Drug Use

During the 1960’s drug use was common and widespread in the United States. While still illegal, the punishments were not nearly as severe as they are today. Beginning in the early 70’s society struggled with the idea of such heavy drug use and responded with a war on drugs, making drug use an illegal activity. America’s war on drugs has continued until today, and despite our government’s efforts drug use is still widespread. The war on drugs is an ineffective way to curb drug use. America should redirect the millions of dollars spent fighting this war towards increased drug education programs in schools and towards treatment for recovering addicts. The legalization of drugs would have many positive effects on our nation. Legalizing drugs would decrease crime and end prison over crowding. It would save money on police resources, and provide an excellent source of revenue for our government as well. Most importantly, it would restore our constitutional rights. America should end its war on drugs.
America has strayed from the ideals of our nation’s forefathers. Thomas Jefferson explained in his first inaugural address in 1801: “A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement.”(McWilliams) Our current government seems to have forgotten the beliefs our nation was founded upon. Jefferson was implying that individuals should be free to do as they please, as long as they don’t harm anyone in the process. We are, according to the Declaration of Independence, “endowed by (our) Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”(McWilliams) Anti-drug beliefs contradict these fundamental beliefs of our nation. Our pursuit of happiness has been limited to activities our government sees fit. People should be allowed to pursue happiness through drug use as long as they don’t hurt anyone along the way.
The idea of liberty includes the belief that an individual has the right to participate in a dangerous activity, as well as the right to damage their own health. If this weren’t true we should ban everything from hang-gliding to deep fried foods, not to mention alcohol and tobacco products. Adults should be able to evaluate the pros and cons and make a decision on their own about smoking crack, just as they can with cigarettes and parachuting. As columnist Arthur Hoppe said, “The function of the government is to protect me from others. It’s up to me, thank you, to protect me from me.”(McWilliams)
The war on drugs has also made a mockery of our constitution and has infringed upon innocent citizen’s civil right. In 1983 the Supreme Court began warrantless searches and seizures on boats. That same year the DEA boasted of a 242 percent increase in federal wiretaps.(12Reasons) The government can search through our garbage without probable cause.(Bandow) The federal government has pressured foreign countries to grant access to bank records so it can look for “laundered” drug money. Domestic banks are required to report cash deposits of over $10,000 to the IRS.(Bandow) These are just some of the many examples of how personal liberties have been eroded. The major problem with these and other anti-drug policies is that they lump the innocent with guilty. Weekend sailors are subject to the same privacy violating unwarranted searches as drug traffickers. Innocent citizens phone conversations can be listened in on. Our nation claims that we are all “innocent until proven guilty”, however these policies seem to be suggesting that we are guilty until we prove ourselves innocent.
One of the most blatant violations of individual rights and privacy currently being enacted is drug testing, which is occurring through out the nation. Hundreds of businesses and government agencies have initiated drug-testing policies. Drug tests require testing in embarrassing environments and sometimes require being watched while going to the bathroom. The test are also a privacy violation, the sample obtained can be used to test for many other things besides drugs (i.e. pregnancy), things the employer has no business knowing. Also, some legal and prescription products can cause false positives resulting in false accusations of innocent people. These tests also have the same problem as other anti-drug policies; they impact the innocent and the guilty. Workers