Argument and Persuasion Essay

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Persuasion

Opening facts and statistics to grab the reader's attention.

Development of main ideas, leading to thesis.

The war on drugs must be stopped for two main reasons: the financial costs, and the social costs.

The social costs associated with the war on drugs are severe, including increased organized crime and high rates of incarceration.

The financial costs associated with the war on drugs are also severe, including law enforcement and corrections.

The war on drugs should be reframed, so that drug use and abuse is a public health concern and not a criminological issue.

If the war on drugs ends, rates of drug use will plummet while costs associated with the war on drugs can be channeled into more meaningful law enforcement and criminal justice activities.

Conclusion

A. Restatement of the thesis that the war on drugs has failed and should be replaced by a more sensible strategy.

B. Urge the reader to take action, and help to end the senseless war on drugs.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, "the U.S. federal government spent over $15 billion dollars in 2010 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $500 per second," (cited by Drug Sense). To date, the war on drugs has cost about $1 trillion, in the United States alone (Szalavitz). These totals do not include the other $25 billion spent by state and local governments (Drug Sense). Has the money been well-spent? Hardly. As Szalavitz points out, the prevalence of drug abuse has "remained virtually unchanged since 1975 for marijuana, cocaine, and opioids." The war on drugs has failed so miserably that former United States prosecutors who worked their whole lives in the area are now speaking out about the "failure of the war on drugs," (Gierach). Major newspapers and magazines like Time are allowing reasonable discourse on how the war on drugs failed and what to do about it. The war on drugs must be stopped for two main reasons: the financial costs, and the social costs.

The war on drugs was an understandable response to the growing drug problems in the United States and elsewhere. Although the drug war has failed, we should not forget that a hard lined response might have seemed reasonable at one time. When President Richard Nixon first coined the term "war on drugs" in the 1970s, he probably thought that it could be won. He and many Americans probably thought that criminalizing drugs would be the best way to tackle the problems. Unfortunately, though, it has taken decades for Americans to learn that the war on drugs is not the right strategy for correcting the public health issues associated with drug use and organized crime. America should have learned from the failure of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which had to be later overturned with the 21st Amendment. The 19th Amendment banned the production and sale of alcohol in the United States. The law was such a farce that it resulted in a proliferation of underground alcohol called moonshine, and underground bars called speakeasies. In fact, it has become obvious that the war on drugs may itself be fueling organized crime just as the prohibition of alcohol also encouraged a black market industry.

Instead of learning from our mistakes, the United States has opted for a senseless approach to drugs. Drugs and alcohol should be treated in a similar fashion. Neither one should be criminalized. To criminalize mind-altering substances makes no sense, as has been proven by the failure of alcohol prohibition. There are severe social costs associated with prohibition. Those social costs include the high numbers of incarcerations related to drug possession. Drug possession should be viewed as a health problem, and not treated as a crime. Why treat drug possession as a crime? As Szalavitz states, "the U.S. insists on treating what is a medical and social issue as a criminal one."

As Gierach states, "The world is fraught with too much violence, too much crime, too much addiction, too many overdose cases, too many prisons, too many bullet holes, too many AIDS cases, and too many bills related to prohibition." Changing the overall strategy could minimize the financial and social costs of drug prohibition, or the war on drugs. That strategy should include more education and rehabilitation programs, and less criminalization.

Final Draft

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, "the U.S. federal government spent over $15 billion dollars in 2010 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $500 per second," (cited by Drug Sense). Since it started in the 1970s, the war on drugs has cost taxpayers about $1 trillion, in the United States alone (Szalavitz). These totals do not include the other $25 billion spent by state and local governments, or the money spent in other countries (Drug Sense). The money spent on the war on drugs has not been well spent. As Szalavitz points out, the prevalence of drug abuse has "remained virtually unchanged since 1975 for marijuana, cocaine, and opioids." Added to the financial costs of the war on drugs are the social costs. Department of Justice statistics show that "since December 31, 1995, the U.S. prison population has grown an average of 43,266 inmates per year. About 25 per cent are sentenced for drug law violations," (Drug Sense). This means that millions of Americans are rotting away in jail under the assumption that prison is preferable to smoking a joint. Putting people in prison tears apart communities and prevents people from rehabilitating. The war on drugs must be stopped for two main reasons: the financial costs, and the social costs.

The war on drugs has failed so miserably that former United States prosecutors who worked their whole lives in the area are now speaking out about the "failure of the war on drugs," (Gierach). Major newspapers and magazines like Time are allowing reasonable discourse on how the war on drugs failed and what to do about it. Yet Gierach notes that governments and politicians are too afraid to change the status quo for no apparent reason.

The war on drugs was an understandable response to the growing drug problems in the United States and elsewhere. Although the drug war has failed, we should not forget that a hard lined response might have seemed reasonable at one time. As PBS Frontline's report points out, drug use in America became a big problem in the 1960s and 1970s. When President Richard Nixon first coined the term "war on drugs" in the 1970s, he probably thought that it could be won. He and many Americans probably thought that criminalizing drugs would be the best way to tackle the problems.

Unfortunately, though, it has taken decades for Americans to learn that the war on drugs is not the right strategy for correcting the public health issues associated with drug use and organized crime. America should have learned from the failure of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which had to be later overturned with the 21st Amendment. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution banned the production and sale of alcohol in the United States. It seems preposterous today, and yet the war on drugs seems normal. The alcohol prohibition law was such a farce that it resulted in a proliferation of underground alcohol called moonshine, and underground bars called speakeasies. American citizens must learn to make the connection between the failure of prohibition of alcohol and the failure of the prohibition of other drugs. The war on drugs is fueling multinational organized crime syndicates just as the prohibition of alcohol also encouraged a black market industry.

Instead of learning from our mistakes related to the war on drugs, the United States has opted for a senseless approach to the issue. Drugs and alcohol should…[continue]

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