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This forum was created to encourage both pro and con sides of the drug war sides.
We want and encourage people to argue both sides so that we have a much better and stronger understanding of the complex and difficult issues facing our society.
Some users will take a anti-drug stance and argue it fiercely even though it may not be their opinion. The goal is to argue and defend both sides of the issue. So please do not take the debate personally.
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Please respect and enjoy the debate, remember you have much stronger and fruitful debates by simply respecting those you disagree with.
Here is a text that covers the major arguments of drug prohibition and legalisation, it's such good reading that I decided to put it in this Rules thread as it shows the major points of debate. Thanks to Ravus for this great find and the linkup!
Arguments for and against drug prohibition From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The prohibition of drugs is a subject of considerable controversy. Ergo, following is a presentation of arguments for and against drug prohibition.
1 Arguments for prohibition
1.1 Drug prohibition as a solution to perceived problems of society 1.2 Crime rates 1.3 Commercial exploitation of drug addiction
2 Arguments against prohibition
2.1 Ineffective and costly drug law enforcement 2.2 Rise in tax revenue 2.3 Reduction in drug dealing profits 2.4 Drug addiction as a public health issue 2.5 Cost of drugs 2.6 Racist enforcement of drug laws
3 Point-counterpoint for drug prohibition
3.1 Amoral 3.2 Dangerous to self 3.3 Dangerous to others 3.4 Bad for society 3.5 Encouraging drug use / stronger drugs 3.6 Miscellaneous for prohibition
4 Point-counterpoint against drug prohibition
4.1 Hinders human rights 4.2 Increases crime 4.3 Subjective and unfair 4.4 Leads to corruption 4.5 Does more harm than good 4.6 Hampers legitimate medical research and treatment 4.7 Miscellaneous against prohibition 5 See also 6 References and external links
Arguments for prohibition
Drug prohibition as a solution to perceived problems of society
Some proponents of drug prohibition, such as members of the Temperance movement, support drug prohibition on the basis that many of the perceived problems or flaws of society are caused by the use of drugs or drug addiction. Thus the prohibition of drugs would correct many of these problems and improve society as a whole. 
Many studies have been conducted concerning the connection between drug addiction and property crime. One such study, conducted by Douglas Anglin and John Ball, shows that the most addicted commit large number of crimes. "Crime rates seem to increase when their heroin use increases and to fall when it declines." Studied drug addicts in Baltimore committed crime (including the posession of the drug as a crime) on an average of 255 days per year, during which time they were "actively addicted" to heroin. When they were not actively taking heroin, they only committed crime on 65 days (Currie 61). In general, it is estimated that 80% of property crimes are committed in order to support a drug habit. 
Commercial exploitation of drug addiction
Some people, especially those who might otherwise support drug legalisation, are against it because of the impact upon society of the commercial exploitation of the addictive potential of drugs. The basic argument is that tobacco and alcohol are extremely popular even though they are relatively more dangerous than many illegal drugs and are subjectively less pleasurable. This, critics say, is attributable to the large marketing campaigns of tobbaco and alcohol companies. If these same companies were able to sell drugs that were arguably more addictive and pleasureable, then chances are even more people would become addicted. This genre of critics is pessimistic that a system could ever be created whereby drugs could be legalized but not be commercially exploited. One factor critics point to is the tremendous lobbying power of alcohol and tobacco companies, as well as the large areas of commerce that are already related to illegal drugs, such as t-shirts about drugs, or songs about drugs. These critics also dismiss the idea that legalizing drugs will make them cheaper, pointing to the fact that most brands of alcohol are more expensive than most illegal drugs for an equivalent level of inebriation. Many of these critics feel that those involved in the production of certain currently legal drugs such as tobacco and prescription opioids are already profiting off of the addiction of their users. This criticism is directed not only toward the commercial exploitation of physiological addiction, but also of psychological addiction, which in addition to drug use can occur in relation to many types of behaviour, for example gambling, overeating and economic consumption. The argument that potentially addictive activities should be banned or restricted to prevent commercial exploitation can be seen as socialist in nature, because the people are protected from a negative consequence of economic origin that they would not be protected from in a free market capitalist economy. 
Arguments against prohibition
Just as the end of alcohol prohibition in 1933 led to immediate decreases in murders and robberies (Wink 111), the legalization of drugs could have similar effects. Robert W. Sweet, a federal judge, strongly agrees: "The present policy of trying to prohibit the use of drugs through the use of criminal law is a mistake" (Riga 53).
Ineffective and costly drug law enforcement
Current drug law enforcement is costly and ineffective. To begin with, law enforcement officials are spending much tax money on the crusade against drugs (McGrath 124). Steven B. Duke comments that the current drug war costs 9 billion dollars on a federal level, 18 billion dollars on state and local levels, and 10 billion dollars from property losses of crime victims (117). Over 100 billion dollars were spent on the war on drugs from 1980 to 1992 (Duke and Gross 32-33). The National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that in 1990 six million citizens were steady illegal drug users, double the estimate taken in 1980. The expensive drug war has certainly not reduced drug addiction (Riga 53).
The government expenses for enforcement for the first ten years of Prohibition was 88 million dollars, or around 773 million in 1993 dollars. The cost was about 22 billion dollars during the Reagan years and about 45 billion during Bush's four years in office. The government spent 16 billion dollars on drug regulation in FY 1998. In FY 1999 they approved a budget of 17.9 billion dollars (Boaz). Over a fifteen-month period ending in 1987, the Air Force spent 3.3 million dollars trying to stop illicit drugs at U.S. borders. They concluded the term with only eight successful seizures. Similarly, the Coast Guard and Navy spent 40 million dollars and completed the fifteen-month period with only 20 successful seizures of drug-carrying vessels (Wink 108).
Steven B. Duke and Albert C. Gross state that more than half of the cost of law enforcement is associated with drug-related crimes (32) and that drug enforcement is not self-sustaining. In 1991 the government's drug cash and property seizures totaled just one million dollars; the government spent 12.5 million dollars on drug programs that year. In addition, taxes are high because of the increased police protection (33-34).
Not only is the current enforcement costly, but also the great wealth leads to the "corruption of police, judges, and elected officials" (Wink 108). Law enforcement resources are being diverted as well (Cooper). The police are unable to deal with serious threats (Kane 155) because drug arrests and related crimes use up police resource and energy (Duke 116). If drugs are legalized the police will be able to protect society from real criminals.
Mary H. Cooper believes that many courts and prisons are overcrowded. The U.S. has a higher imprisonment rate than any other country. "[Forty] states are under court orders for overcrowding" (Duke 116). Drug convictions caused an 80 percent increase in prison population from 1985 to 1995. In 1990, 52.6 percent of prisoners were drug-related criminals, while in 1996, 59.6 percent were drug-related criminals. Violent offenses decreased from 18 percent in 1990 to 12.4 percent in 1996. Property offenses decreased from 14 percent in 1990 to 8.4 percent in 1996. Most drug offenders were non-violent (Boaz). The funds needed to build prisons fast enough for more space is not available. To make room for drug users and dealers, violent criminals are having their sentences shortened or are being paroled early (Duke 116-117). With legalization, more room should become available in existing prisons for dangerous criminals. 
Rise in tax revenue
In addition, the legal sale of currently illegal drugs would raise tax revenue (Riga). Legalizing and taxing marijuana would be a huge benefit to the nation's economy (McGrath 127). The new taxes would be similar to those from gambling and from alcohol (Riga). Current drug tax laws were pioneered in Arizona in 1983. According to the law, dealers stuck stamps on illegal drugs to prove that they had paid the tax. The dealers were assured that buying stamps would not make them criminal targets. North Carolina's tax department obtained 66 million dollars in fines from dealers without stamps. A total of 63 stamps were sold, three to actual traders and the rest to stamp collectors. Soon after 1983, the laws were adopted by 16 other states, but were later proven to be ineffective (Paulin). Drug prohibition drives the drug problem underground and lets criminals earn money. The government should be able to receive great tax profits if drugs were legalized. 
Reduction in drug dealing profits
Also, legalization would reduce the profits of drug dealing. The illegal drug business is very profitable since the price of a product increases when it is made illegal. "Whenever there is a great demand for a product and [the] government makes it illegal, a black market always appears to supply the demand". Yearly drug trafficking earnings average to about 60 billion dollars and range as high as 100 billion dollars a year (Duke and Gross 33). Marijuana is the largest cash crop in ten states and the second largest cash crop in the U.S., after corn. "Revenues from drug trafficking in Miami, FL., are greater than those from tourism, exports, health care, and all other legitimate businesses combined" (Wink 108). The U.S. illegal drug market is one-eighth of the total world market, making it the largest illegal drug market in the world (Rodriguez). Janet Crist of the White House Office of National Drug Policy mentioned that the anti-drug efforts have had "no direct effect on either the price or the availability of cocaine on our streets" (qtd. in Boaz). Additionally, drug dealers show off expensive jewelry and clothing to young kids (Duke and Gross 33). Some of these kids are interested in making fast money instead of working legitimate jobs (Kane 157). Drug legalization would remove the "glamorous Al Capone-type traffickers who are role-models for the young" (Wink 111). 
Drug addiction as a public health issue
Furthermore, if drugs were legalized, drug addiction would become a health issue, and public health would be enhanced. For one, cleaner drugs would lead to improved health. By selling drugs in state clinics or stores, the government would be able to maintain control over drug sales. As with alcohol, the Food and Drug Administration would guarantee purity and safety (Wink 111-113). Steven B. Duke and Albert C. Gross conclude that drug legalization would result in a reduced risk of drug poisoning or overdose. Producers and traffickers currently sell more concentrated, more deadly, and more addictive drugs because they are cheaper and easier to import. Legalization would allow users to use more diluted forms. "If drug purities were standardized and clearly and accurately labeled, the likelihood of a person accidentally overdosing would be much less than it is under the present regime" (37-38). Administration of clean needles would lessen disease transmitted by drug abusers, including AIDS. Pregnant women with drug problems would receive better prenatal care (Duke 116-117).
Judge James P. Gray, an advocate of drug legalization, believes that the only way to solve a progressively unsuccessful war on drugs is to decriminalize it and make it a health issue (Luna). Currently, it is difficult for drug users to ask for help or seek treatment because of the criminal status of drugs; drug abuse should be considered an illness. Peter J. Riga believes "it is shameful and irrational that users of cocaine and heroin are labeled criminals and go to jail?with almost no hope of therapy or rehabilitation?while the users of the powerful drug alcohol are considered sick and given therapy." The government provides very little funding for drug treatment (53), resulting in the abuse of addicted people. New York City imprisons one drug abuser for more than 150 dollars per day, but ignores the need of the user. Convicted addicts without money have to wait at least four months for therapy (Kane 155). Treatment is "available for only about 15 [percent] of the nation's drug addicts." Recurrently, judges have to follow mandatory sentencing guidelines when prosecuting drug users. The New York Times mentions that in New York in April 1993, two federal judges were fed up with the guidelines and refused to hear any case that was drug-related (Riga 53).
Drugs cannot be used for medical purposes because of prohibition. Cannabis is a Schedule I drug, which means that it has no accepted medical uses. The benefits of its use include easing the pain of terminally ill patients. For chemotherapy and AIDS patients, cannabis increases their appetite and counters nausea. The American Medical Association protested the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act due to its interest in cannabis for medical purposes (McGrath 123+).
The Netherlands treats drug use a health problem, not a criminal problem. Because of the country's decision, treatment for drug addiction is widely available in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam 75 percent of heroin addicts are on treatment living virtually normal lives. "HIV infection rate among injective drug users in cities like Amsterdam has dropped from 11 percent to 4 percent and is now one of the lowest in the world" (Wink 111-113). 
Cost of drugs
When the cost of drugs increases, drugs users commit more crimes in order to obtain money to buy the expensive drugs (Duke 115). Legalizing drugs would price drugs reasonably cheap (Kane 155). Poor addicts would be capable of honest work and would not commit criminal acts to support their habits. 
Racist enforcement of drug laws
Some consider the war on drugs, at least in the United States, to be a "war on black people." Current drug laws are enforced in such a way as to penalize African-Americans more harshly and more often than other ethnic groups. The belief that "hard" drugs such as crack cocaine warrant stronger sentences than "soft" drugs such as marijuana or even powder cocaine represents a double standard not supported by scientific evidence. Defendants convicted of selling crack cocaine receive equal sentences to those convicted of selling 100 times the same amount of powder cocaine. Not surprisingly, the majority of offenders convicted for selling crack are African-American, while the majority of those convicted for selling cocaine are not. In addition, the convention of selling crack in heavily patrolled neighborhoods makes crack dealers easier targets for arrest than cocaine dealers, who tend to operate in private areas, such as dance clubs and college campuses. If this does not show that drug laws are useless, it shows that they are clearly being implemented incorrectly. 
Point-counterpoint for drug prohibition
These are the main points people make for drug prohibition, and counter-points made by people against it: 
* A state cannot tolerate or be involved with the distribution of substances the use of which is considered immoral by much of the population. o The charge of "immorality" is subjective, and can be defined differently according to different perspectives and beliefs, all of which may be valid. Thus, with such conflicting views, a law based on "morality" cannot be fairly applied to any population. + This is not entirely true. Murder is certainly immoral, and based on the set of "morality" that most humans share. There is no truly objective (i.e., not based on morality) way to determine if murder or anything else is 'right' or 'wrong.' # Murder is prohibited because it directly violates the rights of another person. Drug use does not. Morality is not the basis of laws against murder, theft, and rape, rights are. o In the general sense, the argument for the prohibition of drugs because they are immoral ignores many other substances which remain legal but have many of the same addictive, behavioral, and health effects as drugs. However, this is not entirely true, as there are many advocates of drug prohibition who also advocate the prohibition of substances such as alcohol and tobacco. o The state already tolerates the distribution of many things much of the population considers immoral, such as pornography, alcohol, various religions/atheism, and Internet access that allows access to things that are clearly illegal or 'immoral.' There is a very large debate open as to if the government should even be allowed to have a say in 'moral' issues (see Same-sex marriage).
Dangerous to self
* Recreational use of certain drugs is unhealthy and dangerous for the user's body. Therefore, it cannot be produced or distributed with the help of the state, because the goal of the state is to protect citizens' health and not to expose them to risk. o It is more dangerous for both the individual and for society to prevent judicious access to certain drugs. For example, the exploratory use of hallucinogens has led to personal growth and increased awareness in those subjects (artists, philosophers and ordinary people) who have experimented with these substances. Likewise, the therapeutic use of hallucinogens helped a great many individuals with mental difficulties, including autistic children, and terminal cancer patients, for example. These uses, and the methods empoyed were documented in the studies of early researchers in the field, such as Stanislav Grof and others. Closing off access to these substances reduces the overall level of consciousness in society and puts out of reach a powerful tool for working with the mind to a positive end. This creates an unsafe situation for all, as the people prevented from functioning to the best of their mental capacity, often in positions of power, act in ways that are confused and destructive of themselves, others, and the environment. o Nearly any activity, from driving a car to cleaning the house, can be dangerous. The legalization of drugs can aid in the minimization of the dangers of drug use (see harm reduction). It is worth noting that the effects of marijuana on the mind (including "amotivational syndrome") and body are minimal to nonexistent, especially when compared with other, legal activities (e.g., drinking alcohol) + The dangers of driving and other legal activities are a result of accidents. The brain damage associated with drug use is a result of regular use and generally cannot be avoided. # Opiates (including heroin) do not cause brain damage. Marijuana does not cause permanent brain damage (it can impair some functions in the short-term through several months after cessation of use, but not permanently). LSD causes very minor or no damage. Alcohol does cause brain damage. # Most people are fully capable of assessing whether the damage from an activity is worth it, a skill that can be better developed with real, unbiased, factual education that does not exist now but would be essential to any legalization program. Furthermore, some people believe the direct and permanent damage inflicted to their bodies when they get piercings or tattoos is worth it, should those be banned? + While it is true that many activities include some level of danger, that does not mean that they are all equally dangerous. Drug use is unacceptably dangerous, regardless of how dangerous other legal human activities may be. # No one has died from an overdose of THC (the main active constituent of marijuana). Many currently prohibited drugs have not been shown to cause any physical damage; study of these substances is difficult due to societal stigma and prohibition. # More people die every year from peanut allergies (including proportionate to population usage) than from Ecstasy. Since equal nutritive value can be derived from other food sources, is the use of peanuts unacceptable due to the risk? # Heroin and other opiate drugs, in their pure and unadulterated form, are among the safest substances, assuming an accurate dosage can be administered. # Unacceptably dangerous is a subjective statement. The question should be one of "risk vs. benefits." Most drug users consider the benefits of mind-expanding drugs like LSD to be greater than the risks, including potential brain damage and jail time. o It is not worthwhile for a law to forbid persons from willingly exposing their own bodies to harm by using drugs, any more than by overeating, bungee-jumping, getting tattoos, or volunteering to work in leprosaria. + The use of some drugs may be significantly more dangerous than most of these activities. # Obesity is a USA national epidemic, killing millions every year, but the government has no right and does little to regulate how much citizens eat. + Drug use may underwrite other forms of crime that endanger other people. # Most (a large majority) of these other forms of crime are derived from the black market culture, and are best eliminated by legalization. Crimes committed by users to obtain drugs would also disappear with the price drop and improved access to effective treatment if drugs were legalized. # Some drug-related crime may occur as a result of drugs being illegal, and possibly therefore expensive and impure. * Drugs are addictive.  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/debate/myths/myths2.htm) Hence, they essentially rob the user of free will. A drug user can not make an informed and rational decision whether to continue using drugs because the use of the drug eliminates that user's ability to think rationally. o Even if this was true, it would apply only to heavily addicted individuals. The vast majority of users of any drug are not addicted; recreational use is dominant. o Drug users exercised free will when they chose to use drugs; a person has the right to give up his or her own freedom. o No drug exists which eliminates free will, although death is possible. It is possible to quit using any drug, even if it is unlikely. o Many banned drugs are not addictive, or are significantly less deleterious to free will than legal alcohol or tobacco. Severe physiological addiction has been demonstrated for tobacco (stronger than cocaine), but no strong physiological addiction has been shown for marijuana.  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/addictiv.htm) o Society condones or promotes psychological addiction to other activities that may be harmful, including overwork or conspicuous consumption.
Dangerous to others
* Drug use is dangerous to persons besides the user, in the rise of health care costs, violence associated with the use of drugs,  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/debate/myths/myths3.htm) neglect of children by drug-addicted parents, and other third party effects. Drugs should remain illegal to minimize these effects of drug use. o Few illegal drugs cause as much direct secondhand harm as smoking, which causes thousands of deaths every year among non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke. o A state truly concerned with the safety of its citizens would: 1. Work towards the gradual substitution of alcohol with marijuana to the extent possible by persuasion because marijuana is safer than alcohol. 2. Not bring grievous harm its own citizens (and their children, relatives, friends and associates) by putting them in jail for crimes which can only be described as political. o Drug legalization would reduce health care costs overall by reducing the probability of overdoses and accidental ingestion of an unintended drug through standardization of drug purity and quality control by state-sponsored production and/or regulation of sale. In addition, there is no evidence of prohibition significantly reducing the use of drugs  (http://www.csdp.org/edcs/theneed.htm),  (http://www.acep.org/1,2886,0.html); so legalizing them would not raise health care costs significantly. o The violence associated with the use of drugs would be greatly decreased if the price was lower, as would certainly happen upon drug legalization. Most drug-related crime is caused by users attempting to find funding to buy drugs at artificially inflated prices (caused by prohibition raising the risk and cost of creation, transport and sale of drugs).  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/basicfax.htm#q6) + The spread of crack has shown the exact opposite to be true. # A 1988 study showed 85% of all crack-related violence was caused by the market culture, primarily territory disputes among dealers. There's no reason this trend would not be comparable today. (Goldstein et. al., 1997) # As a bastardization of powder cocaine, crack is a unique case of an ideal "dealer's drug" that would have not arisen without the initial black market conditions we now live with. o There is no clear and obvious third party harm. All examples of such are caused by related activities that can be illegal without blanket prohibition. For example, driving while intoxicated is illegal, while drinking alcohol without driving is not. The harm caused to children by their parents' excessive drug use is criminal insofar as it constitutes child abuse through neglect; drug-specific laws are unneeded. By this logic, alcohol, TV, video games, shopping, gambling, cleaning, sex, reading and writing, and virtually any hobby or occupation should be prohibited as some parents may neglect their children in order to focus on having sex, running a business, or building model railways. + The other activities may be less addictive than drugs. # Smoking is more addictive than any illicit drug use, including heroin and cocaine. It is also more lethal than many illicit drugs. o The vast majority of harm from drugs is directly related to the black market. Most violence and death occurs due to problems on the supply side. This has a significant negative impact on communities and those not involved in the drug scene. Legalization would eliminate black market distribution, thus cause a massive drop in death and improve the quality of life for many communities ruined by black market violence.
Bad for society
* Drug use negatively impacts the economy in the form of users missing work and doing shoddy work. o The War on Drugs has not been shown to reduce drug use.  (http://www.csdp.org/edcs/theneed.htm),  (http://www.acep.org/1,2886,0.html) Hence, drug legalization would have no effect on this. o If workers do shoddy work, they can be fired. + Firings would also negatively affect the economy. # Firings would cause other, more competent people to be hired, resulting in less people who want work but can't get it. o People who lose or are unable to gain jobs because of drug testing are a bigger drain on the economy than lower productivity from drug use. o The hundreds of thousands of people currently serving time in prisons are missing a lot more work than any conceivable losses due to excessive drug use. o In the United States alone, $40 billion is spent on the ineffective effort at prohibition each year. This is a far larger drain on the economy. Not only would legalization eliminate this drain, it would generate massive tax revenue similar to taxes on alcohol and tobacco. Among other uses, these funds would be used to pay for effective drug education and treatment, sharply curtailing any possible increase in users. o If it takes $40 billion per year to accomplish what we have done now (not much), how much would it theoretically cost to completely enforce prohibition from the supply side? It's simply not possible from an economic standpoint. o Correlation does not imply causation. Those likely to do drugs on the job are just as likely to be the type of people who would miss work and perform poorly whether they were on drugs or not. Furthermore, drug use can actually help job performance by correcting things like anxiety and chronic fatigue where the War on Drugs has made obtaining adequate treatment through legitimate medical channels impossible due to the unwillingness of a lot of doctors to prescribe controlled substances, even where the need is real.
Encouraging drug use / stronger drugs
* If currently illegal drugs were legalized, dealers would invent new, more dangerous and addictive drugs in order to maintain their profit flow. o Illegalization promotes more compact drugs which can be hidden and these are more addictive than more dilute legal drugs that are typically preferred by consumers.
* The use of soft drugs, such as marijuana, leads to the use of hard drugs (the 'Gateway'  (http://preventionpartners.samhsa.gov/que_gwdrugs_p1.asp) or 'Stepping Stone'  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/LIBRARY/studies/vlr/vlr5.htm)  (http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/cohen.cannabis.html) theory). o No peer-reviewed scientific study has ever concluded this; many have concluded that the Gateway Theory is clearly untrue, and some have even concluded that marijuana use helps prevent the use of other drugs.  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/marijuan.htm),  (http://drugwarfacts.com/gatewayt.htm),  (http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_myth13.shtml),  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/basicfax.htm#q14) o The explanation for the perceived gateway effect is that marijuana's prevalance leads to it almost always being the first drug encountered. Alcohol and tobacco are equivalant in percentage of hard drug users who first tried something else. Similarly, most motorbikers started out riding a normal bike. But it's clearly not true that riding a bike automatically leads you to ride a motorbike.
* Once legalized, corporations would advertise and promote addictive drugs to increase profit. This is exemplified by the currently legal drugs tobacco and alcohol, which are arguably far less pleasurable than other illegal drugs, yet far more popular currently, seemingly because they are legal. o Corporate advertising is restricted in varying ways for several sectors of the economy, including the tobacco industry. These restrictions, or stronger ones, could be enacted against companies promoting currently illegal drugs.
* The legalization of recreational drugs (particularly marijuana) would undermine efforts to reduce or eliminate tobacco smoking by adults and youth, which some parties are trying to ultimately make illegal. o Tobacco use should continue to be discouraged through education, proper labelling, and taxation. Making it illegal would inflate prices, encouraging people who to sell it on the black market and encourage users to steal in order to pay for it. It would also take away the incentive to refrain from selling to minors, and put the lives of tobacco smokers at risk, since they would use tobacco of unknown purity. We currently have the same problems with illegal drugs. If they were legal and laws were passed to require labelling, warning, and age restrictions then the sellers would have an incentive to obey the laws and the drug would no longer have currency in the black market. o If cannabis was legalised, less harmful ways of taking it than smoking it could be encouraged and developed. For example, pre-prepared hash cookies and hash cakes could be sold, and cannabis can also apparently be taken in sprays.
Miscellaneous for prohibition
* If drugs were legalized, the companies that manufacture and market them would be sued, as Big Tobacco has been sued in the United States. o Those who produce or market drugs should be held responsible for purity and safety. o This is an issue of civil law, not criminal law. o Big Tobacco was sued because the companies involved lied and misrepresented the facts in order to present their product as safe when they knew it was not. It does not have to be this way. Legalization of drugs does not mean that there will be national marketing campaigns encouraging heroin use, as some critics have claimed. Marketing currently illegal drugs can remain totally prohibited, or regulated in varying degrees while not decreasing availability for those who desire to use the drugs.
* If currently illegal drugs are legalized, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will have to be shut down, meaning that all health and safety restrictions on foods and drugs will be eliminated. Massive epidemics of diseases, overdoses and accidental drug interactions will occur.  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/debate/myths/myths10.htm) o This is a meaningless scare tactic with no basis in reality. Drug legalization does not mean a lack of regulation. Cigarettes come with warnings. Alcoholic beverages are clearly marked with the amount of alcohol. Currently, legal drugs contain a listing of all active and inactive ingredients. There is no legal or moral reason the FDA would have to be shut down. o Indeed, the FDA should continue to play an important role in the regulation of recreational substances. The government's sole role in protecting the citizenry is to educate and warn. The FDA should ensure purity, dose size, and provide for accurate labeling, indications, and warnings where appropriate. Drugs should be legal for sale only with ingredients, warnings, and purity levels clearly marked. o The Food and Drug Administration regulates legal drugs. The Drug Enforcement Agency, which regulates illegal drugs, would become unnecessary.
* There is a potential difficulty in enforcement of DUI laws should prohibition be ended. Clearly, driving under the influence of marijuana would be illegal, but there is as of yet no "stone-alyzer" like the breathalyzer used to check blood-alcohol levels. o If breathalyzer tests can be performed for a substance that does not directly enter one's lungs, surely a process can be devised that can detect a substance that does directly enter the lungs. o Stoned drivers, as a direct result of the paranoia common with marijuana, are very cautious and often refuse to drive altogether.
Point-counterpoint against drug prohibition
Hinders human rights
* Drug use is a victimless crime and hence, should be legal. o Drug use has no single individual victim besides the drug user himself, but places the burden of caring for and dealing with addicts on the rest of society. Essentially, the entire society is the victim of drug use in the same way that insider trading, another victimless crime, negatively affects every trader in the market. + It has already been clearly established that the burden placed on society by prohibition far exceeds the burden of providing care to a drug abuser in a society where there is no prohibition. The cost of law enforcement, incarceration and the violence/death toll from the black market are far more burdensome than the cost of simply providing abusers with rehabilitation. + Insider trading is not victimless as unwary investors are harmed, but personal recreational substances use, in and of itself, is victimless as no one is harmed. o Drug use has harmful effects on third party individuals,  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/debate/myths/myths9.htm) such as babies born addicted to drugs,  (http://www.adf.org.au/adp/) or traffic accidents caused by intoxication.  (http://www.paihdelinkki.fi/english/infobank/100_information_line/134e.htm),  (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/cru/kd01/blue/druguse-01.htm) + These are all caused by actions other than the ingestion of drugs, such as the use of drugs while pregnant or driving. One can, and usually does, use drugs when neither pregnant nor driving. It is worth noting that the use of cocaine has not been definitively linked to birth defects or mental retardation, but the use of nicotine has  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/pregnant.htm) as has the use of alcohol. Marijuana has also not been definitively linked to birth defects or mental retardation  (http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_myth7.shtml), nor to substantially increased risks of traffic accidents.  (http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_myth12.shtml),  (http://www.norml.org.nz/Marijuana/Driving.htm). o The War on Drugs is primarily aimed at drug dealers and not drug users. Drug dealers are victimizing potential customers. + Many thousands of users have been punished; many thousands of people who are neither users nor dealers have been harmed. + The United States government has given the governments of other countries (such as the UK) the names and addresses of people in those countries who purchased research chemicals from RC vendors that were shut down during the DEA's Operation Web Tryp (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/pressrel/pr072204.html). o The victim of drug use is the drug user himself, who needs to be removed from the opportunity of taking drugs. A person who has no contact with drugs likely has a better life than a person who is given the opportunity to use drugs. + A punitive approach exacerbates the "victim's" problems. Drugs are just as easy to get inside prison than outside. And after a conviction, someone who had a drug problem is going to have a very hard time finding a decent job and housing, resulting in depression and poverty, likely causing them to turn to drugs again. Also, people with non-violent drug convictions are denied federal student aid (rapists, murderers, and arsonists, among others, are not after their time is served), making an education unavailable. + A majority of recreational substance users lead healthy well-adjusted lives. In many cases moderate recreational substance use helps and enriches the lives of users.  (http://www.lycaeum.org/drugwar/buckley1.html) # The results of one study show: "We found no significant differences between the two groups on reported levels of income and education in their families of origin. However, the heavy users themselves reported significantly lower educational attainment (P < 0.001) and income (P = 0.003) than the controls, even after adjustment for a large number of potentially confounding variables. When asked to rate the subjective effects of cannabis on their cognition, memory, career, social life, physical health and mental health, large majorities of heavy users (66-90%) reported a 'negative effect'. On several measures of quality of life, heavy users also reported significantly lower levels of satisfaction than controls."  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=14672250) * It is not good to overindulge in anything. Moderate users may actually enrich their lives as it says above even though heavy users will, as with any activity experience negative effects. * The causal link may be the reverse of what is implied: maybe the "lower achievers" are heavier users because of their lower satisfaction, rather than vice-versa. o Victimless crimes should be illegal if they are immoral. Drug use is immoral. Hence, drug use should be illegal. + That drug use is immoral can only be based off one set of moral beliefs. For example, it is discriminatory to claim that Judeo-Christian abstinence from intoxication is the correct set of moral beliefs, whereas Native American historic and religious use of peyote  (http://www.peyote.org/),  (http://www.doitnow.org/pages/133.html) and psilocybin  (http://www.erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_timeline.php3), is not the correct set of moral beliefs. + Many religions have for thousands of years included mind-altering substances in their sacraments and various rituals; the repression of an individual's right to express his religion is clearly amoral, except in the cases where said expression harms others (see above).
* Drug use is a victimless crime and hence, is unenforceable: without a victim to report the occurrence of a crime, law enforcement personnel can not know of every individual instance of the performance of a crime; they are not able to convict the perpetrators of the crimes that they do not know occurred. Therefore, drug use should be legal so that the deleterious effects can be minimized (see harm reduction).  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/basicfax.htm#q7) o The fact that the laws can not be fully enforced does not negate the usefulness of such laws. Laws against murder, rape and other crimes will probably never reach a 100% conviction rate either. The War on Drugs has substantially reduced drug use  (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/demand/druglegal/10dl.htm),  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/debate/myths/myths12.htm) and legalizing drugs would increase drug use  (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/demand/druglegal/11dl.htm). + Legalizing murder, rape or other crimes would not enable society to minimize the deleterious effects in other ways. This is not true with drug use (see harm reduction). + Studies show that it is not true that the War on Drugs has substantially reduced drug use or availability.  (http://www.csdp.org/edcs/theneed.htm),  (http://www.acep.org/1,2886,0.html),  (http://abcnews.go.com/onair/2020/stossel_drugs_020730.html) o It is possible to create a drug free society. + Pain medications, for example, would have to also be completely banned for even medical use, since it's impossible to ensure not a single one is ever misused. The line between medical use and recreational use is not sufficiently clear to establish a society that was drug-misuse free. Many life-saving medications are psychoactive and thus subject to misuse. A drug free society would be one where there would be immense suffering. + There are no examples of cultures that included the use of intoxicants and then successfully eliminated the use thereof. There is no indication of a drug free society being possible in the future.
* The War on Drugs disproportionately affects the poor and members of racial and ethnic minorities (in the United States).  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/racepris.htm),  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/civilrts.htm),  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/basicfax.htm#q10) o This does not change the reasoning behind the laws. Drug laws should be enforced more fairly. + This may not be possible. The War on Drugs was founded on racism in the United States. Opium (a heroin precursor) prohibition began to target Chinese immigrants. Cocaine prohibition began to target African-Americans. Marijuana prohibition began to target Mexican immigrants.  (http://www.njweedman.com/history_of_drugracism.html)
* The War on Drugs has led to a decrease in civil liberties. Previously illegal searches and seizures, confiscations, wiretaps, and other police actions have been legitimized out of a desire to use them against drug smugglers or dealers.  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/civilrts.htm),  (http://www.drugpeace.org/headsup/headsup_02.html),  (http://drugwarfacts.com/military.htm),  (http://www.drugpeace.org/headsup/religion.html) o This is true, but is worth it for the benefit of the health and safety of non-drug-abusing members of society. + A statement attributed to Benjamin Franklin was that those who would trade freedom for security deserved neither freedom nor security. + This is not a valid point for the War on Drugs unless you also advocate treating alcohol and tobacco, which harm non-users just as much as any illegal drug. + Chronic pain patients are among those severely deprived of their rights. Anti-diversion paranoia has led to an invasion of doctor-patient confidentiality, leading to many doctors being too afraid of prosecution to prescribe adequate doses of pain medication to those in need. As a result, tens of thousands of Americans live with severely undertreated pain all in the name of ineffective efforts to prevent a very small number of people from diverting their prescriptions to recreational users. + The curtailment of civil liberties does not make anyone healthier or more safe. Unfair police tactics currently used against drug dealers, traffickers, and users could be easily used against people of political, religious, or ethnic minorities. + Non-drug-abusing members of society are sometimes harmed by this decrease of civil liberties. Sometimes, homes and other property are seized without any charges so it is likely that people who weren't using, selling, or making illegal drugs have been hurt by the War on Drugs.  (http://www.mapinc.org/newsssdp/v04/n1757/a03.html)
* The Drug War began for racist reasons, such as the spread of largely false rumors of the use of cocaine as an incitement to the rape of white women by black men, the seduction of white women by Chinese opium-smokers and violent behavior by Mexicans. In contrast, during this same period, the use of Laudanum (a tincture of opium and alcohol) was widely accepted by the population; the majority of users of laudnum were wealthy or middle-classed caucasians. The only differences between opium and laudanum were the method of ingestion and the ethnicity of the users. (See Drug Prohibition in the 20th century)
* In many countries drugs law are very severe. In Singapore you may be hanged for possessing more than a certain amount of cannabis. In the USA, as explored in the book Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser, many people convicted of marijuana trafficking are serving life sentences without parole, a higher sentence than that received by most murderers in the USA. In the UK cocaine and heroin dealers often serve longer sentences than rapists. Possession of a gun is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, which possession of cocaine, heroin or ecstasy is punishable by up to 7 years imprisonment. Supplying (or possessing with intent to supply) cocaine, heroin or ecstasy is punishable by a maximum life sentence, and supplying cannabis is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment, much more severe than the penalties for illegally supplying guns. In fact the maximum punishment for membership of proscribed terrorist organisations (like Al Qaeda) in Britain is ten years in jail, less than for supplying marijuana.
* The War on Drugs increases the profit margin in the sale of drugs,  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/economi.htm) hence, drug legalization will decrease organized and disorganized crime.  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/crime.htm) Furthermore, black market drug sales are not taxed; legalizing drugs and bringing sales into mainstream channels has the potential to increase tax revenue.
* The prohibition against drug use has boosted black market research on finding new, more powerful drugs that can be transported more easily and safely than existing ones. Because they are more powerful, a smaller amount can be profitable, as well as more dangerous and addictive than older drugs. Hence, drug prohibition has fueled the refinement of heroin (from much less addictive precursors) and the invention of crack cocaine (a cheaper, more addictive and more dangerous derivative of cocaine). o A large corporation could do this much more effectively if recreational drugs were legalized. + If a corporation did so, it could be required to prove relative safety and clearly mark all packages with danger warnings. It is much easier to force a few corporations to responsibly develop and market drugs than a vast, underground system of individual drug dealers who have no reason not to maximize profits at all costs, as there is no legal method of developing recreational drugs.
* The War on Drugs leads to police corruption, by injecting huge profits into the black market. This inevitably leads to bribery.  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/corrupt.htm),  (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/civilrts.htm) o We should hire more moral police officers. + The huge profits of the illegal drug market make this impossible. With so much money, drug traffickers and dealers will always be able to bribe some police officers. Often, the bribery extends beyond circumventing drug laws but also to related activities, including murder. The profits to be raised by a police officer selling drugs found in others' possessions (and confiscated without making an arrest or official report) and/or accepting bribes makes the position attractive to some people. In effect, the War on Drugs does and always will attract corrupt people to the ranks of law enforcement agencies.
* Drug dealers will sell to anyone, including children. Merchants who legally sell alcohol and tobacco are not allowed to sell to children. Many high school students report that it is easier to obtain blanket illegal drugs than alcohol and tobacco. Hence, legalizing drugs will help keep more dangerous and addictive drugs from minors, for whom the deleterious effects are greater.  (http://drugwarfacts.com/adolesce.htm) o The more overpanicked and sheltered high school students tend to stretch the facts about what is presented to them as an insane and debaucherous pasttime (no thanks to anti-drug propaganda), particularly when it comes to the activities of cliques of students they are typically at odds with. o Legalizing drugs will send a message to children that drug use is acceptable. + Tens of billions of dollars are spent in the U.S. every year advertising all sorts of pharmaceutical drugs. Our culture, due mostly to free market capitalism in this case, is already telling our children that drugs can be used to solve many of life?s problems, and legalizing marijuana would not change this message. Sure, a distinction is being made between these different types of drugs, but the conflicting information that children receive (some drugs good, some bad) counteracts any attempts at unequivocal anti-drug messages aimed at them. + Parents are currently expected to explain the good and bad things of using legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, as well as frequently abused legal drugs, such as Oxycontin, Valium and morphine. If they can do so with these drugs, they can do so with marijuana, cocaine or heroin. + Like it or not, responsible drug use is accepted by many communities. See argument beginning "The War on Drugs is hypocritical because only certain drugs are targeted."
Subjective and unfair
* The War on Drugs is hypocritical because only certain drugs are targeted. Other drugs, such as alcohol, caffeine and tobacco are legal (in most parts of the world), yet cause many more problems than currently illegal drugs. Even aspirin is, in many ways, more dangerous than currently illegal drugs. (See here (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/causes.htm) or here (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/basicfax.htm#q3) for death statistics and here (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/addictiv.htm) or here (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/basicfax.htm#q5) for addiction statistics) (Armentano 234-240) o The legalization of one drug does not mean that all drugs should be legalized. + It does if the legal drug is more harmful than the illegal one. Either the more harmful drug should be made illegal or the less harmful drug should be made legal. o Alcohol  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A4960), caffeine  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/cu/CU21.html) and tobacco  (http://www.historian.org/bysubject/tobacco1.htm),  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/cu/cu23.html) use have been accepted parts of social interaction for centuries, while currently illegal drugs have not. + Cannabis has been socially accepted in many places for millennia  (http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_spirit2.shtml),  (http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_spirit4.shtml),  (http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_culture3.shtml),  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/cu/cu53.html). Hallucinogens, such as peyote  (http://www.peyote.org/),  (http://www.doitnow.org/pages/133.html) and psilocybin  (http://www.erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_timeline.php3),  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/cu/CU45.html), have been part of religious ceremonies in the Americas and elsewhere for thousands of years. Coca leaves (from which cocaine is derived) are still chewed by South American natives with no apparent physiological or psychological addiction or other deleterious effects  (http://www.cocamuseum.com/htm/chewing.htm),  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/cu/CU34.html). Opium has also been used for at least two thousand years  (http://www.2020site.org/opium/). Cannabis, peyote, psilocybin and coca have probably been used longer than alcohol, as they can be easily harvested and immediately ingested; alcohol requires some knowledge of fermentation, time and patience. The only drugs which do not have a long history of use were only recently invented, such as amphetamines, LSD and Ecstacy. There are, however, natural drugs similar in both effects and chemical structure to these, such as Ephedra and LSA, which have been used for a long time. # While Drugs have been accepted in many cultures for millennia, those cultures have developed social guidelines for dealing with them. Introducing a foreign recreational drug to a society which on a whole is inexperienced can have adverse effects. Native American's introduction to alcohol was so damaging, it forced the Federal government to pass the Indian Prohibition Action of 1832, which prohibited the sale of alcohol to Native Americans.  (http://ctct.essortment.com/nativeamerican_ragq.htm) * It does depend on the culture. However, since it is not possible to completely eliminate drug use it may be better to educate people about drug moderation and provide social guidelines than to try to prohibit drugs forever. As people become more and more able to moderate use the drug could have less and less restrictions. In some countries, such as Portugal there is no drinking age and while there is more alcohol use there is less alcoholism and alcohol abuse most likely because teens are usually taught how to drink gradually, moderately, and responsibly. The same could be done for all drugs gradually accompanied by more cultural emphasis on moderation and responsibility. o Alcohol, caffeine and tobacco are only socially accepted in the Western world due to accidents of history. This is no basis for deciding which recreational drugs should be legal. + Conversely, one might argue that accidents of history caused marijuana, opium and cocaine to become socially unacceptable in the West; this stigma is no basis for their illegality. o Aspirin (and other currently legal drugs) can have positive effects, hence the dangers are warranted. + Drugs such as marijuana ( (http://drugwarfacts.com/medicalm.htm),  (http://www.csdp.org/kz/mmj2.htm),  (http://www.drugpeace.org/news/medmjreport.html),  (http://civilliberty.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mpp.org%2Fmmjargue.html),  (http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_myth3.shtml) and counterpoint:  (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/demand/druglegal/13dl.htm),  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/debate/myths/myths8.htm)), LSD and other hallucinogens ( (http://maps.org/dissertation/),  (http://maps.org/news-letters/v09n2/09203maa.html),  (http://maps.org/news-letters/v09n1/09107jan.html),  (http://maps.org/research/abrahart.html),  (http://maps.org/research/sewick.html),  (http://maps.org/news/1099news.html),  (http://maps.org/news-letters/v04n4/04422con.html),  (http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/lsd/doblin.htm), heroin (counterpoint:  (http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/debate/myths/myths8.htm)) and Ecstacy  (http://maps.org/research/mdma/israel/styktalk.html) may also have positive effects if used under certain circumstances. That this is true is not currently known for certain, primarily because drug prohibition has hindered research on the subject.  (http://www.harmreduction.org/news/spring99/mccoy.html)
* The current blanket prohibition of both hard and soft drugs (compare ultra-addictive and dangerous heroin to relatively benign marijuana) lumps both in the same category in the minds of impressionable children. Drug dealers stand to make greater profit off hard drugs, and so will attempt to convince users to switch from soft to hard drugs. Separating the markets through legalization will prevent this. See this (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/druguse.htm) to compare the numbers between the Netherlands (where the hard and soft drugs markets are separated) to the United States (where they are not). o The distinction between "soft" and "hard" dr
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