Seeing Through the Haze: The Impact of Drug Legalization in America

“ I would establish a strictly controlled distribution network through which I would make most drugs, excluding the most dangerous ones like crack, legally available.” – George Soros

Source: Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve.
Published :New York John Wiley & Sons 1995

Decades of painful experience dealing with the misery, violence, and crime associated with drugs have left parents and public health officials with a responsibility to educate every new generation of young people about the devastating effects of illegal drug use.
Working against these efforts, however, is a small, but well-funded group of pro-drug advocates who argue that the legalization of drugs provides a cure-all for America’s drug problem. By placing pro-drug politics ahead of scientific consensus and common sense, these groups place obstacles in the way of making progress.

Drugs are Illegal because they are Harmful

Medical research has established a clear fact about drug use: once started, it can develop into a devastating disease of the brain, with consequences that are anything but enticing. Consider the facts:
The potency of retail marijuana has more than doubled since the mid-1980’s, leading to an increase in drug treatment need for teens. Today, more young people enter drug treatment for marijuana than for all other illegal drugs combined. (MPMP, NSDUH)
Young people who smoke marijuana weekly have double the risk of depression later in life. Additionally, teens aged 12-17 who smoke marijuana weekly are three times more likely than non-users to have suicidal thoughts.
(Source: British Medical Journal, SAMHSA)

Marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. (Source: NIDA)

Drug Legalization Would Dramatically Increase the Costs to Our Society
If drugs were legalized, the United States would see significant increases in the number of drug users, the number of drug addicts, and the number of people dying from drug-related causes.
Studies show that attitudes about drugs drive youth drug use rates. By trivializing and advocating tolerance for illegal drug use, drug legalization groups send a message to young people that experimentation with dangerous illegal drugs is acceptable. Drug legalization would increase the occurrence of drug impaired driving. Drugs affect concentration, perception, coordination, and reaction time; many of the skills required for safe driving.

Who’s Really in Prison for Marijuana?
One of the primary arguments used by drug legalization advocates is based on a lie – that our prisons are filled with marijuana smokers. In fact, the vast majority of drug prisoners are violent criminals, repeat offenders, traffickers, or all of the above.
The most recent data available reveals that just 1.4 percent of the state inmate population were held for offenses involving only marijuana, and less than one percent of all state prisoners (0.3 percent) were incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge. (Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics)
Out of all drug defendants sentenced in federal court for marijuana crimes in 2001, the overwhelming majority were convicted for trafficking, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Only 2.3 percent—186 people— received sentences for simple possession, and of the 174 for whom sentencing information is known, just 63 actually served time behind bars.

Source: 2007

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