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Pros and Cons of Illicit Drug Legalization


The Argument for the Effect of Legalization or Illegalization of Illegal Drugs


           The war on drugs has taken a toll in many parts of the world today. Many countries do not allow the trade and use of illicit drugs. However, some states have laws allowing for the use and distribution of these illegal drugs such as marijuana. The Netherlands permits the use and distribution of marijuana in controlled environments. Several nations are attempting to find consensus about how to allow or illegalize the use and sale of narcotics. Debates encompassing this issue have led to arguments as to the point of the legalization of drugs in many countries. Usually, there arises the question of the feasibility of the exercise of legalization as pros and cons are emerging with this issue (Inciardi, 2007). This essay describes the effects of illicit drugs being illegalized or legalized.


Arguments for the Illegalization of Drugs

  • The Efficiency of Drug Illegalization Laws

           Many countries have taken the initiative to combat the illicit drug trade. For instance, the DEA in the United States has taken action to combat illegal drugs’ trade to counter the illegal trade. About a hundred years ago several laws leading to the illegalization of criminal drug dealing were enforced. Due to this, there has been a tremendous decline in the number of persons that engage in the use of illegal drugs. After 1912 (Faupel, 2007), for example, the international convention illegalizing the use of narcotics such as heroin, morphine and cocaine, the 50-year era that followed saw the users of narcotics these drugs drop to below 1%. Subsequently, the omission of cannabis use from the convention’s list saw the increasing rise by about 2% in the following five years.

Pros and Cons of Illicit Drug Legalization

Sweden, for example, has stringent laws regarding drugs. Of the total GDP, Sweden spends the second-highest in the European region on the implementation of illegalizing trade and drug use. In the 1990s, Sweden cut spending on these implementations to counter unemployment and a failing GDP. This saw the rise of illegal drug use and trade until the 2000’s when the funding was reclaimed back to the drug use and business. Laws that promote the illegalization of drugs have the effect of reducing the trade and consumption of illegal drugs.

  • Economic Sense in Illegalization

The impact drug abuse and trade have on the overall financial status of any country leads to the loss of large sums of the total GDP. Further, the impact associated will also show that there are lots of untapped economic benefits in society. This has pointed out that the overall annual cost of illegalization will be between $150 and $210 billion. In the 1990s, the Institute for Health Policy in Brandeis made a statement that the total costs associated with drug and substance abuse go more than $220 billion yearly, of which $70 billion is attributable to illegal substances. The statement also adds that the most hit with these costs is the healthcare department. By legalizing illicit drugs, the costs would increase, laying more burdens on health care. The costs attributed to the administration of drugs go far beyond what any country can spare in its GDP. Health facilities face a significant problem in taking care of drug-related victims and patients. Legalizing hard illegal drugs will only increase the number of patients in the health facilities, which they will not be able to counter. There are also more reports of HIV/AIDS among drug users. By encouraging the sale and use of drugs, it would mean that we are accepting the spread of HIV and AIDS, which is a significant problem in the world today.

There is a high number of unemployed in the population of society today. One of the attributes of this problem is the increased number of drug users and abusers. Drug users face a hurdle of being inactive and result in employed people not being able to turn up in their places of work, alongside mental damage, and physical violence, among others. Legalizing illegal drugs encourages a rise in the number of unemployed people and permanent economic loss. The DEA put forward that by prohibiting illegal drugs, the number of suicide cases is discouraged by about 50%. This means that the number of single parenthood and orphans will be reduced. Illegalization will, therefore, lead to more economic gain than legalization. By legalizing illicit drug use, there will be a high crime rate as the number of educated (and therefore employed) individuals will be far less than what we have today.

“The real lesson of prohibition is that society can, indeed, make a dent in the consumption of drugs through laws,” Mark Moore, Harvard professor of criminal justice. Alcoholism is a significant problem in the world today. During prohibition, the DEA put it that there was a rapid decline (50% drop) in the number of alcohol-related arrests and subsequent alcoholism-related criminal cases. Legalization would increase the level of addiction in society today. Conclusively, illegalization reduces the number of road accidents, deaths, orphans, illiteracy, and the level of criminal activities.

  • Judicial Impact in Illegalization

Currently, in the United States, there has been a tremendous decline in the rate of drug and substance abuse. The efforts of the judicial system have contributed much to this. The legal system experiences a workload due to a high standard of drug-related cases and consequentially leading to lousy administration of justice to the public (Inciardi, 2007). The justice system has introduced a program that entails participants being illegible to a period of between six months to twelve months after their arrest. Through this program, many drug abuse victims have been seen to lead a life free of drugs. The justice system has made a significant impact on the war against drug use. Through the illegalization of drugs, there has been a tremendous decline in the population of drug users and traders. The judicial system compels those arrested on drug-related charges to take the program, of which on successful completion, the arrested may see the drug use charges waived by the court. In the United States, statistics show that those who pass through the program are least likely to be arrested in the future on drug-related charges. This is evidence that illegalization generates into low-level use of drugs and subsequent quitting for many drug users.

The department of corrections faces an overwhelming problem of overpopulation, and it is through illegalization that many are subjected to rehabilitation from drug and substance abuse. In the correction facilities, many drug users go through a successful rehabilitation program and end up being completely rehabilitated. The purpose of looking into this is to show that there is clear reasoning into deciding that illegalization of drugs leads to a minimization of consumption in the general population.

Arguments for the Legalization of Drugs

  • The Inefficiency of Drug-Related Laws

There is a rising concern in the legalization of drugs in many countries in the world. The laws set to illegalize the trade and use of drugs have proved to be a significant contributor to the number of drug use cases. The rules that provide for the prohibition of drugs are inefficient and do not help in a decline in the production, consumption, and distribution of drugs in any of the world’s countries. The laws that seek to protect their inventors’ interests are evening proving to be more harmful than helpful to society. These laws that prohibit the use and distribution of drugs do not in any way reduce the cases of drugs use and distribution, in the end, they end up enriching a few of street peddlers and drug barons, in the end resulting to street violence, black markets, and trade of illegal merchandise. In the end, there leads to the inaccessibility of healthcare facilities and drug abuse treatment for fear of arrest. This shows that these laws end up creating a big gap between drug users and distributors and society’s interests as a whole. If the legalization exercise took effect, there would be less crime on the streets. It would also provide an appropriate atmosphere for getting through to drug abusers, in the effort that they are rehabilitated back into society.

Such nations as the Netherlands are an excellent example that deterrence discourages drug use. When the laws to legalize marijuana were developed, the percentage of 16-25-year-olds consuming cannabis stood at 28%. A period of 10 years later, the rating stood at 21%. This is a clear picture that legalizing the use of drugs. Furthermore, the Dutch are among the lowest consumers of marijuana in entire Europe.

  • Health Benefits of Legalization

There are several gains that legalization would have on society as a whole. Some illegal drugs’ health risks are not defined, and they may not even exist. Ecstasy’s counter effect is sometimes amplified. Research shows that there is a lot of society would gain in legalizing drug and substance abuse. Health hazards attributable to smoking, for instance, are much worse than the effect of the use of cocaine. There are some other health-related benefits associated with illegal drugs. The use of marijuana has been known to have curative effects; the same can be said for opium. With the legalization of these illegal drugs, there would be a tremendous improvement in the administration of health services (Goldstein, 2010). Such ailments as stress, depression, and other mental related diseases would have a cure, and it would come at far fewer costs than what they now entail.

Economic Gain in Legalization

The current state of illegal drugs is that it is dealt with under closed doors. A lot of resources are redirected towards countering the use and distribution of illicit drugs. For example, the United States uses about $8 billion annually. Further, there is a contribution of personnel to aid in the fight. This is a very high cost to pay for the illegalization of illicit drugs. The taxpayers’ money would be put into better use.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation stated that the department of corrections faces a challenging task of accommodating drug-related criminals. Of the entire jail population in the United States, about 51% of the population is linked to drug use (Kallen, 2005). The economic effect of holding these drug criminals is overwhelming, and legalization would help solve the problem of overpopulation in prisons today. Additionally, there is also the argument that the legalization of drugs would come with huge economic gains for countries’ economies. If the trade and use of drugs were to be legalized, the governments would be able to tax the traders of these drugs. Illegalization only leads to a lump sum of untaxed revenue for countries.

Another problem that prohibition comes with is the hurdle to establish quality control measures. Some drugs that occur in the market are of shallow quality and have great effects on the consumers of these drugs. Due to illegality, governments cannot exercise measures to control the class of these drugs. With the establishment of laws to incorporate the sale and use of these drugs, the government will have the power to check the quality and standards that are surfaced to consumers.

  • Corruption Reduction in Legalization

One of the adverse effects of illegalization of drugs is the ultimate corruption. The drug industry is highly profitable, involving billions of dollars. The linkages that come with such sums of money are official corruption in almost all government aspects. The drug dealers and barons largely influence many politicians, judicial officials, and administrators of justice. Through a stand on the legalization of illicit drugs, the government will have tapped all corrupt officials of all arms of the government. It is conclusive to say that legalization of drugs will have the effect of reducing corruption and will lead to overall better administration of justice.

In the year 2010, the former president of Interpol international was charged with murder for having accepted a bribe amounting to $150,000 from a drug trader. This shows the levels to which the trade of drugs has come to. Such problems would be dealt with if the legalization of drugs was enhanced in the laws since the responsible authority would closely monitor the transporting and distribution of these.


The war against drugs has taken a toll on many countries. Governments aim to obliterate the effects of drug abuse to protect the interests of its citizens. The confusion that arises due to the surfacing of issues related to either legalization or illegalization causes an overwhelming response from the public.

The bottom line is that drug abuse is a significant problem today, and it also leads to other societal evils. To stop this from being a problem, governments should outline the benefits of legalizing or illegalizing these illicit drugs in their countries. The essay stipulates the gains that come with either course of action. It is up to authority and administrators of justice to evaluate the feasibility of either of the steps while minding the welfare of their citizens and putting their interests at heart.

  • Kallen, S.(2005). Legalizing Drugs. New Jersey: Greenhaven
  • Goldstein, M. (2010). Legalizing Drugs: Crime Stopper or Social Risk? New York: 21st Century
  • Gerber, R.(2008). Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics
  • Inciardi, J. (2007). The American Drug Scene: An Anthology. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Faupel, C. (2009). The Sociology of American Drug Use.2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Inciardi, J.(2007). War on Drugs IV: The Continuing Saga of the Mysteries and Miseries of Intoxication, Addiction, Crime and Public Policy.4th ed. Allyn & Bacon


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