This is a random question that has popped up in my mind so I decided to contemplate that thought. The world would be so different from what it is now if the drugs were legal, mainly because it would wipe out the existing crimes and might bring new ones. A lot of people would lose their jobs (of course, some illegal jobs) and a lot of new jobs would be made. Actually, the effects are much more than that. Let’s take a deep dive. The first question we ask is how did drugs get prohibited or what makes a drug legal or illegal? The criteria can be different in different countries. If you are not in a mood to read some history, you can jump straight in to the topic here.
The Entry Of Harry Anslinger ..
Until the 1900s, inanimate things were not outlawed in the country. During the 1920s, alcohol was banned in the US, the ban was as a measure to reduce harm, alcohol was seen as a drug which impaired families and children. For this purpose, a man named Harry J. Anslinger was appointed as the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, later on, he played a pivotal role in shaping America’s attitude towards marijuana, which later resulted in the ban of other psychoactive drugs. He believed progress can be achieved by controlling the morally incorrect impulses of people. The alcohol ban was a failed attempt because the public demand for alcohol didn’t subside. Moreover, 39 states out of 48 didn’t sign on the prohibition agreement stating it as federal interference in affairs. It was a major defeat for the commissioner and he saw his position being in danger.
To deal with the problem, he created a new threat; Marijuana. With the help of well-known journalists, he created a panic situation about the effect of marijuana on the young people of America and created news about the invasion of marijuana smoking Mexican men attacking white women. The news made people anxious and resulted in the banning of Marijuana. The US then imposed this anti-cannabis view on western countries and later imposed on the rest of the world by forming the first UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961. In 1950, black Americans were stigmatized in connection with heroin use. The next target was hippies and psychedelics because the people of this subculture were against the Vietnam war. During the 1970’s, it was cocaine, this time target was again black Americans who lived in the inner city. Then came crystal meth (Methamphetamine) and the target was ‘poor whites’.
What if drugs are legalized one day?
What could be the practical (not political) reasons why drugs should be prohibited? It’s a known fact that drugs have harmful effects on our bodies. Drugs have a huge effect on our health and body, it ranges from schizophrenia, lung disease, seizure, and STD to even death. So by considering these facts, let’s get back to the actual question. What would happen if all the drugs are legalized one fine day? Here are some of the possible things that could happen;
1. Drug-related pathologies, such as STDs and death due to drug overdose would reduce dramatically. A study found out that drug decriminalization has had no direct effect on the usage rates of the drug. We could take the example from Portugal, Portugal is a country which partially legalized drugs. Portugal used to have the highest rate of HIV infection in the European Union due to the injection of drugs. The number of reported HIV infections due to drug injection has reduced to 13.4 cases per million after partial legalization, which is still above the EU average though (2.85 cases per million).
2. Drug-related crimes such as drug trafficking, mafia crimes, etc will be wiped out. The golden age of the black market and drug crime would be over.
3. People would have access to drugs and they will be well informed about the usage and cautions to take, it would reduce the drug-related fatality rate. The government could introduce drug education programs which could, in fact, result in the reduction of the number of drug users.
4. A new way of income will be open to the government. The government could sell the drugs over the counter, increase the tax for drugs.
5. The quality of drugs will increase and thus, manipulations and fake drugs will be removed from the market.
6. Just like the drug dealers and drug lords, pharmaceutical companies would also be affected, they would suffer a heavy loss in revenue. Cannabis is known for its medicinal uses. It’s effective for muscle spasms, Crohn’s disease, stress, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting during chemotherapy, and it’s an effecting pain killer. A lot of research has been conducted on this topic and it is estimated that medical marijuana could wipe out 1% of the revenue of pharmaceutical companies.
Legalizing drugs will not be all about its positives. Of course, there would be negative impacts. Legalizing drugs will not change its effect on humans, will it? some of the possible concerns are;
1. Legalization or decriminalization would make drugs cheaper and easier to obtain. Even though the studies have found otherwise, it could still be argued that it may result in a huge number of people trying drugs for the first time, also the frequency of usage could be higher.
2. Legalization will be aimed at only adults but our experience with cigarettes and alcohol shows that it’s just an impossible dream. Drinking and smoking among teenagers is a common thing in most of the countries. Easy and cheap availability of drugs may result in underage people using drugs.
3. Legalizing drugs would change the perception towards drugs, it would be considered as a normal thing to do just like how cigarettes or alcohol are perceived by people. Some of the drugs are highly addictive and harmful so it gives a bad idea to the people.
Most drugs were legal for centuries and we outlawed it only about 100 years ago. Making drugs legal may lead to a slight increase in the number of death or number of users, but not a significant increase from there. Just because a drug is legal doesn’t mean everyone is going to use it. Making drugs illegal has brought in a lot of criminal activities.
I believe drugs should at least be regulated, not prohibited. This would change the focus from the criminal sphere to addiction and treatment sphere.
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