Misconceptions about drug policy issues are everywhere. Studies are misquoted, statistics appear conflicting and cynics seem to foist their negativity in every arena of public debate. What are the effects of lenient drug policy? What does drug use do to our society, our children, our environment? The bottom line is that permissive drug policies put society at risk and deprive addicts of effective treatment. Because drug use is not a victimless crime, it can never be a personal choice. Understanding the difference between policies that work and those that endanger society is crucial to the future of our country.
Drug Policy Q&A
Should drug use be a personal choice?
- An individual's choice to use drugs has a severe negative impact on others who have to suffer the consequences of that choice, especially children.
- The number one risk factor for a child being abused is addiction; 75% of children in foster care are placed there because of a parent’s substance abuse.
Does a person have the right to use drugs?
- Human rights are based on the "inherent dignity of the human being" – dignity which is lost in the slavery of addiction. Ask any recovering addict.
- Drug use is one of the primary forces that perpetuate poverty and homelessness.
- Substance abuse is presently responsible for or associated with more than 80% of domestic abuse cases – whose rights are protected there?
- Drugs are one of the major contributing factors to prostitution, primarily among poor and addicted women.
Wouldn’t legalizing drugs reduce crime?
- No. Crimes are committed by addicts to attain their drugs of choice, not because their drugs are illegal.
- Decriminalizing drug use does not take away its addictive power or the criminal organizations who profit from drug trafficking. The black market would still exist.
- Drug use itself encourages violent behavior because of the user's impaired judgment.
- Sexual assault is frequently facilitated by substance use – some estimates put the number at over 60 percent, a number sure to rise if use were legal.
- Drugged driving is becoming more of a problem every year; 11 million Americans reported driving under the influence of drugs in 2004.
Wouldn’t regulating a drug like marijuana bring the government needed revenue and keep it out of the hands of our youth?
- If we were to regulate marijuana, we would have to agree that it's acceptable for society to profit from a person's addiction. Addiction is a completely preventable disease that takes the life of over 30,000 people a year.
- The cost of treatment and rehabilitation from addiction and usage associated illnesses far outweighs the cost of any revenue possibly generated; a government estimate of the cost of drug use just for one year (2002) was over $180 billion.
- Regulation hasn't kept prescription drugs, alcohol or tobacco from being used by youth; it's a failed model.
- Studies demonstrate that when people perceive the use of drugs as harmless, drug use increases - if marijuana or other drugs were legalized, it is certain that the perceived harm would decrease, making the incidence of use rise regardless of age-related regulations.
- Alcohol and tobacco have proven harmful, addictive and difficult to regulate, so why would we add another substance to that list? What would we legalize next? What would the age restriction be?
What about decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use?
- Even if it were decriminalized on the state or local level, marijuana would still be illegal on the federal level, and federal law trumps state or local law for any kind of use any time.
- Legalizing small amounts creates an intolerable situation for law enforcement as drug dealers simply carry only the minimum amount on them at any given time and re-supply as needed, making drug trafficking virtually un-prosecutable as well.
- One ounce of marijuana produces 60-120 joints – hardly a small amount.
- Advances in horticulture and hydroponics have produced much stronger strains of marijuana that are more addictive.
Aren’t prisons overcrowded with first-time marijuana possession offenders?
- Not when you look at the actual numbers. On the average state level, the percentage is .7%; on the federal level, it's 2.3% which translates to 186 people of whom 63 served time.
- We're not even taking into consideration those who pled down from drug trafficking charges.
- Some states have downgraded possession to a small fine since these numbers were reported, making a first time offender even less likely to be charged.
But aren’t we losing the fight against drugs?
- No. Since the height of drug use in the Seventies, drug use is down overall by 30 percent; 95 percent of Americans do not use drugs.
- Despite what people believe, drug use by young people is on a downward trend, and most teens never even try drugs.
- We know that our world will never be drug free, but our society is not murder free or robbery free either – do we not continue to fight to protect human life and property? Isn’t it important as well to fight for the human right to live without addiction and the problems it creates for users and the innocent?