It's Time To Legalize Drugs Essay

3019 words - 12 pages

No one can honestly claim that current American drug policies have been a success. To the contrary, the current policy of drug prohibition, aside from being ineffective and costly, has created a set of unwanted consequences including: a high prison population of non-violent offenders, corruption within law enforcement, health issues, and an erosion of civil liberties . Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Yet despite the failures of the current policy in deterring drug use that is just what the government is choosing to do. It’s time to consider a different approach to the drug issue. An approach that will address drug use in an innovative way while solving the problems which drug prohibition has created while also bringing societal, health, and economic benefits but most importantly it will also give back the individual liberties. It’s time to consider the legalization of drugs.
Drug prohibition has proven to be a very costly war. Currently the government spends $47.8 billion a year on prohibition enforcement, according to a 2010 Department of Economics, Harvard University report by Jeffrey A. Miron. Yet despite the exorbitant amount of money being spent fighting this “war on drugs”, drugs are still prevalent on our streets. A 2008 a report found the US leads the world in illegal drug use with a whopping 42.4% of Americans admitting to trying illegal drugs at least once. (Warner) In 2009 a the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that nearly 21.8 million Americans (equivalent to about 8.7% of the population) used illegal drugs had used drugs within the last year. (Hananel) Furthermore according to the White House Drug Policy Website the percentage of those ages 12 and over who admit to having used illegal drugs within the last year is 12.6%. (Office of National Drug Control Policy) With numbers like these it’s clear that the current drug policy is not only costly, but ineffective at preventing drug use. The high number of drug users combined with the nation’s tough drug laws has helped make the US the world’s leading jailer. By the end of 2008 2,304,115 people were incarcerated according to a December 2009 report by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics. Drug offenders accounting for 22% of the US prison population according to an article titled “Incarcerated in America” on the Human Rights Watch Website. The cost to house an inmate averages about $35,000 a year, according to a New York Times article by Jennifer Steinhauer. When all that money is added up that’s a lot of money which could very easily be used in better ways instead of pursuing and jailing non-violent drug offenders.
In countries with more liberal drug policies such as the Netherlands, where cannabis has been decriminalized and where drug use is seen not as a criminal issue but as a health issue, drug use is actually much lower than the US. According to the United...

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