As the country begins legalizing marijuana state by state, it’s a good time to start talking about the possibility of legalizing other drugs. While most Americans may support the legalization of marijuana, they’re still weary of other drugs. This isn’t surprising, but why don’t Americans think people should be able to do drugs other than weed?
It’s apparent that drugs like cocaine, meth, and heroin are more dangerous than marijuana, but I don’t think that’s important. Many things are dangerous. Tobacco is proven to kill you, yet it’s still legal. Since the country has learned about the dangers of tobacco, the amount of smokers in the United States has decreased significantly.
I’m not living in a dreamland, I know that there are millions of Americans still addicted to cigarettes. In 2012, around 18% of the population smoked cigarettes which is down from 42% in 1965. So it’s clear that when people know how dangerous something like tobacco is, most stop using it.
Simply changing the legality of something will not make it more appealing to people. For instance, someone who has never done heroin will not want to try it suddenly because it becomes legal. That just wouldn’t happen. Sure, if someone fantasized about doing a hard drug and it became legal, they may try it. But who’s to say they wouldn’t have eventually sought it out while it was illicit?In 2001, Portugal legalized all drugs. Since then, drug use has plummeted and drug-related deaths have decreased by 50%. So unfortunately for everyone who thinks legalizing drugs is a bad idea, the facts show otherwise.
Glenn Greenwald told Time:
“Judging by every metric, drug decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success. It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country.”
Since the radical change that the Portuguese government made worked so well, couldn’t it work in the United States? The U.S. spends an incredible amount of money–trillions of dollars–fighting a “war” against its own people. Putting addicts in prison instead of helping them. Addicts should be treated, not thrown into prison. All the while spending tax dollars like there is an endless supply.
Perhaps one day America will take Portugal’s example and stop the “war” on drugs.