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Essay on Time to Legalize It: Marijuana and the War on Drugs

Updated August 9, 2022

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Essay on Time to Legalize It: Marijuana and the War on Drugs essay

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The War on Drugs has been an ongoing issue in social media and is repeatedly tackled in Congress. Marijuana, or Hemp, is a substance that is useful as more than just a drug, such as with LSD, it has medical uses as well as recreational. It can be used for things such that are necessary to daily life such as low cost clothing and as a secondary resource for making paper products. Medically, marijuana has the ability to help individuals with chronic conditions such as glaucoma and anorexia. Economically, marijuana possession and/or distribution is a reason that so many individuals go to jail, for either distribution or usage, if it were legalized, not only could it be taxed thereby making more revenue in an overall standpoint, it will reduce the number of inmates in prison.

Marijuana is slowly becoming demystified as a ‘’gateway’’ drug and is being explored for its different uses. In relation to the Coastal Carolina value of Excellence, the use of marijuana, in its many forms will save the environment, incur more revenue, and be something that individuals that are suffering from various medical conditions will be able to benefit from. Thereby making marijuana a gateway to a better life for many individuals, and in essence, enhancing the value of excellence. Excellence in environmental safety, excellence in medicine and excellence in economic growth.

​The infamous War on Drugs can be traced back to the initial founding of the Drug Enforcement Agency, commonly referred to as DEA in 1971 by President Nixon in order to address the growing illegal drug activity occurring in the United States, as well as the substantial push by the people for a governmental reform concerning drug usage (Cooper, 1993). The reason behind this anti-drug campaign was not because it was simply in the United States, because as history has shown, opioid and marijuana use was prevalent amongst many immigrants and lower income citizens, but because it had moved from a marginal, almost invisible issue into one that involved the youth (Katel, 2006).

Usage of drugs had become a symbol of youthful revolt and formed into an expansive underground society, one that was no longer reserved for the poor and immigrant, but one in which mainstream America was becoming affected. Prior to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s founding, it would be remiss not to mention that in 1932, the Marijuana Tax Act came into fruition, whose purpose was to prohibit the use of the drug (Katel, 2006), however, as with the 1930 Narcotics Bureau, it lacked the necessary funding to be particularly useful. However, after the impeachment of President Nixon, his successors, Presidents Fort and Carter decriminalized marijuana, which, in turn led to a time of widespread recreational drug use (Katel, 2006) that spanned until President Regan took office.

In 1981, President Regan started an anti-drug campaign, that many would call an all out “War on Drugs”, which was due in part to a parent led coalition that began in the year 1978called the National Families in Action, a group that protested the use of drugs, as the epidemic was no longer effect the lower class families but mainstream America. This group became especially influential in the eventual federal drug policy development (Katel, 2006). In the realization of a federally funded “war on drugs” the Drug Enforcement Agency was given the proper monetary and political backing to become a force to be reckoned with. In 1986 it became a federally funded initiative and the cost per year surged to an estimated amount of approximately twelve million dollars by 1992 (Cooper, 1993).The Drug Enforcement Agency focused its energy into the detection of drugs before it touched American soil, usually by foiling attempts by boat and by regulating the border properly. However, as is the case with business, supply and demand defines a trade and the resourcefulness of the individuals involved with each step of the process.

Therefore, not only did supply have to be reduced but the demand. It is due to this simplified business ideology that the amount of people in the jail system also increased exponentially as well because people were not only getting prison sentences for bringing drugs across the border, but also for the usage of the drug(s). Drug users were not only getting excessive fines for their use but also prison sentences and because these individuals were low income, most, if not all drug use was usually defined as a poor man’s epidemic.Referring back to the supply and demand of the drug market, the Drug Enforcement Agency focuses most of its resources on interdiction, that is, stopping the supply (Cooper, 1993). However, as time has shown, if the demand is strong enough, people will come up with creative ways for supply, so this Agency also had to develop strategies for the enforcement of drug laws when the supply had come into the states, thereby leading to the extreme sentences that an individual could receive for mere possession which could be in excess of five years at a time.

When President Clinton came into office, during his campaign, he was asked his view on the war on drugs, and instead of the militant ideology of punishment over treatment he opted for the reverse. He did this by citing his personal experiences with drugs, ranging him trying marijuana in college, though he claims to not have inhaled, and his experiences with his brother, albeit with a different drug, heroin (Katel, 2006).Unfortunately, President Clinton was forced to rethink his stance a few years later when the use of drugs once again increasedamongst teenagers. Therefore, in 1992 he had to change his policy to include jail time for repeat offenders, in addition, he had to change his ‘drug czar’, to a military Veteran, who described the anti-drug movement not as a war, but instead an epidemic such as cancer (Katel,2006). Since this administration, many others have come and as time has progressed so has the understanding of marijuana, its uses and its differential possibilities. Currently, the legalization of marijuana, medicinal and otherwise, has become an issue in the media. There are many states that have led to the way in the legalization of marijuana in marginal doses.

It is important to understand that while the anti-drug movement is still an ongoing issue, this paper will not focus on all drugs that have encompassed the War on Drugs but instead, its scope is limited to only marijuana. In addition, this paper will not go into great detail concerning the different cartels and their history with the Drug Enforcement Agency, nor will it go into great detail about the Drug Enforcement Agency. This paper, however, will discuss the different types of propaganda, different anti-drug and drug prevention movements, as well as the medical and economic uses of marijuana and its eventual legalization. Encompassed within those topics will be policy changes, stake holders and how the legalization of marijuana showcases the Saint Leo University value of excellence.

The “Just Say No” campaign, a program that was inspired by a child who asked the First Lady, Mrs. Nancy Regan what she would do if asked to do drugs, to which she stated that she would just say no (Suddath, 2009). That small moment in 1984 started a campaign that not only spurned many clubs around the popular slogan, and through this slogan many other programs grew and developed, among those being the Drug Abuse Resistance Education also known as the D.A.R.E. program. The D.A.R.E. program was a particularly popular school based program that was started up by the Los Angeles Police Department (Suddath, 2009).

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was taught in lecture format but also included pseudo simulations of what to do if presented with the opportunity to try an illegal substance and different ways to decline to use it. In these different simulations, a student would be presented with common environments in which drug use and/or the usage of drug paraphernalia would be present. The students were then taught different mechanisms in which they could decline to start and/or continue drugs. This program, though started with the LAPD, came to encompass the entire United States of America, and was something that was found in most schools, along with the paraphernalia. However, although the “Just Say No” and D.A.R.E. programs were very popular, the statistics did not back up the media’s portrayal of its success.Over time, these popular programs were shown to have a miniscule amount of effect on the overall statistics of people, especially children and young adults, doing drugs.

The most popular of all the marijuana propaganda was the series “Reefer Madness’’, which was a collection of various videos and pamphlets that was intended to show how dangerous marijuana is as well as exaggerate the effects that the drug haswas originally published as a movie in 1936. The movie was funded initially to show the terrors of marijuana usage and after filming, the director broke it into segments and sent it to various channels in a time where marijuana was largely misunderstood. These segments were then broadcasted in schools, as well as in other venues. The propaganda showed people who took drugs becoming everything that society hates. The known side effects of the drug were exaggerated and new effects of the drug, were added such as suicide, rape, hallucinations and, eventually, as per the title, madness. Although the use of the films in later years had changed, it was still used as a type of propaganda, however with the reverse purpose. The videos and pamphlets were most common in schools as a way to deter children and adolescents from the use of drugs; these exaggerated side

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