Whether or not illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and opium should be decriminalized has become an important political debate worldwide. For this Researched Argument Essay, I will be analyzing why illicit drugs should be decriminalized. I have taken a personal interest in this topic due to the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers and addicts in the Philippines following the election of the Philippine president in 2016, who urged citizens to "go ahead and kill" drug dealers and addicts. Analytically, I am interested in this topic because I hope to learn more about this issue and personally determine whether or not the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to decriminalizing drugs.
Drugs should be decriminalized because the global war on drugs is infringing on human rights. For example, punishments for possessing or using drugs can be extremely disproportional, such as 3 years of jail time in Ukraine for drug possession, even for as little as 0.005 grams. Drugs should also be decriminalized because it will reduce prison populations, which will then reduce the money taxpayers have to pay annually. The decriminalization of drugs will also foster in new harm-reduction strategies such as needle-exchange programs, which will decrease HIV infections among drug users. However, if drugs are decriminalized, it would cause drugs to become less expensive and more easy to obtain. Additionally, it would also cause the use of drugs to become more acceptable, therefore it may cause more people to experiment. Treatment resources are also not large enough to support new addicts from the legal system if drugs are decriminalized. Decriminalization may also lead to the legalization of drugs.
I hope to answer several questions with this essay. Can the decriminalization of drugs work on a larger, global scale? And if it can, what would the repercussions be in the long run? What major economic and societal changes would occur in the U.S. if drugs were decriminalized?
Even though we may not use or sell drugs, this war on drugs affects us in many ways. The American government is spending $15 billion dollars on the drug war, approximately $500 per second. The DEA tracks the medications that we buy, and the Obama administration demanded that UPS and FedEx monitor packages from online pharmacies. Both situations infringe on our right to privacy. Doctors also feel threatened by the DEA when it comes to prescribing narcotics to patients, causing them to ration out fewer medications, despite the amount of pain the patient is in. In many schools, drug education mainly focused on abstinence-only and zero tolerance policies, which do not provide much information about addiction counseling or assistance for teens and young adults.