Legislating Morality: Laws Are Meant to Protect Us from Others
Laws Are Supposed to Protect Us from Others
Without getting into specifics as to drugs or drug statistics, I believe we can still have a discourse about the constitutionality of making crimes out of things that people do to themselves. Just for a moment or two, cast away your personal feelings about drug abuse, because personal feelings aside, because there is no legitimate reason to incarcerate by the thousands people who have been convicted of using drugs.
These laws have stemmed from moral beliefs, but our government was never intended to prosecute or persecute people on the basis of morality. Isn't that why there was a revolution between the British and the colonists?
We can prohibit actions in the workplace, while behind the wheel of a car and other situations where another person or persons safety could be at risk, but do we have the right to dictate what people do in their own homes?
If you think that isn't happening, consider urine drug screens. Suppose a person indulges only on the weekend when s/he is off work and home. Monday morning that person is no longer mentally or physically impaired, but if a urine drug screen was performed there's a likelihood that a drug or drugs would be revealed. The unimpaired person is likely out of a job for flunking a drug screen.
History Is Our Greatest Teacher
The United States has already waged war on another mild-altering substance, namely alcohol. Prohibition was a disaster, creating an empire for mobsters and bootleggers. The war on drugs is no different.
While my main concern is the use of laws to dictate morality, the legalization of drugs is also worth consideration. If drugs were legalized and handled properly by the government (is that possible?), an empire just as profitable as alcohol ever was would be crumbled. Take away the profit in drug dealing and who wants to do it any longer?
Gang violence would decrease and drug dealers would no longer haunt neighborhoods. Prisons would again have capacity, meaning no new prisons would be necessary. There would be a reduced need for parole and probation officers or correctional staff. Court dockets would no longer be overflowing.
And all of these positives for the community and tax payers? Make no mistake, crime control is big business. Don't think that everyone who opposes legalization of drugs does so on a moral basis; it is the bottom line--their bottom line--that is at stake.
It is a fact that the United States has more people incarcerated per capita than any other developed nation. Take the time to find out how many of those in prison are there for drug use offenses. You will be astounded.
I don't see the current legal system changing any time soon as far as drug use and incarceration goes, but it needs to. I'd like to believe that the Supreme Court would cut down a law that allows a drug user to be arrested, but my hopes are dim here also. It won't be until people such as you and me take a long hard look at this situation and make our thoughts known that change will occur.
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