There is no doubt in my mind that people are overwhelming unhappy with the War on Drugs, which has primarily targeted substances such as Marijuana which pose the least threat to humans. Instead of doing what it was marketed as, the War on Drugs has placed millions of people in prison for simple drug possession offenses or small grow operations, but neither or those "crimes" pose any threat to the well being of mankind.
Sure, jails are important since violent crimes are definitely a problem and people should be punished for murder, rape, etc. But over the past few decades, violent crimes have only been decreasing in the United States, despite incarceration rates rising higher than ever before.
This can be traced back to money. Private prisons make thousands of dollars off of every prisoner and as a result, influencing laws to keep more people in jail makes a lot of sense from their perspective.
Without going into detail as to how corporations have messed with the prison system, I'd like to outline some ways in which a sensible drug policy could be enacted.
Drawing The Line: Natural VS ProcessedOn one side of the drug market you have processed drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, PCP, and LSD, among others. However, the other side of the market is made up of completely natural (but still illegal) drugs such as marijuana, shrooms, mescaline, DMT, Betel Net, etc.
There is a big difference between the natural drugs and ones that are either processed or actually created in laboratories.
We know that throughout history, humans have used drugs such as DMT (in the form of Ayahuasca), shrooms, and marijuana for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Combining recent medical and archaeological evidence provides a clearer picture as to how these drugs were used in societies, and even suggests that they may have pushed along the evolution of the human brain.
Overwhelmingly, these drugs are not addictive (in virtually every case) and do not pose serious health concerns in the short or long term. All of the psychedelic drugs (Mescaline, Shrooms, DMT) have no addictive properties, however Betel Nut can be harmful and is a potential carcinogen.
On the other hand. We have processed/synthetic drugs. Among these are cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, three of the world's most dangerous and addictive substances. Outside of nicotine/tobacco, these drugs kill more people than virtually any other substance or group of substances on the planet.
Enforcement Is Key, But Not How You ThinkThe idea of enforcing laws on any collection of substances is ludicrous in the minds of many pro-drug individuals, but I have taken a different stance. While I have come to the conclusion that the world would be a better place without laws surrounding natural drugs, others, such as meth or heroin are different.
For the sake of public safety and personal safety, preventing the sale and creation of these substances is important. There are simply no benefits to the human mind or body that come from ingesting synthetic drugs, with the one exception being LSD.
As a result, keeping these extremely harmful substances off of the streets makes sense for the good of everyone. This is completely different that the way the War on Drugs has handled enforcement.
Enforcing these laws takes far less effort than going after naturally occurring substances, since fighting nature is not always easy. Going after drug labs and processing centers is easier from a policing standpoint than chasing down a marijuana or DMT-containing plant.
The Cocaine ConundrumCocaine, like many of the other plant-based drugs, has been used medicinally for millennia. People used to–and in some countries still do–chew the leaves of the coca plant for energy, since some cocaine-like effects can be derived from the plant without processing it.
However, street cocaine is a completely different ball game. When someone goes out to buy cocaine, they are purchasing a substance that has been completely removed from its natural-roots and is now a heavily processed, gross substance.
Instead of the effects attained through using the coca leaves, taking in cocaine is harmful both in the long and short term. As a result, the heavy processing of cocaine should indeed be made illegal, but the plant should not be made illegal.
LSD, As Annoying As CocaineJust like cocaine, LSD (Acid) is slightly different from the other processed/synthetic drugs. While it is not a natural substance, and is made in a laboratory, it does not pose any serious health risks.
With this being the case, LSD should be the one synthetic drug that becomes legal as it is not harmful to the user (in most scenarios) nor does it put the public in danger.
No matter how beneficial a substance like marijuana or DMT may be, people are not in the right mindset to be driving. Marijuana does indeed have an effect–in many people–on reaction times and therefore driving is not something that is safe if under the influence of marijuana.
AgeJust as adults should be subjected to certain regulations and laws surrounding driving, people under the age of 21 should be prevented from using drugs. Why 21 years old?
Well, brain development simply does not stop at 18 years old, medical research has shown time and time again that brain development continues on into the third decade.
That being said, my concerns surrounding people under the age of 21 using drugs stems from a lack of research in the area. If more research is done–likely in other non-western countries–to show that people in their teens do not have a lack of development due to drug use, my opinions will change accordingly and so should the laws.
If there is one thing that the War on Drugs got right, it's the idea that children should be protected. So venturing into the unknown and allowing children to have access to these drugs is not a great idea at this time.
Alcohol: The World's Most Popular DrugMore than 50% of people over the age of 18 (in the US) are considered regular drinkers, meaning that alcohol is more widely used than almost any other substance, outside of coffee.
The government and many institutions have been weak on alcohol, suggesting that moderate use is OK. However, the only explanation for this phenomena is that alcohol is so important in society that people are afraid to say people should not drink it.
Even with many doctors consistently saying that alcohol, in moderation, is fine, research has a hard time backing that up. In the short term, the effects of alcohol are almost completely negative and cause countless deaths, driving accidents, and other altercations.
With this being that case, alcohol (like all of the other processed drugs) should be made illegal. This would be hard, and should be one of the last drugs to be banned during a transition, but it needs to happen.
However, alcohol being made illegal is the least important change to be made during the transition.