Drugs are, without a doubt, one of the most widespread problems in this country


Drugs are, without a doubt, one of the most widespread problems in this country. About eighty percent of all prison inmates have been incarcerated because of drug related charges. It seems that the more the nation “cracks down” on drugs the more they proliferate throughout our society. But why do we choose to continue implementing ideas that have already been shown to be incapable of solving the problem? Why do we keep increasing prison sentences, inflating punitive measures, and torturing sick people; people who are already tortured from within? Why are drugs illegal at all?

What right has another to determine what a person morally can and cannot do to their own body? How can one impose paternalistic laws upon personal choices that affect no one save those who make them? Drugs can sometimes be horrible things that result in terrible pain and human suffering, but how can one logically justify our saying that anyone cannot take them; that they do not have the right to take them? Furthermore what right have we to punish a drug addict for acting in a manner that affects no one but themselves? Drug laws have one end alone: to protect us, not from others, but from ourselves; from our own ignorance, our own stupididty, and our inability to make the right decisions. How can one justify the application of what must honestly be perceived as torture upon people who are already in pain? To believe that we should punish drug addicts is to believe that we should brutalize people for being in pain.

The “war on drugs”, more often seeming a war on the people than on drugs, requires more money, time, and effort than any other criminal activity, and the more of these we waste the more drugs we see. Prisons are overflowing with people who made personal decisions about their own lives; and suffered as a result even before they were carelessly flung into a life of socially-sponsored torture. How can anyone, though, really say that what these people did was wrong; according to what flimsy, abstract concept can one say that the ingestion of dangerous substances, in accordance with the personal determinations allowed by natural liberty, is immoral? Perhaps instead of brutalizing these people we should try to help them; steel bars, after all, cannot release a person from a painful addiction; they can only serve to raise the level of pain experienced by the imprisoned. Imagine what would happen if all the money spent for twenty year, thirty year, and lifetime prison sentences was diverted towards education, prevention, and treatment. There lies the solution to the drug problem; not in brutality, but understanding; in a willingness to go beyond the immoral, simplistic, and ignorant response of torture and seek, through logical and reasonable methods, to end the proliferation of drugs and the terrible pain they cause. The solutions are not in bullets, but books.

Law results only in an inflation of both the monetary price of drugs and the social dangers resulting from their affects. Because drugs are illegal their cost is inflated to a level far beyond what their supply would normally dictate. Should drugs be legalized the prices would plummet and so all crimes related to drugs (i.e., crimes to obtain the money to buy them) would not have to be committed. The benefits from selling drugs would disappear with the extremely lower cost. In this case the law actually encourages crime by labeling something as illegal that should logically not be.

Again it seems that the only reason we punish drug offendors is because of anger. These people do not hurt us in any way; they hurt only themselves. There are, undoubtedly, some who believe that taking drugs is immoral and they are enraged when they see others violating their personal code of morality. What right have we, though, to punish others for doing something that we only think is wrong; that we would not do to ourselves? If one wishes to slowly destroy their body that is a personal decision, just as all the alcohol, tobacco, and even caffeine addicts out there choose to do every day; a personal decision cannot be regulated by an external code of morality. If taking these substances is legal why are drugs illegal? We kill ourselves every day with dangerous chemicals and poisons in almost all of our foods. Eating a poor diet is stupid, but certainly not illegal. Taking drugs is stupid, but it shouldn’t be illegal.

There is a question we must ask ourselves: do our drug laws exist because we want to protect others, or because we want to protect the widespread imposition of our own moral beliefs? It seems foolish to say these laws are passed in order to protect the weak-minded individuals who might fall under the curse of addiction. How do we protect people by sending them to filthy, overcrowded prisons where drugs are just as readily available, if not more available, than they are on the streets? It is contrary to all the myth and propoganda surrounding the passage of all our laws to send sick people to prison; and that is what drug addicts are: sick people who are suffering. Drug addicts are not ruthless criminals; they are sick, desperate, and abused people who need compassion, understanding, and treatment, if they wish it. There is no help available within the filthy confines of a prison cell. Obviously, the only purpose for the continuation of the war on drugs stems from the refusal o!

f its proponents to admit that they are wrong; personal pride is held in higher regard than human life. Isn’t human life though, according to those who take such drastically invasive methods to “protect” it through such reprehensible violence, worth so much more than pride? Isn’t human life, even a single human life, worth more than any percieved national dishonor which might result from an end to the “war?”

Why is drug abuse wrong, one may ask? Well, because it is illegal, one might say. Well then, why is it illegal? Many laws, at least as far as we are told, are created to protect people, and not so much individuals, but society in general. Many tend to oppose laws that, at least openly, restrict personal choice and individual liberty. They would be far more inclined to teach, in order to prevent the action, rather than to restrict personal freedoms. The law seeks not to teach but, rather, to restrict, and from this restriction arises an almost primal human trait; the need to rebel against anything that controls us. One cannot shackle a human being and expect them to be content, and neither can one expect them to understand. We have to teach people if we want to help them. Why is drug abuse wrong? If we continue to tell people that it will land them in prison we will never solve the problem; drug abuse is not dangerous because one can be punished, and severely at that, for it; s!

uch a statement only serves to proliferate further ignorance of the reasons why taking drugs is truly dangerous. Perhaps if, instead, we tell people that it will hurt them, cause them terrible pain and suffering, and eventually kill them, then we can help them. And if they shall choose to ignore the truth then they will have punished themselves; they need no assistance from us.

We need to stop wasting our time with antiquated and barbaric methods of punishment which serve more to satiate a perverted social bloodlust, than protecting human beings from pain and suffering. Drug addiction is dangerous and it needs to be stopped, but the path to that goal is far different from the path we are on. We cannot punish people because they are sick. We cannot blame people because they are addicted. We should not hurt people who have already hurt themselves. We have to see beyond our own ignorance and treat these people with love and understanding. We have to spend the effort we use to punish them to help them instead; in so doing we will help ourselves. Moral progress and social well-being depend as much on the hoped for results of our actions as they do on the actions themselves.