Criminalization of Certain Drugs Perpetuates Crime Instead of Deterring It

Good Essays
“[The war on drugs] has created a multibillion-dollar black market, enriched organized crime groups and promoted the corruption of government officials throughout the world,” noted Eric Schlosser in his essay, “A People’s Democratic Platform”, in which he presents a case for decriminalizing controlled substances. Schlosser identifies a few of the crippling side-effects of the current drug policy put in place by the Richard Nixon administration in the 1970s to prohibit drug use and the violence and destruction that ensue from it. Ironically, not only is drug use as prevalent as ever, drug-related crime has also become a staple of our society. In fact, this essay argues that the current policy of the criminalization of drugs has fostered a steady increase in crime over the past several decades.
Controlled substances come with a higher price tag, which means drug addicts need to pay more for drugs. This pushes many to commit crimes, such as theft and prostitution, to support their addiction. Gore Vidal in his piece “Drugs: A Case for Legalizing Marijuana” puts it quiet succinctly: “If there was no money in it for the Mafia, there would be no friendly playground pushers, and addicts would not commit crimes to pay for their next fix.” When the government criminalized drugs in the 1970s, they ushered in high prices to compensate for the greater risk associated with selling drugs. Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy call this the “paradox of the war on drugs” in their essay “Have We Lost the War on Drugs?” Because of the risk of imprisonment, drug dealers charge more from customers to compensate for that risk. It is the same principle that makes any illegal substance so expensive and smugglers so rich. Driven by the high cost of procuring drugs...

... middle of paper ...

...e corruption of government officials throughout the world.” The reasons are clear: profit and power. Powerful drug cartels often join forces with law enforcement officials for a cut of the profit, and in turn, they aid and support the cartels’ illicit activities, including drug trafficking, money laundering, gang violence, extortion and blackmail.
In conclusion, criminalization of certain drugs perpetuates crime instead of deterring it. Addicts end up committing crimes to pay for drugs because of their high cost, small time users and dealers have no choice but to turn to a life of crime if they are incarcerated, drug cartels break laws to retain power, and more often than not, police officials are also lured by the high markups in the drug trade. By criminalizing drug use, we are creating a vicious cycle of crime that is undermining the very purpose of this policy.
Get Access