End the War on Drugs? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
End the War on Drugs? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Ok, just the Good.
I must clarify that I do not endorse the use of alcohol, tobacco or any mood-altering substance. The purpose of this article is to initiate a discussion on the merits of ending the government’s war on drugs.
It would save American taxpayers $51 billion dollars each year. There would be over 1 million less people arrested. Sales tax revenue would increase by an estimated 46.7 billion dollars.
All this may be achieved by one action. End the war on drugs.
There was a time in the history of our nation when many prohibited substances were legal.
Laws against certain types on substances were enacted at various times throughout American history. The banning of these drugs was mostly based on the primary group associated with its use rather than the potential harm to the user’s health. Chinese immigrants were targeted by anti-opium laws in the 1870s because of their use of the drug. Laws were passed against cocaine in the early years of the 20th century because of the drug’s popularity with African-American men in the Southern United States. Migrants and Mexican Americans were the target of laws banning marijuana over the years between 1910 and 1930.
Use of drugs became a symbol of youth rebellion in the 1960s. It was linked with social unrest and moral decay. The federal government’s reaction to this opinion was to increase laws against drugs and impose stricter penalties against users. The current war on drugs began in 1971 when President Richard Nixon. Budgets for the federal drug enforcement agencies saw a significant increase. Mandatory sentencing was enacted and police were granted leeway in conducting search warrants.
Now it is 42 years later and we must ask ourselves the following questions about the war on drugs. Has drug use decreased? What good has come to society by arresting and placing so many people in prison for drug violations? If drugs were legalized, not only would these people be free and possibly tax-paying citizens but other areas of criminal activity may be decreased. Let’s say for example drugs such as marijuana and cocaine were legal. There would be competitive pricing among vendors of such products and subsequently, the cost may not be as high as they are currently. Perhaps by lower pricing, those who use would not have to steal and commit other crimes to obtain money needed to buy the substance of their choice. Another factor to consider is that is substances now illegal were decriminalized, would the lure of them be decreased?
One positive move being made by many states in our nation is the legalization of medical marijuana as well as its recreational use. In 2011, 757,696 were arrested for violations of various anti-marijuana laws. Eight-six percent were charged with possession of the drug. Imagine the tax dollars that would have been saved had marijuana been legal. Not only would tax dollars have been saved, but the legalization of marijuana would have generated income for individual states. It has been estimated that the state of California would collect $1,400,000,000 from taxing and other fees related to the legal sale of marijuana.