When societies finally become comfortable with reality, they begin to abandon the murderous laws that impede their growth. Currently, the social stigma and legislated morality regarding the use of illicit drugs yield perhaps the most destructive effects on American society. Drug laws have led to a removal of non-violent citizens from society- either directly by incarceration or indirectly by death - that is genocidal in quantity and essence.
I base my support of the decriminalization of all drugs on a principle of human rights, but the horror and frustration with which I voice this support is based on practicality. The most tangible effect of the unfortunately labeled "Drug War" in the United States is a prison population larger than Russia's and China's, and an inestimable death toll that rivals the number of American casualties from any given war, disease or catastrophe.
Every indicator demonstrates that U.S. drug policy is irrational, which leaves us no option but to assume that the severe anti-drug sentiment fulfills psychological needs, specifically those that operate independent of rational thought. Just this week, an Atlanta Judge sentenced Louis E. Covar, a 51-year-old quadriplegic who claims to use marijuana for medical purposes, to seven years in prison. Because of his condition, Covar's sentence will cost taxpayers more than one-half million dollars, five times the cost of the average prisoner. I am not attempting an emotional appeal. I would simply like to know how we could willfully incarcerate an "offender" like Covar for seven years, how we could forfeit such potentially constructive taxpayer money merely to restrict a harmless individual's freedom.
We claim that we need to "set a good example," but the government's every effort to impress fear upon our youth, to stigmatize drugs and drug users, has failed to have any effect. We blame drugs for causing all of society's problems; we see the crack smoker as an armed robber, the heroin user as decadence personified, and the marijuana smoker as a lazy ignoramus. We forget that there was a time during which smoking marijuana or opium were among the preferred habits of the intelligentsia, particularly among pioneers like Samuel Coleridge, Sigmund Freud, Louie Armstrong and others. But one decisive factor stands between the past and present: the law.
Drug use does not deteriorate the imaginary "moral fabric" of American culture. Neither morality nor any other variable social construction should effect our law, but if we were forced to accept the subjective terms of the moralist, we should see that the drug laws themselves are responsible for this alleged deterioration. When we observe the objective effects of the Drug War, we find that: 1) restrictions of use lead to proportionally higher rates of drug-related deaths; 2) the incarceration of drug offenders leads to overcrowded prisons and an increase in violent crime by repeat offenders; and 3) severe penalties for...