As the humanity developed, people found different ways to get relaxed or to improve some of their abilities. While alcohol was relaxing, it also led to the aggressive and offensive behavior. Tobacco was recognized as the relaxing thing, until people found out about great addictive effect and that tobacco was the reason number one of the malignant tumors. However, it is easy enough to give up both of them. There are things much more interesting and dangerous – drugs.
The drug market in the US is one of the most profitable in the world. It attracts the most greedy, sophisticated drug traffickers who develop a well-organized net of drug dealers in the streets. Despite everything government does to prohibit drugs, they maintain the constant flow of prohibited substances from minor steroids, marijuana, and LSD to much more dangerous and health-striking drugs, including methamphetamine, crack, heroin, and others. The most dangerous criminal groups who smuggle drugs into the US are from Mexico (marijuana and heroin), Russia, and Western Europe (MDMA, also known as “ecstasy”). They usually send their traffickers via commercial flights or express mail. However, not only international traffickers affect this market. Local enterprises produce high quality cannabis, which competes with the foreign product. Crystal meth is also popular, and many laboratories produce it. Small number of chemists produces LSD that then comes to high school and college students.
31,792 people died because of overdose in 2010 (comparing to 35,080 deaths in car accidents and 25,000 from alcohol). The prescribed painkillers and antidepressants caused these deaths. The usage of the illicit drugs remained stable worldwide during last few years up to 2010. The opioids stay the most dangerous drug as they increase the number of people diseased with hepatitis, HIV throughout the world. Afghanistan remains the largest importer of it. For the last 5 years, number of people who bought marijuana increased on 25%, mostly among the graduates of schools and first-year students of colleges and universities. Usage of illicit has a great impact on the society’s productivity (in monetary term) – studies made in the US show the decrease in 0.9 per cent of annual GDP. For the last forty years, the situation of the drug conflict did not seem to change, the government spent vast sum of money on it. Let us take a closer look on a situation in the government, Congress, and other agencies according to this topic.
Richard Nixon introduced the war on drugs in 1971. He was the first one who started a conflict with the drug cartels and developed laws and institutions, which identified the drug abuse as the main enemy of the society. In 1973, Reagan created Drug Enforcement Administration that coordinated the work of other agencies involved in the drug search. However, that did not give any sufficient result because the cocaine flow maintained on the same level according to the Medellin powerful cocaine organization. In 1975, they even killed 40 people during weekend days because Columbian police seized 600 kilograms of cocaine, which was under their control. That was the largest amount of the drug at the time that had been confiscated.
In 2010, the President of the United States Barack Obama introduced “National Drug Control Strategy”. It contains many preventive decisions that in government’s opinion will help the society to get rid of this poison. For example, they developed the national-wide prevention program oriented on the youth, developed the collaboration between states to help fighting drugs. Along with that, they also started programs aimed at treatment of drug-addicted people and preventive programs, sounding the warnings about drugs in schools, universities, and mass media. In addition, government provides a huge variety of programs for medicine, which help recognize and explain the danger of drugs; programs for law-enforcement groups that help fight the drug dealing on streets, explain the legal consequences of the drug possession. Government wants the law enforcement groups like DEA to work and collaborate with civic organizations to increase the influence on the society and get results with open drug selling and gang operations on the streets. Overall, the ruling parties will do anything to stay sure that drugs stay prohibited. The peaceful explanation of the risks drugs are caring is balanced with the actions targeted on the drug trafficking and selling. The Drug Control office shows its commitment to this problem by requesting huge sums of money to reduce drug use and its consequences. They requested a sum of 25 million dollars to achieve this goal. They will be spent in cooperation with the Mexico border control and on training more agents who will fight the drug trafficking, searching for the dealers, maintaining the incarceration process. The question is whether spending that sums of money is sufficient.
63 people were killed in the US during the law enforcement operations in 2012. That includes eight police officers, 55 civilians. 43 people were shot by police, others died accidentally or by committing suicide during these operations or chases. About twenty of killed people handled guns or shown them in a threatening manner, but only ten actually used them. Some of them were killed in their homes. Some of these people were killed because they rammed into police cars or dragged officers on the street. It is clear that they did not want to harm or kill the officers. They were trying to escape. Many of these deaths were left unnoticed. Of 62 cases, only two times people engaged a process against the officers. In one of these cases, NYPD undercover officer followed Ramarley Graham, 18 year old teenager from Bronx. He was selling weed in the nearby streets when police officers started a chase. He fled to his house and tried to flush the drugs into a toilet when Richard Haste, a NYPD officer, shot him dead. He is now charged for first- and second-rate manslaughter, and he is waiting for the trial.
These deaths were unnecessary. Maybe it is time for the government to review their policy. Legalization is one of the best possibilities to win this war.
Not everyone in the US and Congress thinks that spending huge sums of money is necessary to prevent the drug usage. Some people think that legalizing drugs would solve many problems related to the drug war. The great variety of prohibited drugs makes it problematic to do it with all of them. Of all the drugs marijuana remains the most soft and safest to date, so its legalization would cause fewer problems. There are several benefits and drawbacks of the legalization.
On the one hand, marijuana is often considered as “gateway drug”. People, who are addicted to more dangerous drugs, report that cannabis was the first drug they ever tried. Most of the people consider doing drugs morally wrong. Car accidents will take their place more often because of stoned driving and it would be harder for the police officers to arrest violators due to the absence of smell or other distinctive peculiarities. Because of law enforcement operations and drug arrests, people who are going to commit serious crimes will revise their decision. Legalization will give cannabis more chances to fall into child’s hands.
On the other hand, marijuana has plenty of advantages. Most of the doctors agree that cannabis is not harmful in small doses. Moreover, many states legalized the usage of medical cannabis, which helps reduce pain from cancer and malignant tumors; it helps to cope with depression. The prices on cannabis will fall due to the legalization, which will mean less spending on the drug war with international traffickers and related crimes like robbery will reduce. Police will be free to operate on missions that are more serious than chasing small weed sellers. FBI, DEA, payment for police officers, judges, public defenders, prison guards, and occupants suck money from the budget and time that is important for other things. If cannabis would be treated as tobacco and alcohol, the FDA can control the product purity and quality, and that will reduce the deaths caused by bad product. The enormous amount of money is raised by taxing alcohol and tobacco. Legalizing weed will give the government another profitable issue. Paper, ropes, automobile composites, and repellents for insects utilize cannabis plants as raw material. For some people using marijuana is not abusing; they see it rather as small pleasures of life, which completes the list of sex, alcohol, tobacco, and even food. Legalization can save many young lives. Marijuana is the easiest to get and sell drug, and many young people use it as an additional opportunity to raise some cash. Eventually, the police catch them and send them to jail. They meet other people incarcerated for meaner crimes and develop negative traits of behavior that change them even after they leave jail. Thus, they become more aggressive and capable of committing crimes that are more violent and are defined as felonies.
Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational usage. Representatives Jared Polis and Earl Blumenauer introduced two different polls that will change relation to cannabis. The first proposes to regulate the drug same as alcohol and tobacco. That means that growers need to have federal authorization to plant the seed and harvest the drug, so it will help avoid crackdowns from DEA if they use it for medical purposes. The second bill will help create a taxation framework for both government and growers, it will help raise money for drug treatment centers while reducing the deficit of the drug along the US. A Gallup poll showed that half of the Americans think weed should be legal, and 70% think that doctors should prescribe weed in medical purposes.
Remember, the illicit drugs are not always bad. Cocaine can treat fatigue and respiratory functions. Marijuana helps to reduce addiction to heroin and other opiates, slow the progression of glaucoma. Heroin can help gradually reduce chemical dependency. The most mysterious drug of all times – LSD – is reported to have a positive treatment effect on patients with schizophrenia. The drug war will not end soon because there are too many players. Nevertheless, hopefully something will be done to lessen the cost of it – time, money, and lives.
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