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Are Drugs Always a Crime?

Thu, Jan 3, 2013

Drug Crimes, Marijuana

The U.S. war on drugs can be traced back to legislation that began in 1914, but Richard Nixon is most commonly affiliated with initiating the usage of the actual term in 1971. Although he formally announced that he was launching the War on Drugs Act, he also began implementing programs that would help convicted criminals receive drug rehabilitation instead of mandatory prison sentences. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were both proponents of the development of the so-called Drug Czar position, and they were instrumental in the creation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.

A Change in Public Sentiment

Although most people agree that hard drugs such as heroin should be illegal, there has been a huge outpouring of support over the last decade for the legalization of marijuana. Some of this support is linked to the fact that marijuana has medicinal purposes, and there are also some supporters who believe that it would provide the perfect taxable item to help bring federal and state budgets in line. Regardless of these two reasons, though, a Gallup poll from October 2011 indicates that 50 percent of Americans now believe that marijuana should be legal, and this number represents a 38 percent increase over the last 42 years. In addition to showing their support for legalizing marijuana, 64 percent of the people polled in December 2012 believe that the federal government should not try to enforce anti-marijuana laws in states that have declared marijuana usage to be legal.

Antiquated Laws

As many Americans struggle with the economy, a law from 1996 is keeping people in 32 states from receiving the help that they need to get on the right path. The American Prospect recently revealed the story of a woman named Carla who has turned to prostitution in order to feed her children.  Carla’s issue stems from the fact that she was once convicted of a felony drug charge, and that makes her ineligible for food stamps for the rest of her life. Although some people might believe that former convicts should be barred from receiving this type of assistance, this is the fastest way to encourage them to return to criminal behavior. The most interesting part of this particular case, however, is that Carla would be eligible for food stamps if she had murdered someone. The only group of former convicts who are barred from receiving food stamps are people who went to prison for a crime related to drugs.

Legalization of Marijuana

Voters in Washington and Colorado both supported making recreational usage of marijuana legal, regardless of the fact that federal law prohibits such an act. According to an interview with ABC News, President Obama declared that the federal government should not make it a priority to target marijuana users in those states. In addition to the new recreational usage laws in Washington and Colorado, there are 18 states that have made it legal to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. This has not stopped the federal government from cracking down on the facilities that provide medicinal marijuana, though.

The Future of Drug Legislation

It is clear from the direction that the American people are trending that there will be overwhelmingly support for legalizing marijuana at a federal level within the next decade. Although it might take a while for the government to give up on their old way of viewing marijuana, it is easy to conclude that marijuana will eventually be both a legal and taxable product in every state.

Byline:  Alexander Burke suggests finding a Drug Crime Lawyer if you ever find yourself in a drug-related legal bind.

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