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Drugabuse is an issue that has continued to raise great concerns insocieties around the world. Governments and other stakeholders areworried about the increase in the number of users of illegalsubstances that has led to increased crime levels while productivitycontinues to decrease. Most governments have spent billions ofdollars in their efforts to try and fight this menace that threatensthe future of the society. However, the war on drugs has created newproblems like racial and economic decriminalization, property crime,assault, corruption, and murder just to name a few. It is in light ofthese new developments that there are increasing calls for theauthorities to change their approach on how the problem is beingaddressed. Drug legalization is a topic that continues to gain someattention as different stakeholders present it as the only probablesolution for this problem. The paper provides an analysis of theargument on drug legalization. It seeks to show the merit ofcontrolling the supply and use of these illegal substances and theimpact it would have on the general public.
Theuse of addictive substances is an issue that continues to offerchallenges to governments across the world. For decades the USgovernment has spent millions of dollars in their effort to curtailthe supply and use of these substances. Most of the investments havebeen geared towards law enforcement which entails providing equipmentfor officers, paying for judicial services and catering forincarcerated offenders. However, the criminal masterminds havecontinued to reinvent themselves ensuring that they are alwaysseveral steps ahead of the government (Grano, 5). The fact thatpublic resources have been utilized in the war and yet the problemcontinue to persist is one of the factors that has led to increasedcall for change.
Druglegalization is not an entirely new concept in the American society.In the first half of the 20thcentury, the government prohibited the use and sale of alcohol.However, in the periods that followed, there was the emergence ofcartels and criminal entities that provided cheaper and low-qualityalcohol, and this allowed them to cash in on the persisting demandfor the substance (Reuter, 877). It was not until the authoritieslifted the ban that sanity was attained in the alcohol market. Mostproponents of drug legalization invoke this historical event to callfor a change in policy in regards to how the drug problem is beingaddressed. There are several benefits that have been presented bythose advocating for the controlled supply of these harmfulsubstances as discussed below.
Argumentsfor drug legalization
Themajor argument presented by most supporters of the move to legalizethe use of these substances is that drug laws cause more damage tothe society that the additives. Here, they point out that the tradehas grown to its current capacity because existing regulations havecreated a thriving environment. Had these drugs been legalized, thedrug black market, which is estimated to be worth billions ofdollars, would seize to exist (Crippa, Jaime, and Antonio, 124). Thiswould, in turn, lead to the collapse of drug Gangster Empires thatcontinue to cause great suffering to members of the society. In theirview, the war against drug is one which the government can never winand legalizing the trade ensures important resources in the justicesystem are redirected to other areas where they can be moreproductive.
Theabove argument is warranted by two facts. Firstly, the fact that thetrade is illegal makes its lucrative as dealers are not obligated topay taxes. As a result, these individuals get to capitalize onfast-moving products without accounting to anyone. Secondly, thereare no regulations in terms of quality and as such dealer still makemillions even when they supply harmful additives (Grano, 9).Stakeholders calling for the legalization of these substances believethat this action will remove all the profit from the dealers makingthe venture unproductive. Without the earning criminal get from thetrade, there would be a reduction in all related incidences likemurder and gang violence as the perpetrators will no longer be ableto have access to the resources they currently possess.
Anotherargument presented by supporters of the move is that it would lead toa reduction in all types of crimes related to illegal drug trade. Oneof the major reason why governments have invested so much in the waragainst drug is because of the increased number of crimes that occurdue to the trade. This involves all acts conducted by drug dealers asthey try to protect their territory or transport their merchandise todesired destinations (Rolles, 250). It also entails all offensescarried out by users as they try to get the money needed to acquirethese drugs. Supporters of the move to legalize these substancesbelieve that most of these issues will no longer be a concern for thegovernment if the trade was legal.
Taxationis another benefit that would be achieved is drugs were legalized. Asstated earlier, the drug trade is worth billions of dollars and thesemonies are in constant circulation in the underworld. However, if thegovernment were to invest in legalizing the business, it wouldcollect billions worth in taxes and can redirect these resourcestoward public education on the effect of using these substances(Tate, James, and Mark, p 62). Additionally, the authorities wouldsave a lot of money that is currently used to address the problem.These extra resources can be used in other productive areas likeeducation which will in turn open doors to better opportunities forindividuals that are more at risk of falling victims to the illegaltrade.
Anotherbenefit of decriminalization of the illegal drug trade is that itwould avail opportunities for the different stakeholders to come upwith better solutions to the problem. One notion that is gainingcredibility is that drug users are not criminal but sick people thatrequire assistance to change their trends. However, the currentsystem condemns these victims to prison sentences which in turn leadsto overcrowding in the prison facilities (Crippa, Jaime, and Antonio,128). While in confinements, drug users do not get the help that theyneed to become better citizens, but are incorporated in gangs whichtransform them from drug users to career criminals. This is a failureon the part of the correctional system whose sole aim is to helppeople who have lost their way to become better members of thesociety who can contribute positively to the wellbeing of thecommunity. Legalizing the trade will be a milestone toward achievingan amicable solution for the drug problems that continues to threatenthe productive members of the community.
Inaddition to the issue of overcrowding in prisons, the current legalstatus in regards to addictive substances is creating an avenue forincreased numbers of repeat offenders. Currently, close to half ofall inmates incarcerated in the federal facilities are drugoffenders. In most of these prisons, addicts are not given the helpthey need to do away with their behaviour. In contrast, the currentsystem puts these victims in a place that makes then dependent onthese drugs. Once these individual leave prison, they are unable toreintegrate into the local community and engaged in crimes in orderto be able to provide for their drug needs (Reuter, 879). This makesthe correctional process redundant especially when these offendersare re-incarcerated.
Anotherreason used by those who favour drug legalization is improving thejustice system. Currently, both the federal government and stateauthorities spend close to half a trillion dollars yearly in theirfight against drugs. However, researchers have shown time and againthat this method is not efficient in addressing the problem of drugs(Crippa, Jaime, and Antonio, 130). Legalizing the drug trade willensure that these resources can be redirected to other areas wherethey will be more productive. A good area to invest will be inrehabilitation centres as these have been proven to be efficient inaddressing the drug problem that continues to eat away the productionsector of the American population. The above arguments are the mostadvanced by the proponents of drug legalization. However, those thatoppose the move provide several reasons as to why the suggestion thatdrugs could be legalized should not be entertained in any publicforum.
Argumentsagainst drug legalization
Themembers of the society who are opposed to drug legalization as thesolution to this societal tragedy argue that the suggestion is naïve.This is because there is no evidence that legalization of thesesubstances would have any of the benefits that have been listedabove. In their view, legalizing these additives is a chance thatsociety cannot afford to take (Rolles, 253). This is because unlikealcohol which had been prohibited and then legalized, there is no wayof knowing how the commercialization of additives like cocaine andheroin will impact the society.
Theother argument which has been forwarded by those who oppose thesuggestion of drug legalization is by referring to the case ofBritain in the 1960s. After being overwhelmed by the occurrences ofheroin abuses in the nation, the authorities mandated some physiciansto avail limited doses to addicts as a way of helping them cope withthe situation before they are able to fully recover from theaddiction (Drug Enforcement Administration, 43). After theintroduction of the policy, there was an increase in the number ofusers to the extent that these physicians had to rescind on theirmandate as they were overwhelmed by the number of new addicts in thecountry.
Cocaineand heroin are very addictive substances and those that fall victimsbecome eternal prisoners (Tate, James, and Mark, p 70). Those thatare opposed to legalization argue that there is no way of ensuringthe occurrence that happened in the UK would not be replicated whenthe authorities decide to legitimize the trade. It is the role ofgovernments to protect their citizens from all harm and any action tomake harmful element commercially available for all to acquire isrescinding on this role.
Thetwo opposing side are in agreement that there is no way of predictingthe crimes that will be committed by addicts when they are under theinfluence of these substances. When users of cocaine and heroin takethese substances, they become irrational and start to behave inunpredictable manners. Some of their action amount to crime withassault and child abuse being the most committed offenses by addicts((Reuter, 881). Though the two sides do not agree on the benefitsthat legalization would bring, they admit that the risk that asociety could have hundreds of individual acting irrationally couldtranslate to very high cost for both the government and the society.In addition to the unpredictability of costs associated withlegalization, there are also concerns of the prize to be paid bysociety in terms of traumatized children and people that will bearmarks for the rest of their lives as a result of individuals beingallowed to acquire drugs which render them out of control over theiractions.
Anotherargument used by people opposing the suggestion of drug legalizationis that access to these drugs would come at a significant cost whileat the same time putting more people at risk of becoming victims.This will occur in the form of making efforts to undercut the blackmarket where these drugs are currently acquired. To be able torelinquish control of the trade from criminal gangs and make itcompetitive, the authorities will have to provide incentives so as toensure the drugs are available in controlled store at a price lowerthat what is being offered in the underworld (Drug EnforcementAdministration, 47). This will result in very harmful and highlyaddictive substances being available at very low cost. In turn, evenpeople going through life challenges and who would not have gottenaccess to the drug either because of the prize or accessibility willeasily fall victim to the trade. The overall impact is that morepeople will be under its influence. A good casing point in alcoholuse and regulation. The fact that drinking is legal in most countriesand is also available conveniently at low prices has made it the mostabused drug. Drug legalization would set other substances likecocaine and heroin on the same path as alcohol, and this may becatastrophic.
Theeffect of legalization of these substances is another reason why someoppose the proposal. The impact that each drug will have on thesociety once the trade is legitimized may vary vastly. A good exampleis bhang and cocaine. The legalization of cannabis will have far lesseffects on the society that the impact that the powder will bringonce it has been made legal (Tate, James, and Mark, p 67). This isbecause while both with make users less productive, cocaine will havethe added effect of increased cases of violence. The result will bethat governments will have to employ a complicated system that willensure more harmful drugs are made less available by havingunfavourable tax and licensing policies. These are resources that canbe employed to improve the current system.
Lastly,those that oppose drug legalization are of the opinion that such anaction would put the future of the nation in a lot of jeopardy.Studies have continued to show that younger and more productivepeople are at a higher risk of falling victim to drug addiction thansenior citizens (Rolles, 257). In a world where the economic andpolitical future of every nation is dependent on the efficiency andproductivity of the working generation, drug legalization would becrippling and would make it harder for a country to compete fairly.
Additionally,it is the work of governments to find solutions to societal problemsand not to make excuses. The suggestion that the ruling class isunable to fight or curtail evil and is forced to make room for thesaid force is a policy that society should not accept (Reuter, 882).The drug problem is a threat to both the economic and politicalfuture of the nation and just like the way other issues thatjeopardize the security are addressed, this illegal trade should bedealt with in the same level of seriousness if not more.
Findinga middle ground
Fromthe cases made by both sides above, it is evident that there is noamicable solution in sight. Both proposers and those opposing theissue of drug legalization make a very formidable case as to whytheir stand should be adopted, and this makes it difficult to come upwith a solution. However, this is not to say that society should takea back seat and watch the productive arm of the community get eatenaway by this problem. There are issues that have been raised by bothparties that can be used to improve the current system and at thesame time addressing some of the problems raised (Rolles, 261). Thestrategies listed below can be considered as compromises for bothsides which will go far in reducing the negative impact of drugs inthe society.
Fromthe tone on both sides, it is evident that the current system beingapplied to deal with the drug problem is not working. Thus, it isimportant to change the laws that term addicts as offenders insteadof people that require specialized care (Schulhofer, 22). It is,therefore, advisable for all those that are engaged in the planningprocess in state legislatures to divert some of the resources thatare used to hold addicts in correctional facilities to be used tobuild and maintain care centres that offer a viable chance forvictims improving their conditions.
Theother way that both parties can work together is on developing astrategy that protects members of the society that are mostvulnerable to falling victims of the drug trade and may includeminors, unemployed youths and other minorities (Grano, 9). It isimportant for investments to be made to ensure that these individualare able to improve their social status and thus keeping them at bayfrom the reach of drug traffickers.
Lastly,there is a need for both parties to come up with a mechanism thatensures criminal masterminds who thrive by exploiting the misery ofothers by providing these illegal additive do not have a place tooperate. This will involve working with local communities to ensurethat these individuals do not have a place to hide whenever theycommit crimes in the name of protecting their territories((Schulhofer, 26). The amount of knowledge on the drug issue held byboth side can be utilized to ensure that these criminals are nolonger able to turn productive members of the society into socialills.
Fromthe above analysis, it is evident that drug legalization would havemore consequences than benefit to the society. Though the argumentmade for the matter raise legitimate concerns on the current strategyused to fight the menace, the solution is not legitimizing theillegal trade. The possible effect of such a move would have acrippling effect on any country that decides to legalize drugs. Thisnoted, there is a way in which the current drug control systems canbe enhanced to ensure that they are more responsive in addressing theproblem from the foundation instead of wasting public resources inreacting to the resultant implication of the use of these substances.It is, therefore, important for stakeholders in the society todevelop a policy that will be charged with implementing some of thestrategies suggested above. Though these suggestions may not bring toan end the enormous challenges that are associated with the drugproblem, it will be the first step toward ensuring a more responsivestrategy for fighting this battle and healing the community from theills of the illegal trade.
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