Example Of Essay On Decriminalization Of Illegal Drugs: Ayes And Nays
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The long drawn out “war on illegal drugs” has dismally failed and the world’s legislators must come to the realization that illegal drugs must consider decriminalizing the ‘commodity.’ Led by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the “war” has been a tremendous debacle for the international community and has wreaked tremendous damage in various nations. According to Annan, even with the tremendous amount of resources and efforts allocated to eradicating the threat, the rate of narcotics use has not gone down, and the global community must consider jettisoning the present methodology being employed to eliminate this threat (Boyle 1).
Advocates for disengaging from the failed drug policies promoted by the United States believe that these laws infringe on personal liberties. Others posit that the allocation of enormous resources to eradicate this is a mammoth waste of government funds; the argument is that the monies allocated to fighting the drug menace is can be used to stimulate economic activity, and the profits of the drug trade can help in funding programs by way of taxes and at the same time send drug traffickers into insolvency and regulate the quality of the drugs being sold in the new market. Others carry a different perception on the proposal to legalize narcotics. One school believes that with the legalization of drugs, long term crime statistics will decrease. On a more sociological aspect, there are those that state those counternarcotics laws are a form of institutionalized bigotry with the goal of maintaining the status of fringe sectors as a perpetually vulnerable underclass, either by sending the members of the society to prison, inordinately dependent, or completely reliant on state welfare assistance. There are still others inclined to cite the humanitarian aspect, positing that a number of narcotics have verified medicinal properties, and these properties should be enough basis to justify their legitimization.
Though the majority of Americans are in favor of maintaining the criminal nature of illegal narcotics in all its avenues, the bulk of the literature of the “anti-legalization” has been written from the law enforcement viewpoint. Though these also acknowledge that the war against illegal drugs has somewhat mixed results, these also believe that legalization of illegal drugs will have devastating effects on American society. Legalization of the drug trade will not reduce drug use; it will drive the usage rate of illegal drugs through the roof. In addition, youths will be more curious in using narcotics, and worsen the already destructive effects of narcotics on American society. The law enforcement viewpoint also proffers that state backing narcotics abusers would inflict crushing effects on the economy. Legalized narcotics would lead to a large “bootleg” market; the drug abusers as well as the inveterate users, once illicit drugs are legitimized, these would automatically become straight, solid members of the society. Simply put, all the declarations of those that advocate for the legalization of narcotics will never be realized; on the contrary, legalizing the illegal narcotics “trade” will increase crime rates given that there will be a rise in the number of addicts and that the black market will generate higher crime rates (Hartnett 1).
Legalization suggestions often generate fierce debates that legitimizing narcotics will lead to a dramatic rise in the number of abusers; however, researchers have found that there is no direct correlation between legalizing narcotic use and a rise in the number of users. For example, Argentina’s High Court decided that it was illegal to mete out punishment for mere possession of illegal drugs. Though the decision was interpreted narrowly, the ruling ushered in legislation that would eventually decriminalize illegal drug possession for personal use. Prior to the Argentine ruling, Mexico’s legislature adopted a law that sanctions possession of narcotics for personal use. In addition to the law, Mexico’s government also increased funding for treatment as well as prevention programs; individuals that are arrested in possession of minimal amounts of illegal drugs will be redirected to avail of treatment which will be mandatorily applied after the person’s third arrest.
The logic behind the proffer is to refocus the resources of law enforcement agencies from prosecuting and litigating drug users and to target street dealers as well as large traffickers and suppliers. Nevertheless, the law establishes a new threshold for identifying users and traders, and implements stringent penalties for low level drug trading, and can imprison “recreational users. Other countries posit a more holistic methodology on dealing with transitioning from a penal model of addressing drug use to a more treatment based approach. For example, Uruguay, a country that has not legitimized possession of illegal narcotics for personal use, does not a “quantitative cut-off” for establishing amounts to determine a “seller” from a “user,” magistrates in complying with 1974 law examine the particular factors and evaluate the reasons why the person was in possession of the narcotics. A number of legal scholars see this as unilateral; however, such leeway can stop users from being imprisoned.
However, the country that has adopted the most far-reaching retooling of their legal jurisprudence on drug possession is Ecuador. The country’s Ministry of Justice is finishing legislative proposals that would legalize the use of narcotics on a personal level and guarantee a sense of proportion with regards to sentencing in illegal drug cases. In the country’s basic law, it treats addiction as a “public health issue” and obligates government entities to establish intervention and rehabilitative programs. Ecuador is widely known to have one of the most rigid counter narcotics jurisprudence in the region.
For example, street dealers can face up to 10 to 25 years in prison; a convicted killer faces a maximum sentence of up to only 16 years. As a bridge measure prior to the adoption of the new legal regime, President Rafael Correa reprieved more than 2,000 drug couriers who qualified under the government’s criterions of being a first-time offender, these were arrested in possession of carrying 2 kilograms of narcotics, and those already incarcerated but have completed 10 percent of their sentences or have been in prison for one year. Though there has a rising trend for decriminalizing illegal drug use and possession and the dearth of proof that any amendments to drug use statutes have any impact on drug use statistics, critics are anxious that legalization will “send the wrong message.” By supporting the legalization of a previously prohibited commodity, youths and children will be motivated to experiment and can result in an increase in narcotic- oriented crimes.
In Colombia, the trend is toward “recriminalization.” The government has moved to re-establish the criminal nature of possession to stymie the 1994 decision of the Colombian Constitutional Court that ruled that sanctioning personal use of narcotics is in violation of the country’s basic law. The Court allowed Colombians to possess personal stocks of drugs; the President, Alvaro Uribe, deemed this ruling as contradictory to the stated goal of the government to eradicate the menace of illegal drugs in the country (Youngers, Walsh 1).
In the proposal of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the group is seeking the sanctioning a number of illegal drugs and establish monitored drug trading within their own states. The plan goes above the prior call of the group for the global community to discard its adherence to the almost century old US-led battle against illegal drugs. This new call also goes over the previous call of the group in 2011 to legitimize cannabis. One of the group’s conveners, former President of Brazil, stated that the group was seeking the legalization of “as many of the drugs that are currently illegal as possible, with the understanding that some drugs may remain too dangerous to decriminalize.” The scheme comes in an era when a number of countries, inclusive of a number of Latin American states, are trying to restructure their respective counternarcotics laws, and when the US is permitting states to adopt laws that will regulate narcotics use (Sengupta 1). The irritation of Latin American governments with the narcotics war is steadily rising. Stern counternarcotics laws have floundered in their attempts to halt rising narcotic use rates. In the region, imprisonment rates are skyrocketing-penal rates are up 40 percent in Mexico and across South America in the past 10 years-with majority of those landing behind bars either mere “drug users” or “small time” street dealers. Suppliers and manufacturers, however, often slip through and continue on with their lethally nefarious activities.
A number of countries are increasingly siding with the position to decriminalize illegal narcotics as a new methodology in the “fight against drugs.” These countries hope that with the adoption of this new approach, consumption rates as well as the attendant health issues will be effectively addressed. The approach understands drug addiction as a “public health and policy issue” compared to the present methodology that treats it as a concern for the criminal justice system. The objective in this endeavor is to embolden addicts to seek counseling; in addition, by motivating abusers to seek help, this will wean away from this lethal habit and decrease overcrowding in prisons and will help in redirecting law enforcement agencies in channeling the bulk of their resources to destroying large-scale narcotics organizations (Youngers, Walsh, 1).
Though the Global Commission on Drug Policy group calls on countries to persist in their fight against violent crime syndicates, the group does not call on nations to legalize all drugs outright. In addition, the group also calls on states to stop arresting users and instead establish treatment and interdiction programs in their place. Nevertheless, the proposal of the group is expected to run into aggressive and hostile opposition from global superpowers. The United States and Russia are inclined to maintain stringent criminal punishments; in fact, a number of countries in the Middle East, such as Iran, mete out the death penalty on offenders (Sengupta 1).
The issue here cannot and must not be viewed in terms of economics and damage individually. The menace of drug use must be seen through the visors of both damage and economics. There is a danger of a “slippery slope” here; governments and vested parties can state that legal efforts against other crimes are a losing proposition, and then move to legalize the same with the professed objective of benefiting economically. However, there is a need to stop applying economics and implement safeguarding society from a menace, no matter how beneficial it can be.
Boyle, Catherine. “World leaders slam war on drugs as ‘a disaster.’” <http://www.cnbc.com/id/101358188
Hartnett, Edmund. “Drug legalization: why it wouldn’t work in the United States.” The Police Chief 72(3), 2005
Sengupta, Somini. “Coalition urges nations to decriminalize drugs and drug use.” The New York Times 2014 September 8 Americas
Youngers, Coletta A., Walsh, John M “Drug decriminalization: a trend takes shape.” Americas Quarterly (2009).
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