Over the past twenty years, numerous states have allowed the purchase of marijuana albeit in small amounts. Moreover, in the United States, over 22 states have allowed the use of marijuana in the medical field. In 2012, Washington and Colorado allowed the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. The two states enacted laws that permitted people to use marijuana in amusement parties. The public outlook regarding drugs like marijuana has changed significantly. A study conducted in 2013 found that 58% of the Americans advocated the legalization of marijuana (Caulkins et al. 287).
Despite the present political and cultural shifts, the majority of the Americans are against the legalization of other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Less than 10% of Americans support the legalization of heroin and cocaine (Caulkins et al. 287). Most people who call for the legalization of marijuana argue that there is a significant difference between it and other hard drugs. Different drugs bear various risks, and some may result in death if consumed in large amounts. Nonetheless, if the government wishes to minimize the dangers attributed to drugs, it must legalize them. This article will discuss the importance of legalizing not only marijuana but also other hard drugs.
Protection of Minors
The prohibition of drugs has resulted in the rise of sophisticated underground cartels that are difficult to control or abolish. Consequently, it is hard to tell who supplies or purchases drugs from whom. The ban on drugs makes it hard for society to regulate their use amid the youths. Legalizing the drugs would help to ensure that suppliers do not deal with kids. In countries that forbid drugs, sellers operate covertly, making it difficult to control their operations (Block and Obioha 109). Despite the sellers sticking to a certain policy that bars them from selling drugs to kids, they at times violate the law to boost their income. It becomes difficult for the public to identify vendors who sell drugs to teenagers. Licensed sellers would avoid selling drugs to children as the move would result in their licenses being revoked.
Drugs are not the only Cause of Deaths
Most fatalities and harms witnessed across the world result from legal products. In the past few years, many people have died due to accidents associated with snowboarding or skiing. A study shows that over 800 people die as a result of bicycle accidents (Caulkins et al. 291). A lot of people die due to drowning and the use of pharmaceutical products. In spite of these goods being harmful, most people are against their proscription because their benefits are innumerable. The same case applies to hard drugs. The media shed light on individuals who experience bad results after using drugs. It fails to appreciate that “thousands, if not millions of people risk impurities, apprehension, and vagaries of black markets to purchase these goods, suggesting that people derive benefits from their use” (Corlett 237).
It implies that even though the prescription of drugs might purge their use at a limited cost, it would have devastating repercussions. The move would adversely affect a majority of the responsible and restrained users. Research shows that legal drugs pose numerous threats to users compared to hard drugs (Corlett 237). Legal substances like tobacco and alcohol are major causes of death across the world. Legalizing the sale and use of drugs would help to minimize the deaths associated with accidental poisoning. It would be easy for the quality control team to ensure that the drugs in the market cannot harm users.
Prohibition is Costly
The proscription of hard drugs is costly, not considering their dangers. One should appreciate that criminalizing hard drugs does not get rid of their market. The action may reduce the size of the market due to an increase in the prices of the drugs. Nevertheless, no matter how stringent the regulation of sales of hard drugs might be, it would be difficult for the government to stem black markets (Corlett 241).
The black markets come at a cost because they are associated with multiple negative activities. For instance, if buyers and sellers are unable to address disagreements, they turn to violence. Additionally, the markets are catalysts for corruption. Cases of drug traffickers bribing law enforcement agents are common across the globe. The prohibition of drugs in one area leads to producers and traffickers relocating their businesses to other regions.
Moreover, users turn to alternative drugs. The criminalization of hard drugs does not minimize their use or demand. Indeed, there is no correlation between the severity of drug proscription laws and their degree of use. The intensification of the war on drugs has only increased the number of people in prisons. In return, it has translated to the increased costs of managing the penitentiaries.
Today, the United States spends billions of dollars in the fight against drug trafficking and use. Additionally, the country spends a lot of money to run prisons that are overcrowded with individuals convicted of drug use or trafficking (Krupnov and Levinson 73). Proponents of the decriminalization of drugs argue that the social and economic ramifications of drug prescription and enforcement of drug laws are quite severe relative to the dangers of the substances (Krupnov and Levinson 73).
Legalizing drugs would help to cut down on expenditures, thus enabling the government to channel financial resources to other critical areas. It would create jobs for the public and serve as a major source of revenue for the government. Money obtained in the form of tax would help to build infrastructure, health facilities, and schools. Moreover, the decriminalization of drugs would help to cut down on the money spent on security. It would facilitate the elimination of criminal enterprises and their influences.
Prohibition Results in Health Risks
The banning of hard drugs leads to the rise of health risks, which would be absent in lawful markets (Krupnov and Levinson 75). The ban on the sale of heroin results in price skyrocketing, leaving many users with no option but to inject themselves with the blood of individuals who can afford the drug. Moreover, the government controls the sales of clean needles as it may encourage the distribution of hard drugs. Eventually, most users end up sharing contaminated needles, exposing themselves to the dangers of contracting illnesses like Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.
One may argue that hard drugs put individuals under great health risks compared to marijuana. Nevertheless, it is imperative to evaluate the dangers of banning drugs. In a country that has legalized hard drugs, users are only prone to the dangers attributed to their exploit (Krupnov and Levinson 80). On the other hand, in nations that prohibit drugs, individuals are prone to numerous health and economic risks (Krupnov and Levinson 81).
It implies that prohibition does not shield users from risks. The legalization of drugs would help to minimize health risks attributed to the sale of lethal and harmful drugs (Krupnov and Levinson 81). It would ensure that consumers understand what they are buying and possible health risks. The criminalization of drugs makes it hard for the government to control vendors. Thus, it becomes difficult to curb the sale of harmful drugs. The legalization of drugs would ensure that people do not have access to dangerous drugs unless through prescription.
Infringement on Civil Rights
Enforcement of drug proscription laws contributes to infringement on civil rights, especially of the minority groups. For instance, no-knock warrants contribute to the death of blameless bystanders (Leitzel 101). Moreover, cases of racial profiling are common when dealing with drug trafficking and use. In the United States, more blacks than whites are incarcerated for drug-related felonies (Leitzel 101).
It does not necessarily mean that more blacks than whites engage in drugs. The harm principle holds that the government or state has no right to bar individuals from engaging in activities that hurt them as long as they do not affect other people. People are independent over themselves, their minds, and body. It is imperative to appreciate that drug use does not harm society. Therefore, the government does not require punishing drug consumers. One wonders why the government does not bar overeating, despite it being a major cause of death across the world.
Enforcement of drug laws leads to stigma. The law enforcement agencies incarcerate drug addicts, denying them an opportunity to seek medical assistance (Leitzel 104). Apparently, drug addiction is the only area of public health where patients are criminalized (Leitzel 104). Severe punishments meted on drug users contribute to their addiction getting worse. The initial goal of drug policy, as outlined by the United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs, was to safeguard the well-being of humanity (Leitzel 104). Unfortunately, the national and international policies on drugs have deviated from this primary objective.
It is the high time that the government decriminalizes personal drug use. The public health system should assume the responsibility of helping individuals suffering from drug addiction rather than segregating or incarcerating them.
It is imperative to appreciate that drug-free humanity is a pipedream. Thus, the government has the responsibility of ensuring that people use drugs in ways that do not harm them. It should encourage drug users to avoid sharing needles, as the practice exposes them to diseases. The government should focus on public education and control instead of concentrating on the complete containment of drugs. Such measures have proved to be effective in the regulation of tobacco consumption.
Legalizing drugs will assist the government to reduce risks attributed to substance abuse. Research shows that the dangers of prescribing drugs surpass the risks attributed to their use. It would be difficult for the government to regulate the use of drugs among youths without legalizing them. The claim that drugs are a major cause of death across the world is erroneous. Many people die due to road and bicycle accidents. Banning drugs comes at a cost.
It contributes to the establishment of private cartels that fuel corruption and violence. Moreover, it exposes drug users to the danger of contracting diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. Many users are vulnerable to accidental poisoning as vendors sell harmful drugs. The legalization of drugs would help to stem stigma meted on users. The society would assume the responsibility of educating drug users on the dangers of substance abuse and encouraging them to reform.
Block, Walter, and Violet Obioha. “War on Black Men: Arguments for the Legalization of Drugs.” Criminal Justice Ethics, vol. 31, no. 2, 2012, pp. 106-120.
Caulkins, Jonathan, et al. “Understanding Drug Legalization.” International Health Journal, vol. 6, no. 3, 2014, pp. 283-294.
Corlett, Angelo. “Taking Drugs Very Seriously.” The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, vol. 38, no. 1, 2013, pp. 235-248.
Krupnov, Yury, and Lev Levinson. “Have We Lost the War on Drugs?” Security Index: A Russian Journal on International Security, vol. 18, no. 1, 2012, pp. 71-83.
Leitzel, Jim. “Toward Drug Control: Exclusion and Buyer Licensing.” Criminal Law and Philosophy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2013, pp. 99-119.