Kelsey LilesPat PattersonEngl.
1301.0816 March 2002American Drug AbuseOur society has found itself directly in the middle of a transcontinental drug surge. An estimated 23 million of the worlds population regularly take illicit drugs, and the Drug Enforcement Administration estimated that 13.
6 million of those who habitually used illegal drugs in 1998 were Americans. Even in our current everyday motions of life and productivity, we have set the path for self-destruction. We awake to the kick of caffeine, soothe our nerves with tobacco, ease our tension headaches with aspirin, wind down the day with alcohol, and swallow an antihistamine to help us sleep all perfectly legal, respectable, and even expected (Drug Abuse 195).The first solution that comes to mind is to punish the individuals that choose to use these illicit substances, just as they seem to punish the members of society that choose to be drug free. To use this solution effectively you must compose a list of substances that are to be considered illegal drugs, which are only illegal in the first place, because certain politicians and voters decided for us that they should be. Once you have that list of substances, you must decide what the consequences of violating the laws of the list will be, and how you are going to punish those who choose to be drug offenders.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Most of you are thinking that it does sound quite familiar. Of course it does, because we are already practicing this technique and we have been for years. The only outcome of this solution is an over crowded prison system, many irate citizens, and wasted tax dollars. Both the Bureau of Narcotics and the Mafia want strong laws against the sale and use of drugs because if drugs are sold at cost there would be no money in it for anyone (Vidal 197). Marijuana prohibition alone costs taxpayers over $7.5 billion annually.
It has been proven in the past that prohibition only increases the allure of drugs. Drug prohibition disproportionately impacts minorities. Blacks and Hispanics are over-represented both in numbers of arrests and in the numbers of drug offenders incarcerated. These two races make up 20 percent of the marijuana smokers in the United States, but comprise 58 percent of the marijuana offenders sentenced under federal law. During the years Congress prohibited alcohol, the greatest crime wave in our countrys history was launched as a result of this decision.
This time period of organized crime and prohibition lead to thousands of deaths due to bad alcohol, and created general contempt among the citizens for the laws of the United States. As a result of our current prohibition, can you tell where our great nation is headed now? History repeats itself in numerous ways quite often.The next solution that one might think of, which has very good intentions but is just not even close to being a complete solution, is to educate the public and the offenders about drug abuse. For the most part, it seems unlikely that a reasonably sane individual will become a drug addict, if he knows in advance what the addiction is going to be like. If education is going to be an effective deterrent of drug abuse, it must begin during grade school, because one out of every six 13-year-olds has tried marijuana at least once. Our children must be taught the many dangers of drug abuse and strategies to avoid the abuse of these illicit substances, prior to middle and high school, where availability and peer pressure can make the use of drugs all too acceptable and extremely easy to fall for.Although education is a far cry from being a complete solution, as I said before, it can be very effective when used in combination with other plausible solutions. For example, the best solution we have developed and tested is to use education along with punishment, which is the system we still use today.
However, despite the fact that we keep practicing it, most of us have realized that our current system of punishment in combination with education is simply inadequate. Today, almost every adult American is aware of the dangers involved with the use of illegal substances. However, this knowledge has not stopped the rapid increase of drug abuse in this nation (Kunze 211).After analyzing the discussed solutions and the facts that go along with them, you have to ask yourself what would happen if we took the opposite approach to solving this horrific social problem that is morally wrong. This brings us to my third and final proposed solution, which is legalization of some if not all of the illegal drugs on our list. I believe that this solution, in combination with drug education, is the most plausible solution currently in existence.
According to government figures, nearly 70 million American citizens have tried marijuana at some time in their lives. Eight-teen million of these individuals have smoked marijuana within the last year, and ten million smoke marijuana on a regular basis. The vast majority of these Americans are otherwise law-abiding citizens who work hard, have families, and make contributions to their communities. Most people do not want the government to spend public funds to incarcerate nonviolent marijuana offenders, at a cost of $23,000 per person each year. Even the individuals that avoid incarceration are subject to an array of other punishments, including loss of an occupational license, loss of child custody, and loss of their drivers license (even when the offense is not driving related). State and federal forfeiture laws lead to many suspected marijuana offenders losing their money, cars, boats, land, business equipment, and even their homes. Eighty percent of the Americans whose assets are seized are never even charged with a crime, in which case it seems to me that the government is guilty of theft.
It is the legal status of marijuana that makes it a gateway drug. The foundation of all Dutch drug policies is what they call the separation of the markets, and that is the main reason for their cannabis-only coffee shop system. One positive result of this system is that there are hardly any young Dutch junkies. Diseases among the hard drug using Dutch have also declined. This should lead anyone with a rational thought process to realize that marijuana prohibition is actually counterproductive, and that it veritably creates the gateway between marijuana and hard drugs, disproving the traditional idea that marijuana itself is the gateway.
The Institute of Medicine Report points out that because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first, gateway to illicit drug use (Cowan). So, why did I decide that this method is the most plausible? Simple, it has already been proven to work effectively, just as our great countrys current system has failed in so many ways, proving that it is inadequate and merely creates additional problems.Works CitedCowan, Richard. Legalize With Confidence. National Review Online.
9 Aug. 2001.National Review. 19 Mar.
2002 McCuen, Jo Ray, and Anthony C. Winkler, eds. Readings for Writers. Fort Worth:Harcourt, 2001.Drug Abuse. Issue For Critical Thinking and Debate. McCuen and Winkler 195-197.
Kunze, Linda. Drug use: The Continuing Epidemic. McCuen and Winkler 211-213.Vidal, Gore.
Drugs. McCuen and Winkler 197-199.Words/ Pages : 1,251 / 24