Should America legalize drugs? Many believe that marijuana should be legalized, however when it comes to the rest of the panoply of drugs, I perceive that many people believe they should remain illegal. I, though, believe they should be legal because to leave many drugs illegal is to fail in our primary purpose to get drugs off the street.
One of the strongest reasons for legalizing marijuana is to eliminate the criminal element that makes its living from selling it. This is a very valid argument as that criminal element would be deprived of its primary source of income. Once that income is eliminated, the criminal element will disappear. Unfortunately marijuana is not the only source of income for these criminals. They make their money from every type of drug. Marijuana is just their largest volume product.
If we fail to take away all of the possible income streams from the criminal element, that element will remain. If our stated primary purpose in legalizing marijuana is the elimination of the criminal element, unless we legalize all drugs that purpose will be frustrated. As long as the criminal element exists, the negative effects perpetrated by that element on society will continue and we will have failed. Therefore all drugs must be legal.
A second reason for legalizing drugs is that it gives society the ability to have some control over the access to them. Under our present system, it is easier for a teenager to get heroine than to get beer. This is not to say that it’s difficult to get beer, all the teenager needs is a willing adult to help them, but that is a two-step process involving an adult willing to risk incarceration with no payback. Acquisition of heroine only requires knowing a dealer. This must change.
Obviously, drugs in the opiate family need to be carefully dealt with. They’re highly addictive and easily lethal. These are the worst of the lot. As a control, they should be obtainable via doctor’s prescription, just as morphine is now, but they should also be available to the recreational user. The more destructive than the drug you're using, the more you must protect society from the effects of that drug and your actions while you're under it. What this protection might look like can be anything from something simple to something completely draconian but it must be put in place. Requiring this sort of personal responsibility should also detract from the allure of these drugs. I have seen addicts lead relatively normal lives and hold down descent jobs for a while, although that is the exception rather than the rule.
Even with personal responsibility measures like those I’ve outlined here, there is still a slight possibility that the use of some of the more dangerous drugs could increase. I don’t consider this possibility to be anything other than minimal, evidence from Holland would indicate that it won’t happen, but it still bears thinking about. In my opinion, if someone wants to throw their life away there is little that society as a whole can do. Individuals and training can change a mind, laws can’t. Perhaps a requirement for some social training prior to getting access to drugs considered to be above a threshold of danger would be in order. Make no mistake, I can tell you from personal experience that those who venture down the road to opiate addiction fall into two categories; first they are “hooked” due to a medical problem and are unable to break the addiction, and second they are people of extremely low self esteem who, to a person, think the world would be better off without them.
In any case, the gains brought about by eliminating the cartels will outweigh the losses of more self destructive individuals.
If you want lower crime, fewer people in prisons, a more civil society and less corruption in governments, legalize drugs … all drugs.
Photo Credit: tha Goodiez