Obviously, there are big differences between drugs, both in the effect they have on the user and in their addictive and/or harmful potential. Some drugs that are generally considered addictive are not really addictive, while others that are freely available (such as sugar or nicotine) are both addictive and dangerous to users` health, but are still legal and widely used in society. Drug legalization in Oregon followed in the footsteps of countries like Portugal, the Netherlands and Switzerland, which decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs. In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the acquisition, possession and consumption of small amounts of all illicit drugs. However, the country did not decriminalize drug trafficking, as it involved larger quantities of drugs. In addition, people caught using drugs cannot be detained, fined, provided with community services or referred to treatment programs. While there are many advantages, there are also many arguments against legalizing drugs. The downsides could be: While you may think legalization is simply a yes or no dichotomy, it`s important to realize that there are actually several forms that legalization can take, each with its own pros and cons. In the case of psychoactive drugs such as marijuana, there is an extra layer, because while people initially make the free choice to use a drug, a subset of users suffer from a radically impaired ability to continue making this rational decision – they become addicted (about 9% of marijuana users will develop a substance use disorder). and have an increased risk of also suffering from additional mental illnesses such as depression triggered by drug use.
Substance use disorders then significantly affect quality of life and can shorten human lifespan by decades with certain drugs, such as alcohol and opioids. The most obvious case is the regulation of adolescents` and young adults` access to drugs. Whatever the regime, it is hard to imagine that the drugs that are now banned would be more readily available than alcohol and tobacco today. Would there be a black market for drugs for youth, or would the regulatory system be as permeable as the current one for alcohol and tobacco? A « yes » answer to both questions would reduce the appeal of legalization. For drug users, the high price of illicit drugs makes it difficult and often impossible to obtain the drug without committing further crimes. Unemployed heroin addicts, for example, cannot easily find ways to finance their addiction without resorting to robbery and robbery to obtain the funds needed to buy the drugs they need. A state-controlled drug distribution system could easily solve these problems and make them available to those who need them at little or no cost. This would benefit society as a whole.
Proponents of legalization admit that consumption would likely increase, but counter that it is not clear that the increase would be very large or time-consuming, especially if legalization were paired with appropriate public education programs. They, too, cite historical evidence to support their claims, noting that opium, heroin, and cocaine use had already begun to decline before prohibition went into effect, that alcohol consumption did not suddenly increase after prohibition was repealed, and that the decriminalization of cannabis use in 11 U.S. states in the 1970s did not lead to a dramatic increase in use. Some also point to the legal sale of cannabis products through regulated outlets in the Netherlands, which also does not appear to have significantly encouraged consumption by Dutch nationals. Opinion polls showing that most Americans would not rush to try previously banned drugs that suddenly became available are also being used to bolster the case for legalization. Many arguments seem to make legalization a convincing alternative to today`s prohibitionist policies. In addition to undermining black market incentives to produce and sell drugs, legalization could eliminate or at least significantly reduce the very problems that most concern the public: the crime, corruption and violence that accompany the functioning of illicit drug markets. It would also likely reduce the damage caused by the lack of quality controls for illicit drugs and slow the spread of infectious diseases due to needle parts and other unsanitary practices. In addition, governments could abandon costly and largely futile efforts to suppress the supply of illicit drugs and imprison offenders by spending the money saved to educate people not to use drugs and to treat those who become addicted. Decriminalization of drugs would allow governments to better regulate access to and distribution of drugs. Alcohol and tobacco are legal in many societies, but still effectively regulated: they are not easily accessible to minors, they are not allowed in the workplace, etc.
A society-wide discussion about the health effects of certain drugs (e.g. the harms of sugar) can lead to incentives to reduce the use of these legal drugs or to offer less harmful alternatives. There are a number of pros and cons to legalizing drugs, and there is no simple answer. To further muddy the waters, for some, there is a moral or ideological argument, while others prefer to use evidence and statistics. Drug legislation in the UK can also be a highly politicised issue, and the debate will undoubtedly continue as people on both sides highlight the pros and cons of legalising drugs in the UK. Even as the country moves toward broader decriminalization of drugs, drug legalization remains a contentious issue. For every argument for why drugs should be legal, there is one that focuses on why drugs should not be legalized. And there are statistics on drug legalization that support both sides of the problem. CONS: On the other hand, since psychoactive drugs, including marijuana, cause acute mental impairment when people use the drug, as well as addiction (approximately 9% of marijuana users), the increased accessibility, destigmatization and lower prices associated with legalization would result in more users and, therefore, more potential harm and harm to the population (e.g., driving under the influence of drugs) as well as substance abuse.
It is often argued that more people could experiment with drugs if they were legal when otherwise they would not. This could be especially harmful to people with a genetic predisposition to addiction. Drugs could become more accessible to many people. The question of whether Bill Clinton « inhaled » when he tried marijuana as a college student came closest to the drug problem during the last presidential campaign. However, the current one could be very different. For the fourth year in a row, a federally backed national survey of U.S. high school students conducted by the University of Michigan found an increase in drug use. After a decade or more of declining drug use, Republicans are certain to blame President Clinton for the bad news and attack him for failing to maintain the high-profile stance of the Bush and Reagan administrations on drugs.
The extent of this problem is less certain, but if the worrying trend of drug use among young people continues, the public debate on how best to address the drug problem will clearly not end with the elections. Indeed, there are already growing fears that the large wave of adolescents – the group most at risk of drugs – that will peak at the turn of the century will be accompanied by a further increase in drug use. There are a number of pros and cons to legalizing drugs, and there is no simple answer. The legalization of drugs is a highly controversial issue and can provoke strong opinions on both sides of the drug law debate. It is undeniable that many drugs can have an extremely negative impact on individual users and society as a whole. Addiction can affect the physical and mental well-being of the user in a very destructive way and lead to problematic behavior that affects others around them. This is generally accepted by both parties. Arguments for and against legalizing drugs tend to focus on whether criminalizing drug use – the « war on drugs, » as it is often called – is the most effective way to deal with the problem. Finally, the prospect of legalization is discussed, as well as strategies to regulate a legal drug market.
This would prevent « free for all » by ensuring that vital restrictions on sale and use are imposed while controlling potency. As the authors point out, the legal sale of alcohol does not extend to dangerous preparations containing 100% ethanol, for example, or the right to drink at work. In 2014, a number of prominent figures, including Sir Richard Branson, Sting and Michael Mansfield QC, signed a letter urging the government to consider decriminalising cannabis. Decriminalization is not the same as legalization, but it is an important step in that direction. The drug advocacy organization Release organized the letter, saying users have a better chance of escaping or avoiding addiction if they are not « trapped in the criminal justice system. » They added that evidence from other countries that have legalized drugs supports this view. Proponents of prohibition and criminalization often argue that legalizing drugs would send the wrong signal, suggesting that it is more socially acceptable to use drugs. It can also give the impression that taking drugs is safe, although there is ample evidence that this is not the case. Another important decision is the decision between recreational and medical drug use.
Most societies agree that most drugs, including addictive ones, can be used therapeutically by health professionals; whereas they would not allow the same drugs to be used « for pleasure ». In many Western countries, drug policies are considered ineffective and the decriminalization of drugs has become a trend.
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