Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a mans appetite by legislation and make a crime out of things that are not a crime. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principle upon which our government was founded Abraham Lincoln
On January 16, 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified by thirty-six states and became part of the Constitution. The intention of this new amendment was to lower alcohol consumption by Americans. At the time each American consumed on average thirty gallons of alcohol a year.1 This new amendment took away the license to do business from the brewers, distillers, and the wholesale and retail sellers of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol consumption did taper off somewhat at the beginning of prohibition only to slowly rise back to pre-prohibition levels shortly before the end of the movement which took place on December 5,1933. Not only was the goal of prohibition never achieved, but it raised organized crime to levels of power unimaginable before and seriously disrupted both the legitimacy and revenue of the government.
Just as Prohibition incited many unsavory activities, so has the War on Drugs. The easiest way to show the connection between these to movements is an excerpt from an article pertaining to Prohibition in America during the 1920s:
Bootleggers ran wild. Professional robberies began as soon as Prohibition did. Territories were divided by groups of organized crime that became the scum known as the Mafia. The territories were decided by violence and death, both against each other, as well as those in the public who may/may not have been innocent.2
Extract a few words from the excerpt and replace them with the words drug dealers, War on Drugs, and gangs and there is a description of Americas current situation. The War on Drugs intends to rid America of drugs, hard and soft, just as prohibition attempted to rid America of drink. The arguments against the War on Drugs are the same arguments that persuaded politicians sixty years ago to end Prohibition. Just as the movement to rid America of alcohol failed, so will the War on Drugs because social engineering works no better today than it did then.
The War on Drugs has given birth to many of the modern day evils. The most widespread repercussion of the War on Drugs is the crime rate.In 1990, the number of people sent to state and federal prisons for drug offenses exceeded the number of offenders sent to prison for violent crimes. Drug offenders currently make up 62 percent of the federal inmate population, up from 22 percent in 1980.3 Add to this the fact that most of these prisoners are nonviolent offenders put there under mandatory minimum sentencing laws and the explanation for why this country is running out of prison space should be readily apparent.
The second most prevalent, as well as disheartening, result of this movement is the death of innocent victims. The support for this result can be found in the obituary section of the daily newspaper or on the five oclock news. Even the smallest of towns have been afflicted with death due to drugs. Back-alley heroin and basement-lab manufactured amphetamines present the same problem as moonshine alcohol; it might be the real thing but it might also kill anyone who takes it because the manufacturer didnt know what they were doing. The huge profits from drugs are also the major motivation for turf wars between gangs, many of whom seem to have fairly bad aim and hit innocent bystanders as often as each other. To add insult to injury, the greatest backlash of the War on Drugs is the economic and financial damage. In the Cato Policy Analysis No.121 it states:
A common estimate of annual black market drug sales would be about $80 billion.55 Because the black market price of drugs is inflated at the very least 10-fold over what the legal price would be , 90 percent of this figure, or about 70 billion, constitutes an economic loss caused by prohibition. That is, the drug user (and his dependents) is deprived of the purchasing power of 90 percent of the money he spends on illegal drugs without any net benefit accruing to the economy as a whole.56
Since the War on Drugs costs fifteen billion dollars a year, it is hard to understand why the government is trying to eliminate and not take over an eighty billion dollar market. Drug Prohibition without a doubt has reaped no benefits and has escalated all it intended to conquer.
The down side of drug legalization would be limited. Narcotics agents would be somewhat affected. The career description of a narcotics agent would switch from arrests and seizures to ensuring the quality of narcotics. The public would be made aware of drug use among American officials. Present addicts would most likely have a field day at first. Legalization will have an affect on America, but it seems like a small price to pay in order to ensure the economic stability, health, and welfare for generations of Americans to come.
Governmental regulation of the manufacturing and sale of drugs would benefit America as a whole. Death due to unsanitary production methods and the lacing of drugs would be eliminated. The taxation of drugs would have a tremendous effect on our nation. Government produced drugs would cost a considerable amount less, leaving the drug user money to spend on other taxed items. A reduction in crime would occur, freeing up prison space and time to seek out and prosecute violent criminalsMost of the drug related crime occurs when the addict is in need of money to buy the drug. Legalization would put the drug lords out of business and abolish the black market, thereby keeping the pushers out of schools and off streets. Innocent adults and children would not be struck down by a disgruntled drug lords stray bullet. Law enforcement agents would not have to engage in life threatening and often ending drug seizures.
The greatest outcome of legalization would be the tax money accrued by the sale of drugs, endowing numerous government programs, such as programs for the rehabilitation of addicts, healthcare, education, and the preservation of national forests and monuments. Funding educational programs would rejuvenate the public school system and greatly improve the quality of scholastic endeavors. Schools will be refurbished and equipped with state of the art learning tools. Teachers will receive pay raises. Students will be in an environment conducive to learning. Not to mention violence in schools will diminish drastically. Public schools across America would phase out drug addicts by teaching drug awareness, tolerance and moderation.
It is quite clear that the War on Drugs is failing. A drug free country would be ideal. So would an alcohol-free country, a pollution-free country, and most likely a fast food-free country. None of these things will happen, so we have to make the best out of the situation as it is presented. The only practical method of dealing with this problem is the legalization of drugs and time to allow the bad seeds filter out. In the mean time the government should take advantage of the money drug revenues will generate to supply the youth of America with the knowledge to make the right choice.