The war on drugs has been an unequivocal failure. Although many people are hesitant when it comes to the idea of legalizing all drugs – which is understandable given the extreme dangers of certain substances – it’s truly the only solution to ending the pain, death and social regression that comes with the drug war.
Below are what we here at TheJointBlog believe to be ten of the most important reasons for why we should legalize all illegal substances, not just cannabis.
The war on drugs, and the black market it creates, has led to a pandemic of violence and death, and only legalization will solve the problem.
The existence of drug cartels, and the thousands of lives they’ve taken, is caused directly by the war on drugs, and the fact that drugs are illegal. Without the illegal drug market, these cartels wouldn’t exist, or at the very least their power and influence would be greatly diminished.
With an end to our war on drugs comes an end to a lot of organized violence, and many unnecessary deaths.
The war on drugs has has been an economic disaster, funded by taxpayers.
Well over a trillion dollars of taxpayers’ money has gone into fighting a war that the government can never win. A hardline, oftentimes barbaric approach to drug use has not diminished their presence in our society. Instead, prohibition has enriched the criminals who choose to sell illegal drugs, and has done absolutely nothing to decrease usage rates. In a faltering economy, with a huge deficit to account for, the money spent on this ridiculous war cannot be justified.
The war on drugs creates an entire class of nonviolent criminals.
Drug prohibition has resulted in a mass population of nonviolent citizens being thrown in prison and labeled as lifelong criminals. When someone receives drug felony – which can occurs when even a minuscule amount of an illegal substance is in someone’s possession – it permanently alters their life. Student loans and grants become hard or even impossible to get, as do jobs and many housing opportunities. In many instances drug felons must resort to a life of crime simply to get by, because there are so few options available to them.
Roughly 50% of all inmates in federal prison were sentenced for nonviolent drug-related offenses. Putting these people behind bars alongside violent criminals is inhumane, and often leads to offenders becoming permanently hardened and de-socialized.
Legalizing drugs will take away the fear addicts have of seeking help, resulting in decreased addiction rates.
With the war on drugs, those who are seriously addicted to hard drugs often have no means of receiving the help they need to break the addiction and move on with their lives. Addicts fear that if they seek help, they could be persecuted and/or prosecuted for their illegal drug use.
In Portugal, which has decriminalized the possession of all drugs, drug usage rates have declined significantly, especially among minors. There’s also been a large decrease in addiction rates, due to addicts being more likely to seek help as they no longer fearing arrest.
In Portugal, decriminalizing drug possession has also reduced overdoses and STDs.
The war on drugs has perpetuated institutional racism.
It’s an undeniable fact that the war on drugs disproportionately effects minorities . For example, reports show that black-Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis, and 8 times more likely to be jailed for a drug offense, compared to someone who’s white. This is despite the fact that statistically minorities and whites use drugs at the same rate.
This discrepancy, of course, doesn’t come as a surprise when federal DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agents are being told not to enforce drug laws in “white areas”.
If we end the war on drugs, we remove a legal tool for racist law enforcement officers and judges to use against minorities.
Legal drugs would be safer than black-market drugs, saving lives and reducing healthcare costs.
If drugs were legal, they would be regulated, meaning that warning labels could be mandated, the product could be quality controlled and instructions for the safest way to ingest the drug could be included. This would result in a large decrease in drug deaths/emergency room visits that are caused by street drugs being cut with other substances, or caused by users ingesting the drug the wrong way.
Legalizing drugs would free up police time and resources, and would unclog the court system.
If drugs were legal, it would stop police from wasting massive amounts of time and resources perpetuating the drug war. This would allow them to focus on serious crimes that actually reduce public safety, such as homicides and theft. This would also free up the court system.
Legalizing drugs would help prevent prison overcrowding.
The United States possesses just 5% of the world’s population, yet harbors over 25% of the world’s prisoners. The failed war on drugs- which as we mentioned above, accounts for roughly 50% of all federal inmates – is primarily to blame for this. If drugs were legalized, prisons would be freed up, allowing room for those who commit serious crimes. This would also help prevent serious criminals from being released early due to a lack of prison space.
The war on drugs develops mistrust in our government and our legal system.
Rather than properly educating the public on the dangers of drug use, and helping rehabilitate those who may be addicted, we label all drugs as being demonic entities and throw users in prison. Not only does this build mistrust in our legal system, it also breeds fear and hatred.
In addition to mistreating our citizens, our war on drugs leads to largely skewed priorities. Since Nixon declared this war in 1971, substances like cannabis have been labeled and treated the same as fatal substances such as meth and PCP. In our education system (yes, we’re looking at you, DARE), kids are taught that cannabis is equal in danger to substances like heroin. When kids find out this isn’t true about cannabis, likely through personal use, what’s to stop them from thinking they’ve also been lied to about other drugs? Education is key, and propaganda is dangerous.
We need to continue our work toward a fair and equal justice system. In such a system, there would be no room for failures like the war on drugs, and people would have the ability to choose what they put in their body without the fear of imprisonment.
Jailing people for the use and possession of drugs, often for years or decades, flies contrary to the idea that we’re are and should be a free people. We are fully aware that hard drugs can have a devastating effect on the lives of many, but clearly a line has been crossed when simply possessing an illegal drug can have a harsher criminal sentence than crimes such as manslaughter, and can carry with it a life sentence.