The drug legalization debate concerns whether to change the legal status of one or more drugs. It would be possible for someone to argue that a substance that is now legal should be banned or made illegal. Maintaining the focus and spirit of the acclaimed First Edition, The Drug Legalization Debate, Second Edition, addresses the main issues involved in the ongoing debate on drug legalization, including deterrence, treatment, education and prevention. It also examines trends in drug use at the end of the millennium, the use of cannabis as a wonder drug, and analyzes whether legalization of drugs would actually reduce violent crime.
States will legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use Tuesday in defiance of federal law, setting the stage for a possible confrontation with the Obama administration. Let's take a closer look at the drug legalization debate, the pros and cons of drug legalization, and what research says about how drug decriminalization will affect young adults in particular. Supporters also argue that legalizing and regulating drugs would make marijuana and other drugs safer for consumers. They also believe that marijuana is an entry drug and, consequently, an increase in marijuana use would lead to an increase in the use of harder drugs.
In addition, they say, more people can receive treatment if income and taxes from the legal sale of marijuana are channeled to prevention and recovery programs, such as in Oregon and Arizona. Stimson refutes legalization arguments that marijuana is not addictive, that crime would decline and that tax revenues would outweigh any social cost of decriminalizing it. With a growing number of states legalizing marijuana and other drugs, the debate continues over whether the negative effects of drug decriminalization outweigh the positive ones. Ultimately, mental health professionals are concerned that an increase in marijuana use among young adults due to drug legalization will lead to an increase in what is known as cannabis use disorder.
Nine former Drug Enforcement Administrators argue that California would no longer earn in state taxes from legalizing marijuana because the supremacy of federal law would still make it a crime. Supporters of drug legalization argue that incarceration is not an effective deterrent to drug use, and that decriminalization makes it possible to regulate the marijuana industry, such as tobacco and alcohol. Proponents of legalization admit that consumption would likely increase, but counteract that it is not axiomatic that the increase is very large or that it lasts a long time, especially if legalization were combined with appropriate public education programs. But are these increases due to the decriminalization of drugs? Studies show that drug legalization has increased marijuana use among adults, but not among adolescents, as many feared would be the case.