Much debate has existed over drugs largely because many groups have been calling that it is time that the existing drug laws be abolished because of numerous reasons but mainly because using drugs is a choice much like how a person chooses to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol. The drug laws have been found to have both negative and positive implications. Prohibition comes with a lot of costs which becomes a ground for legalization and instead of being the feared enemy of the drug dealers, the drug laws may very well be their greatest ally as drugs are pricey because they are illegal.
On the other side of the argument, it is argued that drugs are harmful and its consumption should never be allowed. Drugs are legal in the past and there is reason why the current drug laws were put in place and that is to control crime and addiction rates. With various arguments supporting both sides of the debate, can we really say that it is time for the United States to end the war on drugs through legalization? According to Benson Roe, the use of these illegal drugs should not be outlawed because it has not been proven to be harmful to a person.
Roe narrated an incident when he was removing destroyed heart valves from intravenous drug users and he got curious as to what extent these drugs are harmful. He was surprised as the coroner reported that the only deaths caused by drugs are from infected intravenous injections and very rare cases of overdose. No evidence has existed which proves that drugs are any more harmful than substances that are legal such as tobacco and alcohol (Roe).
In fact, these substances may even be more lethal as a report indicated that the number of deaths related to tobacco and alcohol are far greater than the number of deaths caused by common illegal drugs. The Transform Drug Policy Foundation indicated that the number of deaths associated with tobacco in England and in Wales in 2005 reached 86,500 while deaths related to alcohol reached 6,627. On the other hand, the number of deaths associated with heroin and morphine numbers only 842; methadone to only 220; cocaine to176; amphetamines to 103 and cannabis to 19 (Transform).
According to Roe, the drug laws are not helpful for a lot of reason. For one, prohibition takes its toll on federal funds as funds are being diverted to anti-drug campaigns and operations which should have been better used in education and other similarly important sectors that need financial support. In 1998-1999, the Drug Enforcement Agency spent more than $1. 4 billion on the fight against drugs as well as another $285 million on prosecutions and another $749 million for the FBI drug enforcement.
More so, federal and state prisons are getting crowded as they are being filled with non-violent offenders. Keeping a person in jail costs a lot as the Justice Policy Institute indicated in March 2000 that $23. 7 billion was used to keep more than a million drug offenders in jail (Roe). There is nothing unethical or immoral with simply using illegal drugs. What should be prohibited is not the drug, but the crime. Law should not prohibit the use of drugs since its immediate effects are only felt by the user.
If a person under the influence of drugs commits a crime, then he/she should be prosecuted through the full power of the law since it is this action that is harmful and not the act of taking drugs. This is similar to the case of alcohol. A person who drinks is not immediately prosecuted but if he/she commits a crime under the influence of alcohol, he/she will be prosecuted. The drug laws should also work this way (Cussen & Block, 2000). It may be time that legalization should take place as it may bring about many positive implications.
Initially, it will eliminate the expensive costs associated with prohibition. The drug market is so huge and the demand is so high that the drug will ultimately be supplied. It is very easy to get drugs on the street. Legalization would also come with regulation and this means that the drug prices will be regulated and information about these illegal drugs will be readily available. Regulating of prices will mean that these illegal drugs can now be bought in drugstores for cheap prices and not the expensive black market price.
This would help reduce crime rate as the drug users no longer have to resort to crime to get the money to and purchase drugs. Regulation also means that information on correct dosage would be available which would eliminate the already minimal numbers of deaths as cases of overdose and infection from infected injections would be eliminated (Roe). On the other end, legalization is being denounced as other lobbying party indicates that drugs are harmful to the society and it should never be legally accepted.
The basic argument they raise is that drugs are dangerous which contradicts what Roe claims that drugs are not harmful. According to Mabry, drugs have been identified as the leading health problem and more than 20 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs which leads to 130,000 deaths every year. Mabry identifies that drug use has been directly associated with medical and surgical problems and these cases are very well documented (Mabry, 2001). Additionally, drugs have been related to crime.
In the city of New York, it was discovered that 74 percent of male adults that have been arrested for violent crimes have been found to be using illegal drugs. The high turnout rate suggests that drugs motivate crime. Several other locations yielded similar results. It has also been argued that legalizing drugs would increase rates of addiction as the drug laws have been put in place to curb addiction rates and it has been effectively in controlling it as addiction rates decreased as the availability of the substances were curtailed and after penalties have been put in place.
Several European countries have already tried legalizing drugs but it has resulted in an uncontrollable rise in the rate of addiction as well as an increase in crime rate. After identifying the failure of legalization, European cities worked together to reject the existing demands for drug legalization (Mabry, 2001). Conclusion Roe has argued that drugs are not harmful. This may be true but the other side contradicts this statement but drugs have really not been directly linked as a cause of death. Just like any other drug, it may have negative effects.
Just like any other drug, an overdose of illegal drugs can kill. There is also no reason why these drugs should be outlawed when other substances that are similarly addictive such as tobacco is legal. Also, they claim that people under the influence of drugs do evil deeds. This is but a misconception. If this is a ground for prohibition, then alcohol should also be prohibited. Violent crime is what should be controlled and not the substance. Drugs remain to be legal in Holland and surprisingly, it has worked for them since they treat it more as a social problem than a criminal problem.
In fact, the rate of street crime in Holland is lower than that of Britain which implements strict drug laws. This could mean that if legalization worked for Holland, then it could also work for the United States (Rose, 2002). Also, legalization does not mean that anyone can use drugs. It will come with regulation which would control the price and ultimately help in controlling crime. It will also come with information to help prevent the already minimal number of deaths from infected injections and overdose. Minors will also not be allowed to use drugs.