Should Drugs be Legalized?

Supporters of drug prohibition say that its benefits are indisputable and obvious. Their most important belief is that without prohibition, drug use would drastically rise. In William Bennett’s, “Should Drugs Be Legalized?” Bennett uses pathetic excuses to refute pro-legalizer’s arguments that the legalization of illicit drugs will 1) take the profit out of its sales and 2) dramatically reduce crime. I disagree with Bennett’s position on these arguments and will provide the reader with valid arguments to explain why his statements are weak.
Legalization will take the profit out of drugs and generate revenue which will then be used to educate the public on the effects of drugs and treat those who are addicted. Bennett argues, “Legalizers would have to tax drugs heavily in order to pay for drug education and treatment programs” (Bennett 28). Wait a minute; do not American tax-payers already pay for drug education and treatment? Yes they do! Moreover, taxpayers currently also pay for the cost of the war on drugs, which is close to ten billion dollars a year (Ostrowski); its laws, police officers who enforce the laws, judges who uphold the law, prisons to house those who break the law, prison guards to guard them, and treatment programs and facilities to treat them Bennett states, “In reality, this tax would only allow the government to share the drug profits now garnered by criminals” (Bennett 28). How would this be wrong? Bennett attempts to puts a negative spin on exactly what needs to be done.

Bennett attempts to deceive the reader by passing his opinions as researched and valid. “But researchers tell us that many drug-related felonies are committed by people involved in crime before they started taking drugs.” (Bennett 29). Bennett’s statements are invalid; it is clear that he is trying to find anything to say to keep from losing this debate. Legalization will dramatically reduce crime. The moment that drugs are legalized and available at low or no cost, the demand for drugs will decrease dramatically. Drug dealing will lose its appeal and cease to exist, addicts will no longer need to rob, steal, or murder to get their next fix; they will go to a clinic and get it for nothing.

A look at Prohibition of the 1920s and 30s will demonstrate that the murder rate increased with the start of Prohibition, and remained there until it ended in 1933, then the murder rate dropped for eleven consecutive years (Ostrowski). Crime involving firearms increased during Prohibition and went down for ten consecutive years afterward (Ostrowski). The fact is in the last ten or so years, drug use has not dropped even with increased federal spending on the drug war (Ostrowski). Moreover, in spite of all the seizures, drugs are still available to children in elementary school. Drug laws greatly increase the price of illegal drugs, forcing users to steal, kill, and rob to get the money to buy them. It is estimated that at least forty percent of all property crime in the United States is committed by drug users so that they can maintain their addictions (Ostrowski).

The argument that Bennett makes about increase drug use is irrelevant. Legalization will reduce crime, take the profit out of drugs, and reduce the “forbidden fruit” aspect of prohibition, which will decrease use of or experimentation with drugs among the nation’s youth. Legalization will provide our government with an accurate picture of the influences that drugs have on the United States and give control to the people to overcome its negative social and economical effects. If someone really wanted to use drugs, would they wait until it was legal to do so? The truth is, People are going to use drugs regardless if it is illegal or not. Money is going to be spent on drug education, programs, and treatment regardless. Legalize drugs and drug-related murder and crimes will diminish, the prison population will shrink, the inner cities will become safer to live, and then America will surely be the home of the free. Should drugs be legalized? My answer is yes it should.

Works Cited

Bennett, William. “Should Drugs be Legalized?” The Mercury Reader. Ed Janice Neulieb, et al. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2005. 26-31

Ostrowski, James. “Thinking About Drug Legalization.” Cat Policy Analysis No. 121 (1989): 18 Sept. 2006


10 thoughts on “Should Drugs be Legalized?

  1. Dear Joe:
    I’ve been devoting two classes each term to refuting William Bennett’s article to my Chinese university students. This term, before I talked aboiut his article, I asked them to see if they could find a problem with Mr. Bennett’s arguments. Most of them can’t, because it’s the accepted party line here in China and they aren’t used to thinking outside the political consensus, but they did do their best to say that there is some problem with what he says. One of my students sent me a link to your essay. You were very effective in letting her see that the party line is not supported by everybody.
    Thanks for this. Send me an email if you’d like me to forward her letter to you.
    David Scott, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

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