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Some proponents of legalization claim that current strict drug control policies have a disproportionately adverse effect on poor communities.
This much is obvious from even the most cursory examination of the statistics.
The drug laws of the United States, and efforts to stop drug trafficking and abuse, are designed to protect all people from the harm and denigration that illegal drugs cause. If one economic group or another is disproportionately affected by the implementation of current laws, that problem should be dealt with in its proper context--not by legalizing drugs.
As a matter of fact, the laws were based largely on racism and the fears of such things as Chinese men luring white women to their ruin in opium dens, and the mythical "Negro Cocaine Fiend." Harry Anslinger specifically stated that the primary reason to outlaw marijuana (hemp) was "its effect on the degenerate races."
The participants at the Forum, many of them city police chiefs, disagreed with the notion that legalization would improve the lot of the poor.
Legalization proponents argue that fewer people would be arrested for drug trafficking crime and the violence associated with turf protection would be reduced if drugs were legalized. That argument assumes that drugrelated violence is limited to rival drug gangs disputing turf, when in fact, most drug violence is committed by people under the influence of drugs.
The incidence of dysfunctional families, unemployability, family violence, and ruined lives would increase in lowincome communities, just as they would in every other community. All communities would see increased aberrant behavior because of increased drug use; increased occurrences of child neglect; increased family disintegration; increased fetal damage caused by mothers' drug use; increased social welfare costs; loss of workforce productivity; increased auto accidents because drivers are driving under the influence of drugs; increased industrial accidents caused by impaired workers; increased absenteeism; and increases in emergency room visits and overdose deaths. In short, all Americans would see a moral decline of society.
Drug use in the inner city is a manifestation of other problems in the inner city; these problems would not go away if more drugs were available. If proponents truly believe that legalization would have a positive affect on communities, we challenge them to set up a trial program in their own community.
This is an empty challenge. If anyone tried it, the DEA would have them in jail before the first results could be evaluated. This kind of trial program is the last thing the DEA wants to see, as they have already stated by their opposition to an objective Federal Commission to examine the evidence.
Some facts which help to confirm the observations of the forum participants may be used in debates:
· In his 1994 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Herbert Kleber addresses the drug situation: "Our current drug situation follows a pattern of earlier drug epidemics. As the use of drugs drops from epidemic to endemic levels, disadvantaged groups are more likely than others to continue using drugs because of their greater availability and fewer alternative opportunities. That is why minority communities want not only treatment facilities but also fair laws, justly applied to reduce the horrendous toll of drug related crime in their neighborhoods. The illegal, open air drug bazaars that flourish in southeastern Washington DC and the South Bronx would not be tolerated in Georgetown or Scarsdale."
Try as I might, I can't find anything in that statement which says that throwing
massive numbers of people in prison for drug offenses is a good idea.
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|Drug Information Articles|
Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Major Studies of Drug and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - The Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
Licit and Illicit Drugs
Short History of the Marijuana Laws
The Drug Hang-Up
Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
Frequently Asked Questions About Drugs
Basic Facts About the Drug War
Charts and Graphs about Drugs
Information on Alcohol
Guide to Heroin - Frequently Asked Questions About Heroin
LSD, Mescaline, and Psychedelics
Drugs and Driving
Children and Drugs
Drug Abuse Treatment Resource List
American Society for Action on Pain
Let Us Pay Taxes
Marijuana Business News
Reefer Madness Collection
Medical Marijuana Throughout History
Drug Legalization Debate
Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition
Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
Legal References on Drugs
GAO Documents on Drugs
Response to the Drug Enforcement Agency
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