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The Case Against Legalizing Drugs

When it comes to drugs, there are almost as many stances as there are drugs. They all hinge on one major question: Is the general public able to responsibly consume drugs? The evidence says no.

There are a number of legal drugs available on the market, and the most common one is alcohol. It’s been around for centuries, so we must be used to it, right? No one would be foolish enough to drive or attempt to operate machinery while still under the influence of alcohol, would they?

Drugged and Drunk Driving

Stop Drunk DrivingIn Tennessee alone, there were 28,700 drunk driving arrests in 2011. Of those, 4,100 resulted in a conviction for drunk driving, and another 1,100 resulted in a lesser charge. This is in a population of 6.4 million people.

These statistics, of course, only includes those who have been caught and then comprehensively proven to have been drunk driving. It doesn’t include those who have not been caught and those who perform tasks that require a clear head under the influence. Therefore we can assume that a larger number of people drink and drive than actually reported.

Now, extend that to drugs. Alcohol is already an issue on our nation’s roads, so what is to say that drugs would not exacerbate this already dangerous problem?

After all, it’s hard to judge how quickly some drugs disperse from the body. Alcohol generally is eliminated at around a unit every hour. Marijuana is eliminated much more slowly. Cocaine and heroin are eliminated much more quickly, but they seriously impair judgment—much more so than alcohol.

In short: Can you imagine what could happen if we legalized all illegal drugs?

Crime and Addictive Drugs

Another issue is the addictive nature of drugs. Nicotine is seen as relatively harmless in terms of short-term effects, in that it doesn’t cause significant and immediate issues, and how many smokers do you know have difficulty quitting? Again, if we extrapolate this to heroin or cocaine and assume they are legal and easy to get hold of, how much of an epidemic will we have?

While prohibition clearly didn’t work—the rise in crime demonstrated that outlawing a substance that you can make with sugar, yeast, and water is fruitless—there are other ways to deal with drug-related offenses. If addiction treatment was mandatory for those convicted of possession rather than simply jailing those people and judges had more flexibility in the sentences they could offer, drug-related offenses could deliver a respite from addiction, not jail.

Locking people up for nonviolent crimes also doesn’t work, as it doesn’t solve the core issue. Those who are imprisoned are not often the kingpins. They’re often the end users who actually have a problem. Mandatory rehab sentencing could save the taxpayer a lot of money in prison time and actually get to the root of the issue: drugs.

There are a significant number of people who cannot handle alcohol responsibly, let alone harder drugs. If drugs became more prevalent, the number of people addicted could only rise.

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Feel Differently? See the Opposing view in our The Case for Legalizing Drugs post.