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Legalization of Drugs Fails to Resolve Social Problems Essay

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One need only turn on the 11o'clock news to determine whether the "war on drugs" has been a success or a failure. Border police and the FBI continue to nab ever-increasing caches of illegal drugs, while our "tough on crime" policies haul thousands to jail on drug trafficking and possession charges. Yet, people young and old continue to purchase and consume large amounts of drugs for a variety of reasons, ranging from medicinal to escapism.



Even the most ardent drug enforcers have to admit that the current offensive against drugs has been a dismal failure, because the government cannot prevent what people want to do merely through laws (and their enforcement). But does this automatically mean that drugs should be legalized?
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Gangs do not shoot each other and innocent bystanders for the right to sell beer and wine. No one has to sneak into "speak-easies" in order to enjoy alcohol. Jails do not bust at the seams due to arrests for alcohol possession and sales. Our major brewing companies fund many of our sporting events and account for an enormous amount of television revenue, helping to support the majestic stadiums, arenas and player-coaching salaries that have skyrocketed in recent years. No one has to attack anyone to get a beer; an alcoholic is more likely to beg for a dollar or so than rob someone at gunpoint to obtain his or her "fix." And when was the last time you heard of someone burglarizing a house to steal items for resale later just to obtain cheap wine?



But there are costs for the use of alcoholic beverages, and those costs are enormous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 1998, 16,189 people in the United States were killed in crashes involving alcohol alone (not cocaine or speed, just alcohol), and 1,058,990 more were injured. Economically, this resulted in an estimated $45 billion just from the direct results of such accidents. Indirectly, $75 billion is estimated to be lost in reduced quality of life. With all the messages telling people to drink responsibly and to use a designated driver or taxi, it seems that people will do what they want to do, whether it may kill someone or not. Can we honestly say that
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