus and stay in school. Also, if street drug sellers went extinct, then they would basically be forced to work legitimately, creating an increase in employment and in some ways a decrease in poverty. These positive attributes and benefits of the legalization of street drugs would of course come over time but it would be well worth the wait.

D.A.R.E.The D.A.R.E. program is something that we are almost all familiar with, but how beneficial is it really? No that I think about it, DARE only teaches you that drugs exist and it introduces them to you at a very early age. I realized that I was basically right after I found a study performed by Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. After completing a six-year study of 1,798 students, she found that “DARE had no long-term effects on a wide range of drug use measures”; DARE does not “prevent drug use at the stage in adolescent development when drugs become available and are widely used, namely during the high school years”; and that DARE may actually be counterproductive. According to the study, “there is some evidence of a boomerang effect among suburban kids. That is, suburban students who were DARE graduates scored higher than suburban students in the Control group on all four major drug use measures.”

Legalized drugs and the Netherlands: In 1995 there were only 2.4 drug-related deaths per million inhabitants in the Netherlands. The number of addicts remains steady at around 25,000 people. The percent of kids 10-18 that have tried marijuana in the U.S. is more than double the percent of kids that have tried it in the Netherlands. The percent of Dutch kids that have tried marijuana has dropped substantially for the first time in 16 years, but it is definitely a sign of progress. While the percent goes down in Denmark, the percent goes up in America. Also, heroin has nearly been taken out of the hands of kids largely due to the policy of separating the user’s markets for hard drugs and soft drugs. The average age of heroin addicts is 36. 4.5 percent of the population of the Netherlands has smoked marijuana in the past year, 6 percent has done cocaine, and only 0.1 percent has done heroin. That’s pretty darn low considering that marijuana is sold in coffee shops.

Drug Policy in the Netherlands: “The main aim of the drugs policy in the Netherlands is to protect the health of individual users, the people around them, and society as a whole. Priority is given to vulnerable groups, and to young people in both the demand and supply of drugs. Active policies on care and prevention are being pursued to reduce the demand for drugs, while a war is being waged on organized crime in an attempt to curb supplies. The third aim of the policy is to tackle drug-related nuisance and to maintain public order. The Netherlands now has twenty years experience at working with these policies on drugs.” “The United States government should acknowledge the fact that maybe prohibition isn’t the answer and that a new solution, a new policy is in desperate need.” -Anonymous “Most drug offenders are white. Five times as many whites use drugs as blacks. Yet blacks comprise the great majority of drug offenders sent to prison. The solution to this racial inequity is not to incarcerate more whites, but to reduce the use of prison for low-level drug offenders and to increase the availability of substance abuse treatment.” -Anonymous

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The War on Drugs. (2021, Mar 25). Retrieved June 24, 2021, from