War on Terror, War on Poverty, War on Everything.What comes into your mind? More death? More injuries? More taxes? Yet, war doesn’t seem end anything soon. War on drugs is probably the longest war US government and its citizens have faced since President Nixon declared the war in 1973.
However, in 2012, President Obama announced, “The War on Drugs has been an utter failure.” Obama administration stated that American government has already spent $1 trillion USD on War on Drugs; and just reinforcing the policy on law enforcement and prison system, government needs to spend more than $51 billion USD annually. War on Drugs brings not only the economic downfall, but also many human rights violation. Police brutality and gunfire exchanges between police and dealers are presented as showpieces on TV.
How long is this going to last? As right now, American government should decriminalize all drugs in order to benefit its economy and society. Portugal is an excellent example for decriminalizing all drugs in 2001, and American government should follow its footstep for a significant economic benefit. Incarceration for those drug addicts are more expensive than rehabilitation of them. For example, the EU annual report states the Portugal government earnt approximately $103 million USD in total in 2010 because more addicts were sent to rehab and trained to be productive citizens again, instead of going to jail. Besides this, law enforcement and judicial system can be freer to prosecute these drug-related criminals.
According to BBC, from 2010 to 2012, British government saved around $42 millions US dollars on law enforcement equipments and related personnel expense for stopping drug trafficking after decriminalizing all drugs. Citizens pay taxes for maintaining any government work, including jail system, police force and court trial. However, if the US government needs to spend trillions of dollars for drug-related issues, where do they cut the expense then? Hopefully, not education or social security pension. Furthermore, when those drug addicts complete their rehab program, they are more likely to become productive member in society. For example, in Portugal 32,412 people would have been in jail for using drugs, and now there are only 1,894 people imprisoned for using drugs. Unlike treating them as criminals, society can treat them as patients who need help. After getting out of programs, those people can still work and feed their families without any or minimal criminal records.
In addition, decriminalizing drugs also decreases a country’s HIV rate because government can run legal injection sites for those addicts. For instance, According to the Portugal Drug Report, it showed that the HIV diagnoses attributed to injecting rate had dropped from around 500 to 44 people after decriminalizing the drugs from 2006 to 2016.The lower HIV rate means the healthier the society is. There are more able bodies to produce for the society, and more productivity also improves a country’s economy. Finally, fewer people hiding in the valley or getting high on the streets means fewer crimes and less violence for police or people to handle. While Portugal is a proven case, Decriminalizing drugs definitely can help America economically and socially. Like a moth to the flame. Psychologically, the more something is banned, the more people want to try it out. From the economic point of view, War on Drugs only attempts to crash the supply side. However, as long as the demand side is not diminishing, the suppliers will always continuously exist.
Drugs are addictive substances that are no different from alcohol and tobacco. We send alcoholics and smokers to rehab. But why sending drug addicts to jail? That doesn’t sound right. Decriminalizing drugs doesn’t equal to legalizing drugs. Of course, there will be hurdles, such as certain marijuana users trying to take advantages from California system. However, the government has already implemented a system called indirect tax for those people who want to buy legal marijuana. They have to pay big money, and government can take their money to reuse for programs that will benefit society and economy. Most European countries have already been decriminalizing drugs for the past years. As a citizen of the United States and the future generation for America, I urge America decriminalized all drugs to benefit its economy and society.
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