In 1971, President Richard Nixon began to fight the use and trafficking of illicit drugs. Subsequent presidents and congresses have stiffened penalties on their use and sale while substantially funding imprisonment of drug abusers and drug traffickers, as well as the interdiction of drugs coming into the country. Drugs should get legalized, to cut federal expenditure on drug law enforcement and pave way for more education and reduce the rise in imprisonment for mere possession of illicit drugs.
The government could cut federal expenses by billions with the legalization of all drugs. Studies indicate that the U.S. spends over billion annually on law enforcement and programs intended to combat the drug problem. This money could instead facilitate public education on drug use and treating the addicted (Talks at Google, 2013). Dealing with addiction should not consume billions spent on fighting illicit drugs. It would improve the lives of thousands of possibly productive men and women of this country that have become separated from their productive lives.
With the legalization of all drugs, a significant percentage of current inmates would not be in prison. The U.S. has more people in prison that any other country caused by current drug laws (Talks at Google, 2013). As Dr. Hart argues, all drugs should get decriminalized to avoid arresting millions of people with mere possession of a drug. Arguably, legalization could even reduce this number by greater extent noting that most of these people pose no danger to the community. (“Chapter 9 Social Work with Alcohol and Substance Abuse Disorders,” n.d.). As more people get imprisoned, the pressure on the social welfare system increases.
Despite some arguing that legalization could increase the consumption of illicit drugs to critical levels, it is known that consumption of illegal drugs has been on the rise for the past few years. It could be an opportunity to divert funds spent on fighting drug trafficking and consumption to promote public education and improve treatment to the addicted. It would also reduce imprisonment, allowing many inmates to take care of their families and participate in nation-building.
Chapter 9 Social Work with Alcohol and Substance Abuse Disorders [PowerPoint Slides]. (n.d.).
Suppes, M. A., & Wells, C. C. (2012). The social work experience: An introduction to social work and social welfare (7th ed.). McGraw-Hill Humanities, Social Sciences & World Languages.
Talks at Google. (2013). “HIGH PRICE: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society” [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdsN_vYZ3w8