Lately it seems that drug policy and the war on drugs has been in the headlines quite a lot. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the policies that the United States government takes against illegal drugs are coming into question. The mainstream media is catching on to the message of organizations and individuals who have long been considered liberal "Counter Culture" supporters. The marijuana question seems to be the most prevalent and pressed of the drugs and issues that are currently being addressed. The messages of these organizations and individuals include everything from legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, to full-unrestricted legalization of the drug. Of course, the status quo of vote seeking politicians and conservative policy makers has put up a strong resistance to this "new" reform lobby. The reasons for the resistance to the changes in drug policies are multiple and complex. The issues of marijuana’s possible negative effects, its use as a medical remedy, the criminality of distribution and usage, and the disparity in the enforcement of current drug laws have all been brought to a head and must be addressed in the near future. It is apparent that it would be irresponsible and wrong for the government to not evaluate it’s current general drug policies and perhaps most important, their marijuana policy. With the facts of racial disparity in punishment, detrimental effects, fiscal strain and most importantly, the history of the drug, the government most certainly must come to the conclusion that they must, at the very least, decriminalize marijuana use and quite probably fully legalize it.
Ever since the federal criminalization of marijuana in the United States in 1937, there has been a large underground drug market (Paul). Much like how the prohibition of alcohol simply forced imbibers underground, those who chose to partake in marijuana are forced to stay away from the prying eye of the law because of present marijuana laws. This means the drug world is concealed from the average citizen, hiding the dangers of drug deals gone wrong, police shootings, and other dangerous occurrences. In a way this allows the government to mask the fact that their well-funded ‘War on Drugs’ is ineffective, a ‘War’ with a budget of roughly twenty billion dollars; which is not profoundly effective in the curbing the use of drugs (Jillette). If the average citizen does not know what is happening, in the eyes of the American zeitgeist, it is not happening. Criminalizing a harmless drug to cut down on its use simply turns its users into criminals, making the crime rate go up and clogging prisons with non-violent criminals. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and the laws pertaining to it should reflect that.
The legalization of marijuana in the United States is a long and historically debated subject. Pro-legalization advocates provide many reasons for the decriminalization of marijuana; some of the reasons include, zero recorded deaths from direct use, wasting tax-payer money prosecuting non-violent offenders, and prohibition promotes organized crime. Anti-legalization organizers condemn legalization due to marijuana being considered a gateway drug, moral and religious opposition, legalization could lead to harder drugs being legalized, and the fear that legalization would enable the drug to be more accessible to children. There are many positive and negative aspects of legalization, but personally I am in favor of legalization and taxation of the non-deadly drug. In this paper, I will outline the good and the bad of legalization and investigate if legalization would be beneficial to America and society as a whole.
American law enforcement has made drug enforcement one of its highest priorities for almost forty years. However, more people than ever are beginning to question the true benefits of the Drug War. The President of the United States, Barack Obama has even referred to the Drug War as an “utter failure” in the YouTube video “Barack Obama on Marijuana Decriminalization (2004).” These kinds of negative opinions on the Drug War are not unjustified. The Drug War has cost Americans 33 billion dollars and countless lives (Miron Par. 1). The Drug War is a poor alternative to combat drug use in America as evidenced by the history of Prohibition, the crime it creates, the harmful effects it has on the lives of users, and the numerous deaths it results in. The Drug War is a failed policy and the government must respond by legalizing all recreational drugs.
Much debate has been brought to Capitol Hill concerning the legalization of the Marijuana. Analyzing the history, data, and health effects of marijuana it becomes clear that the debate for the legalization of marijuana should be seriously considered and should be brought to congress as an issue that can stimulate the economy and bring together a divided nation. This issue along with many others will not be a reality until congress takes action and addresses the issue directly. Conflicting views arise when so much time effort and money have been spent to eliminate drugs. America’s “War on Drugs” has been an intense operation to eliminate narcotics on the streets and often catch the criminal distribution before it even reaches the public. Citizens of the United States have petitioned for the legalization of marijuana since its origin, yet minimal progress has been made and the illegal existence of the plant remains. Congress has faced the vote to legalize marijuana countless times while the majority of politicians favor the ban on the substance, however there are certain individuals of political office that have and continue to vote for its legalization. America’s emphasis and concern for the use, distribution, and growth of marijuana is outstanding with arrests reaching nearly 5.9 million since the year 1990. A large amount of time, money, and man-power has been applied to the operation of controlling the substance of marijuana in society and many people argue against this. As long as marijuana is not legalized, the debate and fight for its legalization will undoubtedly continue from the millions of people who use the herbal matter in this country alone.
In our society today, a big debate has emerged. People are squabbling, arguing, deliberating and discussing on whether Marijuana should be legalized. In the United States, this debate is amplified because people think that illegalizing the substance does not fight its illicit use but only makes it more available and easily accessible. It also makes it “as a cool recreation drug” (Pi, 2007) for the young people. “It is actually easier for many high school students to obtain Marijuana than it is for them to obtain alcohol, because alcohol is legal and therefore regulated to keep it away from kids” (Marijuana, 1999). Debate about legalization of the drug is a significant issue that is socially important to our community and it should be analytically discussed in length. I personally believe that legalizing the drug across the United States of America would help fight its usage and save us a lot of cash (Marijuana, 1999).
Marijuana prohibition stands as one of the most unwarranted policies of the United States. Every year we are spending billions of dollars on the War on Drugs with little benefit. Data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show there were an estimated 1,552,432 arrests for drug-related crimes in 2014 – a slight uptick from the 1,531,251 drug arrests in 2013. Marijuana offenses accounted for 48.3 percent of all drug arrests. Most marijuana-related arrests were for possession of the drug. By mere possession, there was one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds in 2014. Including arrests for distribution, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds. This prohibition makes no sense, especially in a country where alcohol use is completely acceptable. Many argue that marijuana use is much more safe than either alcohol or cigarettes, yet it has been illegal for almost 70 years (NORML).
Just as alcohol prohibition during the 20’s and 30’s was not successful, marijuana prohibition has not been successful either, as evidenced by its current and increasing popularity in the United States. According the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Mr. Paul Armentano, marijuana was made illegal in the United States with the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 (2014). Later, Congress classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 (Armentano, 2014). Since then, hundreds of thousands of Americans have been arrested for the possession, distribution and use of marijuana. According to Professor Katherine Beckett, “there were 829,625 marijuana arrests” (Beckett, et.al., N.D.) in 2006 and that number is increasing. The debate on whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use has raged for decades but is beginning to see the light of day with the recent state-level victories. With Washington and Colorado guiding the way, the country as a whole is considering the issue of whether or not marijuana should be legalized. If legalized, tax revenues could potentially generate millions, if not billions, of dollars annually for state and federal coffers. Marijuana should be legalized. Legalization will not increase usage nor will the current prohibition decrease usage; however tax revenue from the distribution and sale of marijuana could benefit many state programs and even possibly eliminate governmental deficits in the future.
The California Narcotic Officers' Association consists of over 7,000 criminal justice professionals who are dedicated to protecting the public from the devastating effects of substance abuse, whether cocaine, methamphetamine, or marijuana. We have seen first hand the debilitating and often tragic results, both psychologically and physically, of those who choose intoxication as part of their lifestyle. We have studied the medicinal use of marijuana issue, compiling information from medical experts to present to those we are sworn to protect. It is our firm belief that any movement that liberalizes or legalizes substance abuse laws would set us back to the days of the '70s when we experienced this country's worst drug problem and the subsequent consequences. In the '80s, through the combined and concerted efforts of law enforcement, prevention and treatment professionals, illicit drug use was reduced by 50 percent. Teenagers graduating from the class of 1992 had a 50 percent less likely chance of using drugs than those who graduated in the class of 1979.
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...
Drug policy is a crucial topic in the country today. Substance abuse, as well as drug-related crime rates, are a huge problem. This is a fact. The way to fix the problem of substance abuse, however, is widely disagreed upon. Some think that stricter laws regarding drug possession and use would solve the problem, while others believe that loosening the restrictions would be a better option. The issue of legalizing drugs, especially marijuana, is one that is debated all the time. In fact, in 1995, a survey was conducted on the most important policy issues and eighty five percent of the country placed drugs at the top of the list (Falco 1996). Many states are actually beginning to decriminalize, and even legalize, marijuana use for medical perposes. In fact, two states, Washington and Colorado, have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for anybody over the age of twenty-one since 2012. (Hawken, Caulkins, Kilmer, and Kleiman 2013)
Marijuana, acid, and heroin were being used liberally in the 1960s by a generation that embraced drugs as part of a new cultural movement. Later in 1969, studies would link drug use with crime. People looked to the government to aid the situation. In 1970, the Narcotics Treatment Administration was founded to try to control drug use. That same year President Richard Nixon established the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, he coined it “the war on drugs”. Title II of this act, the Controlled Substance Act, brought together many laws passed since the Harrison Narcotics tax act of 1914. It put drugs into categories called schedules in accordance with their potential for abuse. The CSA also set forth regulations on who and how these drugs would be handled and also put into place harsh penalties for the illegal h...
Now is not the time for the United States federal government to decriminalize or legalize illegal drugs, including marijuana. However, nor can the government continue to do nothing about the financially, economically, and socially expensive domestic drug policy it currently follows. The United States Congress should pass legislation to remove mandatory minimum penalties from drug offenses, and the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons should add in-house rehabilitation programs for its incarcerated drug offenders. These policies would increase the cost-effectiveness of current drug policy and reduce crime and drug use, and do not face the political obstacles or have the uncertain consequences of decriminalizing or legalizing drugs.
(1) The War on Drugs. Starting in the 1960’s with President Nixon the US Federal Government began an all-out institutional assault to combat the societal outcry surrounding drug usage and started increasing the penalties for drug usage, possession, and distribution. These federal laws outlawed marijuana and many other drugs and
The argument over drug reform and the current prohibition has been going on for years. It seems to be an argument between a wise parent and a young teenager, but as generations change more and more of the parents seem to switch sides. While prohibitionists say the mainstream drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD, and marijuana are harmful and immoral, legalizers argue the opposite (Rachels 223). While they are both valid and interesting arguments the drugs named above still remain illegal. Many organizations and respected citizens have come to America’s attention in their support for drug reform or complete legalization of certain drugs. These people range from normal citizens who support the recreational use of marijuana to judges and ex- law enforcement agents who say the war on drugs has been a failure. The drug issue in the United States of America has been going on for years with the counterculture of the sixties up until the more recent medicinal marijuana debates today, and it seems that it is not going to go away anytime soon.