Ideas such as gutting the whole approach to how we treat drugs in this country by eliminating the ‘War on Drugs,’ and even going to the extent of decriminalizing every drug are dismissed as kooky, radical, and stupid. However, the epidemic of drug use in this country, and the setbacks we encounter fighting the epidemic need radical change in order to have a more effective program to prevent what is destroying lives all across the country in various forms.
The ‘War on Drugs’ was established by the Richard Nixon administration in 1971, and it is a hard-line approach towards combating the distribution of street-drugs, similar to the prohibition of alcohol from 1920-1933. ‘Prohibition’ was an acknowledged failure because it created black market for bootleggers to distribute the illegal substance, without the illegality doing anything to prevent the distribution and use of it. The way street-drugs like crack, heroin, and cocaine are distributed today mirrors how alcohol was peddled to the consumers in the days of prohibition.
The costs of the ‘War on Drugs’ can be seen tangibly from its $40 billion dollar a year budget, but what is overlooked and wrongly treated as collateral damage is the lives of innocent bystanders lost from battles stemming from the drug wars, the destruction of communities as their blocks are cluttered with dealers peddling dope while kids tip-toe around them trying to play games while they take a glance into the future at what might be their fate in some way or another, and the years of incarceration served for petty drug possessions while ‘white-collar crimes’ are treated less harshly but proven to be much more detrimental to our society.
The moral of the story is fiends will get their fix if it’s illegal or legal? Or whether it’s alcohol, or heroin? The question is why compound the problem with this drug war when there is a better solution at hand? They acknowledged the ineffectiveness of the prohibition of alcohol, why can’t they do it with the drug war?
The only reason alcohol was made legal is not the reason it should have been made legal. It should be legal to prevent the crime that would be the result of the black market. The reason it is legal is because of its marketability, it’s the same reason cigarettes are legal, and why pharmaceutical drugs as well, because those are all billion dollar industries.
Drugs like heroin, weed, and coke don’t really have the same cache as the legal ones. And for some reason they are viewed as much worse than alcohol is, and marijuana compared to cigarettes as well. However, if the argument is that alcohol and cigarettes don’t have as negative effects on people as the illegal ones, then whoever is saying that can talk to the families of over 11,000 drunk-driving victims and see how harmless alcohol is compared to heroin which will only put a sicko into a slump-fest before he tries and kills someone else in a car.
I say all of this as someone who has never used drugs, puffed a cig, or took a sip of alcohol in my life and that’s the truth. The only catch to the decriminalization of these horrible substances (but lets face it, they are a fact of life and consume people into a disease that should be treated as a disease.) is that while they are legal, they should not be marketed on billboards, pushed as products with cute little mascots, or commercials with catchy songs. Alcohol and cigarettes should not as well, but lets face it, we’re so knee deep in that shit in our culture with bars, and it’s pretty much the focal point of every social gathering there is, nothing can be done about that. So instead drugs should be available in clinics and institutions like that, that keep programs readily available to help addicts get clean if they so choose (some have no desire to). If people are worried about the taxpayers dollar going to drug addicts getting drugs, the tax dollars it takes to house criminals in prison, and the money it takes to fight the ‘war’ is a lot more money than treating a drug problem.
The only way to combat drug use is education, and opening up opportunities for people that give them a sense of worth and then they become likely to never even think about drugs because they feel like they have a purpose.
If the worry is that more people will be prone to using drugs because there are no consequences (aside from the physiological ones), it’s time to wake up to reality. How more enticing is the thrill to people, especially kids, in trying something they are not suppose to do? The number of people who tried coke between the age of 26-34 is 22-25 million. A lot of those people you work with at the office and never would of suspected, they’re teachers that taught you in school, they’re you, they’re anybody. The law didn’t prevent them from the risky behavior of drug use. The only reason they do not continue to use it is because they are not hooked on it, not because it’s illegal.