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Should Drugs Be Legalized Argumentative Essay

The number of people pointing out to the numerous reasons why marijuana should be legal is growing daily. It is exactly in March of 2016 that the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has reported that 61% of Americans are actually supporting the legalization of this particular drug. The awareness is growing within the minute but the legalizations still move slowly, with only four states and the District of Columbia legalizing marijuana in the United States.

In order to properly argument the topic, I would first like to point out to the various systems of marijuana legalization. Netherlands is the source of the biggest taboos on a worldwide level, starting from prostitution and euthanasia to same-sex marriages. The Netherlands did not only make prostitution one of the most profitable, legitimate industries in the country, but also allowed the sale of cannabis in 1976. At this point, there are over 1,200 licensed shops that sell cannabis every day.

A completely different type of legalization is the one done in Holland. In Holland, dealers who operate illegally are criminally charged, while all drug use is allowed to people over the age of 18. Here, drug use is controlled with the set daily limit of 5 grams. ‘Here, you don’t have to go to jail if you’re a marijuana smoker,” says the American psychologist Art Lecesse. “The goal is to try to keep young people in particular away from the criminal drug environment that may get them involved with the harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin.”

But should all drugs really be legal? Is the right move to legalize only marijuana or should we put a stop on forbidding people to use any type of drug? The fact is, marijuana is not nearly as dangerous as other drugs such as cocaine. Still, how come marijuana is forbidden for use and other dangerous prescribed drugs are not?

As with any other important subject, marijuana legalization also comes with many pros and cons, the biggest con being the negative impact this drug has on the health of people. According to this belief, smoking any substance can have a bad effect on the IQ, memory, problem-solving skills and increase the chances of mental illnesses. However, there are very few facts that confirm the latest claim. Actually, the health benefits are one of the 3 reasons why marijuanas should be legal, according to the proponents of the idea.

The Dutch minister of health says that ‘ People have died from tobacco and alcohol, from heroin, from cocaine. But never from cannabis’. Additionally, there are certain health benefits that come from using cannabis, which is why there is such thing as medical marijuanas. Marijuana used for medicinal purposes is known to reduce glaucoma and help people go through chemo. According to an article by Discovery Health, marijuana is also known to relieve nausea and have a certain effect on the brain. Also, the marijuana’s effect on the brain allows for release in muscle tension and chronic pain.

Even though over-consumption can lead to some problems, there is not a single account of death from marijuana overdose. Many legal things are a much more common cause of death than marijuana. It is actually estimated that 38,329 people died from drug overdose in 2010, out of which 60% were related to prescribed drugs. In the same year, 25,692 people died of alcohol related causes. If this is the case, how come the world has decided to ban marijuana instead of tobacco?

The second reason why marijuana should be legal is the cost. According to official estimates, over 700,000 people were arrested 2014 for marijuana offenses and this is only on the area of the United States. This makes the costs for enforcement taxes extremely high, something that would be avoided if marijuana were to become legal. According to an ACLU report of 2013, taxpayers shelled out up to $6 billion to cover both the enforcement and incarceration of people who illegally use this drug.

Aside from helping us save money, some say that legalization of marijuana can actually make an upwards of $7 billions! The legalization is not only predicted to do this, but will actually create a taxable industry and create thousands new legit job positions.

The third point of this marijuana essay that supports the idea is addiction itself. With addiction being one of the biggest cons introduced by the opponents of the idea, this is actually an interesting twist. Marijuana dependence is existing, but is a real breeze when compared to prescription pills, alcohol overuse, caffeine and even sugar. According to Dr.Sanjay Gupta, the Chief Medical Correspondent of CNN, there are 9 to 10 percent of adults who became dependent to marijuana, while 20% of all cocaine users become dependent. According to him, the biggest enemy is the tobacco, with over 30% of all its users becoming addicted.

This third point does not mean that marijuana is completely safe for use, which is why any proper marijuana legalization should be carefully crafted to limit people in marijuana consumption. However, why would people be allowed to smoke a cigarette after a meal and not be allowed to use marijuana for pleasure, since it is actually tobacco that makes more people addicted? And not only this. Marijuana is actually forbidden for use as an illegal, unhealthy drug, when people die every day from alcohol abuse, prescribed medications and overdose from other illegal drugs.

Considering that the laws against marijuana did not make any specific change, it is safe to say that legalization will not increase the use of this drug greatly. The only thing it will do is reduce the cost for prosecution of people who already use the marijuana and create a whole new industry where this drug could be better controlled.
The nation seems to be coming to its senses and many countries start to make marijuana legal. Considering all these factors, this is something every country must consider.

Sources:
1. http://www.apnorc.org/projects/Pages/HTML%20Reports/american-attitudes-toward-substance-use-in-the-united-states.aspx
2. https://www.unodc.org/documents/ungass2016/Contributions/Civil/Transform-Drug-Policy-Foundation/Cannabis-policy-in-the-Netherlands.pdf
3. http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n1607/a05.html?3681
4. http://cannabisnews.com/news/10/thread10754.shtml
5. http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/drugs-alcohol/5-common-uses-of-medical-cannabis.htm
6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/marijuana-deaths_n_3860418.html
7. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/persons-arrested/browse-by/national-data
8. https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/aclu-thewaronmarijuana-rel2.pdf
9. http://www.cnbc.com/id/36179677
10. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana/

If drugs were legal, the argument goes, drug black markets worth tens of billions of dollars would evaporate, the empires of drug gangsters would collapse, addicts would stop committing street crimes to support their habit, and the police, courts and prisons would no longer be overwhelmed by a problem they cannot hope to defeat.

Most politicians and policy makers still regard the abandonment of anti-drug laws as dangerous apostasy. It would mean that highly damaging substances would be cheaper, purer and far more widely available, they say, and would cause a sharp jump in addiction, hospital costs, overdose deaths, destruction of families, and property damage. They say the losses would far outweigh the gains.

There are almost no scholarly data that can be used as an accurate indicator of what would happen to society if cocaine and heroin were legalized. For more than a decade the idea of legalization has been so far outside the acceptable grounds of debate that virtually no financing or research into the possible effects has been done.

Nonetheless, some scholars say that reports from the turn of the century, when cocaine and heroin were legal in the United States; studies of alcohol Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, and the arrival of cheap, plentiful cocaine in the early 1980's suggest legalization would lead to large and possibly staggering medical consequences. Issues Have Changed Over the Last Decade

In any case, experts say the current debate is far different from the last serious discussions of legalization in the 1970's. At that time, proponents often questioned how bad the drug problem really was. Today, experts say there is overwhelming public agreement that the drug problem is intolerable. They say the sudden willingness of some elected officials to contemplate legalization comes not as an endorsement of drugs but as a cry of desperation.

''There is a sense developing that we just cannot go on like this,'' said Dr. David F. Musto, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University who is a historian of drug abuse. ''What you are seeing here in many ways is a sign that a consensus has developed in America -that this drug problem is intolerable.''

On April 25, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke of Baltimore shocked a meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors by saying illegal drug consumption should be treated as a health concern rather than a criminal justice problem. He called for Congressional hearings to consider legalization.

''Have we failed to consider the lessons of the Prohibition era?'' Mayor Schmoke said. ''Now is the time to fight on the only terms the drug underground empire respects - money. Let's take the profit out of drug trafficking.''

Mayor Schmoke, a former prosecutor, said he had been sickened by the deaths of law-enforcement officials at the hands of drug traffickers.

He gained support for hearings from Mayor Donald M. Fraser of Minneapolis, Representative Fortney H. (Pete) Stark, a California Democrat who is chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, and Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. of Washington. The Question Draws Attention of Scholars

Much the same argument was presented in a front-page editorial of the British weekly The Economist on April 2. A more detailed scholarly essay in favor of legalization appeared in the recently published spring edition of Foreign Policy.

The author of the Foreign Policy article, Ethan A. Nadelmann, an assistant professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, argues that prohibition has been an utter failure. He cites the surge of killings by drug dealers in cities like Washington and New York, the clogging of state and Federal courts and prisons with drug prisoners, the political disruption of Colombia by traffickers and drug-related corruption throughout the world.

Mr. Nadelmann said legalization would eliminate most drug-related crime: the crimes of producing, selling and possessing drugs, the crimes committed by addicts to support their habits, and crimes committed by drug traffickers as they attempt to expand or protect their trade.

The types of crime that might not be eliminated, he acknowledged, would be the crimes committed by people because they are under the influence of drugs, such as child abuse and assaults by people experiencing drug-induced psychosis.

Legalization would save the Federal, state and local governments more than $8 billion a year from the costs for the police, courts and prisons, Mr. Nadelmann said. And the Federal Government could reap billions in tax revenue that could be applied to drug rehabilitation and education programs.

''Legalization of the drug market, just like legalization of the alcohol market in the early 1930's, would drive drug dealing business off of the streets and out of the apartment buildings and into legal government-regulated, tax paying stores,'' Mr. Nadelmann said. Trying to Envision A Different World

Scholars agree that it is almost impossible to envision accurately how the world would look if most controlled substances were legalized. Certainly, the effects of legalization of each drug would be vastly different. The legalization of marijuana, for example, would probably be fraught with far less dangers than the legalization of cocaine, which, unlike marijuana, has been shown to cause frequent violent behavior in the most heavy users. And the results would depend greatly on how drugs were distributed, taxed and regulated.

But many scholars argue that other costs to society would rise if drugs were legalized. To undercut the black market, a government or business selling the drugs would have to lower prices substantially, they say. Cheaper drugs that are safely accessible would probably mean wider use. The damage, particularly in the case of cocaine, they argue, could be extraordinarily high.

One key question, then, is how much does society pay because drugs are illegal and how much does society pay because drugs themselves are harmful?

A study conducted by the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina found that damage caused by heavy drug use itself may be extremely high.

The study estimated that in 1983 drug abuse cost the nation $60 billion. Of that cost, $24 billion was from drug-related crimes: the police, courts, jails and the toll taken on victims. More than $33 billion was the cost of lost productivity to society and injuries suffered by heavy drug users themselves.

Alcohol, by contrast, is legal and used by a far greater number of people. The study estimated that alcohol abuse costs society $117 billion in 1983. Only $2.6 billion was in criminal justice costs, the study found. Most of the rest came from impaired productivity, motor vehicle crashes, premature deaths and diseases such as cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.

Federal studies have estimated that about 18 million people use marijuana at least once a month, 5.8 million use cocaine at least monthly, and 113 million drink alcohol at least once a month. The Government estimates there are 500,000 regular heroin users in the nation. Peril in the Streets Early in the Century

Another indication that drug abuse, rather than drug prohibition, is the greater threat to society comes from anecdotal reports compiled before 1914, when the Harrison Narcotic Act made heroin and cocaine illegal, according to Dr. Musto of Yale University.

Writing on the problem of cocaine and crime in Washington in 1909, Dr. Lyman F. Kebler, the chief of the division of drugs of the Department of Agriculture, said: ''Cocaine in some cases transforms safe and otherwise tractable citizens into dangerous characters, and in most instances, wrecks the individual and all dependent on him as well as jeopardizes the lives of many.''

''In districts where druggists formerly dispensed cocaine, disorder has decreased so noticeably that it is commented upon by the neighbors and the police officers on the beats.''

Other scholars say there is a little known lesson in the history of Prohibition. Society, they say, paid a heavy but hidden price in health costs for legalizing the sale of alcohol in 1933. Modern studies indicate that hospitalizations for alcohol-related diseases plummeted in the early 1920's - in 1922, for example, New York State mental hosptials reported the virtual disappearance of cases of alcohol psychoses. They returned with the end of Prohibition.

''I think the experience with alcohol is the strongest argument against legalization, '' said Mark A. R. Kleiman, who teaches at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In the 1960's and early 1970's, there was much debate over the merits of allowing heroin to be dispensed by physicians to registered addicts. In Britain, through 1967, private physicians were allowed to prescribe heroin to keep addicts on maintenance doses and attempt to wean them off of the drugs. Starting in 1968, the Government attempted to shift the maintenance programs to 40 clinics around the country.

The black market use of heroin exploded through the late 1960's and 1970's, and doctors began to turn away from prescribing heroin for addicts. Despite what many consider a failure of the British heroin program, some advocates today say a similar strategy might be useful in containing the spread of AIDS by intravenous drug users. Cocaine Spawns Danger On a Different Level

But cocaine presents a far more troubling set of problems to proponents of legalization. Cocaine addicts tend to use the use the drug in binges, and as their use increases, their desire for more grows exponentially, said Dr. Frank H. Gawin, director of stimulant abuse, treatment and research at Yale University. Laboratory experiments show that, given unlimited access to the drug, animals will continue taking ever greater amounts until they die.

Therefore, Dr. Gawin said, it would difficult to image how doctors could administer limited, maintenance doses of the drug. More likely it would have to be sold commercially at a lower cost than criminal drug traffickers now offer.

The expense and danger of buying illegal cocaine have probably limited the amount of cocaine most people use, Dr. Gawin said. Cheaper and more easily obtainable cocaine likely would lead to heavier use and an increase in incidents of depression, paranoia, violent psychotic behavior, he said.

Dr. Gawin pointed to a study of cocaine use in the Bahamas in the early 1980's, when over a one-year period the price of cocaine dropped by more than 80 percent. Cocaine-related admissions to the only psychiatric clinic in Nassau went from zero in 1982 to 300 in 1984.

''I would be terrified to live in a cocaine-legalized society,'' Dr. Gawin said.

Nonetheless, there are some scholars who believe that eventually society could adapt to cheap and legal cocaine.

''We have to believe that in the long run, people will respond in a rational way to the availability of substances with a potential for destructiveness,'' said Dr. Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. ''There always will be casualties with alcohol. There always will be death.''

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