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The Legalization of Drugs of Abuse

Legalization means the amendment of the existing law that encompasses the possession and supply or consumption of some substance will not me considered as felony, or simply the people involved will not be prosecuted as such. It should however be noted that this does not imply that there will be no barriers as to whom uses the legalized drug and where they do so. A good sample would be it should be banned to use the drug in the open (public) or by juveniles.

Legalization is thus not synonymous with the policy maker’s abandonment of the huge and growing drug market. For example, the government would levy heavier duties on the newly legalized drugs as is the case in the UK for tobacco and alcohol. For the unaware, they have taken legalization to mean the society will be exposed to cheap and easily available drugs. This notion is rather unhelpful as it as it stifles the government’s new debates on the drug condition and the amendment of drug policies.

            It should be well-known that the policy to legalize drugs will not be a risk free venture. It should not be looked at as a way to make drugs safe. It has been found out that the policy causes different kinds of harm; there is a big possibility that there will be less harm. In contrast, activists will keep on arguing that this is a step downward as it will allow drug syndicates to grow and penetrate our society. It is vital for us to analyze the pros and cons that arise due to legalization of drugs. The essay will outline the pros and the cons including the proposals. It will also give an explanation of the monetary, health and social/moral impacts in the short term and long term.

Pros and Cons of Legalization of drugs of abuse

            Beginning with the advantages it will be better to look at the implication making drugs illegal has caused the society, economy and the world at large. Legalization of drugs of abuse is closely related to decriminalization. Decriminalization is the reduction in the measures taken in terms of penalties imposed on people found in possession of drugs. It entails reducing offences from harsh criminal offences to civil offences like over speeding and are thus punishable by fines.

The measures taken on offenders include criminal arrest, prosecution and incarceration, as well as the emotional and financial hardships that follow. This includes the loss of student loans, certain jobs, federal and state subsidies, and child custody rights. Former convicts will almost certainly be marginalized in society leading to emotional turmoil that could lead to drugs or even worse, crime. If drugs are legalized all the cited problems would a belong forgotten story. Here are the pros discussed in detail:

            The first direct benefit will be the increase in jobs.  Jobs will be created in the manufacturing, sales and marketing industry as there will be an increased demand foe legal drugs. Legalization will not necessarily push illegal drug sales but people will tend to prefer the legalized drug. The drug will have an approved mark of quality and there is no risk of being arrested thus the demand for such is higher. In the manufacturing industry in particular, it will be legal to produce drugs and thud more will sprout. There will be a boost as certain drugs such as cocaine require mixture of chemicals hence there this will be an advantage to different manufacturing industries. The sales industry will grow due to the emergence of a mew product; marketing will be required as the drugs need to be distributed to the many consumers.

 The jobs created are not for these industries alone, but farmers will also reap heavily. There will be a new crop to grow in the productive South for farmers to invest in planting. The three major drugs are easy to grow; they are opium, cocaine and marijuana. This means that even farmers in not so fertile areas can engage in this kind of farming. It has been noticed that farming practices have been declining for the last few years. With the three new drug crops introduced, this could be a way of encouraging farmers to get into this lucrative business. In states where the farming is lawful, it has been proved lucrative for those involved.

            The next point is the reduction in the number of people in prison. There were 55,069 convicted felons in prison with drug related cases as at 1997. In fact, if the policy is passed today, all these people would be released. Keeping in mind that some drug related charges are federal offenses meaning they can ruin ones future and take away their rights for example, right to vote. This is very unfair, unnecessary and would not be there if drugs were legal.

            Looking at a more sophisticated direction, legalization would have a positive impact on tax revenues. In essence, a new product produces an avenue for taxation. These drugs would actually be over taxed as is the case in countries that have taken this bold step. The US uses 11.4 billion dollars yearly on the fight against drugs. This has been confirmed to be effective since in the past few years, the drug issue has been named America’s biggest health problem. All his billions are being funded by taxes on citizens. If drugs were legal, the taxes generated from taxing the legal drugs would be used to build schools and other social amenities instead of prisons.

This leads to a related point which is the impact of drugs on the economy. A boom on the economy would be experienced due to such measures as high drug taxation. Demand of a certain drug directly leads to demand for other products for example there would be an increased demand for needles. This means that the two will be complements of each other. The demand will thus help the economy to thrive. In short, a lot of energy and money is being used to prohibit drug abuse while embracing it would make a lot of money for the government. There is no need to fight this lost war and it is very clear to all that it’s a blatant misuse of tax payer’s money.

History also shows that criminalizing drugs has not scored well. Over half a century ago, the United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs, came into being. President Nixon launched the USA’s war on drugs some forty years ago, policymakers initially believed that strict law application action against drug producers, distributers and users would lead to an ever-fading market in illegal and controlled drugs like opium, cannabis, cocaine and heroin, and the ensuing attainment of a world free of drugs and safe for all citizens. The policies were quickly endorsed in the US but statics show an inverse trend. (Report of the Global Commission on Dug Policy 2011

The report demonstrates that the policies on the war on drugs have generated widespread negative consequences for people who live in countries that produce transit and consume the banned drugs. The fact that they were implemented abruptly brought with it some unwanted issues. These negative consequences were well summarized by Antonio Maria Costa, the former Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and fell into five broad categories.

1.         The first one is the quick growth of a huge criminal black market due to the apparent illegality of the drugs that were still on high demand. The cartels were financed by profits that have risen due to risk of supplying for the international demand of illicit drugs. The cartels are mainly headed by millionaires who will take up this occasion to make some quick money

2. Extensive policy displacement, this was as a consequence of using rare capitals to fund a massive law enforcement effort intended to react to the ever growing and lucrative drug market.

3. The balloon effect which is geographical displacement whereby drug production shifts location to avoid the attentions of law enforcement. The 2011 Global Commission on drug policy report in page 14 gives a good example, West Africa which has become a major transit and re-packaging base for cocaine following a strategic shift of Latin American drug syndicates toward the vast European market. The drug lords Profit from endemic poverty weak governance, political instability and ill-equipped, corrupt police and judicial institutions. Corruption being a big problem in this region it has bolstered by the enormous value of the drug trade. Criminal networks have infiltrated state institutions, governments and the military .Law enforcers have also joined the latter and as long as money is exchanged, West Africa continues to be the ‘cocaine hub’. Corruption and money laundering, driven by the drug trade, pervert local politics and skew local economies.

4. Substance displacement or the shift by consumers to other drugs in the situations of drug shortage. The insufficiency can be credited to law enforcement success or the geographical move of the networks or both.

5. The bad perception and treatment of drug users, who are marginalized, stigmatized and excluded from society. It is worth noting that a majority are victims of divorces, poverty, child abuse and many other social ills.

United Nations estimates according to the report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, for the period between 1998 and 2008, found out that: Cannabis consumption increased by 8.5%, Cocaine by 27% while Opiates leaped forward by 34.5%. If this anything to go by, harsh law enforcement has made the condition worse the world over. In the light of these reliable statistics, it is clear that the policy of harsh criminalization and punishment of drug use has been a very expensive mistake, and governments should take steps to refocus their efforts and resources on diverting drug users into health and social care services and infrastructure development.

Legalizing drugs would also promote public safety nay indirectly. This legislative change would ensure that law implementation funds portion is well utilized to solve other bigger cases. Time expended by police officers spend dealing with minor marijuana offenders in all states in America is time when they are not dealing with their job of protecting the public from more potentially worse criminal activity. 

Passage of this legislation will allow law implementation officers, prosecutors and the courts at large to transfer the resources toward actions that will efficiently target serious immoral manners and keep our neighborhoods safe. Police officer would just write people a ticket that had built-in penalties for nonpayment. Now, cops often vacillate to bust people for ownership because the penalty is either too lenient to bother or potentially too harsh to risk, depending on the situation. It is ordinary for an officer to stop a car for ordinary check ups but then discover some marijuana cigarettes or their small hence creating a probable cause for arrest. If the law is passed, in such cases, the ticket is given for the offense and the police officer shifts to other cases.

Paul Armentano uses a CNN/Time magazine research on the public’s opinion. It was found out that Public opinion strongly favors such a reprioritization of the existing law application resources: Approximately three out of four residents favor a fine over criminal penalties. Thirteen states have previously enacted various forms of reprioritization; Connecticut is also on the verge of a shift. Civil fines have replaced criminal sanctions fin neighboring states of Maine and Massachusetts. 

Economically, the government would reap heavily enough to get the American economy back on its feet. In 2005, Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard university economist did research that estimated that if Marijuana was legalized, the U.S. government would save up to  $7.7-billion per year by abandoning marijuana prohibition, in addition it would gain $6.2-billion from taxing it at similar rates to tobacco and alcohol. Connecticut’s office of Fiscal analysis has in a bid to encourage legalization released an interesting that the state will save $885,000 in law-enforcement resources by legalizing marijuana alone.

According to the Global Commission on drug policy report, legalization in the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Australia have been done by implementing harm reduction and public health strategies. These countries have consistently experienced low rates of HIV transmission among people who inject drugs. It had been discovered that syringe sharing is common. Similarly, countries that responded to increasing HIV prevalence among drug users by introducing harm reduction programs e.g. distributing free syringes while counseling have been successful in containing and reversing the further spread of HIV. In a sharp contrast, many countries that have relied on repression and deterrence as a response to increasing rates of drug-related HIV transmission are experiencing the highest rates of HIV among injected drugs using population.

As it is with any burning topics, there are cons for the legalization of drugs. In the event that drugs are legalized, the rock bottom prices for legalized drugs would push illegal dealers out of the market, this may sound as a good move but once drugs are more affordable and available, more people will experiment. The increased experimental behavior among the population will in directly lead to more addicts.  The lowered prices can be explained by the way the dealers will operate. It is expected that the prospects will be high, so the producers will be big corporations that can easily lower prices due to economies of scale. Their ability to buy raw materials at lowered prices will mean that the low prices are passed to the consumer. As people easily access the drugs, they get addicted. A drug like heroine is so addictive that in case they want to beat the addiction, they opt for another drug, morphine. This generates a cycle and leads to more health problems.

With the growing addiction rate, more rehabilitation centers are to be built in addition to special programs. The funds could have been used will of course have come from the government kitty. This will most likely come from the tax payer’s pocket. If the problem elevates, there could be need for a new tax for a problem that I believe is unnecessary. This addiction would trickle into our medical department. There would be an apparent need to employ far more, nurses, health workers and doctors. It would be necessary to fund for more drug education and counseling services.

To implement the legalization law will require that companies be set up to produce the drugs. This is busy there are no existing producers in the US. Before the companies are built, the only option would be importation. This is an industry that has been proven to be a multibillion budget industry. The question is whether the risk is worth taking.

We can not ignore the fact that all drugs are very harmful. Heroin, cocaine and Benzodiazepines are known to cause bad side effects, sometimes even death from overdose or suicides. These adverse effects are the core reasons why drugs remain illegal. It is clinically proven that drugs modify ones mental state, emotional, and often physical thus virtually disabling a person in varied ways or forms for a certain determined period. If drugs are to be legalized, it means they will be very acceptable in society as cigarettes are in today’s world, but in its place, people will take breaks in their work places to smoke cocaine and this could radically affect their ability to work and make sound judgments. The situation could spread like a fire and thus cripple the economy causing big companies to fall in addition to the stock market crashing eventually sending the nation to a downward spiral.

9Taking away teeth from current laws sends the wrong message to the youth who are the most susceptible to drug use, increases use of drugs and crime and costs the state more on so many levels. A shocking clause is that if proposals to make marijuana legal, for example, are passed, possessing a small amount of marijuana in Connecticut (less than one ounce) would be punishable with a fine of up to $90, instead of the former criminal charge. According to a Drug Free America, an ounce of pot equals 60 to 120 joints. This translates to less than what an ordinary street drug peddler will carry at any given time.

Legalizing of dangerous drugs such as cocaine and opiates will only pave way for street corner drug dealers to thrive at the expense of safety. The civil fine imposed for trafficking illegally will be the cost of doing business and the drug peddlers will carry smaller amounts of the drug to be within the restrictions of the new laws. Even if the drugs are legal, illegal trade will take place actually at an elevated rate.

New York City has become the safest city in America after it fractured down on small offenses. Addicts who can not make ends meet will commit all sorts of crime to get money to acquire the required amount of drug as it will be readily available. A good example is the case of Montana which is in the process of debating bills that would repeal its medical marijuana reforms due to a huge surge of drug use within the state, drug networks creation and the sky rocketing crime situation. The nation should thus put this into consideration if drugs are to be legalized.

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