Revisiting U.S. Drug policy

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by N4mddissent, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. N4mddissent
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    N4mddissent Active Member

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    I was listening to a story yesterday about drug violence in Mexico and it got me thinking. When will it be time to revisit American drug policy?

    We know that in terms of economic efficiency, treatment and prevention are far more effective than incarceration and prosecution. I believe it was an old Rand study that was definitive on that point.

    More to the point, should we consider decriminalizing some drugs? All of them? Marijuana is often brought up as a candidate. We know that sell of Marijuana provides billions of dollars to Mexican drug cartels. In general, it seems a good candidate for decriminalization. It is impossible to overdose on it. I've seen no studies conclusively indicating it is physically habit-forming. Sure, it's not healthy and may have long-term health effects, but so does alcohol- which can be physically habit-forming and is definitely possible to overdose on as some discover at universities across the country every year. What do you think? Legalize it and tax it?

    What are the arguments for and against decriminalization of other drugs? After all, we don't want to give our stamp of approval, but if we cannot eliminate demand then are we just funneling money into a black market our laws help create? A market that flows into many other areas like gun violence and gangs?

    Would decriminalization of certain drugs help free up the workload on our court system, prison system, and law enforcement? Could it save a lot of taxpayer dollars in those areas?

    Or would all this just open the gates to a decline in American productivity and prosperity as we slowly fall into a collective drug saturated morass?
     
  2. twofour
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    twofour Rookie

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    Recent history should be considered in why drugs were outlawed to begin with. Most of us will assume that law makers are in their position to make money and to place themselves in a position to make money when they leave political office. Most are lawyers. Therefore most laws made by them more than likely are made to place their law practice in a position to make money when they leave political office. I believe that prohibition was placed into law for this reason and that drug laws for the same reason. As you stated, outlawing drugs has not stopped the sale and use of drugs. Many people believe that once outlawed drugs became unrealistically expensive and despite the people in jail for manufacturing and sale of drugs that extremely high profit has called countless people into the drug trade. Some of our best minds are in it today. Law makers were smart enough to know this when they outlawed drugs and are reaping the benefits because of those laws now. They cite the damage caused by drug use and even cite happenings which actually cannot be proven to have been caused by drug use as the crutch to continue to outlaw drugs. Churches and anti crime organizations play right into their hands.

    I don't believe that they ever thought about the hardships they have caused families because of these laws. I don't believe they care. All they want is the profits derived from drug laws.

    You bring up several questions as what would occur were drug laws abolished. I don't claim to know the answers to these questions nor do I think anyone else will either. I do believe that fewer families would suffer because members of that family were to become either users of the drugs or people sitting in our jails because of the profits involved. Law enforcement would suffer but I believe that most law enforcement officials would much rather be chasing people who steal and harm others than a person selling or using drugs. Now you know how I feel. I believe that there should only be two types of criminal laws and I just referred to them: Crimes against property and crimes against people.
     
  3. johnrocks
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    johnrocks Silver Member

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    I think all drugs should be legal an then they could be regulated better,imho.
     
  4. Tech_Esq
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    Tech_Esq Sic Semper Tyrannis!

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    Legalize them all. Regulate and tax them. I think the Amsterdam experience shows that after a spike in drug use, it pretty much goes back to the same percentage of people who did it before. Not the same people, but the same level.
     
  5. N4mddissent
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    N4mddissent Active Member

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    Could this be an issue that enjoys bipartisan support? No dissent so far. Why is it not being discussed more prominently in our country?
     
  6. Peejay
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    Peejay BANNED

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    Marijuana should be legalized. I can't remember why.
     
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  7. LiveUninhibited
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    LiveUninhibited Caffeine Junkie

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    I'm not sure why it wasn't revisited at the time alcohol prohibition ended. They were like, "Well... that didn't work," but why did they not apply that conclusion to other drugs besides alcohol?

    Historically other types of drugs were made illegal as part of campaigns against an unpopular group. The earliest American laws were directed against opium dens:

    Wikipedia article on opium.

    Meanwhile, the drug of choice for upper-classed ladies of the time was injected morphine.

    The first laws against marijuana (Mexicans), and cocaine (African Americans) followed similar patterns in racist/classist implementation. In a broader way, the trend continues today. Alcohol abusers are at least as dangerous to others as the users of most illegal drugs, yet alcohol is legal.

    Lets put it this way: Drug use cannot be stopped entirely, but it can be minimized only by effective education and opportunities in conventional society. If you look at drug control spending versus use rates, there is no correlation. However, perceptions on drug use correlate very negatively with drug use rates.

    Since responsible drug use does not hurt others, and most drug users don't hurt others, the punitive approach will only serve to cause more suffering by virtue of ruining more lives than the drugs themselves, all the while not decreasing use. People who don't use drugs don't use them because they don't want to or have better things to do. There is of course the factor that drug prohibition creates violent black markets as well.

    I may be wrong but you seem to be using decriminalize and legalize interchangeably. Decriminalize means that no jail time can be attached to the violation, but a fine is still possible. The act is classified as a violation (like most speeding tickets), rather than a felony or misdemeanor.

    I'd say we should legalize them all provided we make the public understand that this does not mean that drugs are safe, but rather that drug enforcement has done more harm than good.

    The only legit argument against legalization, IMO, is that it will send the wrong message to people, but that can be safeguarded against.

    Absolutely. America has the highest proportion of its population incarcerated in the world partly due to aggressive drug enforcement. If irresponsible use rates do not change under legalization/decriminaliation, fewer people's lives are destroyed by the criminal justice system, and the black market is deprived of its primary source of income, you can bet that money will be saved and society will improve.

    America was fine before drugs were made illegal. People need to be educated on the possible consequences and then decide for themselves. It's nobody else's business unless the user victimizes somebody.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009
  8. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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  9. N4mddissent
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    N4mddissent Active Member

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    I agree with what you have said. Since it was a new thread, I wanted the op to be an invitation for a wide range of opinions. I honestly have never heard any good reasonable argument for maintaining current drug laws and I guess that was sort of what I was looking for. I was hoping someone could give me a reason that would at least justify why the issue has not made it into serious public discussion. BTW, I do understand the difference between decriminalize and legalize, but since I was aiming for a broad discussion, I felt either would provide some similar benefits to the system, and wanted to leave the door open for many possible suggestions.

    I think it is telling that no one has posted anything objecting to less strict drug laws here.
     
  10. LiveUninhibited
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    LiveUninhibited Caffeine Junkie

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    Not a scientific poll, but when I posted a poll on what drug policy Americans should adopt on another forum these were the results:

    A tie between marijuana decriminalization and outright legalization with regulation, combined they're 63.42%. From my limited experience it seems people on political forums are more liberal on this issue. Fewer than 10% were more conservative than the status quo. I wonder if it is the same here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009

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