Legalizing Drugs The Effects of Narcotic Prohibition on Society Craig Boylan
. So why is marijuana really illegal? -Historically, the fact that marijuana is used by "fringe groups of society" was a major factor in making it illegal. The first state laws passed to make marijuana illegal were instituted largely in part to persecute unwelcome Mexican immigrants who used the drug. -When marijuana was made illegal across the country in 1937, racism was again a major factor. Black jazz musicians were the main fringe group targeted this time. -Henry Anslinger, the director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics at the time, had this to say: "There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others." and "...the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races." -As times changed, so did the fringe groups who gave reasons to keep marijuana illegal. During the Red Scare, Communists were thought to be brainwashing Americans into pacifists through marijuana. During the 60s and 70s, dirty un-American hippies were the main group associated with marijuana use. -Nowadays, the government can't single out groups of people like that as a reason to keep marijuana illegal. But it's still ingrained in many people's minds that marijuana is only used by criminals and free-loaders. -Marijuana has been illegal for so long now that most people can't remember a time when it was legal. We've grown up in a society where marijuana is considered a harmful drug and is basically grouped in the same category as other substances such as cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine.
-Legal drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, are not lumped into that category, although their addictiveness and adverse health affects perhaps warrant them to be so much more than marijuana. But since tobacco and alcohol use is common in mainstream America, they are accepted by society. -But since marijuana doesn't receive that same acceptance, it remains in the "drug" category. Something needs to be done to educate people that marijuana is not the same as cocaine, heroine or methamphetamine; is not even remotely close to cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine; and should have nothing to do with cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine, but should instead be deserving of its own distinct (legal) category like alcohol and tobacco. -However, children are taught to "just say no" to all drugs, and there is little distinction between marijuana and harder drugs. But people still try marijuana, and when they do, they often realize it's not as bad as everyone would have them believe. -This can easily lead to the conclusion that if marijuana is illegal but didn't hurt me, maybe the government was blowing smoke up my ass about other illegal drugs as well. -If marijuana were to become legal, the artificial connection between marijuana and much more harmful narcotics would disappear. Not only that, but the cynicism and mistrust that comes with the realization that the government has been lying to you (or at the very least manipulating the facts to get you on their side) would also be alleviated.
The Current Crisis of Drug Prohibition
In spite of the greatest anti-drug enforcement effort in U.S. history, the drug problem is worse than ever.
What should be done now?
-Get tougher in the war on drugs?
-Imprison middleclass drug users?
-Use the military?
-Impose the death penalty for drug dealing?
-Shoot down unmarked planes entering the United States?
The status quo is intolerable--everyone agrees on that. But there are only two alternatives: further escalate the war on drugs , or legalize them .
Enforcement efforts escalated throughout the duration of Prohibition.
Convictions rose from 18,000 in1921 to 61,000 in 1932.
Prison terms grew longer and were meted out with greater frequency in the latter years of Prohibition.
The enforcement budget rose from $7 million in 1921 to $15 million in 1930.
Defining the Issue D o drug laws do more harm than good?
The focus here is not how dangerous drugs are or how much damage drug users inflict upon themselves.
If these factors were decisive, then surely alcohol and tobacco would be banned Rather, the proper focus is how effective drug laws are in preventing damage from drugs, compared with the amount of injury the laws themselves cause
Supporters of Prohibition Must Demonstrate all of the Following :
That drug use would increase substantially after legalization
That the harm caused by any increased use would not be offset by the increased safety of legal drug use
That the harm caused by any increased use would not be offset by a reduction in the use of dangerous drugs that are already legal (alcohol & tobacco)
That the harm caused by any increased drug use not offset by (2) or (3) would exceed the harm now caused by the side effects of prohibition (crime & corruption)
The Case for Legalization is sustained if any of the following propositions is true:
Prohibition has no substantial impact on the level of illegal drug use
Prohibition increases illegal drug use
Prohibition merely redistributes drug use from illegal drugs to harmful legal drugs
Even though prohibition might decrease the use of illegal drugs, the negative effects of prohibition outweigh the beneficial effects of reduced illegal drug use
Escalating the war on drugs is doomed to fail, as it did under President Richard M. Nixon, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, and President Ronald Reagan.
It is confronted by a host of seemingly intractable problems:
-Lack of funds
-Lack of prison space
-Lack of political will to put middle-class
users in jail
-The sheer impossibility of preventing
consenting adults in a free society from engaging in