.. Inciardi 37-38). Also, Prohibitionists argue that before drugs were criminalized that 4.59 per 1,000 US citizens were addicts. This implies two things: that when addiction was worst in the United States 99.6 percent of the people were not addicted to a drug, and that if a return to these rates of addictions if drug Prohibition were repealed, then about one million people would be addicted, a clear contradiction to the claim that 70-75% of drug users become addicted (Trebach and Inciardi 49). Prohibition does not prevent a large number of people from harming themselves, but while not helping users, the health of these individuals is put in jeopardy.
First, the illegalities of drugs make the drugs themselves more unsafe. For example, marijuana is laced with unsafe fertilizers. Also, when cocaine and heroin users receive an unexpected potent dose, they may kill themselves when the same amount of a regulated dose would have given the desired effect (Evans and Berent, eds. 22). Another outcome of prohibition on the individual could also be considered a concern of society since the spread of AIDS affects both groups.
The transfer of AIDS through needles needed most commonly during the use of heroin has become the most common manner in which the disease currently spreads. The treatment and prevention of the people who get AIDS from heroin use cannot be effective so long as users are being persecuted by law enforcement (Trebach and Inciardi 35-36). The implications of these two beliefs of proponents of decriminalization are imperative to defense of the individual. Defense of the individual means the protection of users and abusers from themselves. If drugs are not as dangerous as currently legal drugs, addiction does not significantly increase and the health of the users suffers, then proponents of Drug Prohibition have no grounds on which to say that legalization would lead to millions of deaths and addictions inflicted on drug users by themselves.
The United States needs to reconsider its view of drugs as leading to the unavoidable downfall of the individual and instead as the choice of people with social problems to avoid them. In contrast with the defense of the individual, how Drug Prohibition does not protect society, but instead harms it will complete the chain of fallacies that plague proponents’ arguments. To protect society, it should be that its citizens should somehow be better off. This is not true as the most expensive cost of the Drug Prohibition is the personal cost carried by the citizens. In the cities, these costs are manifested in murders over turf or business, fear of walking the streets, robberies, and mothers leaving children to pursue their expensive addictions (Wink).
Proponents of Drug Prohibition must ask themselves this question: Would you be willing to sacrifice your son (daughter, best friend) to keep drug users from hurting themselves? The reason I would have them to think of this is that their children are not the ones dying on the street from a drive-by-shooting. A famous economist Milton Friedman once said of the Drug Prohibition, While both groups of victims are to be pitied, the innocent victims surely have a far better claim to our sympathy than the self-chosen victims (Evans and Berent, eds. 58). By examining the world around them opponents of Drug Prohibition believe legalization will lead to less crime and violent behavior, less racism, and the end of the infringement of certain rights. It is clear that Prohibition has a hand in each of these societal problems.
Crime would be greatly decreased which repeatedly appears high on surveys as the biggest problem America faces, if legalization were to happen. Much of the concern about drugs and crime is that the use of drugs somehow causes crime. These studies are usually faulted by the attempt to label a cause on correlative data. While it is true that people who commit crimes often use drugs as well, it cannot be said that the use of drugs causes the crime. Instead, many experts claim that much of what is labeled drug-related crime is instead due to criminality. This criminality of drugs is a causal factor in crime because of the high costs to consumers and high profits for suppliers.
The market prices for marijuana, cocaine, and heroin are about 100 times what the price would be in a free market. This means crime results from consumers trying to fund their artificially-expensive habit and suppliers trying to protect their extremely high profits. Drug users committed about 75% of robberies, thefts, and burglaries. These criminals’ do not commit as many crimes when drugs are available to them at lower prices. On the other hand, one in four murders and assaults involve suppliers protecting turf, settling disputes, or stealing drugs (Duke). PCP, one of the most feared drugs, does not incite aggressiveness or violent behavior, as previously believed (Miller 57).
Dr. Lawrence Kolb, assistant surgeon general of the United States in the 1920s said after a study of 225 addicted prisoners, No opiate ever directly influenced addicts to commit crime. Violent crime by drug users is rare. A low percentage (7.5%) of homicides involving drugs were classified in a way that implied that the drugs had driven the user to murder. The other 92.5% of violent crime by drug users could be expected to disappear once drugs were legalized and the cases involved in the 7.5% would be expected to become more common as drug use increased (Trebach and Inciardi 120). Nevertheless, for there to be an equivalent number of drug-related homicides, the number of people driven by drugs to commit murder would have to increase by tenfold.
One example is New York City, where about of six of 414 studied murders were caused by drug use (Miller 58). Two social problems people tie together are crime and racism. Therefore, Drug Prohibition must play a role in racism since it plays a key role in crime. Researchers can show that the more efficient the War on Drugs gets, the more racism that incurs. Black males 15- 24 had a homicide rate nine times higher than white males in the same group. This high rate of black-on-black crime has two unfortunate results: first, the black victims, of course, and second, the fear of blacks by many whites. A racist person would point to this large discrepancy between black and white homicide rates as some sort of an inferiority (Trebach and Inciardi 34). The sad reality is that Prohibition has created much of this discrepancy.
The analogy between selling drugs and stealing diamonds shows why this difference might exist. If the death penalty were applied to people who stole diamonds, it would discourage people from stealing diamonds since the value of the diamonds did not increase. However, if the death penalty were applied to drug dealers, there would still be an incentive to sell drugs since the ability to receive profit from dealing drugs would increase. The difference would then be that the people who had very little to lose have even more incentive to deal drugs. These people who have little to lose are disproportionally blacks or Hispanics. These forces drive many people into the most despised positions of society (Trebach and Inciardi 35). Also, the drug laws in the past have been and continue to be tools of racism.
In 1930, before the government had implemented many of the tools of Drug Prohibition, a Colorado newspaper editor wrote, I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret [sic] can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents. However, more of the resentment of Mexicans seemed to be because Mexican labor was willing to work for lower wages thereby producing fear in Anglos over their pocketbooks. The only tool they could use to keep Mexican labor out of the market was the drug laws (Miller 98-99). During the 1950s, many places had laws against addiction. Due to the nature of addiction, police could and did use this as an excuse to harass African-Americans and Hispanics (Miller 101).
This similarly happened to the Chinese and opium, a drug previously used by many Anglos (Miller 104). One could see how this could transfer into today as many minorities complain about selective prosecution, which is understandable considering the racial undertones of the original Drug Prohibition. Since the inner cities receive a far greater share of the crime and racism involved with Drug Prohibition, it is much more difficult for a rural citizen to understand what these regulations do to the cities, but one aspect of the Drug Prohibition that does harm to all of us by violating our civil liberties. A government which calls 35 million of its citizens criminals for actions which are within the scope of civil liberties is, thereby, violating civil liberties. Government is supposed to allow us to do what the people wish if they do not interfere with others (Evans and Berent, eds. 58).
With drugs, many proponents of drug decriminalization claim that few users when allowed to use drugs in a free market would harm anyone. The government has also gone beyond this violation of civil liberties into the violating the democratic process by silencing discussion of the issue. No commission has ever been held on the issue. Since the government does not investigate the issue, this suggests that the government wishes to remain unaware of the issue (Evans and Berent, eds. 202).
Also, many pieces of legislation such as H.R. 135 are very undemocratic. The bill asks that no department or agency of the United States Government shall conduct or finance, in whole or in part, any study or research involving the legalization of drugs (H.R. 135). This kind of legislation banning research of the issue is, at least, scary.
If the fact that enforcement breeds poor international relations, undue cost on public health, crime, and racism is bad, the fact that the government is infringing our rights every day because of Drug Prohibition is atrocious and threatens our freedom. Drug users are not the only ones crying out for their rights in this war. Even Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall called many polices the drug exception to the Constitution. For example, one drug policy is that customs officials can detain people for no less than 24 hours and not release them until they agree to defecate in the examiners presence, they allow the feces to be examinated, and no traces of drug appear. These searches can be done without reason to believe guilt even without any evidence at all (Trebach and Inciardi 26). Enforcing Drug Prohibition requires invasions into the home since drug use is generally something done in the home (Trebach and Inciardi 26).
In another case in Illinois, a couple was going on vacation to Florida. An informant told the police department that they were going to Florida to buy drugs. The problem was that this was not the usual informant that the police picks up from time to time. This informant was totally anonymous, even unknown to the detectives. The conviction was upheld though most the evidence sprouted from the anonymous, invisible informant associated with the Soviet Union (Trebach and Inciardi 28-29).
Finally, the act of forfeiture is extremely heinous. If, for example, two kids were smoking marijuana on your property, the police could take all your property. Even if no charges are brought up against you, you must go to court and prove your complete innocence (not just reasonable doubt) to reclaim your property from the government. Half of all people who forfeit their property never get charged (Trebach and Inciardi 32). How Drug Prohibition has not been beneficial to society now having been demonstrated completes the long string of problems that have stemmed from Drug Prohibition in the realms of international relations and public health show where the costs appeared without any consideration having been given to benefits. In contrast, when the benefits were considered, as was the case on the issues concerning the drug user and society, the benefits did not pan out or were not as important in the first place as the costs that have resulted have been.
Clearly, Drug Prohibition harms international relations. However, one may not be so willing to accept that it has the profound effects on public health and societal problems. Looking back upon Alcohol Prohibition, alcohol was considered as the worst evil, as drugs are now. In both cases, the fear about the denigration of society was not well founded. The health of the users suffered as they would drink stronger and stronger alcohol as to keep the volume transported. Also, the unregulated contraband was more dangerous than it would have been.
Alcohol Prohibition also created crime as Drug Prohibition does as people can see in the appearance of the mafias like Al Capone which turned Chicago into a city troubled with crime. The same cries for protection of rights were being heard as the FBI was seen invading our rights. Our history demonstrates the evils of prohibition. One should wonder why people would be willing to fight the righteous fight again when it is neither righteous nor possible. Also, public opinion is peculiar given some facts. First, Alcohol Prohibition was dissolved by popular opinion because of crime, yet people continue to support Drug Prohibition although it creates similar crime.
Secondly, the continued support of politicians who support Prohibition even though not one has given a creative solution, or at least, one that has not been tried before. Finally, it is strange that people cannot see through the problems associated with drugs and not see they are due to Prohibition and not use itself. If the drugs were sold at what would be the market price, the people who steal and rob would not have any reason to steal, or at least would have to steal less often to support their now cheaper habit. The people who have become the evil welfare mothers who waste all their government money on drugs instead of caring for their children could not squander all their precious money on drugs because they would be so cheap their would be no reason to. All of these terrible problems if not created by Prohibition, were greatly intensified by Prohibition. The end of drug laws would mark a never before seen improvement in the lives of every citizen.
It is unfortunat thatour politicians, and even ourselves are too stubborn to even consider it. Bibliography WORKS CITED CIA, Contras, and Crack. The Christian Science Monitor. 1 Oct. 1996:20.
Crime, Violence, and Drug Use Go Hand-in-Hand. On-line. World Wide Web. http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/legaliz/claim1.html. 27 Aug. 1996. Duke, Steven B.
How Legalizat Social Issues Essays.