Legal Response to Drugs Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :


Decriminalization of drugs is an ineffective legal policy that has harmed millions of Americans. Since Nixon's declaration of "war" on drugs, American policy towards mind-altering substances has been as violent and futile as the term "war on drugs" would suggest. Drug use is not qualitatively different from alcohol use. The prohibition of alcohol failed miserably in the early 20th century, leading also to a proliferation in profitable black market businesses that fueled organized crime. The same pattern has been occurring with mind-altering substances of all types. Drug cartels have blossomed throughout the Americas, and the global black marketplace is teeming with criminal behaviors that are linked to protecting the lucrative but illegal drug trade. If trading in drugs were akin to trading in alcohol, then drug cartels would no longer need the massive stashes of weapons used to protect their property. The war on drugs has ruined far more lives than the drugs themselves, too. The United States boasts the world's highest rate of incarceration, with the bulk of offenders actually being innocent of everything but wanting to get high. It is unethical to continue the war on drugs, and yet it continues to be an integral part of American domestic and foreign policy. People of color are incarcerated at a disproportionately high rate, leading to the preservation of an inequitable social order and the perpetuation of social unrest. Families have been torn apart by the war on drugs, and conflict theory shows that social class inequities can easily breed anomie, leading to ancillary criminal behaviors that often have nothing to do with the drugs themselves. Therefore, decriminalization is a necessary right and freedom for all Americans. It makes absolutely no sense to criminalize drugs.

At least $15 billion in taxpayer dollars per year is being spent on the war on drugs (Sledge. This includes drug arrests, trials, and imprisonment costs. An estimated $1 trillion has been spent overall since the war on drugs began. From a financial perspective alone, the war on drugs is a dismal failure, especially given the "unchanged drug
...Not one credible policy maker can explain why mind-altering substances cannot be used recreationally, but alcohol can. Alcohol is addictive, and addiction to alcohol can be a serious problem for mental, physical, and social health. Yet not one politician, policy maker, doctor, or health care worker would ever consider lobbying for Prohibition Part Two. The war on drugs is a product of brainwashing and propaganda, nothing more.

From a rights-based perspective, the war on drugs is anathema to American culture. Drugs harm only the person doing them, and even then, only the irresponsible person using them. All people who use prescription drugs that were issued by their physicians take risks. Many people are addicted to prescription drugs. In fact, many seniors are addicted to prescription drugs. If seniors who are addicted to prescription drugs do not face incarceration, why should young people? All Americans have the right to experiment with mind-altering substances in a way that is right for them. With access to education about drugs, how to use them, when, and how much, Americans can make wise choices about drug use. There will always be people who abuse drugs, just as there will always be people who abuse alcohol, and eat McDonalds every day. The people who harm themselves with legal substances are costing taxpayers millions or more in funding preventable diseases. Americans need to finally recognize the hypocrisy in the drug war. Drugs are not the demonic items that children have been led to believe. The human drive for altered states of consciousness…

Sources Used in Documents:


Sledge, M. (2013). The drug war and mass incarceration by the numbers. The Huffington Post. Retrieved online:

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