The War on Drugs in America

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Amy Jones
PHIL 1400
May 5, 2010
America’s Unjust Drug War
It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result; this statement fairly sums up the War on Drugs. Let us imagine a scenario of two men, one of them has killed 4 young women in cold blood, for ‘sport’ as he likes to say; the other man was caught with a large amount of an illegal drug. In prison it would not be unlikely for these two to share a cell, but my question is why? Why are these drastically different crimes seen as being worthy of the same punishment? According to a pro-marijuana web site, studies show that in Dallas, Texas “Possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000. Possession of greater than two ounces is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $4,000” (“We Be High”). It seems to defy logic, and upon observation of the facts, it does. The War on Drugs, specifically the prohibition of marijuana, is an unnecessary drain on our country’s tax dollars and law enforcement agencies. Some would even say that these agencies have no right to tell us what we as US Citizens can put into our bodies in the first place. Not only that, but the skepticism and prohibition of marijuana is keeping people from exploring the amazing potential that it has in the medicinal field. If marijuana were legalized properly, not only would these problems begin to work themselves out, but the illegal market and the problems and dangers caused by the prohibition of marijuana would cease to exist. One fact that few in our country would refute is that our prison system is over-crowded and has been stretched in recent years to accommodate all the recent “criminals.” Along with all those which have committed true crimes against society such as murder and robbery, there are now citizens that have been found guilty of possession or distribution of drugs. “In 2003, there were a record 755,186 marijuana arrests in the US - greater than the number of arrests for all violent crimes combined” (Miron). “In 1998, 65% of those were convicted of drug possession in state court and 71% of those convicted of drug trafficking were sentenced to incarceration” (Chin 10). Not only is being arrested and incarcerated for simple possession of marijuana a set-back in one’s life, but finding a decent job for an ex-con is very difficult (Rachels and Rachels). It is hard to believe that violent criminals and Marijuana dealers belong in the same facility; it is a waste of money to feed and clothe them. A popular philosophical argument for the legalization of drugs, such as marijuana, is that the Government does not have the right to tell us what we can and cannot put into our own bodies. Nowhere in the constitution does it state that all drugs should be illegal and should result in major fines or even jail time if one was caught in possession of the drug. In fact, it seems to be implied that people should be able to have the freedom to self medicate as they want to. From the utilitarian perspective, people tend to be happier when they have freedom, and the current drug laws reduce that feeling of freedom and happiness. Therefore, the government should not put restrictions on drug use (Rachels and Rachels). If someone were to make the choice to smoke cannabis, that would be their choice and doing so would not directly harm anyone else. After all, isn’t America the ‘Land of the Free’? Our country is filled with propagandists who warp the facts and percentages of drugs that they want to be illegal just so the drug seems more dangerous than it actually is. In fact, some people’s every day activities are proven to be more harmful than marijuana such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, obesity, having unprotected sex, and riding motorcycles (Rachels and Rachels). A popular argument prohibitionists use for this is that illegal drug use harms the user in...
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