Drug Legalization as the Country Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

"As a case in point we may take the known fact of the prevalence of reefer and dope addiction in Negro areas. This is essentially explained in terms of poverty, slum living, and broken families, yet it would be easy to show the lack of drug addiction among other ethnic groups where the same conditions apply." Inciardi 248()

Socio-economic effects

Legalizing drugs has been deemed to have many socio-economic effects. A study that was conducted by Jeffrey a. Miron, who was a Harvard economist estimated that by legalizing drugs, this would inject about $76.8 billion in to the U.S. every year. 44.1 billion dollars would come from savings made from the law enforcement measures and 32.7 billion would be from tax revenue. This revenue can be thought to be broken down as follows: 6.7 billion dollars from marijuana, 22.5 billion from heroin and cocaine and the rest from the other minority drugs Debusmann ()

Many drug cartels have taken advantage of the limited resources of the nations in terms of having low taxation levels in the Central American countries which had been credited with weakening the response of the region towards drug traffickers. 2010 tax revenue statistics show that El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala received just 13.53% from drug legalization. This is as compared to Chile and the U.S. which have taxation levels of 18.6% and 26.9% respectively. Additionally, since these Central American countries emphasize on indirect taxes which are regressive, particularly Value Added Tax (VAT) which is added to goods purchased, disproportionately affect those who are less fortunate and essentially, the rich and the poor pay the same amount in terms of taxes Council on Hemispheric Affairs ()

Drug legalization will also improve the standards of living of many people. There are the growers of coca particularly in Colombia and Bolivia where they have a coca growers' union. The antidrug legislation in place fights growing of coca but does not provide any alternative crops for the farmers that are as meaningful. The legalization of coca will thus help to improve the welfare of these farmers who will no longer be starving and destitute as a result of them having a good source of income Chabat 137()

Antidrug legislation also leads to the cyclic creation of a permanent underclass of people. Penalties for drug crimes among the youth have always involved both permanent and semi-permanent removal from opportunities of getting education, stripping them off their legal right to vote and also the creation of criminal records that make it hard for them to become employed. Thus the war on drugs can be seen to have the effect of creating a permanent underclass of individuals who are less educated and cannot get job opportunities. This does not affect those who are convicted for the crimes. It also affects their families and other individuals both directly and indirectly. Thus legalization of drugs will lead to the removal of this cyclic creation of a permanent underclass Blumenson and Nilsen 15()

The debate on drug legalization looks at the shape of the demand curve for those drugs that are illegal and the consumer sensitivity on the changes in the prices of those drugs which are illegal. Those that argue for drug legalization assume that the quantity of those drugs that are addictive when consumer is not responsive to the changes in pricing. This is a correct assumption and has been verified by studies by economists. Frank J. Chaloupka and Michael Grossman estimate that with a 10% reduction in the price of cocaine, the consumption would increase by about 14%. The study also indicates that a 10% increase in price would not lead to any decrease in frequency of use of the cocaine Grossman and Chaloupka 428.

Though study evidence shows that the consumers are more responsive to changes in price in the long run than in the short run Kuiemko and Levitt 10()

Given that legalization will lead to an increase in the supply and demand for drugs, the standard model of economics predicts that the quantity of drugs that will be consumed will rise and the prices would fall. Andrew E. Clark, who is an economist, has studied the effects of legalization of drugs deeply and suggest that there should be a specific tax for drugs or more particularly a sin tax which would help to counteract the increased consumption while at the same time generating revenue for the government.

Legality of the war on drugs

The war on drugs has been challenged on six major grounds in the U.S. The first is that it violates the substantive due process doctrine in that its benefits do not necessarily justify the encroachment on rights that are supposedly guaranteed by the 5th and 14th amendments made to the constitution of the U.S. AU.S. district judge, Mary S. Scriven, on the 27th of July, 2011, ruled that the legislation of Florida purposed to eliminate intent as an element of the crime of possessing drugs as this was unconstitutional.

The second is that the freedom of religious conscience allows some people to use drugs. A good example is the use of peyote by the members of the Native American Church with definite religious or spiritual motives. However, the free exercise clause of the 1st amendment leaves some ambiguity since it does not imply the requirement of affiliation to an official church Nadelmann 24()

Third, it is argued that the commerce clause means that the power to regulate the use of drugs stands with the state and not federal law. Fourth is that there is inequity of prosecuting individuals for certain drugs while excluding alcohol and tobacco. In order to prohibit alcohol, it requires the 18th amendment to the constitution. It has been argued that by prohibiting marijuana, it would also require a constitutional amendment and to date, not such amendment has been made Gorman 369()

Fifth is that the reverse burden of proof for the possession of drug is incompatible with the rule of law which states that the power to convict is effectively taken away from the courts and given to those individuals who are willing to plant evidence on the offender. Thus it leaves a leeway for an unfair justice process Campos 379()

The last thing is that regardless of the war on drugs being legal, there have been several accusations of the inequality in the prosecution for drug crimes are evidenced above and which claim that the antidrug legislation targets certain regimes and ethnic group Campos 380()

Legalizing drugs will put a stop on violence

Drug violence has been quite rampant as a result of the war on drugs. Therefore, economists and other scholars suggest that by legalizing drugs, the violence would be reduced greatly. The response of the U.S. government and the Mexican government in the war on drugs has been the case study of these scholars. They have found the responses to be predictable in the form of increase in number of troops and policemen and increasing the border controls and expanding the enforcement. However, this response is akin to fighting fire with fire and it just leads to more violence and not an end to the violence.

Illegalization of drugs creates violence because it fuels the underground market of drugs. This means that the buyers and sellers are unable to resolve disputes regarding advertising, arbitration and lawsuits. Therefore, they have to resort to violence to be able to resolve this. Violence was also common in the alcohol industry at the time when it was illegal. However, after it was legalized, the violence stopped. A similar thing is expected to happen in the drug market.

Violence is usually the norm in illicit markets. However, it is usually scarce in the legal ones. Violence is the routine when policies are implemented which create black markets for the commodities. For the drug market, the only way to reduce the violence is to legalize the drugs.


Illegalization of drugs leads to the emergence of corrupt politicians and members of the law enforcement because it puts police, judges, prosecutors and other people in the position to try to make a profit from this illegal trade. This is how bribery, kidnapping and threats arise and explains why they are the norm for the illegal market of drugs. The history of Mexico illustrates this clearly.

When drugs are prohibited, it also erodes the protection of citizens against unreasonable search and seizure. This is because neither party in a transaction involving drugs has any incentive to report these illegal activities to the law enforcers. The law enforcers also have to use intrusive tactics in their line of work. This includes the use of searching without warrants or going undercover to purchase the drugs. This violates the freedom and rights of the citizens.

Additionally, as a result of the drug crimes being victimless in nature, it encourages police to engage in racial profiling of the criminals. It is generally known…

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