Seek Remedy for Disastrous Drug War

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Nov 3, 2001.

  1. By Brad Cohen, Viewpoint Writer
    Source: Cavalier Daily

    After years of an ineffective war on drugs, it is time to reconsider the nation's handling of the critical issue. Banning this vice has not done a single positive thing for this country. Instead, it has started a costly and interminable war against an elusive enemy. The attempts to curb drug-related deaths only have created crime and societal problems. Drugs and alcohol are similar in most respects, yet the government is years behind in its regulation of drugs.

    Prohibition, the war on alcohol in the 1920s, failed in every major objective and has been replicated decades later with drugs taking the place of alcohol. However, the inevitable failure of the drug war does not cast an ominous shadow of doubt on America's future. With careful regulation and proper education, drugs can be controlled and will not create widespread societal problems as feared.
    The restrictions on drugs during the last half of the 20th century created a new and lucrative industry in which supply is limited to specific dealers, prices are exorbitant, and business is conducted with force and violent crime. The police dedicate their limited resources and manpower to fight the supply side of this lawless industry to no avail. The problem is that the drug industry is like the multi-headed Hydra that cannot be defeated. Dealers always find a way to supply the insatiable public demand. Eradication of dangerous activities isn't possible, so the focus should shift to adjusting to account for them.

    Drug use is a personal choice, albeit one made by weak and stupid people. Everybody has their vices, but not all are allowed. Common reasons for why drugs should be illegal are that they are addictive and pose a threat to personal and public safety. However, alcohol, gambling and smoking share these same qualities. The big difference is that moderation is not as easy with drugs, consequently drugs are more dangerous. If the degree of danger is the only substantive difference between these activities, it is arbitrary to allow some and ban others because they are less publicly acceptable. People that eat fatty foods and live sedentary lives are making a choice that will kill them eventually, yet nobody restricts their eating. Telling people they can't use heroin is to demand that obese people put down the bucket of chicken from KFC. Separating the bad vices from the really bad vices is a slippery slope and makes little sense. Drugs are more dangerous than other vices and should be subject to intense scrutiny, but regulation is better than restriction.

    If proper criminal law is enacted, society would be much safer than it is under prohibition of drugs. Opponents of legalization suggest that it would allow people to walk around and drive while under the influence, resulting in accidents, death and public disorder. A minimum drinking age, restrictions on sales, limited marketing, banning public drunkenness and harsh penalties for breaking these rules have kept alcohol from being a truly disruptive element in society. Narcotics are more potent versions of alcohol, and regulations can be tailored to have the same minimizing effect. If a man wants to snort some coke and enjoy the football game on television with friends, the only thing that he is doing wrong is harming his own body. The most crucial aspect of drug legalization is that using drugs is not an inherently bad activity that endangers public safety. It can be a victimless crime and should be entitled to protection as a civil liberty.

    America will still have problems if drug legalization is realized, but the end of a legal war on drugs would decrease fatalities and crime. The underground world of drugs is littered with corpses who have overdosed on unregulated or impure drugs, were killed in theft of drugs or money, or died in gangland rivalries and altercations with the police. Creating regulations would enable supply to reach users without dangerous smuggling operations, high prices, coercion and violent crime. The overextended police, court and prison systems could focus on violent crime, federal purity control could reduce deaths related to bad product, and a new industry would grow that provides tax revenue.

    Opponents of legalization will strike at these benefits as utilitarian manipulations that give no regard to the innocent victims. It would be ideal to eliminate all crime in society, but it would also be naive to believe such a thing is possible. Though it is hard to measure the exact impact of drugs on crime and society, the FBI reports that from 1994-1998, 5.6 percent of homicides were attributed to felonious narcotic offenses while only 1.0 percent of homicides were caused by narcotic induced brawls.

    The concern that legalization will result in people carelessly using drugs and starting fights or committing crimes is unfounded. It is true that there will be death related to careless drug users, but there are deaths caused by careless socially acceptable practices. To outlaw anything with a potential danger is to banish everything.

    This nation is great, as well as hated, precisely because of the enormous freedom of choice allowed to its citizens. Drug use may be physically and psychologically damaging, but it is not any more inherently dangerous than watching Pauly Shore movies, eating at O-Hill, and taking ENGL 381. Though the choice to use drugs can threaten public safety, regulating drugs can be done in the same way as alcohol so that drugs do not become a pervasive and dangerous societal element. To end the futile war on drugs, reassessment is inevitable.

    Brad Cohen is a Cavalier Daily viewpoint writer.

    Related Links:
    Facts About The Drug War

    Source: Cavalier Daily (VA)
    Author: Brad Cohen, Viewpoint Editor
    Published: November 1, 2001
    Copyright 1995-2001 The Cavalier Daily

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