GUEST COLUMN: It's time for the US to end the war on drugs
Since 1909, governments throughout the world have been attempting to fight a war on drugs. In 1909 it was the war on opium; today the drug war is attempting to control cocaine, ecstasy, crack, heroin, marijuana and prescription drugs.
However, despite the efforts made, drugs seem to be here to stay. This 100 yearlong battle on drugs has resulted in violence, death and billions of dollars wasted.
Maybe we should give up the fight for a little while and see where it takes itself. Let us allow drug to be legal, just to see what happens.
The amount of money being spent on this War on Drugs should be a crime in itself. The United States has spent $40 billion dollars to fight this war and clearly the efforts are not working.
We are wasting money for a lost cause. As long as there are humans, there will be a demand for mind-altering substances. Whenever the government tries to aggressively fight the production of a certain drug, it seems to make it more profitable.
The price of these illegal drugs is based on the risks involved in production and distribution. I believe no amount of money pumped into the war on crime will ever help control the problem. Drug dealers and producers are making too much money to quit now. Many average America citizens use illegal drugs. Whether it is a little marijuana before bed or ecstasy before the club, it is happening. Many of these recreational drug users pose no threat to society or to themselves; most are using drugs in occasional, small doses. Tobacco and alcohol prove much more addicting than most drugs, and the fatalities each year from alcohol and tobacco-caused diseases are climbing.
However we keep them legal because of the outrageous taxes they bring in. We could do the same for drugs, have a high tax and make some money back that has been irresponsibly wasted.
If America pumped half as much money into addiction prevention and education as they did into the "war on drugs," we will be able to help addicts instead of imprisoning them. In legalizing drugs, the government could make them more pure and less of a gamble for the user. Nowadays, overdoses and drug related deaths are as commonly due to foreign substances in the drugs as too much of it. If the government could regulate ingredients and production, we could reduce risks involved.
These ideas may seem radical, but I am sure the average Republican or Democrat would see the beauty in this plan if it cut our budgets and allowed our tax money to go towards something beneficial.
According to the Bureau of Justice Special Report, in Massachusetts prisons it costs $37,718 per inmate per year. If we could cut even the smallest percentage of prisoners held on minor drug crimes, it would take a huge boulder off the state governments shoulder. It seems that people will do drugs regardless of the laws in place. There will always be people who overdose, kill others and steal for drugs.
If we were able to legalize drugs, it seems it would be the better option for the average American citizen. Of course, there will still be problems with drugs but we will be fighting it with more power. If drugs were legal, the government would have much more control over the situation.
They could control production, costs and availability. The drugs would be more pure, less of a gamble. And of course, we would save billions of dollars.
Elizabeth Wilson of Attleboro is a sophomore at Bridgewater State College.
BY ELIZABETH WILSON
Monday, October 12, 2009 2:19 AM EDT