D.A.R.E. Program: Should Drugs Be Legal In The United States

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America today has many issues, from racism to xenophobia. One issue that involves both of these topics, however, is the conflicting feelings on drugs. They have not only been affecting African American communities but have also been made to weaken them in order to control them. The ban on drugs was made to enforce white supremacy, because of this, I believe we should abolish the laws that prohibit drugs and decriminalize them in order to restore the communities it sought to destroy. Based on this, I believe that drugs should be legalized in the United States.

The war on drugs is a controversial issue in the United States and is on of the most common reasons why people go to jail. The U.S. first started banning drugs because of the influx of immigrants that were coming to America. They first targeted Chinese immigrants by banning opium, then blacks with cocaine, then Mexicans with marijuana. In 1971, President Nixon decided to officially declare a war on drugs. To successfully win the war on drugs, people started making campaigns and told others that if they do any kind of illegal drug it will be very harmful to them and even deadly. John Ehrlichman, an aide in Nixon’s plans said,” You want to know what this was really all about. The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”. They knew they were lying to the public about the effects of drugs, but they did it so they can break apart communities and enforce white supremacy by hurting other ethnicities. Because of the incarcerations from the banning of drugs, the number of people in jail for drug-related crimes has skyrocketed from 50,000 in 1980 to 400,000 in 1997 (see fig. 1). The entire war on drugs was founded on a belief system that oppresses and subjugates minorities.

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In spite of this, I understand why people are hesitant to legalize drugs. They are one of the leading causes of deaths via overdoses. Many families have been shaken because of it. However, just because it can potentially become harmful, it shouldn’t dismiss its psychological benefits on people. Marijuana, for example, has been shown to destress people and reduce seizures. In fact, magic mushrooms have been studied and showed results of relieving headaches and even depression. Another example, ecstasy has been shown to help people with PTSD and even has the potential to be a new drug to help cancer patients. These benefits shouldn’t be overlooked, they are very important to many people and may even potentially save the lives of millions of people suffering from these mental illnesses. This way, the mortality rates would plummet. For example, a young girl was constantly having seizures, most of them lasting for 6 hours. Her parents wanted to try medicinal marijuana to help the child and potentially stop the seizures altogether. However, because of the state they were in, they wouldn’t allow marijuana to be consumed in any way. So, they decided to move states to a place where marijuana was legal and then gave the little girl. Once she took the marijuana her seizures stopped and was able to continue her life without worry of having one. This is proof of one of the many benefits drugs can have on a person. And this would help the new generation out as well. In this society, where young people are expected to work the hardest and thus being given the most pressure by their superiors, they can become very stressed very quickly, since they don’t have a lot of time to relax. By legalizing drugs, we would be able to reduce the stress of, not only this new generation but also everyone else that has been dealing with a lot of anxiety and stress from their jobs or school or their place of work. Yet people are hesitant to legalize them because of the fear of overdosing. Marijuana is a special case for that, it is not possible to overdose on it. Now I understand it may be difficult to legalize all of them, but I believe we should legalize the ones that would be of tremendous help to others first. Lean into the idea they drugs would be legalized and work out way up from there.

The main reason the illegalization of drugs should be abolished is because of the effect it has on families. For every one of the 400,000 people incarcerated because of drugs, there are an equal number of families devastated. These people are mothers, fathers, and hard workers that are needed in order to support their loved ones. In fact, African American men are five times as more likely to be incarcerated as white men. This, as well as the police brutality and the racism of the public safety have, is all being pushed against African Americans. People already have it hard enough as it is with the gangs and the violence between them, and they not only have to deal with this but with the police as well. No one should go through such things, especially when the police were made to protect the public. Alternatively, people that do go to jail for drug-related reasons find it difficult to find a job afterwards. Studies have shown that having gone to jail reduced the probability of getting a callback to s job by 50% and that the impact is twice that for African Americans.

To further explain, gang violence not only has an effect on the community, but it also affects children. They lose loved ones constantly due to violence, this has an impact on them psychologically. They have to help provide for the ones they love when they also have to fend for themselves. Children work for gangs to provide revenue for others. This exposes them to violence and death, it gives them serious mental illnesses that haunts them for the rest of their lives. Children begin to develop PTSD at such a young age because of the exposure of gang wars to them. Now, to ensure that gangs stop this violence, we would find a way to satisfy both sides. If drugs were legalized, then they would be publicly sold and there would no longer be gangs because the only reasons for the fighting would be for the drugs.

Another probable reason why drugs have not been legalized is that the truth about drugs have been hidden from the public by the government in order to manipulate them into believing that every drug is bad and deadly. For example, the D.A.R.E. movement. it has been shown to us at a very young age, since elementary school that drugs are bad. However, based on studies, the D.A.R.E. program has not reduced drug consumption in the United States in any way. They show videos to children and tell them that drugs are bad right away, hiding their benefits, as stated previously, and they blindly believe them.

Alternatively, people could just not be informed enough to make a logical conclusion, such as assuming that marijuana is a gateway drug. A gateway drug is a drug that leads to other drugs which cause addiction. As stated before, people cannot get hooked on marijuana, so then this assumption is based loosely on false evidence. In spite of this, others just assume it makes them lazy and stupid. I believe the same can be said about alcohol, and yet that is legalized, so then drugs should be legal too by that statement. Another possibility is that others simply don’t know about it’s helpful medicinal qualities. There may also be a possibility of them just believing the wrong things. such as someone lied to them to believe that all drugs are bad without questioning them properly to begin with and thus spreading rumours about drugs that are not true to others. Another reason is that they don’t know the backstory and history about why drugs were illegalized. They most likely have been taught that drugs were bad for you and that is it, by don’t realize the racism and xenophobia it was based upon more than a century ago. By bringing this issue to light, it may be able to change the minds of thousands that drugs shouldn’t be feared, but rather understand why they were banned in the first place.

Similarly, another reason drugs haven’t been legalized is because there is no company to make a profit off of them. For example, a similar thing happened to alcohol. In the early 20th century, women banned alcohol by making the 18th amendment. They did it to reduce crimes, to improve health, and to reduce the taxes the public had to pay. Later, they decided to repeal the amendment, they made a new amendment, the 21st amendment to abolish the prohibition. They did it so that the states can control the alcohol regulation. Before the 21st amendment, there were gangs popping up, trying, doing anything they can to get their hands on alcohol. These are the same things citizens of the United States are showing because of the ban of drugs. Drugs are still illegal, yet people still go out into the streets and but them. They hide from authorities and consume them in secret in fear of getting arrested. These were the same things people in the previous century have been doing. By legalizing them, violence in the streets would decrease dramatically and we would be able to stop the fighting and the mortality rates. . Similarly, the states would also regulate the drugs, this, in turn, would help the economy by making revenue for the high demand it has on its drugs, such as what it is doing currently with alcohol. We would just need companies that would manufacture the drugs and then have the states oversee the production of them.

One way I believe we can solve this issue is by building centers for drug use. Instead of having people use drugs in their homes where they can overdose, they should go to a center where they are free to use drugs as they please while having a doctor or nurse helping them if anything goes awry. In addition to this, I believe that once in these centers, they cannot be arrested for any drugs they have used. For example, people use drugs and they are afraid that they are going to get caught by a police officer. They would be safe in one of these centers and free from the fear of incarceration. At the same time, these centers would also be to help people get over their addictions. There would be therapists there and support groups as well, to make them sure that they are not going through this alone and that there are others who are going through the same obstacles.. I believe that there should be at least 4 of these centers in every county in the United States so that everyone can have access to them. These centers would be funded by the public, via taxes, to let them know that people are the ones helping others, not government officials or anything else that could potentially corrupt them.

In this time, where drugs are still banned, we can choose to take steps towards helping others and the economy. Drugs don’t have to be the cause of death for so many people. It can help people, reunite them with their families, and reduce the violence in our communities and thus save even more lives. There is no need for more senseless violence, especially when we have the solution within ourselves to do what is right.

Fig. 1 Number of people incarcerated for a drug offence. Wagner, P., Sawyer, W.: Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018, https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2018.html.

Works Cited

  1. “A Brief History of the Drug War.” Drug Policy Alliance, www.drugpolicy.org/issues/brief-history-drug-war.
  2. “Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” NAACP, www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/.
  3. Guerin, Lisa. “CHAPTER 9: Investigating Drug and Alcohol Use.” Essential Guide to Workplace Investigations, May 2016, pp. 317–376. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lir&AN=115615864&site=lirc-live.
  4. Guerin, Lisa, and Amy DelPo. “CHAPTER 17: Drugs and Alcohol.” Create Your Own Employee Handbook, May 2017, pp. 315–335. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lir&AN=123047340&site=lirc-live.
  5. Hanson, David J. “Effects of Prohibition Were a Disaster. Created Rather than Solved Problems.” Alcohol Problems & Solutions, 11 Apr. 2019, www.alcoholproblemsandsolutions.org/effects-of-prohibition/.
  6. Heideman, Roger J., et al. “Giving Parents a Voice: A Case Study of a Family Treatment Drug Court Track in Lancaster County, Nebraska.” Court Review, vol. 52, no. 1, Jan. 2016, pp. 36–42. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lir&AN=114967632&site=lirc-live.
  7. Lallanilla, Marc. “6 Party Drugs That May Have Health Benefits.” LiveScience, Purch, 18 Nov. 2013, www.livescience.com/41277-health-benefits-illegal-drugs.html.


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