The reasons for ending the drug war are countless. Anyone who bothers to do independent research concludes there are better alternatives. There are a few arguments that by themselves should be cause for repeal.
In the world we are living in today, more and more Americans support ending the drug war. The latest polls put nationwide support for complete legalization of marijuana at just under 50%. With the incredible spread of information over the past twenty years, everyone is beginning to see why the drug war should end. The reasons for this are as varied as the culture of America. There are three in particular that stand on their own as reasons to end the drug war if for no other reason. The first is the shear scale and harshness of the War on Drugs. Second is that criminal penalties have been proven to not reduce usage. Finally, open disregard for marijuana law breeds lack of respect for all law.
The War on Drugs has grown to a size and scope that is offensive to most Americans. Americans have a unique view of the ideal size and role of government. Nowhere in our Founding Fathers’ documents is their any provocation for intervening in private citizens’ personal choices. Since 1995 more than 9 million people have been arrested for marijuana. Even those that don’t face jail time are still penalized for life. With a drug conviction on your record you could potentially face consequences such as not being allowed to adopt a child, receive public housing or EBT stamps, receive student loans, serve on a jury, own a gun, or in some cases lose your eligibility to vote. With 90% of all marijuana arrests being for simple possession, it is impossible to understand why we need so many arrests and such harsh sentencing.
There have been several studies that have proven that stricter criminal penalties have little to no impact on usage rates. The National Research Council concluded that “perceived legal risk explains very little in the variance of individual drug use.” There are also studies that show that legalization and regulation can, in fact, decrease usage. The World Health Organization completed a study of the Netherlands that found lower marijuana usage per-capita than in the United Sates. If you truly want to lower drug use, the best thing you can do is legalize drugs.
The previous two reasons are compelling enough, but perhaps the worst victim of the drug war is overall respect for the law. Laws are what keep a civil society from digressing into anarchy. The most recent statistics find that over 80% of Americans have tried marijuana at least once. These people who tried marijuana have first hand knowledge of what it does and more importantly does not do. The American public sees the punishment stated in the first argument and know it doesn’t fit the crime. When the majority of the population is knowingly breaking and not respecting the law, society is in trouble. This is probably the biggest reason why the drug war has to end. If people are ever going to respect their government, they must first respect its laws.