Legalization of Drugs Each year 1,600 innocent people are needlessly killed each year at the hands of drug criminals (Ostrowski 27). Enormous amounts of money are spent each year in the fight against drugs. Furthermore, there are actually sick people that need marijuana to ease their suffering. These are a few of the reasons why I believe that the legalization of marijuana would not only improve society, but the economy as well. Before writing this paper, I was under the impression that all drugs and anything that has to do with them are bad. However, as my research deepened, I found that there are more positives than negatives that would arise from the legalization of marijuana.
First of all, the crime rate in the United States would significantly reduce. The shoot-outs between drug dealers will end. Miller and Benjamin state that the violence provided by “turf wars” and by drug deals gone awry would fall to the level that exists in legal industries – zero (174). The places where most of those shoot-outs occur, the inner city, would change the most after the legalization of marijuana. A lot of the kids there idolize drug dealers.
They see a person with designer clothes, a black Mercedes, gold chains, and big smile on their face. That drug dealer seems like the most successful person in the neighborhood. It’s very easy to want to follow in the footsteps of someone like this. Legalization would greatly reduce the profits of drug dealers. Kids would emulate the people they’re supposed to.
These role models include teachers, doctors, law enforcement, etc. That is not the only aspect of life in the inner city that would change. The gangs that flourished from the profits of selling crack would become “small-time” gangs. These gangs would have nothing better to do than protect their “turf”. Some of the more popular gangs are “The Bloods” and “The Crips”. Those kinds of gangs are not the only ones that would weaken significantly as a result of the legalization of marijuana.
The biggest gang of all, The Mafia, would take a hard hit as well. However, they would not disappear completely. Organized crime would be able to survive in other criminal activities like loan- sharking, gambling, prostitution, and child pornography. Furthermore, Crock wouldn’t totally disappear with the legalization of drugs. Benjamin and Miller also state that there is strong, evidence that suggests that it would cease being the drug of choice for many (175). They believe that just as the years following the prohibition of alcohol, people will choose a lower potency of their particular drug. The people that choose to sell crack after legalization won’t make more money selling it than selling cosmetics or used cars. Another major effect of drug legalization would be that it would “free up” law enforcement to catch other criminals.
Violent career criminals commit anywhere from 50 to 100 violent crimes per year. These crimes include robbery, rape, and murder. I believe that this is one of the most important benefits resulting from legalization. Not only will it give law enforcement less to worry about, but it will make everyday society a better and safer place to live. Moreover, the economy will benefit greatly from legalization. Actually, the economic impact of legalization would be tremendous.
Ostrowski states that the estimated annual black market drug sales are in the amount of 80 billion dollars (28). Black market prices for drugs are inflated greatly. At the very least, they are inflated 10 times over what the legal price would most likely be. That is 70 billion dollars that the government can tax. Those tax dollars can be used to improve education, highways, public parks, etc.
Also, there are many government agencies and groups dedicated exclusively to fighting the drug war. Courts, police, prisons are all part of this fight against drugs in the United States. The cost of running all these agencies is 10 billion dollars a year. If you really think about it, each dollar that is spent on drug enforcement yields seven dollars in economic loss (Ostrowski 29). In other words, the government takes 10 billion dollars from taxpayers and uses it to raise 80 billion dollars for drug dealers and organized crime. That figure is staggering.
Moreover, Ostrowski also states that poor users victimize taxpayers by stealing 7.5 billion dollars from them (29). Also, you must take into account the amount of lost productivity these people involved in the drug business are in. These people are devoting their time and energy into a business that is not legal. The available work force in the United States would increase with the legalization of drugs. There are also those people that spend their whole day “hustling” to pay for their drugs. The 10 billion dollars spent fighting drugs does not include the amount of money spent on drug related illnesses.
These would be AIDS, hepatitis, and overdose (Bertram, preface XII). There is also money being spent on private security to fight drug- related crime. There is currently a bill in the state of California that has yet to be passed. It’s not certain that it that it will ever pass. The name of this bill is Proposition 215. This bill would allow sick people to use and grow small amounts of marijuana.
A survey in taken in this state showed that 57% of people oppose the legalization of marijuana (no author 2). Although the general idea of this bill is to make the drug available to those in great pain, it’s wording actually gives its true intentions away. It reads “Growing and using marijuana would be approved for a list of ailments, including chronic pain, arthritis, migraine and any other illness for which marijuana provides relief” (Leo 23). Proposition 215 also states that “physicians cannot be sanctioned in any way for recommending marijuana to any patient that seeks it. This would make obtaining pot legally slightly higher than buying Advil (Leo 23).
Finally, I truly believe that the legalization of drugs in the United States would not only improve society, but the economy as well. It’s really sad to see the government use our tax money to fight a losing war on drugs. What’s also sad are the number of people devoting their time and energy into selling and trafficking illegal drugs. Proposition 215 would be a good start in the legalization of drugs. However, I believe that the legalization of drugs in the United States will never happen in all 50 states.