End The War On Drugs

End The War On Drugs
Posted by CN Staff on February 26, 2008 at 05:23:34 PT
Source: Daily Targum
New Jersey -- Since the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, drug enforcement policies have been a top priority for the federal government. The Nixon and Reagan years marked the beginning of the controversial war on drugs, arguably the most costly and narrow-minded piece of domestic policy to date. According to the Drug Policy Alliance Web site, the United States spent an estimated $40 billion financing drug enforcement legislation in the year 2000, with $18 billion being allocated to the National Drug Control budget and upwards of $20 billion being spent on the state level. The Drug Policy Alliances estimates that this amount will continue to increase annually in stark contrast to the budget allocated toward funding of other domestic programs, such as federal student loans for higher education.
Though our editorial board was unilaterally opposed to this senseless policy, opinions on how the nation ought to address the problem of dealing with illegal drugs and narcotics were many and diverse. Drawing comparisons to the prohibition era, some of us argued that such heavy-handed governmental control over the sale of illegal drugs will only facilitate the continued rise of petty street crime in urban centers, where organized crime syndicates are able to operate with a high level of anonymity, distributing drugs and contributing to the established states of mob rule in many the poorest of our nation's city districts. This quickly led to a rapid-fire discussion about the much-debated topic of drug legalization in America.On this controversial topic, our editorial board overwhelmingly favored a modified national drug policy that would lead to the de-classification of marijuana as a schedule I substance. The Controlled Substances Act defines Schedule I substances as substances that have a high potential for abuse and have no established medical benefits. Other Schedule I substances include heroin, LSD and MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy. We find that it is difficult, in the current political climate, for the government to argue that marijuana poses a serious threat as an addictive substance and believe that enough evidence has been established to conclude that marijuana does possess legitimate medical benefits. There are currently 13 states with medical marijuana laws and Cannabis Club dispensaries, according to's dispensary directory, and we believe it is high time that the federal government intervened to change the scheduling of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act.The number of citizens arrested for petty marijuana charges annually is staggering and has only continued to grow since the drug laws were first enacted. The fiscal consequences of incarcerating these small-time offenders are unacceptable, especially in the current economic climate. State and federal prisons are already overcrowded with drug offenders, which leaves comparatively little room for housing more violent criminals.Though we were all able to agree marijuana should be decriminalized, at least to a certain extent, opinions about the controlled status of other drugs and narcotics were not in universal alignment. At least one member of the editorial board believed that any amount of governmental control on psychoactive drugs was unconstitutional, as it constitutes a violation of basic privacy rights and is representative of government officials legislating their own morality. It was this member's belief that American citizens should be free to decide for themselves that substances they choose to accept. He followed up his argument by declaring that the existing drug legislation has done little to curb the flow of illegal substances into our country, which was universally agreed upon.But there are legitimate concerns when it comes to maintaining some level of control over certain substances, especially substances as addictive and dangerous as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. Many of our board members believe that it would be grossly irresponsible for our government to abandon laws barring the use of these substances, as their use has been historically shown to lead to a decrease in the quality of life of their individual users, as well as the economic downfall of communities in which their use is prevalent. Crystal methamphetamine, for example, is reported to be able to strip the enamel off of a habitual user's teeth in less than nine months. People under the influence of this substance are more likely to injure themselves or others around them, as methamphetamine has been proven to severely impair a person's judgment and decision-making capabilities.The difficulty in this situation lies in defining the reasonable limits of freedom, which is vaguely promised as an unalienable right to all American citizens. Where the line should be drawn between legal and illegal substances, and who should be charged with drawing them, is a debate that dates back to the founding fathers and is still no closer now to being brought to a satisfactory conclusion than it was in their era. What has become obvious in the years since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act, so far as our editorial board is concerned, is that our country is spending way too much money fighting its war on drugs, a policy which is hopelessly outdated and Draconian, and has done little, if anything, to curb the flow of these substances into, and throughout, our nation. Source: Daily Targum (Rutgers, NJ Edu)Published: February 26, 2008Copyright: 2008 Daily TargumContact:  oped dailytargum.comWebsite: Justice Archives
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