Drug Legalization Research Paper

Research Proposal on Drug Legalization

Should drugs be legalized? This question has been debated for decades. Each side has benefits as well as problems. When the topic of legalizing drugs is discussed, the uneducated public immediately thinks it is a bad idea. To truly know which side is the best, for or against, one must go in-depth about the subject. Before one makes their judgment, one must know the history and current statistics of drugs, why they should be legalized, and why drugs should remain illegal.

Drugs have been in use for centuries. They were first used regularly for patients in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Coca-Cola even used significant amounts of cocaine in its original recipe . Of course the Coca-Cola Company has since changed the recipe. The first laws against the sales of drugs in the United States were established in 1909 . These laws made opium illegal. Some doctors got rich by prescribing drugs to whoever would buy them. As a result of these actions and the growing realization of the damage caused by drugs, most drugs were made illegal in 1919 . Marijuana, one of the few drugs remaining legal became illegal in 1937 . After becoming illegal, drugs became less popular, but in the 1960’s drugs popularity increased. More than half of those who served in Vietnam used drugs. By the year 1969 at least 24 million kids under the age of 11 had tried drugs . Although most drugs are illegal some still remain legal. These drugs include alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. Each year over 650,000 people die from the effects of alcohol and tobacco . This statistic is much larger than the number of people killed each year by illegal drugs.

More people use tobacco than all illegal drugs combined. Twice as many people use alcohol as tobacco . Morphine is another drug which remains legal for medical purposes. It is used as a painkiller. Today more than one out of three Americans have tried illegal drugs. Americans consume half of the world’s illegal drugs produced each year. More than 14 million Americans use these drugs regularly . The United States’ government uses actions to lower drug usage. Every year the U.S. wipes out more illegal crops, laboratories, and seizes more drugs. They use programs like “Just Say No” as seen on television with the numerous commercials showing the effects of drugs. Also, through treatment people can be taken off drugs. To fund these actions, the U.S. government spends about 15 billion dollars a year while state governments spend hundreds of millions more . Each year laws become more restrictive and penalties bigger. On average non-violent drug offenders, meaning those caught with drugs that did not resist or hurt anyone, spend more time in jail than convicted murderers and rapist. Even with all these actions taken by the government, drug use has failed to fall in recent years and has actually risen. According to the Institute for Social Research at Michigan University in the last three years more teens are using marijuana. Today Drug usage is an extreme problem in the United States which is only getting worse.


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The thought of legalizing drugs scares many people, but are laws against drugs accomplishing much at all? Laws could create more problems than they solve. If there were no laws against drugs, then all crimes related to drugs would disappear, gangs, cartels, etc. Illegal drugs create the existence of a black market; legalizing drugs means the destruction of the black market. A wide range of people could be looking to legalize drugs. They could range from former hippies who want to legalize their marijuana plants so they can smoke a few joints, discouraged prosecutors who realize that the attempts to bust major drug cartels are pointless, custom officials who know they cannot guard over every mile of the border, neighbors who are tired of the crack dealers in their communities, civil libertarians who that think what people do with their bodies is none of the governments business, taxpayers who are tired of the footing the bill for the expensive war against drugs, or terminally ill patients who just want some drugs to ease their pain . Since the government enforces strict laws against drugs, the dealing of actual drugs is a very risky business. In Columbia an amount of cocaine worth 5,000 dollars is worth $100,000 in New York, according to law enforcement officials. With inflation rates as high as this a black market for drugs will always exist no matter how much effort is put to stop it. The profits are too great for some to ignore the opportunity. Like alcohol probation, drug probation may be futile.

Alcohol, along with many other drugs, was made illegal in 1919 beginning the period known as Prohibition. After authorities realized it was hopeless to keep alcohol illegal it was once again legalized in 1933 . Between 1919-1933 violence surged through the trafficking of alcohol. People for legalization ask, “Since then how many people have been killed through the trafficking of alcohol?” They say cocaine is simply a replay of alcohol. Some people in law enforcement are afraid to speak out for legalization in fear of their careers being ruined. Joseph McNamara spent 30 years in the police force hunting down drug criminals and he argues that drugs cannot be stopped. Drugs occupy 400,000 officers a year, take 50% of courts’ trial time, and offenders occupy 50% of available jail room . Since 1981 New York has spent about 4 billion dollars on new prison cells, meaning hidden costs on the war against drugs exist . It cost an average of $30,000 a year to keep someone in prison. The most intensive rehabilitation programs cost only $20,000 a year . Why not decriminalize and encourage people to enter rehabilitation programs? People spend an estimated $75 billion a year on drugs. The government makes no money from that $75 billion spent on drugs and spends over $15 billion to prevent drugs . Why not legalize and tax drugs heavily so the bill for rehabilitating comes from the users of drugs and not all Americans? Officers estimate that 75% of crime is drug related in some way. With a cocaine addict spending around $1,000 a day on drugs he or she will most likely have to resort to stealing and/or violence to acquire his or her drugs. Legalization would bring lower prices, as there would no longer be a huge inflation rate, which would prevent these problems. Some drugs laced with chemicals can kill a user instantly. If legalization were to occur the government could monitor the drugs and prevent people from consuming harmful chemicals. Sharing needles used to shoot heroin causes 70% of HIV cases in Baltimore. The mayor introduced a needle exchange program costing $160,000 a year, but if only two people are saved from HIV from the program a year it has already more than paid for itself . Although this example is not one of legalization, it still greatly helps. A popular saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” relates closely to this topic.

Crimes related to drugs number so high they cannot be counted. Whenever someone is killed in a gang shooting over territory no one thinks it is connected to drugs. Gangs survive on the profits from drugs. Any killings can eventually be traced back to drugs so legalization could prevent these deaths. No one can even put a figure to the number of lives legalization will save. Legalization does not promote drugs in any way. Supporters of legalization recognize that more than 14 million Americans use drugs regularly and it would be better for both drug users of illegal drugs and law abiding citizens, for drugs to be made legal.

People fear that legalization would bring more deaths, overdoses, and impaired judgments, while drug related crimes would continue. People against legalization think more people will try drugs if they become legal. Then, as a result, more people will abuse them creating a society with even more drug addicts. If drugs were legal how could people be convinced that they are not O.K. Opponents to legalization point out that the law still prevents some law-obeying citizens from using drugs. Ninety percent of seniors in high school have tried alcohol and more than two thirds have tried cigarettes, both are legal in the United States. In contrast half of seniors have tried marijuana, fifteen percent have tried cocaine, and less than one percent have tried heroin . Making drugs legal will give teenagers easier access to the drugs. They could easily take their parent’s supply or buy it from a friend who is over the age limit for purchasing drugs. Dr. Jack Homer from the University of Southern California predicts legalizing would create anywhere from 10-32 million cocaine addicts, a level 5 to 16 times greater than today. One argument to support that theory comes from the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. According to them, after alcohol became legal again consumption increased by 25%. If this were true then legalizing drugs would surely lead to much greater consumption. Although proponents of legalization argue that legalizing will lower crimes opponents argue that it will not help. They predict legalizing will not reduce crimes because people are on drugs when they commit crimes; not trying to acquire them. The Justice Department reports that six times as many homicides, four times as many assaults, and almost one and a half time as many robberies are committed under the influence of drugs as are committed to get the money to buy drugs. From statistics like this, opponents’ arguments seem to be supported. Legalization opponents’ counter arguments to having the drug legalized then taxing heavily are as follows: the government collects $13 billion on taxes of cigarettes but ends up paying $75 billion in health care for people who smoke, the government collects $20 billion every year from alcohol, but pay out $40 billion for heath care for people using alcohol. Legalizing and taxing heavily would only hurt the government more. From the statistics of cigarettes and alcohol the price range from collection to distribution are not even close, the government takes huge hits. Why hurt the government financially even more? One of the strongest reasons not to legalize drugs is the effect it will have on families. If all families who have had abusive fathers or mothers who had been sent to jail were released havoc could result. Children would be resubmitted into harmful environments. No one should live with drug addicts. More people could turn to drugs as a solution to their problems creating more abusive environments. The end result would be the destruction of more families. Ninety-four percent of participants in a Gallup Organization poll thought drugs were a serious problem in today’s society. Only fourteen percent favored legalization.

The legalization of drugs presents both pros and cons while keeping drugs illegal presents the same problems. No real solution is perfect. In both situations someone is hurt; it is just a matter of which one is more. The debate over drugs essentially comes down to one’s opinion. The legalization of medical marijuana has been approved in some states. Some steps in legalizing have occurred, but the complete legalization of drugs is far, far away. Until the topic is presented fairly to the public and everyone is educated about the legalization of drugs, it will never take place. Which side do you like more: the dissipation of gangs and drug cartels along with their violence and less taxes or families not being torn apart and less drug users in the streets?

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Research on the Legalization of Marijuana Essay examples

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Research on the Legalization of Marijuana

Americans have been trying to legalize marijuana for years. It seems that all of their opinions divide into three basic groups. Many think that it is not worth legalizing marijuana, many seem to think it should be legalized, and a group of people say it should only be legalized for medicinal purposes.
In the following paragraphs I will try to show you reason for all three opinions.

My hopes of doing this research project were to specifically determine what effects marijuana in combination with different substances had on the body. I also decided to determine the differences between marijuana and tobacco, due to the high misconceptions about both of them in society today.
"First of all, I…show more content…

Marijuana usually does not contain more than 1 percent of THC. There are stronger drugs related to THC, such as "hash oil", which can contain up to a 28 percent THC level. There have been some cases where "street" marijuana has been found to contain up to 5 percent THC content. That is very potent for normal marijuana, and is probably very hard to come by in the United States. Other countries seem to use different forms of THC related drugs such as hashish, and hemp. Both of these contain more THC than marijuana. As far as long term effects of tobacco and marijuana go, they are about the same. Cancer should appear in the lungs of a tobacco-user earlier due to the amount the tobacco-user smokes in relation to a normal marijuana smoker. There have been many assumptions that marijuana will cause long term brain damage and so on, but, clinically, none of this has ever been proven. In fact, in a college survey, the students who use the drug regularly possessed a higher GPA than those who do not use. This is an entire different subject, but it was interesting to learn.
Both tobacco and marijuana contain tar. Marijuana contains a little more and will actually "feel" heavier on the lungs after smoking. Tar has been found to produce tumors on the skin of animals that it is applied to. Cancer has definitely been related to

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