Gore Vidal’s “Drugs”
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Gore Vidal’s essay, “Drugs” mainly discusses his opinions of who is to blame for America’s drug problems. He states that drugs exist in the means they do because of the United States government. Because our government makes drugs illegal, it only makes people want them more. Vidal states that the government has learned nothing from prohibition in the past, referring to prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and how many problems it caused. Vidal’s solution for America’s drug problems is to simply legalize drugs and to label them with a description and the effects of each drug.
“Don’t say that marijuana is addictive or dangerous when it is neither” (Vidal). This statement is not a fact. Most people know that marijuana is addictive, especially if they have friends or loved ones who smoke marijuana regularly. The National Institute on Drug Use (NIDA) states that, “While not everyone who uses marijuana becomes addicted, when a user begins to seek out and take the drug compulsively, that person is said to be dependent or addicted to the drug. In 1995, 165,000 people entering drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse, showing they need help to stop using the drug” (http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/Marijteenstxt.html). Also according to the National Institute on Drug Use marijuana use leads to other drug use. “Long-term studies of high school students and their patterns of drug use show that very few young people use other illegal drugs without first trying marijuana. For example, the risk of using cocaine is 104 times greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it.
Using marijuana puts children and teens in contact with people who are users and sellers of other drugs. So there is more of a risk that a marijuana user will be exposed to and urged to try more drugs” (http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/Marijteenstxt.html). So how can marijuana not be dangerous if it can lead to use of other drugs that are extremely dangerous such as “speed”? Marijuana can also affect driving and lead to car accidents. “In one study conducted in Memphis, TN, researchers found that, of 150 reckless drivers who were tested for drugs at the arrest scene, 33 percent tested positive for marijuana, and 12 percent tested positive for both marijuana and cocaine. Data have also shown that while smoking marijuana, people show the same lack of coordination on standard “drunk driver” tests as do people who have had too much to drink” (http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/Marijteenstxt.html). This would be enough to persuade anyone that marijuana is both addictive and can be extremely dangerous.
Most young people smoke, drink, etc. as a way to rebel. This could play one of the key factors in today’s large population of young marijuana users. Granted, it is logical to assume that in the stipulation that drugs were made legal that the younger people may not use drugs as much. Nonetheless kids will still find a way to rebel, and they may begin using harder drugs to feel the rebellion.
Vidal also states that each man has the right to do what he wants as long as it does not interfere with his neighbor’s pursuit of happiness, even if his neighbor’s idea of happiness is persecuting others. We can all agree that America does stand for Freedom, but to keep this freedom we have to set limits. Those limits are called moral values. Today most young adults don’t share the same moral values as older adults. In a poll done by Harris Interactive, “Only 41% of 18 to 24 year olds, but 78% of those over 64, think it is absolutely wrong to smoke marijuana” (http://www.harrisinteractive.com). If marijuana is legalized then younger adults morals will drop even lower because they will think it is okay to smoke marijuana if it is legal. Then as time goes by marijuana use is only going to become a part of everyone’s daily lives. So then America will be a country that is essentially ran by drug users.
A scary future, huh? Vidal generally blames the United States government for today’s drug tribulations such as crimes committed because of drugs. Saying that the government only prohibits drugs such as marijuana because they make so much money from the prohibition and that fighting drugs is nearly as big a business as pushing it. This may be true, but doesn’t mean that the US government doesn’t contribute plenty of money to fight drugs. “Government spending related to the use of illegal drugs is twice that spent for tobacco and alcohol abuse. A parallel analogy is that although there are ten times more tobacco and alcohol users than users of illegal drugs, government spending on users of illegal drugs is twice the amount spent on tobacco and alcohol users” (http://www.pbs.org). If drugs were made legal and sold at cost the government would still make large amounts of money from tax revenues on the drugs. Imagine how much money the government makes off tax revenues from alcohol and tobacco. It is simple to presuppose that with the legalization of drugs it would allow the taxation to grow. With all this it is a little naive to think that the government fights the legalization of drugs only to make money.
Presume we did live in a country where drugs where legal: where we could buy marijuana at our local grocery store or gas station just the same as we can buy cigarettes or alcohol. Where marijuana ads are on the backs of magazines, and where it is acceptable for people to smoke marijuana at work on smoke breaks, a country where it is legal for doctors, clergymen, firemen, and police officers to use drugs. Would this make America better? The answer is NO. We live in the best country in the world and we all know that. It is foolish to blame the government without warrant when the government is what keeps this country together. Vidal plainly made his point and left it at that, his article was without meaning and was not very extensive.
America’s War on Drugs is a battle that has been around for many years and it is most likely safe to assume that it will still be around for many years to come. Through basic logic all this has just proved that legalizing drugs will only make matters worse and will not solve anything. The only effect it would have is making drugs available to more people and merely making matters worse. If America wants to ensure itself a future for the generations to come then it needs to continue fighting its war on drugs.