Take a Stand Paper


BSHS/455, Week 5

Take a Stand Paper


Take a Stand


The “War on Drugs” has been ongoing for decades with no real end in sight. In my opinion, the “War on Drugs” goes beyond Liberal, Conservative, Democrats or Republicans. There is an abundance of opinions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of legalizing drugs and decriminalizing drug activity from all sides. Some believe legalization would decrease crime while others fear it will just promote addiction and misuse. My paper will discuss the benefits of legalizing drugs and decriminalizing drug activity. I will explain how our current policies regarding drug use are failing while rewarding the criminals and promoting corruption within our communities. Furthermore, my paper will provide valuable solutions to decrease, prohibit and treat those suffer from addiction.

Losing the War on Drugs

Zero tolerance policies were created to take a tough stand against drugs, violence, and weapons. The Government’s idea was to make the consequences of these undesired activities so severe that criminals would not repeat the crime and hopefully deter others from attempting it. Unfortunately, these policies have proven to be non-effective in restricting and or controlling drug use and drug-related addictions. As a result, a new approach needs to be taken.


For the past thirty years the “War on Drugs” has solely focused on the enforcement of drug laws rather than preventing new users and treating those already addicted. In my opinion, this is why we are losing the war with the current policies. It is much easier to take customers away from drugs than it is to take away the drugs from those who desire to be customers. Research shows that in fact, the zero-tolerance policy has actually helped propel the drug trade industry (“The War on Drugs: Winners and Losers”, 2009). Having zero tolerance for drugs, violence, and weapons has not decreased anything. It has only increased the desperation of those losing the fight; law-abiding citizens like you and me. What once seemed like an honorable, noble way to make our communities safer has since been manipulated, exposed and turned into a cash cow for criminals, the corrupt and the greedy?

Legalization of Drugs

In my opinion, I believe that legalizing drugs would provide many benefits. For starters, I feel it would boost the economy in several ways. According to Roleff (2004) the government spends roughly $50 billion dollars a year to fight the “War on Drugs”. However, the DEA estimates that with all the effort, time and money we capture less than 10% of all illicit drugs (U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center, 2011). $50 billion dollars a year for a 10% success rate is a very poor investment. However, if drugs were legal we could allot that money into programming that is beneficial such as primary education, preventative programs and college assistance. Legalizing drugs would allow the government to tax its sale. The more money people


spend buying drugs legally the more money local, state and federal agencies and programs would generate. Public service personnel and teachers could get raises in salary. School budgets could allow for music and art classes again. We could inspire children to follow their dreams by exposing them to new genres that our current economic deficits don’t allow.

Prevention with Legalization

Benjamin Franklin stated that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The concept behind legalization, in my opinion, is to teach children not to use drugs which decreases the numbers of adults using drugs in the future. Research has proven that preventative programs regarding drug and alcohol use work when implemented (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 1999). Unfortunately, these programs won’t work by themselves and require constant reinforcement from parents, teachers, mentors or other caregivers and clergy. If mom or dad are incarcerated for drug activity chances are these children won’t learn it from them.

Crime Reduction with Legalization

Legalizing drugs will remove the financial enticement of selling drugs illegally. If drugs are legalized there would be an overflow of supply and drug prices would plummet. In turn, this shuts down the high-profit black market of drug sales. As a result, crime would also go down because users wouldn’t have to steal or rob in order to afford drugs. However, laws protecting children from possible drug use should remain in effect.


The legalization of drugs would also allow law enforcement to focus on other crimes that being committed or focus on large-scale drug suppliers and manufacturers.

Decriminalization of Drug Activity

The criminalization of drug use and paraphilia has not helped decrease the use of drugs. In my opinion, it has actually created several large scale problems. The first being our criminal justice system. Someone selling marijuana or other drugs should not be serving more jail time than someone who raped a person. According to former President Carter (1977), penalties for possession of the drug should not be more damaging than the drug itself. The United States’ prison system is overpopulated and has been referred to as the world’s largest jailers both in the number of inmates and the rate people are incarcerated as a result of drug-related crimes (Pfaff, 2015).

The judicial and prison systems have been dramatically impacted by the number of increases in arrests, convictions, and incarcerations which often lead to long jail/prison sentences. Many of whom are perhaps minor drug offenders and recreational users who fell into harsh sentencing as part of the failing local, state or federal zero-tolerance agendas (Pfaff, 2015). Research has shown that millions of people in the United States still regularly use illegal drugs from all economic backgrounds, races, gender and ages (Schmoke, 1990, p.503-504). These studies show that the criminalization of illegal drug activity has not done much to remove these drugs from our communities or deter their usage.


Decriminalization doesn’t mean that the U.S. opens up its boards to drug syndicates and drug suppliers. Instead, we should focus some of the $50 million dollar budget to try and reduce the supply of drugs through the arrest and incarceration of violent gangs and large-scale drug operations rather than the low-level drug dealers and recreational users. This is another reason why legalization of drugs and the decriminalization of drug activity go hand in hand. If you get rid of the demand by legalizing drugs you essentially get rid of the drug organizations who are willing to kill and commit crimes in order to make their profit.

Implementation with Legalization and Decriminalization

While legalization and decriminalization would help end the “War on Drugs” there needs to be other support systems and services that can be applied universally for continual users. The harm-reduction model, in my opinion, would be beneficial in conjunction with legalizing drugs and decriminalizing drug activity. The harm-reduction model assumes that certain drugs and substances will always be abused regardless of their legalization status. As a result, this model has a proactive approach by attempting to educate and provide services to avoid situations that can be avoided. An example of this model in action might be having locations where intravenous drug users can obtain clean needles. The harm-reduction model does not condone the behaviors but rather attempts to provide necessary precautions such as the spread of diseases due to a user’s inability to purchase or obtain clean needles (McNeece&DiNitto, 2012).



The war on drugs is not a lost cause, it can be won. In order to achieve this success the government needs to take on a different approach and except the zero-tolerance policies are not working. By legalizing drugs and decriminalizing drug activity we are able to provide more services that are beneficial to keeping people off of drugs rather than locking up current users and sellers. Our economical state can’t continue to fund a project that is unsuccessful when we can use that money prevent people from using drugs and treating those who are already addicted. In combination with other treatment methods and implementing harm-reduction programs eventually we can have safer neighborhoods, less broken families and more productive members of society. However, I feel this all starts with legalizing drugs and decriminalizing drug activity.



Carter, J. (1977, August 2). Drug abuse message to the congress. Interview.

McNeece, C. A., &DiNitto, D. (2012). Chemical dependency a systems approach (4th ed.).

Office of National Drug Control Policy. (1999). Preventing Drug Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/policy/99ndcs/iv-b.html

Pfaff, J. F. (2015). Symposium: Drug policy reality and reform: The war on drugs and prison growth. Harvard Journal on Legislation, 173. Retrieved from http://harvardjol.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/HLL104_crop1.pdf

Roleff, T. L. (2004). War on drugs: Opposing viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.

Schmoke, K. L. (1990). An argument in favor of decriminalization. HOFSTRA Law Review,18(3). Retrieved from http://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/hlr/vol18/iss3/2/

U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center. (2011). National drug threat assessment. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs44/44849/44849p.pdf

The war on drugs: Winner and losers [Motion picture]. (1999). SND Films.

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