Today, the issue of drug use is not new. Some people believe that drugs are dangerous, others realize that drugs could be used for medical purposes, and some groups of people have not been able to develop their own opinions about drugs. Drug policy has become one of the most ubiquitous issues around the whole world (Mosher & Akins 1). People have different opinions about the importance of drug legalization, and many people continue to argue about the necessity to legalize or decriminalize drug use. In fact, drug legalization and decriminalization are two different issues that have enough grounds to be supported (Ingraham par. 1). Regarding the history of the American war on drugs and societal attitudes toward drug legalization or decriminalization, the current American drug policy can hardly be called just because much attention is still paid to social opinions and reforms instead of considering moral arguments, personal responsibility, and the many benefits of drug decriminalization such as the abilities to have drug treatment, reduce overall criminal costs, and avoid the devastating outcomes of a criminal conviction.
The drug war cannot be neglected by people because it touches human lives and influences the decisions that people make every day. However, the ways in which it is treated in society are not all just and fair. Huemer admits that the “drug war is morally outrageous in its very conception” (142) because the current policies deprive people of their liberties and the right to make their own decisions. In 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created to monitor the activities of people who used drugs. In 1971, Nixon proclaimed the war on drugs, and each year, millions of dollars were spent on activities to fight drug use. If the government prohibits drug use because it is harmful to people, then why does the government not want to prohibit such harmful things as eating too much, riding motorcycles, working in dead-end jobs, and more? (Huemer 134). Therefore, it is better to think not about legalization but about decriminalization of drugs.
Decriminalization and legalization are different issues with the same goal: to help people develop their own attitudes about drug use. Legalization removes criminal penalties and promotes taxation and regulation by governments (Thimmesch par. 3). Decriminalization removes all monetary and criminal penalties so that people are able to seek drug treatment and avoid the devastating outcomes of a criminal conviction; at the same time, it would allow the government to reduce criminal costs and the number of people in jail. Given such opportunities, the American drug war policy remains unjust because it fails to consider the morals aspects of the question. Under this system, people cannot determine their own beliefs on this issue and instead have to follow the regulations imposed by the government. Legalization is an opinion of the government that may or may not be supported by citizens. Decriminalization, on the other hand, is a chance for people to understand the true worth of drug use and determine their own attitudes toward this activity.
In general, governmental policy regarding the so-called drug war plays an important role in human lives. People will try drugs whether this activity is legalized or not, and many might pay for their mistakes with their health or even their lives. They could be imprisoned, but many would still not change their opinions and decisions. Therefore, decriminalization is the solution that should be defended by those who appreciate their rights and believe that their own personal decisions, not rules imposed by the government, should predetermine their lives.
Huemer, Michael. “America’s Unjust Drug War.” The New Prohibition. Ed. Bill Masters. St. Louis, Missouri: Accurate Press, 2004. 133-144. Print.
Ingraham, Christopher. “Support for Marijuana Legalization Has Hit an All-Time High.” The Washington Post. 2016. Web.
Mosher, Clayton, J. and Scott M. Akins. Drugs and Drug Policy: The Control of Consciousness Alteration, Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, 2013. Print.
Thimmesch, Nicholas. “There’s a Big Difference between Legalization and Decriminalization.” The Daily Caller. 2013. Web.