Jack Kaplan, '23
“Drugs: the devil’s candy.” The hook to my Form III Spanish project on the war on drugs perfectly reflects my current view on illegal substances. Drugs are tied to increases in crime, are incredibly unhealthy, and hurt American society as a whole. Despite this, in recent years there have been cries to decriminalize or even legalize certain drugs. However, it is the government’s job to protect its citizens from these highly addictive substances that have such a negative impact, and drugs should remain totally illegal.
Proponents of looser drug regulations often argue that drugs affect only the user, and people should be allowed to do whatever they please as long as they don’t harm others. As a strong supporter of small government, I would agree with this argument if it were true. However, statistics clearly show a direct link between drug usage and criminal activity. The most recent data reveals that an astounding 17% of state crimes and 18% of federal crimes were committed in order to obtain money for drugs. Even more frightening is the fact that 15% of violent crimes on the federal level and 4% of homicides are related to drugs. It is clear that when drugs are involved, people lose control of themselves and act in ways that harm other people and society as a whole. When a substance is so addictive and mood-altering that it is responsible for a significant amount of crime, it is only reasonable that the government try to deter the use of and make it harder to obtain that substance. The government has a duty to look after its citizens, and outlawing drugs protects both those that would use drugs and commit crimes while under the influence and the innocent people that would fall victim to those actions.
Drugs are not just harmful for victims of crimes. Narcotics are incredibly unhealthy and negatively affect people’s bodies in significant ways. Furthermore, the government has always played a part in protecting its citizens from dangerous substances. The FDA ensures that foods and medicines are safe for consumers, and the government’s responsibility does not stop just because people crave a certain high. When a great tasting chemical is made illegal because it is dangerous, very few people complain. Drugs should be treated the same way, as they are known to cause heart diseases, mouth diseases, strokes, mental illnesses, and cancers, all at an unprecedented rate. Additionally, most drugs are highly addictive, and a person loses the ability to say no to these substances once they try them. With substances so detrimental to people’s health, it is only right that the government ensures they cannot be sold to consumers.
There is an argument that drugs can remain illegal while still reducing penalties for users or even being decriminalized. While it is true that some drug penalties are too harsh, strong punishments are a necessary tool in deterring drug use. With substances as addictive as drugs, people will go to extraordinary lengths to secure them. Harsh penalties are sometimes required to show people that drug use will not be tolerated and to deter this criminal activity. When a loosely enforced fine is the principal method used to enforce a law, that law is not strictly followed. For example, speeding can result in tickets and fines. These fines, however, do not effectively stop speeding. The same goes for drugs. When fines are used, people continue to look for and use drugs instead of seeking help.
Drugs are dangerous. It’s that simple. These substances can harm or kill users as well as cause innocent people to be hurt. The government has a responsibility to stop dangerous substances from reaching the public, and drug laws are how this is accomplished. In order to save American livelihoods and lives, drugs must remain illegal.
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