This is a paper I wrote my my sociology class. I got 100% on it, and the teacher seemed overall impressed. I thought I’d share it with you guys and see what you think! Enjoy!
Allow me to stay up front that I do not do drugs. I never have. I have zero interest in them. I don’t see the attraction. I don’t do drugs, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. That aside, I firmly and fully believe that all drugs should be legalized, heavily regulated and taxed. I believe this for several reasons.
Freedom Matters – I don’t feel that I have the right to tell you what you can and cannot put into your body. I strongly disapprove of tattoos. I think they look stupid, and if you have a whole bunch of them snaking down your arms, I’m going to make certain unfavorable assumptions about you (which aren’t necessarily accurate, but there you are). But having tattoos is your choice, and I would never dream of telling you that you can’t have them.
Drugs are the same. It’s not my business if you choose to snort a line of coke. It’s your body and what you put into it is your concern. I don’t think you should be doing it, but if you decide to, well, it’s your choice.
Now it becomes my problem if you make poor choices while on drugs. If you get really whacked out on meth and decide to go driving, or get high on coke and shoot someone, those are serious issues. But we have laws that already cover those problems (driving while intoxicated and a variety of laws about shooting people), so having further laws that make even the use of drugs illegal in case someone does those things is pointless.
The fight against drugs also erodes other freedoms. Without the drug war, we likely wouldn’t have any court rulings allowing retroactive search warrants, yet we have that today. That’s not to mention things like drug screenings for jobs and drug screenings for kids in after-school events.
Perhaps connected to the freedom issue is the fact that, well, this interferes with capitalism. Surely under a capitalist system, people should be able to buy and use whatever products they want, as long as they aren’t causing physical harm to any other person or property that isn’t theirs?
Think of the Children! – Right now, drug dealers can and do sell their products to anyone with money. This means if a twelve-year-old wants to buy crack and has money, there’s nothing stopping her from doing so.
On the other hand, it’s a bit more difficult for said twelve-year-old to get access to alcohol or cigarettes. It’s not impossible, but it is harder due to the fact that we have laws restricting what age you have to be in order to buy those things. If drugs were legalized and sold in stores that were required to card people for purchases, you can bet the instances of use among people who are under age would go down. It wouldn’t vanish entirely, because there are always ways around the law, but they would at least decrease.
This Costs How Much?! – The War on Drugs is expensive. This year we’re spending about $23 billion to fight this war. What else could we spend that money on? That’s far more than NASA gets each year. If we legalized and taxed drugs, I’m sure we’d more than make back the $23 billion, plus we wouldn’t be spending that money to fight the drugs. That’s about $46 billion we’d have each year. Funnel $10 billion into setting up really good treatment centers for those who want to stop and can’t, and even after that we have $36 billion left over. Imagine what we could do with an extra $36 billion for our schools.
Keeping Drugs Illegal Stifles Treatment – Let’s say that you’re very much into something that’s illegal. You want to stop being so into that something, but you are reluctant to join treatment efforts, even though you know they exist. You’re afraid that the authorities might monitor such treatment programs, and you might even be right about that. So you don’t get treatment and your problem spirals.
One of the reasons AA is so successful is because alcohol use isn’t illegal. This means that people who seek treatment aren’t admitting to any wrongdoing. With drugs, it’s a whole other matter, and that can cause problems.
Prohibition Doesn’t Work – In just about every prison in this country you can get just about any drugs you want. In prison. In the most heavily regulated and controlled environment this nation is able to create, you can get drugs. Given that fact, there’s no way and no laws we can ever make that will keep people in the outside world from using them.
Back in 1920, we passed a Amendment to the US Constitution that banned the sale and consumption of alcohol. That was when we learned that if you take something a huge number of people want, and make that something illegal, you’ll soon find yourself fighting a nasty war against your own people as organized crime parties down.
The amendment was widely viewed as a massive failure, and was repealed in 1933 after much blood and treasure was spent trying to enforce it. We’d learned our lessons when it came to alcohol. We have yet to learn them when it comes to drugs.
Summation – The simple fact is that there are a lot of people want to do drugs for whatever reason. Those people will do so, and no laws against drug use will make them stop. By keeping drugs illegal we create an air of mystique about them, and we also increase disrespect for the law in general. We further cast aside any possible monies that can be made from legalization and allow that money to go to drug lords who have no problems doing very evil things to keep their money flowing.
Some might argue that legalization creates many social problems, but what they don’t recognize is that those social problems already exist. Making drugs legal won’t add to those problems to any great degree and, by increasing the odds of treatment, might even go some way to removing or lessening the effects of those problems.
I’d certainly say it’s worth a try.