When considering the social damage drugs can generate, the ideas that the government poses as a major element to this destruction is too often failed to mention. Many solely blame dealers, gangs, or even certain races, unfortunately, for the street violence associated with drugs, but fail to take into account the people who encouraged this war to begin with. As viewed in the ABC special Sex, Drugs, and Consenting Adults, there has been a war on drugs occurring for over 40 years in America. This war was declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, and has only strengthened racial tensions, increased drug-related violence, and wasted billions of dollars. Countless supporters of this war will claim that this war is necessary to prevent drugs from further corrupting our youth, and has always existed with the intention of cleaning up America. The reality of this “war on drugs”, however, is that it was created by the Nixon Administration to attack hippies and blacks. A Nixon aide named John Ehrlichman disclosed the corruption behind this plan when stating, “ ‘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,’ Ehrlichman said. ‘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.’ ”(cnn.com). Through this war, the Nixon administration successfully presented what would be seen as a “solid” reason for society to turn its back on blacks and hippies, as opposed to simple prejudice. The damage Nixon created continues to trickle down today, as although whites are known to be 45% more likely to deal drugs, blacks receive more frequent arrests, and even heavier sentences. This is due to the racial prejudices intensified by the association of blacks with drugs and the “destruction of America’s image”.
In addition to racial tensions, this war on drugs can be seen as a significant component in the violence caused by drugs. Since the criminalization of drugs is so heavy, the value of the drugs, along with the risk of buying and selling them, creates an even heavier amount of fear and tension amongst the drug community. Dealers and buyers must always live in fear of the police, and are not presented with much security in the case of a robbery or mishandled drug deal. You can’t exactly report stolen drugs or drug money to the police, so these people caught up in the drug game are forced to take matters into their own hands. There are even instances of people being killed for selling on someone else’s “dealing turf”, since the “original” dealer of that area may feel threatened and fear losing, what can sometimes add up to thousands of dollars, to someone else, since illegal status of these drugs makes them so precious and valuable. This value of drugs was also pointed out on ABC special while John Stossel stated, “The drug war doesn’t stop the flow of drugs, because making drugs illegal makes smuggling more profitable. $100 worth of Peruvian cocaine is worth $2,000 on these streets. That keeps sellers selling.”
While there are many reasons why drugs can be mentally and physically harmful, the question remains of whether some of them are any more or less harmful than drugs which are already being distributed legally. The most famous examples of legal substances which are much less beneficial and much more harmful than weed, are alcohol and painkillers. As found on cdc.gov, there are an overwhelming 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths in the US every year, in addition to the 14,000 deaths from prescription opioids (which are essentially legal forms of heroin) in 2014 alone. As known everywhere, it is impossible to overdose on marijuana. Numerous people love to point out that when weed is laced, an individual can easily overdose. Yes, of course this is true! However, that only proves that the individual overdosed on the substance the cannabis was laced with; not the cannabis itself. As another counteracting point to that argument, wouldn’t it make sense to legalize weed in order to make it something controlled by the government, instead of a substance lying in the hands of certain dealers who will lace it just to keep their buyers coming back for more? If marijuana becomes regulated and professionally sold, the chances of purchasing deadly, laced weed, along with the street violence it is associated with bringing, are very likely to disintegrate.
Along with the legalization of drugs, there are many overwhelming debate points when the argument of prostitution comes up. On one hand, it is seen as a degrading act which reinforces foul ideas- such as ones that men are meant to own and dominate women, and that women are worth nothing more than submission and sex, or simply just objects who may be tossed around as such. In the Selling Sex: Craiglist and Beyond video, Asia, a young women who had met her first pimp at 18, even compared the selling of her body to drug dealing- only, unlike drugs, she was dealt over and over again, as she was “reusable”. Even lyrics such as,
“Nothing really matters, so she hit the back seat
Rosa Parks never a factor when she making ends meet”
from Kendrick Lamar’s “Keisha’s Song (Her Pain)”, suggest that when a woman submits herself to the act of prostitution, she is forgetting that generations of women before her fought for the respect she seems to be throwing away. Rather than obtaining one of the many careers her ancestors struggled to give young women like her an opportunity in, she is submitted herself to the female expectations those women challenged. Not only are the young women thrown into the ring of prostitution subject to be marketed as sex toys; they are often thrown into inhumane conditions as well. A heart-breaking example of this is the story, seen in Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking, of Galia and Natasha: sisters who were tricked into becoming prostitutes. They had accepted a job offer in Turkey, which soon revealed itself as a prostitution operation they were locked into. They were forced to have sex with hundreds of repulsive men, many times without a condom, which eventually led Natasha to becoming pregnant. She underwent a brutal abortion, and was required to go back to work only 5 days afterwards. By legalizing an act which often strengthens the sexual exploitation of/violence against women, and even children, around the world, we would partake in allowing a vicious, filthy business to take over our society, as well as present itself in our economy.
On another hand, there are women who chose to enter the world of prostitution, and have no regrets in doing so. As opposed to giving into the shame which surrounds women freely having sex and showing off their bodies as equally as their male counterparts, these women embrace this taboo behaviour. They acknowledge the influence their sexuality has over men, and they decide to make a living out of it. As found in “Prostitution: Facts & Fictions”, “Some prostitutes feel validated and empowered by their work….[and] state that they are very satisfied with their work, or feel that their lives improved after entering prostitution….‘[some even] consider women who are not ‘in the life’ to be throwing away woman’s major source of power and control, while they as prostitutes are using it to their own advantage as well as for the benefit of society.’ ”. Another factor enticing many into prostitution is the money. As heard on Dubai: Night Secrets, “[these women] could earn more in one night as a prostitute than working a whole month in sales. And [they] wouldn’t have to stand on [their] feet all day.” While some people work their butts off only to receive $7.25 an hour, women who sell themselves commonly earn hundreds of dollars in that same hour- which can sometimes turn into thousands of dollars once their night is up.
There are countries, such as New Zealand and Belgium, which have made efforts to remove the inhumane, harmful, and violent aspects of prostitution. They have done so by allowing government-regulated prostitution into their society, and treating the prostitutes as women, rather than sex-slaves. In an article found on independent.co.uk, a sex worker advocacy group boldly stated that, “New Zealand is the best place in the world to be a prostitute thanks to its robust laws”. After the decriminalization of prostitution, New Zealand’s working girls began to operate in much safer, healthier environments, as “the legislation aimed to prevent exploitation, safeguard sex workers’ human rights, promote their occupational health and safety, and prohibit under-18s from entering the industry” (independent.co.uk). According to statistics found on sex-crimes.laws.com, the average age in the United States one begins prostituting herself is a mere 14 years old, and will have unprotected sex at an estimated 300 times per year. Statistics have also shown that almost 70% of these prostitutes will be raped after entering the trade, and not even 10% of those victims will seek help or report the attack to the police. If a legislation similar to New Zealand’s Prostitution Reform Act of 2003 were to be accepted, of-age sex workers would be able do their jobs with more security, given the fact that they would have easier means of reporting abusive or threatening clients. Rather than fearfully walk the streets alone, or by the chain of a pimp, a prostitute could work in a secured, professional area such as a brothel. The workers featured in the licensed New Zealand brothels are also protected with mandatory condom use, required to frequently undergo health checkups, must pay taxes, and are even provided with health insurance in addition to other employee benefits. By cleaning up the dirty scenes of prostitution, countries like New Zealand have added a sense of humanity to what most view as a barbaric business.
An additional reason to legalize marijuana is great amounts of evidence backing its medical benefits such as preventing diabetes and seizures, fighting cancer, and soothing depression and anxiety disorders- just to name a few.
Keeping drugs like marijuana illegal can also encourage the deadly creations of synthetic drugs, which are commonly marketed as legal, harmless products. In 2008, a dangerous substitute to marijuana widely known as “spice” flooded hallways filled with teens desperate for a high. Unlike weed, this synthetic drug is incredibly life-threatening, and hospitalized thousands of teens during its storm. While too many see these drugs as equally life-ruining and dangerous, it cannot be disputed that it is impossible to overdose on unlaced weed (as I mentioned earlier), whereas spice is coated in synthetic cannabinoids which would force the user to inhale a compound of over 700 chemicals.