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Should Illegal Drugs be Legalized?

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Illegal drugs become a major problem for contemporary society. Recent years, drugs, being a social problem, especially affect young citizens and adults. Most of them know that drug addiction is a bad habit, which ruins their health and personal image, but, still, many of them use drugs. During many years of heated discussions, clergymen and scientists, moralists and ethicists try to solve the ethical, philosophical dilemma of illegal drugs. Still, there is no single opinion whether its ethical or unethical decision to legalize illegal drugs. For this reason, the question of legalization of illegal drugs is still an issue of the day.

            Illegal drugs are a group of substances which damage human health. To this group belong heroin, cocaine, crack, ice and marijuana. All of these drugs have the double-edged capacity to give good cheer and inflict damage. All of these drugs are prohibited because all of them acting on the brain that change perception not only have harmful side effects at the time, but can cause permanent damage (Mccaffrey, 2000). The irreparable harm may be partly because the constant reinforcement of connections changes the working of the mind permanently. Apart from its effects on other major organs like the heart and liver, drugs can bring about a most profound change in the brain.

            An important question concerning this problem was raised by Ethan Nadelmann fifteen years ago. In the article, “Should Some Illegal Drugs Be Legalized?” he discusses the nature of legalization and the notion of legalization itself. Diverse social classes and groups interpret differently the word “legalization”. The author underlines that “to some it simply means taking the crime, and the profit, out of the drug business. For some, it’s a rallying cry, in much the same way that “repeal prohibition” was used, 60 years ago, for bringing people together from across the political spectrum” (Nadelmann, 1990). In general, legalization of drugs means availability of illegal substances and free purchase of them approved on the governmental level.

            Recent years, number of drug addicts increased greatly in spite of the fact that all these drugs are prohibited and cannot be legally bought. Statistical data suggest that drug addiction becomes a social problem involving more and more young people. For instance, “the age of youths using marijuana is falling. The teens aged 12 to 17 said on average they started trying marijuana at 13-1/2” (Fox, 2004). So, if drugs is legalized the age of young addicts can falling even more.

            Legalization of drugs will allow wider audiences to use drugs more often and in more quantity. This will lead to increase number of drug addicts. Cannabis is often presented as being a ‘natural’ and safe alternative to other drugs – but ‘natural’ doesn’t equate to ‘safe’ or ‘harmless’. Opium is ‘natural’ – it can be directly extracted from the heads of poppies. Cocaine comes from the leaves of a shrub.  People should not be seduced into believing that ‘natural’ always means ‘good’. Everything people put into their bodies has an effect. There was an option that drugs can be spited into “stronger and weaker varieties” (Marijuana News, 2005). Nevertheless, Sir Ian opposes this policy saying: “We would be arguing strongly not for a double classification in terms of strengths” (Marijuana News, 2005)

            So, if all the illegal drugs are so harmful, they should not be legalized. The problem is that drug legalization can increase number of uncontrolled drug addicts. Many people, having kicked a habit, can start to use drugs again – especially when they find themselves back in the same environment. The major spheres of concern include: popularization of drugs through legalization causes widening drug users audience and increases addition, it involves a teenage group, drugs increase a threat of car accidents like drunk driving which is the major cause of death in Americans.

The other argument against drug legalization is accessibility of drugs for a teenage group. If drugs are easy to buy, teenagers will buy them in greater quantity. This explains by the fact that for most of them, drugs represents “adulthood”, a stylish and trendy way of life. Today teenage drugs usage becomes a social problem which requires a special attention of society, and prevention measures accepted on the governmental level, instead of legalization policies. It is possible to compare this situation with alcohol abuse. Today, teenage alcohol abuse becomes the major problem in the USA and the UK, so legalization of drugs will worsen this problem.

If teenagers are used to drugs today, in future it will cause a great national problem and require more spending on social drug treatment and prevention programs. Unfortunately, advocates do not take into account the facts that “the number of children and teen-agers in treatment for marijuana dependence and abuse has jumped 142 percent since 1992” (Fox, 2004). It is not thought that cocaine, ecstasy or cannabis have these addictive properties, yet people do report becoming dependent upon them in just the same way.

            The legalization of illegal drugs will contradict with recent national campaigns aimed to decrease drug usage among college and university students. According to recent data, some high school students have a strong drug habit at the 11th grade. Almost all drug addict males started it at around fourteen. At the beginning, students smoked two to three cigarettes per week. In a time, the amount of the drug usage increased.

Effective drug prevention programs became an urgent need, but, still, there is no panacea for this problem. According to the report of the Drug Policy Research Center: “The purpose of school-based drug prevention programs is to prevent, or at least diminish, children’s use of a variety of substances, including licit substances such as alcohol and tobacco as well as illicit ones such as cocaine and marijuana” (Drug Policy Research Center, 2002). If illegal drugs are legalized, it will conflict with current national and government policy against drug usage.

More and more people will drive under the influence of drugs and as the most important legalization if illegal drugs will lead to more accidents on the roads. Drugs like heroin, on the other hand, are considered to have strong addictive properties. Unlike alcohol, it is more difficult to determine condition of a driver without special analyses. So, more people will force to use drugs instead of alcohol. For instance, the responsibilities of cannabis users include the following paragraph: “avoid cannabis use that puts you or others at risk, such as when driving, at work, or in public places”(Marijuana News, 2005). So, if the use were legal it would lead to an increase number of deaths on the roads. To avoid this situation, drugs should be prohibited and police control should be stricter.

Advocates of drugs legalization suppose that: “Despite this increase in spending on drug control from $65 million to currently $19 billion, and the imprisonment of 30,000 people for a marijuana offense, marijuana usage has remained relatively unchanged regardless of arrest rates going up or down” (Marijuana News, 2005).

Marijuana is a special concern of doctors and government officials, because this drug is widely used for medicinal purposes. Recent legislation, limits the sale of marijuana to those who need it. Critics state that legalization of this drug will benefit both individual and the government. The government will receive additional sources of revenue to pay for social programs and decrease black market operations and price on this drug. Also, it will help patients who need it to possess sufficient amount of plants they need. For instance, today, Medical Association limits the number of plants for personal usage. On the other hand, doctors “reached the decision to have guidelines that are more consistent with the state guidelines, taking into consideration the patient’s needs and increased public safety concerns” (Rasmussen, Benson, 2003).

I suppose that the illegal drugs should be prohibited, because they represent a great threat for health and social well-being of many people. Illegal drug should be decriminalized and government control should be stricter than ever to stop this disease of civilization. The statistical data and recent studies prove the fact that drugs are not so safe as supposed to be. Drugs should be prohibited, because their legalization can lead to negative outcomes (teenage addiction, increasing number of drug users and careless driving) which will require more money to spend on treatment programs in future (The War on Drugs: Fighting Crime or Wasting Time, 2001).

            The exception should be made for medical usage of some drugs such as marijuana. A special law should stipulate cases and cost control for people (patients) who really need this drug.  Also, the Dutch example should be taken into account as possible solution to illegal drugs usage. Following Maccoun and Reuter “The Dutch decision to allow the sale of small amounts of marijuana and hashish in specially regulated coffee shops provides the best available evidence about the advantages and limitations of such an approach” (Maccoun, Reuter 2002, p. 25).

            Legalization of illegal drugs would make the use of drug easier to students. Many critics admit that legalization of marijuana becomes a real threat for young adults. Successful implementation of the drug prevention programs is closely connected with effective group work and cooperation of students, parents and school responsible persons. They suppose that government policies are the core of the programs which help to identify key issues and appeal to the students. Personally, I do not believe in lectures and other forms aimed to inform the students about the treats of drugs. Only active governmental control and prohibition of illegal drags could help to solve this problem. Prohibition of illegal drugs, helps many educators and social workers to decrease a number of new drug addicts appeared every year. Without strict drug prohibition, this difficult and complicated problem cannot be solved. If all the factors come into practice, the level of drug addiction will be minimal.


1.      Drug Policy Research Center, 2002. Available at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB6009/index1.html

2.      Fox, M. 2004. Stronger Pot May Lead To Reefer Madness. Common sense drug policy and legalized madness. Available at: http://www.csdp.org/news/news/reut_pot_071904.htm

3.      Maccoun, R. Reuter, P. Marijuana, Heroin, and Cocaine: The War on Drugs May Be a Disaster, but Do We Really Want a Legalized Peace? The American Prospect, Vol. 13, June 3, 2002, p. 25.

4.      Mccaffrey, B. We Have No ‘War on Drugs’. World and I, Vol. 15, February 2000, p. 30.

5.      Marijuana News. Common sense drug policy and legalized madness.  2005. Available at: http://www.csdp.org/news/news/marijuan.htm

6.      Nadelmann, Ethan, “Should Some Illegal Drugs Be Legalized?” Issues in Science and Technology. 1990; 6: pp. 43-46. Available at: http://www.drugpolicy.org/library/tlcissue.cfm

7.      Rasmussen, D.W, Benson, B.L. “Rationalizing drug policy under federalism.” Florida State University Law Review. #30, 2003, pp. 679-734.

8.      The War on Drugs: Fighting Crime or Wasting Time? American Criminal Law Review, Vol. 38, 2001, p. 1537.

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