Drug Prohibition Essay, Research Paper
There are no panaceas for the world’s drug problems, but legalizing
drugs, un-clog the court system, and free prison space for real criminals. comes
as close as any single policy could. Removing legal penalties from the
production, sale and use of “controlled substances” would not create a “heaven
on Earth,” but it would alleviate many of the nation’s social and political
problems. Legalization would reduce drug-related crime, save the U.S. billions
In 1984, a kilogram of cocaine worth $4000 in Columbia sold at wholesale
for $30,000, and at retail in the U.S. for some $300,000. At the time, a Drug
Enforcement Administration spokesman noted that the wholesale price doubled in
six months “due to crackdowns on producers and smugglers in Columbia and the
U.S.” The consequence of this drastic factory-to-retail escalation is a rise in
crime. Addicts must pay hundreds of times the costs of their habit, and often
turn to crime to finance their addiction. Also, those who deal in the selling
of the drugs become prime targets for assault for carrying extremely valuable
goods. The streets become battlegrounds for competing dealers because a
particular block or corner can rake in thousands of extra dollars a day. Should
drugs be legalized, the price would collapse, and so would the drug-related
motivations to commit crime. A pack of cocaine becomes no more dangerous to
carry than a pack of cigarettes. The streets would be safer to walk, as
criminal drug dealers are pushed from the market.
Legalization would also deflate prison overcrowding. Out of 31,346
sentenced prisoners in federal institutions, drug law violators were the largest
single category, 9487. By legalizing drugs, there would be no more drug
offenders to lock up. Since many drug users would no longer be committing
violent or property crimes to pay for their habits, there would be fewer real
criminals. This decrease in inmates would bring the overflowing federal prison
system down to its rated capacity. The excessive efforts now used against drug
activity and drug related-crimes by police would then be put to use more
effectively for catching rapists, murderers, and the remaining criminals who
commit crimes against people and property.
It takes a month to bring a person accused of a crime to trial. It’s
even slower for civil proceedings. There simply isn’t enough judges to handle
the ever-increasing caseload. By legalizing drugs, thousands of cases would be
wiped off the courts permitting the rest to move faster. Prosecutors would have
more time to handle cases, and judges could make more considered decisions.
Better decisions would lead to fewer grounds for appeals, reducing the huge
amount of appeals courts.
The federal, state, and local governments spend about $100 billion a
year on law enforcement and criminal justice-programs. About $35 billion of
that is directly related to drug-law enforcement. Approximately $15 billion is
related to drug crimes committed to obtain drug money or other related drug
commerce. Therefore, around $50 billion spent on law enforcement could be saved
by legalizing drugs. “fighting drugs is nearly as big a business as pushing
them.” As Gore Bidal so rightly put it. Legalizing drugs would endanger the
jobs of police officers, and politicians campaigning on war on drugs.
Legalization would threaten thousands of careers that the taxpayers would no
longer need to support.
About 70 percent of the drug budget is used to reduce drug supplies
while 30 percent is used to reduce demand through prevention and treatment
programs. Some policymakers believe the government should use most of the funds
to limit the supply of drugs by hiring more customs agents and border patrol
officers and by training foreign police officers to catch drug traffickers.
This policy would lead to a large increase in futile spending. There is a
common misconception among those who want drugs to remain illegal forever, and
that is that by eradicating the supply, the drug problem will eventually
disappear. The problem is, drugs can never be eliminated. As long as there are
people who want drugs, there will be those who are willing to sell. By getting
rid of one drug dealer, another takes its place. By getting rid of one drug
cartel, another emerges. The funds spent on reducing supplies could be better
used to reduce the amount of demand by better educating children and adults
alike, and also by treating addicts.
Governments exist to protect the rights of the people. By prohibiting
drug use, American’s civil rights are betrayed. How is prohibition protecting
American’s rights? Prohibition increases crime and corruption. It also wastes
billions of dollars in taxpayer’s money in the futile effort of eradicating
drugs. It also violates American’s rights as free persons to do themselves as
they wish. Prohibition is constitutionally incorrect and obviously isn’t
working. When are American’s going to stop wringing their hands and start
solving the problem at hand?