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Running Head: Illegal Drugs: Tax and legalize?

Illegal Drugs: Tax and legalize?


Jason Burton
ECPI University

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Abstract
There have been many issues in our country that have divided us.
Legalizing gay marriage, Obamacare, gun control, the war in Iraq, and the treaty with
Iran, just to name a few. All of these issues have caused damage to our society,
sometimes irreparable, causing the fault lines to spread even further. An issue that has
not gathered as much attention, but I believe will be a major issue in the near future is the
legalization of illegal drugs.
Almost all drugs are controlled in some way, mostly by the fact that they are
illegal to be taken without a prescription or illegal to possess at all. The reason that there
are disagreements over the use of drugs is because so many people disagree about the
effects it has on the mind and body of a person and over the impact it would have on
society as a whole. The argument presented here is that legalizing and taxing illicit
drugs, would do far more harm than good. Many opponents to this believe that the War
on drugs is more harmful than legalizing would be. The legalization and taxation of
illegal drugs is not going to fix the drug problem due to the amount of money (and lives)
that is invested in both sides of the war, and the effects of the drugs themselves.
There are many that agree and disagree for many different reasons. However, the
loudest voice in the argument for illegal drugs is that Its not our life, and its not hurting
anyone, so why should I care? This argument is flawed and is based upon fallacy.
One of the most important topics to understand about illegal drugs is why they are
illegal. Drugs are not illegal strictly because they are drugs. They are illegal based upon
a class that they are put into. This is called a Schedule, and are given by the Drug

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Enforcement Administration, and ranges from most addictive at Schedule I, to least
addictive, at Schedule V. According to the DEA, Schedule I drugs, substances, or
chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high
potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug
schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence (Drug
Schedules, 2013). There are a fair number of drugs that fall into this category, to include
marijuana and heroin. Since Schedule I and II substances are the drugs that are illegal,
with no medical benefit, thats what this paper will cover.
The first argument for the legalization and taxation of drugs is that it doesnt have
an effect on the mind and body. The public is being duped into believe that because there
is big money in the War on Drugs. The counterargument to that is that it actually does
have a severe impact on the human body, and mind. Dr. Thomas Gould (2010) states in
his article on addiction and cognition, The brain regions and processes that underlie
addiction overlap extensively with those that are involved in essential cognitive
functions, including learning, memory, attention, reasoning, and impulse control. Drugs
alter normal brain structure and function in these regions, producing cognitive shifts that
promote continued drug use through maladaptive learning and hinder the acquisition of
adaptive behaviors that support abstinence.
The article provided proves that it causes the mind to learn improperly, thereby
making the brain dependent on the drug. The physical effects it has on the body are
many and sometimes lethal. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2015)
chart on prescription drug overdose, there was a 250% increase in the total number of
prescription drug overdose deaths from 2001 to 2013, totaling over 20,000 for the year

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2013. That statistic is from prescription drugs alone.

Not only do drugs have an effect on the individual, it effects society in general.
Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (2015) published a report for the
two years since marijuana was legalized in Colorado. Their findings are in conflict with
what pro-marijuana groups would have the public believe. According to their report from
2013, Colorado teens ranked number 3 in the nation for marijuana use, and college-age

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ranked number 2.

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The report is even more detailed from 2014: marijuana-related traffic deaths
increased 32 percent; almost 20 percent of all traffic deaths were marijuana related
compared to only 10 percent for the previous five years; marijuana-related emergency
department visits increased 29 percent; marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 38
percent. That is just some of the report. It goes on to say that resource officers and
teachers are having difficulty with classes because students go outside on breaks to get
high and come back to class.
The second argument for the legalization and taxation of illegal drugs is that the
drugs illegal status is what drives the criminality aspect of it. The argument also states
that if drugs were just legal, there wouldnt be any problems. The black market
associated with the illegal drug trade is what makes it dangerous. Many people argue that
the problem is not with the drug itself, but with the drug laws. Listen to Mr. John
Walthers (2002) rebuttal: The New England Journal of Medicine reported in 1999 on
the risks for women injured in domestic violence. The most striking factor was a partner
who used cocaine, which increased risk more than four times. That violence is associated
not with drug laws, but with the drug.
The problem highlighted in that study was not the market associated with the
drug, or even the laws against the drug. It was the person consuming the drug. Whether
the drugs were legal or not was not the issue. The domestic abuse was still there in which
the drug was a factor.
Lastly, the argument persists that alcohol is legalized, and it is, at times, more
dangerous than illicit drugs. The facts agree with them. According to the WHO (2015)
3.3 million people died around the world from alcohol related causes in 2012. Statistics

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from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2015) state that Nearly
88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading
preventable cause of death in the United States. However, the reason that this many
deaths happens is because alcohol is legal. How can we expect to control the
consumption of illicit drugs when legalized when we cannot control the consumption of
the drugs that are already legal?
One source (1994) argues that many people do not use drugs, or even try them,
simply because they are illegal. The general public is afraid of getting into trouble with
the criminal justice system. If you take that away, there will be nothing stopping people
from using these dangerous drugs and the amount of death from overdose due to
inexperience or taking improper dosages will skyrocket. (Against Legalization or
Decriminalization of Drugs, 1994)
One common rally cry is that marijuana should be legal for medical reasons.
However, most do not realize, that most of the time, it is not the marijuana used, but the
oil derived from the plant that is used for treatment; especially for patients going through
chemotherapy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are two pills that
have been approved by the FDA for medical purposes. These contain extracts of the
marijuana plant that are beneficial for health and well-being. More may come about after
further research, but no studies, as of yet, have recognized the benefits of using the entire
plant. (Drug Facts: Is Marijuana Medicine? 2015)

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The facts are that legalizing drugs and taxing them would be detrimental in more
ways than can be listed in this report. The effect on the human mind and body, the effect
on society as a whole, and the existence of uncontrollable legal drugs all point to the truth
that these drugs should be fought against with all the resources that can be brought to
bear. The medical marijuana myth is a misunderstood concept that needs to be
corrected. Illicit drugs should remain illegal. The cost is too great to condone legalizing
these substances.

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References
Drug Enforcement Administration (2013). Drug Schedules. Retrieved on November 18,
2015 from http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml
Gould, T. J. (2010). Addiction and Cognition. Addiction Science & Clinical
Practice, 5(2), 414.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015, February 5) Overdose Death Rates. Retrieved
on November 15, 2015 from http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trendsstatistics/overdose-death-rates

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Brice, Jennifer (2015, September 15) Feds Release Marijuana Stats That Show Negative
Effects Of Legalization. Retrieved on November 18, 2015 from
http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/09/15/feds-release-marijuana-stats-to-shownegative-effects-of-legalization/
Walther, J. (2002, July 19) Dont Legalize Drugs. Retrieved on November 15, 2015 from
http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1027036381964514720
World Health Organization (2014, May 12). WHO calls on governments to do more to
prevent alcohol-related deaths and diseases. Retrieved on November 15, 2015
from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/alcohol-related-deathsprevention/en/
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (March, 2015). Alcohol Facts and
Statistics. Retrieved on November 18, 2015 from
http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcoholfacts-and-statistics
Drugwatch International (1994, August 1). Against Legalization or Decriminalization of
Drugs. Retrieved November 15, 2015, from
http://www.drugwatch.org/resources/publications/position-statements-andresolutions/163-against-legalization-or-decriminalization-of-drugs.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2015, July) Drug Facts: Is Marijuana Medicine?
Retrieved on November 18, 2015 from
http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine

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Media References
Center for Disease Control (July 2010). Unintentional Drug Poisoning in the Untied
States. Retrieved on November 18, 2015
http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/pdf/poison-issue-brief.pdf
Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug trafficking Area (2015) The Legalization of
Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact. Retrieved on November 18, 2015 from
http://www.rmhidta.org/html/2015%20PREVIEW%20Legalization%20of%20MJ
%20in%20Colorado%20the%20Impact.pdf