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So you walk past a dark alley and hear two people talking “That’s some good green paper man….” Of course you know they’re talking about marijuana and are in a dark alley because the drug is illegal and they have to hide so they won’t get caught and arrested. But what if they didn’t have to hide because they could do illegal drugs wherever they like? In this report I shall cover the worldwide topic of illegal drugs, more specifically, some of its history, if medical benefits should be a criteria for classification of the substance as legal or illegal, what they could cost us, and its effects on contemporary day society. I will also discuss some reasons why drugs should not be made legal.
There are many reasons why people oppose the fact that many drugs are illegal. Some believe that prohibition of these drugs is a “failed experiment” or that it is an adult decision on weather to get “hooked” or not. But before starting off with my counterpoints and statistics, we have to know a brief history on drugs. Drugs, as we all should already know, have been around for centuries and are still here. In the old days, it used to be legal to smoke many different substances and to drink before the 18th amendment was passed. After it was nullified, drinking and drunkenness rose. Tobacco was grown in tobacco plants where slaves used to pick it for people to smoke it. One popular place for smoking in the old days was Virginia, where much of the substance was grown. Other substances such as marijuana (Cannabis Sativa), or more commonly known as “weed,” “dope,” “pot,” “grass,” “herb,” and “reefer” are also grown.
After quickly reviewing the history of drugs and learning about the widely used substance and how some of it is grown, I can continue on. As said before, there are many reasons why people oppose drugs. One is that people believe prohibition is a so called “failed experiment”. This is a completely false belief though. In the past, when prohibition was in effect, the consumption of alcohol fell 30-50 percent and death from cirrhosis fell dramatically. After the repeal of the 18th amendment, drunkenness and alcoholism rose. Today, statistics from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse show that that drug use in America has fallen by half in the last fifteen years, which means it isn’t just a “failed experiment”.
If you support drug decriminalization, then right now you’re probably thinking that “It doesn’t matter, I’m still not very convinced that illegal drugs should stay illegal.” This is where costs come in. Currently the U.S. spends 11 billion a year to fight drug related crimes. “If drugs were legalized, some crime fighting costs might drop, but social costs would without doubt increase: other forms of crime to support drug habits, drug-related accidents, and etc. Justice Department Figures show that one-third of inmates in jail used drugs before committing their crimes. Also, a 1990 study published in the Journal of Drug Issues found “A strong association between the severity of the crime and the type of substance used; the more intoxicating the substance, the more serious the incident.” Combined, decriminalization of illegal drugs will cost us more than tobacco and alcohol put together, $140-210 billion a year in lost productivity and drug related accidents, as estimated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. "We are losing the war on drugs," say drug legalization proponents, "so let's cut the costs of drug enforcement by decriminalizing drugs."
Is there any evidence that drugs will cost us and that people will increase their drug use habits if we decriminalize drugs? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there is. Statistics from states that have decriminalized illegal drugs show that increased drug use and influence on the people develops. In California, within the first six months of decriminalization, arrests rose for adults by 46 percent and for juveniles 71.4 percent for driving under the influence of drugs. The use of Marijuana doubled in Alaska and Oregon when in it was decriminalized in those states, which proves that drug decriminalization can lead to social problems and increased drug use, not decreased drug use as most people like to think.
Drugs create violence in our community. The Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE) reports that young children and teens who abuse prohibited drugs are more likely to carry a gun to school, participate in gang activities, become suicidal, warn and threaten others, and get in trouble with elders and the authorities than young teens and children who do not use drugs. Would you really feel safer if you had your child or teen probably carrying a gun around in the house, at school, or even at a wedding or special occasion? Would you feel safer if you knew that your son was in a school where the drug abusers there are probably carrying lethal weapons and probably in gangs? Would anyone?
There are many myths surrounding the theory of drug decriminalization being a good thing to our society. One, which I have discussed before, was prohibition being a “failed experiment”. There are many more. Drug legalization proponents state many lies just to get what they want-legal illegal drugs. Some of these myths include:
Legalized drugs would be available for adults and not to children.
Marijuana is a harmless drug.
Whether to use drugs or become “hooked” is an adult decision.
To start off, the myth of legalized drugs being available for adults and not children is completely false. What credibility can we give to a statement such as this when, even though it is illegal, over three million adolescents smoke and twelve million juvenile Americans drink? Marijuana being a harmless drug is another one of the myths I shall explain. If Marijuana is a harmless drug, then how come it has been proved to impair short term memory and ability to keep hold of your attention span? How can it be harmless if it stops both emotional and social development? To summarize my point on this myth, Marijuana cannot be a harmless drug if it has been proven to do so many harmful things to people and juveniles, which can be especially hurtful to them when they are in school. Last but not least, the myth that whether to become “hooked” is an adult decision. This as you might have already guessed is also false. After the age of 21, if you have not started drinking or abusing drugs in any way, you are almost assured for the rest of your life that you shall never start. If it is an adult decision, then why do drug pushers and alcoholics work so hard to kill any efforts made to stop kids from smoking or drinking alcohol?
Moving on, I shall talk about the bible. Many do think that the bible has nothing to say about drugs, but in reality, it does. Ephesians 5:18 advises Christians not to become drunk on with wine. Proverbs 20:1, Isaiah 5:11, Habakkuk 2:15-16 Deuteronomy 21:20-21, Amos 6:1, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and Galatians 5:19-20 also advise Christians of the dangers of alcoholism. If the bible warns us about the danger of alcoholism, then you can infer that it also warns you of the dangers of drugs.
Lastly, I shall give my opinion on if medical benefits should be criteria for classifying a substance as legal or illegal. I believe that medical benefits should not be criteria for classifying a substance as legal or illegal. This is mainly because, you would only be classifying it by the benefits it has. You could classify something by its benefits but the damage that it could give to you could be far worse. I am satisfied with the criteria the MDA (Misuse of Drugs Act) has today for deciding if a substance if legal or illegal. They decide three things, if the drug is being misused, if it is likely to be misused, or if the misuse in either of the cases could lead to social problems. This I believe is a more proper way to classify drugs today as legal or illegal.
In this report I gave a brief history on drugs and have shown how some are made. I have given many different reasons and statistical accounts for not supporting drug decriminalization; and I have also given information on the medical criteria the MDA uses to classify a substance as legal or illegal and if I believe that substance benefits should be criteria for deciding if a substance is legal or illegal. To sum it all up, drugs can destroy our society if we give into the pressures. Statistics and evidence have already shown what drugs can do if we accept them in our society. Even in the early days of the bible, we have been intentionally warned. If this isn’t enough support to end the fight for drug decriminalization, then I will back it up, with more. Drugs do have the power to destroy us, and if we let them, they will.
All sites and books used are listed.
McCaffrey B. R., Jaffe S. L., M.D. (2000). Junior Drug Awareness: How to Say No. Aronson, Virginia: Chelsea House Publishers.
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