War on Drugs or Legalize All Drugs

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Although many people highly advocate against drug usage, there are still millions of people that use some sort of drug every day, whether it’s for medicinal reasons or not; legal or not. According to WebMD, a study done in 2017 shown that 55 percent of Americans use prescription drugs. Roughly 200 million people worldwide use illicit, or illegal, drugs. In 2013 a study found that 24.6 of those millions are Americans that use illicit drugs.

The relationship between humans and drugs has been a long one, dating back to our earliest human records. There’s always been a reason for use; medicinal, recreational, religious, research, or even to make more potent compounds. It wasn’t until the turn of the century, the early 1900’s, when America decided to make many drugs illegal, including alcohol. Drug use didn’t stop, however, instead people were arrested and put in jail for doing what they’d been doing for years before then, and violence and crime arose with the black market that came to be.

There is a solution, however. All current illegal drugs should be legalized for recreational and/or medicinal use, despite the controversy that surrounds them, because the outcomes could potentially decrease the dangers of drug wars and illegal drug trafficking, benefit society monetarily, and it should be our right as a “free” country to be able to use substances, while following certain rules, in our own homes.

Drug War and Trafficking

When thinking of drugs, a lot of people tend to think of the negative side effects they have when abused and the rates at which different demographics of people have been abusing them, the statistics, and so on. However, there are other aspects in the drug world that are very problematic. These things are drug wars and trafficking. Also, the crime and violence that follow. Most of these issues have spawned from the black market or have been greatly fueled by it.

During the Civil War, morphine was used as a pain killer. It was then used in several patent medicines. Later in the 19th century, marijuana and cocaine were also put to medicinal use. Marijuana treated migraines, rheumatism and insomnia. Cocaine helped with sinusitis, hay fever and chronic fatigue. These drugs were also used recreationally, along with alcohol and cigarettes. Then in 1914, Congress passed the Harrison Act which banned cocaine and opiates. The prohibition on alcohol came soon after. By 1918, America was “dry”. This new time of change and temperance didn’t have a positive outcome, however, because in 1933, there was concern about the nationwide organized crime, police violence, and corruption. The people demanded that the prohibition on alcohol be repealed and the regulator power go back to the states.

A lot of states did follow through with lifting the prohibition on alcohol almost immediately and replaced the bans with laws that regulated the quality, potency, and sale of alcohol. Thus, the negative effects that the prohibition on alcohol dissolved. Heroin and cocaine were still federally prohibited, and so was marijuana when the Marijuana Stamp Act in 1937 passed. Up to this point, federal drug policy has remained prohibitionist. One can concur from the past decades of drug prohibition that in result, there has been a great amount of failure.

Research done by Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall, has also shown that prohibition has had great negative effects. In their work, Policy Analysis No. 811, they write, “We conclude that prohibition is not only ineffective, but counterproductive, at achieving the goals of policymakers both domestically and abroad. Given the insights from economics and the available data, we find that the domestic War on Drugs has contributed to an increase in drug overdoses and fostered and sustained the creation of powerful drug cartels.”

There are a number of problems with the War on Drugs, which started with President Nixon in 1971. He claimed, “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.” Yet he also stated to Congress, “as long as there is a demand, there will be those willing to take the risks of meeting the demand.” So clearly, he knew his efforts of interdiction and eradication would ultimately fail. That didn’t stop him though, because he created an interdiction effort in Mexico. The Drug Enforcement Agency came to be in 1973, and they started the Operation Intercept. That only led to Mexico being pressured into regulating its marijuana growers and a plethora of problems for Mexico. The trade between America and Mexico came to a halt, after the US government spent hundreds of millions of dollars to close up the border. That caused Mexico to lose mass amounts of their marijuana crops that were supposed to come to America. The supply of marijuana from Mexico to America did cease, but only for Columbia to rise as the new supplier.

The war against drugs in America has ultimately failed, and has led to new wars with drugs. By keeping drugs illegal, this country has only stirred up a plethora of additional problems. We’ve incarcerated a half-million people over drug-related offenses, which costs $10 billion a year, not to mention the billions of dollars spent annually to expand law enforcement. We’ve fomented death and violence through gang turf wars and overdoses from uncontrolled drug potency and people sharing needles. Civil rights have dissolved; property can be seized before you are found guilty and authorities have increased their use of wiretaps. Also, criminal organizations have enhanced.

Monetary Benefits to Society

As previously mentioned, the current street value of certain drugs is quite expensive. Imagine what a legal drug market could do for the nation monetarily. States that have legalized marijuana have already benefited from this concept. Colorado, California, and others, not to mention other countries like Canada, and some European ones.

According to drug statistics, heroin is estimated to be worth $100-$110 billion, cocaine is worth $110-$130 billion, marijuana is worth $75 billion, and synthetic drugs are about $60 billion. Altogether that’s about $360 billion made globally from the illicit drug market. America has a big role in that. With the money being spent and wasted on keeping drugs illegal, putting people in jail because of drug related crimes, and keeping drugs out of the country, it can go back to the community in other ways. That wasted money can be spent on improving public schools, hospitals, homeless shelters, and much more. On top of that, there’d be even more money coming in to the states, through the new legal drug market. This could be a solution that could potentially help with our nation’s debt among other financial issues.

There’s also another drug market that people tend to overlook; the pharmaceutical one. Big pharma has made $1.05 trillion in revenue internationally through the pharmaceutical market, and nearly half of it, $515 billion has come from the US and Canada, yet these two countries only make up 7% of the world’s population.

Keeping drugs illegal is only making the black market stronger. The price of cocaine on the streets is way more than what is costs to make it. There’s a high incentive for people to enter the trafficking and sale of drugs. The penalties that drug dealers face just encourages them to increase their prices and go to great lengths to not get caught and keep their business going. If there was drug liberation, prices of drugs would drop to only a small fraction of their current street values and the desire to traffic would decrease. Thus, society would benefit from the legal money being made from the market.

Our Right as a “Free” Country

Many of the things that humans consume on a daily basis have side effects and can be considered harmful if not consumed in the proper way. That’s why there are labels that explain their contents and ingredients and how to consume the product, or use it, safely. Whether it’s sugar, salt, a vitamin, caffeine, or anything you can easily buy at a local grocery store, drug store, or online, there’s no doubt about the fact that we constantly consume and use products or food that have effects on our bodies.

This is the same concept with alcohol and cigarettes. Both are legal, both are proven to have negative effects on one’s health when abused or used too much over long periods of time, but they have rules and restrictions that come with them. In America, you have to be at least 21 years of age before you can legally buy alcohol with a state identification card. You have to be at least 18 years of age to buy cigarettes. With alcohol, you can’t buy it before 10am on a Sunday in North Carolina, and there are other restrictions that come with buying it as well, such as the cut off limit at night, and stores won’t sell to someone who’s already visibly intoxicated.

With pharmaceutical drugs, things aren’t much different. One would have to have a prescription from a doctor to get a certain drug from the pharmacy, and have some sort of identification to buy it. Then there are directions to taking it: when, for how long, and so on. It’s illegal to share your prescription drugs with anyone else, just like it is illegal for an adult to share their alcohol with a minor. These are “common-sense” laws.

It should be the same with all drugs, even the ones that are currently illegal. Why is it the governments right to make some drugs or substances illegal and not others? Alcohol, cigarettes, opioids, and other pharmaceutical drugs have been proven to be addicting and, in some cases, very harmful, yet they are all very legal.

America is supposed to be the land of the free. It’s not that free when we are told that we can’t do certain things even while in or own homes. When humans are told they can’t do something, sometimes it makes them want to do it even more. Then there’s a legal problem. Drug liberation isn’t just about making drugs legal so that every person can go get high just because they can. It’s about giving Americans the right to have the option to do something if they choose to do so.


As long as there is a demand, drug smuggling, drug trafficking, and crime and violence surrounding the illegal drug market will continue. Everything the United States government has tried to do in regard to interdiction has just resulted in rerouting and reorganizing of drug trade routes, over-incarceration, the betrayal of our civil rights, and ultimately failure. Instead of picking and choosing what drugs are legal and illegal, a better solution would be for the government to legalize them all. From there, the individual states can determine how they are regulated, just like with alcohol and cigarettes, and states that have legalized marijuana.


Cite this paper

War on Drugs or Legalize All Drugs. (2021, Mar 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/war-on-drugs-or-legalize-all-drugs/

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