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The War On Drugs : Why It Should End With Decriminalization

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Trent Vuillemot
ENG 201: Bauer
Assignment 2, Draft 1

Audience: Adults opposed to decriminalizing drugs
The War on Drugs
Why it should end with decriminalization

Every 19 seconds there is a drug arrest in the United States. (Drug War Statistics) On July 17th, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs. Drug abuse, according to the president, was "public enemy number one". Now, a little more than four decades later the U.S. has the largest incarceration rate in the world, with 51% of those in jail for non-violent drug offenses. The U.S. now spends $51,000,000,000 annually enforcing drug laws, and yet drug addiction rates have remained constant since the 1970’s with about 1.3% of the population being addicted to drugs (Groff). Prohibition does not work. It did not work in the 1930’s with alcohol and it does not work with illegal drugs now. It is extremely expensive and fails to reduce drug use and addiction. It is ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst.
The solution is to decriminalize all drugs. Decriminalization is not legalization; there would still be penalties such as a fine for drug possession, but there would no longer be a criminal charge. We should change prohibition laws that have proven ineffective and try a different approach. The benefits to decriminalization are obvious: Less money spent enforcing drug laws that don’t work means more money for other more pressing law enforcement challenges. Fewer drug arrests mean fewer individuals with a criminal record who may struggle to find a job. Current addicts would no longer need to fear persecution and could instead receive the help they desperately need. Law enforcement could regain the public’s trust and respect. These are all reasons why we shou...

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...attle against myths. (Feature)." Corrections Today 64.7 (2002): 86+. Academic OneFile. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.

Nadelmann, Ethan A. “Drug Decriminalization: Response” Science, New Series, Vol. 246. 1989: 1104-1105. American Association for the Advancement Science. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.

In Ethan Nadelmann’s “Drug Decriminalization: Response” Nadelmann thoughtfully responds to a piece on drug decriminalization that says that alcohol prohibition was responsible for the drop in alcohol related hospitalizations during that period. Nadelmann counters with some data showing a similar drop at the same time in Britain, despite a lack of prohibition there. This kind of information will be used in my essay to dispel common myths of drug prohibition. Nadelmann is a credible source as his article was published in Science magazine, a scholarly periodical founded by Thomas Edison.
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