Classical Argument Drug Prohibition Essay

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Classical Argument

Drug prohibition has been about as successful as alcohol prohibition, which is to say, disastrous. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution was a radical step, motivated by temperance leagues that feared alcohol was tearing apart American society and creating crime. Although prohibition lasted thirteen years, ultimately the policy failed. Not only did it fail; prohibition bolstered organized crime and did little to quench the public's thirst for recreational drinking. The same can be said for drug prohibition. Around the same time as alcohol prohibition, the fear of drugs gripped the nation. Drugs like marijuana have been banned for decades without any constitutional amendment. The prohibition of drugs has created more problems than it has solved. Drug prohibition has fueled transnational organized crime syndicates and overburdened the justice system with nonviolent offenders. The prohibition of marijuana is an affront to libertarian values, an outmoded policy that must be changed quickly to remedy its ill effects. Several states have recently acted upon their right to allow residents to use marijuana legally for medical purposes. Prohibition needlessly demonizes a plant with proven healing properties. The legalization of drugs, especially marijuana, would improve public safety, public health, human rights, and the economy.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Essay on Classical Argument Drug Prohibition Has Been About Assignment

Paradoxically, legalizing drugs is the best thing for public safety and the welfare of American citizens. Drug prohibition has done the same thing for organized crime as alcohol prohibition did in the early 20th century. Rosenthal and Kubby suggest that law enforcement benefits financially from prohibition, creating a vast conspiracy to reap rewards from prison overcrowding and bloated DEA budgets. This would explain why the federal government continues to take a hard-lined stance against marijuana without any proof that its approach is working. The privatization of prisons proves that drug prohibition is a profitable business. In some countries like Mexico, law enforcement is overtly corrupt. Officers work in collusion to protect cartels for personal kickbacks, flouting the law. Instead of protecting public safety, corrupt and greedy law enforcement officers facilitate crime.

Prohibition is not promoting public safety; it is hindering it. One reason why drugs should be legalized is that cops are spending too much time and financial resources on busting nonviolent offenders. Those resources would be much better spent pursuing real criminals -- the ones who rape, kill, and embezzle. Kleiman claims that law enforcement would be much better off focusing its attention on dismantling violent criminal organizations than targeting street-level dealers and users. If and when drugs are legalized, cops can focus on guns and kidnapping rather than how many kilos of coke they just seized.

With drugs at the top of the cartel business portfolio list, organized crime thrives in a prohibition environment. The United States learned its lesson with alcohol prohibition. Mafia gangs subsumed the alcohol distribution industry, confounding law enforcement until the 18th Amendment had to be repealed. Drug prohibition is failing just as hard, and it's time for it to be repealed, too.

Prosecuting nonviolent drug offenders takes a great toll on public safety and welfare. Families are torn apart when members are labeled as criminal offenders and sent away to prison. Criminal records scar teenagers and young adults for life, limiting their potential to seek gainful employment or fulfill their potential as creative human beings. A person who uses drugs is not a criminal; a person who uses drugs is simply a user. Some users are abusers, and abusers have addiction problems the same as smokers and heavy drinkers do. Most abusers harm no one but themselves; harming others is a crime distinct from drug use and abuse.

An inordinate number of non-white minorities rot away in prison because of outmoded drug policies. Prohibition can be viewed in terms of race and class, a means to subjugate whole groups of Americans and maintain white economic and political superiority. Prison overcrowding propagates crime, turns nonviolent offenders into more serious social deviants. Labeling theory illustrates how a person once labeled a criminal fulfills that destiny. Legalizing drugs would turn drug trafficking into a legitimate business activity instead of a criminal one.

Prohibition has distinct economic repercussions; legalization would too. Prohibition retrains law enforcement budgets, and burdens taxpayers by overcrowding prisons with nonviolent offenders. Prohibition also drives up the price of drugs on the black market, ostensibly to cover the real costs associated with risky trafficking endeavors, hiring willing personnel, the maintenance of clandestine facilities, and the covering of legal costs. Legalizing drugs would create competition on the free market and drive down the cost of the substances. Therefore, legalizing drugs will have an immediate effect on boosting the economy. Small businesses could sprout up around the nation and especially in impoverished communities. The cost of starting a small marijuana grow operation would be swiftly recuperated. Taxpayers would find that their money would be more wisely spent on real crime prevention, as taxes on drugs were levied towards addiction and psychological care services. The end of prohibition would also mean more funds would be directed toward scientific research.

Legalizing drugs is crucial to public health. One of the main arguments against legalization is that drugs are harmful. Indeed, some of the claims are truthful. Even marijuana can be harmful when used improperly, used too often, or used by the wrong person. As Cermak points out, frequent use of marijuana may be detrimental to teenagers. Marijuana "often impairs maturation psychologically, socially, professionally, and spiritually in adults as well as adolescents, leading to a stagnation in their development," (Cermal 222). Marijuana alters brain chemicals, and may be addictive (Cermal). These concerns are genuine and can best be addressed, ironically, through a liberalized drug policy.

Marijuana legalization frees funding and human resources that can be deployed in the fields of health care. Addiction services and psychological counseling can replace stigmatizing and incarceration. Care and compassion would fill in for criminality. The debate over marijuana would shift from legal issues to health care ones.

If marijuana and even other drugs were legalized, scientists at research institutions could carry out systematic and long-term studies to illustrate the effects of individual substances on individual people. The medicinal benefits of marijuana could be explored more fruitfully, and doctors could prescribe the herb more often in the treatment of a long list of ailments. Gerber lists some of the medical conditions for which medical marijuana is currently being prescribed in states where it is permissible to do so: "marijuana can relieve nausea associated with chemotherapy, prevent blindness induced by glaucoma, serve as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients, act as an antiepileptic, ward off asthma attacks and migraine headaches, alleviate chronic pain, and reduce the muscle spacisity that accompanies multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and paraplegia," (84).

Legalization of marijuana will actually make marijuana safer. As Smith points out, consumers often have no idea where their herb comes from. If it comes from a country other than the United States, it is highly likely that the dried plant substances contain more than just marijuana. In some cases, marijuana is laced with deadly or harmful chemicals like formaldehyde. Moreover, drug growers in Mexico and other countries sell marijuana that has been sprayed with paraquat. Paraquat is a powerful poison used by prohibition governments. "Many people who have smoked weed laced with poison have become very sick, or even died," (Smith 18). If drugs are legalized, they can be standardized and regulated just as any other food or chemical substance that is currently sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration.

Legalization would also allow scientists and growers to work together in developing marijuana pharmacopeias. Developing unique, single strains of marijuana allows doctors to better help their patients. Marijuana contains hundreds of chemicals that can be isolated, as they have differing effects on the brain, mind, and body. In a post-prohibition society, consumers would know exactly what they were buying. Consumers could ask intelligent questions of well-educated pharmacists, and pharmacists might suggest different strains for different folks. Patients who did not react well to marijuana might be offered alternative substances to heal them, rather than self-medicating the way addicts often do.

Marijuana is itself safe. The herb is "safer than alcohol or tobacco," and is "one of the few drugs that has yet to cause a fatality" (Gerber 84). Pot also "offers a vastly superior safety record in comparison to legal drugs," many of which are abused regularly (Gerber 84). Over the counter, prescription, and legal recreational drugs are all potentially harmful substances. Drug prohibition has set a confusing double standard. The public is ill informed about the real effects of marijuana. The government is doing nothing to promote pubic health by prohibiting its use.

The war on drugs is over, because it has been lost. What remains is the remnants of a failed prohibition policy. Prison overcrowding is burdening the taxpayer and law enforcement, and tearing apart families and communities. Law enforcement is diverting attention away from real crime, and towards the profitable business of prison expansionism. Therefore, drug prohibition poses a serious ethical conundrum. That ethical… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Classical Argument Drug Prohibition" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Classical Argument Drug Prohibition.  (2009, November 16).  Retrieved March 31, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Classical Argument Drug Prohibition."  16 November 2009.  Web.  31 March 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Classical Argument Drug Prohibition."  November 16, 2009.  Accessed March 31, 2020.