Ending the War on Drugs through Legalization

Drugs have been considered as a problem of the society and it has resulted in much criminalization which crowds the country’s federal and state prisons. Human laws are based on moral and ethical standards except for the drug laws. Technically, there is nothing wrong with being caught with the possession of illegal drugs since it does not step on anyone’s rights. Drugs for a long time have been regarded as evil and this recognition of drugs appears as natural as the “earth is round” and “the sky is blue”. Illegal drugs are not evil in itself.

It has only gained an evil image because of negative propaganda. Drugs laws are not needed in this society since drugs are not harmful. It should be regarded as a social problem and not as a criminal problem. According to Benson Roe, professor emeritus at the University of California at San Francisco and also the chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery, there is very little or no medical evidence which associates illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin with long-term negative health effects as long as it is uncontaminated and consumed in the proper dosage.

Narrating a story when he was removing damaged heart valves from drug users that have been exposed to infected intravenous drugs and becoming curious of how fatal illegal drugs are, he went to consult the San Francisco coroner and the latter confirmed that the only deaths caused by drug abuse is the use of infected needles and rare cases of overdose (Roe). Drugs have been regarded as illegal for a long time and that the government has a duty to keep its citizens away from these substances but no real evidence points to illegal drugs being harmful (Roe).

Just like ordinary over-the-counter and prescription drugs, illegal drugs are deadly if taken in excessive doses. Referring to drugs as “evil” is misleading since the concept of evil is subjective and is difficult to quantify. The concept of right and wrong has never been given attention by legislation (Roe). This may lead to a question why tobacco and alcohol which have been proven to cause more deaths remain legal but illegal drugs that have not been proven to have any negative health effects remain illegal. In England and in Wales, drug deaths in 2005 amount to only a measly number compared to deaths caused by tobacco or by alcohol.

Tobacco-related deaths amounted to 86,500 while alcohol-related deaths amounted to 6,627. Whereas, deaths caused by heroine and morphine amounted to 842, cocaine and crack cocaine amounted only to 176, methadone-related deaths reached 220, amphetamines resulted in 103 deaths, and cannabis is associated with 58 deaths. These drug-related deaths do not even come close to the figures representing tobacco and alcohol-related deaths. While statistics indicate that alcohol and tobacco result in more deaths, these substances remain legal.

Scotland shows similar figures as tobacco and alcohol related deaths amount to 11,300 and 2,052 deaths, respectively; while heroin and morphine amount to 260 deaths, diazepam translates to 78 deaths, methadone to 97, cocaine to 33, ecstasy to 13 and temazepam to only 10 (Drug Related Deaths). Legalizing drugs would come with a multitude of benefits such as regulation and income. Regulation would most-likely eliminate the already low number of deaths caused by illegal drugs since purity will be assured under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and information will be disseminated regarding the correct dosages.

Drug trade would be legal which means that prices would be regulated and it will be taxed for additional government revenue. The drugs would be available in fair prices and users will not need to resort to crime to get their drug fix which will ultimately reduce the number of violent street crimes (Roe). Some countries have already tried legalizing drugs and not much problems were encountered. One country that legalized drugs is Holland. They treat it as a social problem rather than a criminal problem. Also, crime rate proved to be lower in Holland compared to England which has been implementing strict drug laws.

There is also better relationship between the state and the citizens in Holland (Rose). The media has initiated type of unconscious propaganda. The media regularly embeds the phrase “drug-related” in its reports even if the crime was not directly motivated by drugs. In these cases, drugs are likely being blamed as the sole motivating factor even in the existence of other clear motivating factors. Most crimes are motivated by other factors and not by drugs. The public has been exposed to a plethora of these so-called drug-related events and they have accepted it like it is natural.

The image of drugs is further tainted as politicians who wish to forward their political careers call for the implementation of tougher drug laws (Jackson) coupled by many vague and emotive statements (Russell). Anti-drug advocates have embedded vague and emotive statements in their lexicon. The words “health”, “violence,” “love,” “crime,” “dangerous,” and “harmful,” may imply different meanings and is needed to be quantified but these anti-drug advocates deliver speeches and write books filled with these vague terms and often incorporating emotive, even brutal stories to get their audience to support their cause.

They have otherwise become successful since majority of the human population despise or believe that drugs are harmful even in the absence of concrete evidence (Russell). In a book entitled Hugs not Drugs: A Drug Abuse Prevention Manual, the author starts by narrating a story of how a studious girl gets hooked into marijuana and her future crumbles as she drops out of school and gets into relationships with men that took advantage of her and a tearful reunion with her family after vowing to get rid of her addiction. This is a simpler emotive approach.

Some may use stories of how a boy hooked on drugs killed his whole family and their dog and ultimately killing himself while under the influence of drugs. For such cases, the authors fail to address if there are other factors that motivated the crime and immediately put the blame on drugs. The same book also included a statement that crime experts have linked drug abuse with juvenile and violent crimes. The author however failed to show what study has proven that drug use is linked with such crimes. The whole of the book is littered with many similar statements without attributions and the book also does not have a clear bibliography.

This practice is not acceptable in the academic world. To conclude, there is no direct evidence pointing to drugs as a harmful substance which means that the use of these illegal drugs should not be outlawed. It might be time to end the war on drugs by accepting it as a social problem just like what Holland did. Legalization would eliminate the already minimal number of deaths caused by drug use and would save the country from the expensive implementation of the drug laws. Additional revenue would also be in place as drugs will be taxed.

It is time for the people to think outside of the box and understand that drugs are not evil and more importantly, not harmful. Therefore, there is no reason to criminalize drug use and possession. Works Cited Roe, Benson. Why we should legalize drugs. Drug Library. Accessed July 14, 2008, from <http://www. druglibrary. org/schaffer/Misc/roe1. htm> Drug Related Deaths. Transform: Drug Policy Foundation. Accessed July 14, 2008, from <http://www. tdpf. org. uk/MediaNews_FactResearchGuide_DrugRelatedDeaths. htm> Rose, David. 24 February 2002. Two countries took the drugs test.

Who passed?. The Guardian. Accessed July 14, 2008, from <http://www. guardian. co. uk/uk/2002/feb/24/ drugsandalcohol. davidrose> Jackson, Ted. 3 December 1998. Why are Drugs Illegal?. Accessed July 14, 2008, from <http://www. a1b2c3. com/drugs/law01. htm> Russell, Ken. July-August 1999. Propaganda & The War On Drugs – Part one of two. New Dawn Magazine. Accessed July 14, 2008, from <http://www. mapinc. org/drugnews/v99/n711/ a10. html> Ople-Osorio, Susan. Hugs not Drugs: A Drug Abuse Prevention Manual. Manila Mail Publication Phils. , Inc. 1997.