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We've come a long way since Reefer Madness. Over the past two decades, 16 states have de-criminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, and 22 have legalized it for medical purposes.


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Prohibition has huge costs

The main solutions to the drug problem focus on supply and demand. A more radical approach suggests legalization in other words, removal of drug offense from criminal codes as the only viable solution.

Drugs should be legalized. There are numerous arguments for drug legalization. The drug war has cost society more than drug abuse itself. Most of these measures involve law enforcement efforts to interdict or intercept drug supplies at the borders.

Most illegal drugs are no more harmful than legal substances, such as cigarettes and alcohol, and therefore, drugs should be treated the same as these other substances. Legalization would free up billions of dollars that the government now spends on police, courts, and corrections to wage war on drugs and would produce ificant tax revenues. The money saved could then be spent on drug education, drug treatment, and law enforcement initiatives directed at more serious crimes. Drug prohibition infringes on civil liberties. The U. Supreme Court has decided that because drugs are such Why to legalize drugs horrible thing, it is okay to bend the Fourth Amendment which relates to searches and seizures in order to make it easier to secure convictions in drug cases.

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Drugs should not be legalized. There are also many arguments against legalization. Legalization would increase the of casual users which, in turn, would increase the of drug abusers. More drug users, abusers, and addicts would mean more health problems and lower economic productivity. The argument based on the analogy between alcohol and tobacco versus psychoactive drugs is weak because its conclusion—psychoactive drugs should be legalized—does not follow from its premises.

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It is illogical to say that because alcohol and tobacco take a terrible toll for example, they are responsible forpremature deaths each yeara heavy toll from legalization is therefore acceptable. Indeed, the reverse seems more logical: prohibit the use of alcohol, tobacco, and psychoactive drugs because of the harm they all do. Additionally, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack, and the rest of the psychoactive drugs are not harmless substances—they have serious negative consequences for the health of users and addictive liability.

Evaluating drug legalization. Is legalization a gamble worth taking?

Arguments on both sides are persuasive. What should we do if we can neither clearly accept nor reject drug legalization? One approach proposed as being sensible is to suspend judgment, to recognize that proponents of legalization are partly right that the drug war has proven ineffective in reducing drug abuse and crime associated with drugsand to realize that it is time to explore new approaches.

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