Paper Topic:
We have seen throughout this course that drug use is often associated with some type of social, political and/or public health-related problem. Yet the nature of the problem is hotly debated. On the one hand, some argue that some aspect of drug consumption is the primary problem. Within this group, some take a broadly defined conception of drug consumption, arguing that illegal as well as legal drug consumption is problematic, and indicative of problems related to our social-psychological environment (eg. economic marginalization or consumerist attitudes to dealing with stress). Others take a narrowly defined conception of drug consumption, arguing that the legal-illegal distinction is justified and that the real problem is illegal drug consumption. Here, attitudes differ over how to reduce illegal consumption (eg. debates over “supply-side strategies” that criminalize production, transport, sales; “demand-side strategies” that criminalize users; strategies that conceive of drug consumption as a “mental health” or “social-economic” rather than criminal problem).

On the other hand, some argue that the primary problems associated with the drug industry are produced by the current set of U.S. drug policies and that they are especially problematic for specific social groups, class and communities. Here, some argue that U.S. drug war policies are well-intentioned but simply misguided, emphasizing the need to demonstrate the negative impact of drug war policies so as to inform policymakers to modify (though not fundamentally alter) their drug war strategies. Others, in contrast, argue that the drug policies themselves were made with alternative aims and objectives (eg. industries attaining lucrative government contracts; politicians creating an image to appeal to their electorate).

In your own words, identify what you see as the greatest set of problems associated with drugs and/or the drug war. Using at least 2 sources used during this semester (articles, books, films), formulate an argument as to why you think this set of problems is particularly troublesome and how we as a society should best respond to this set of problems. Make sure that you clearly articulate what the specific problem, which social group or groups are most affected, why that is, and what you believe the source or cause of the problem is.

Your paper should be 6-8 pages long, typed, double-spaced, and with absolutely no spelling or grammatical errors! All authors must be properly cited (choose whatever format and stick with it). Feel free to use other sources not used in the classroom in addition to the 2 from class, as long as they speak directly to issues raised by the other works cited. Do not add a cover page, but make sure you have a citation page.

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According to NOML (2013), over 100 million Americans have used marijuana. It is the third most popular recreational drug, and more than 25 million people have smoked it in the past year. Fourteen million people smoke marijuana regularly. With this number of people using marijuana, it would more effective to legalize marijuana, which in turn would benefit American society by decreasing prison overcrowding, saving tax dollars, and helping the chronically ill.

The U.S. spends an exorbitant amount of funding on its war on drugs. According to the White House Fact Sheet on Drug Use (U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy 2012), “In Fiscal Year 2012, the U.S. Federal Government spent $10.1 billion on drug prevention and treatment vs. $9.4 billion on domestic law enforcement and incarceration, $3.6 billion on interdiction, and $2.1 billion on international drug control programs.” And, among signing into law an act to prevent prescription drug use, “the Administration has deployed more personnel, infrastructure, and technology along the Southwest border to combat illegal cross border activity than in any other time in U.S. history.”
But, historically, U.S. drug policy, or as it is popularly called, the War on Drugs, has not had great success. In 2005, the RAND Drug Policy Research Center found that the U.S. government’s explicit goals in reducing drug use has had a “mixed record” (Caulkins, Iguchi, and Chiesa 1). The Center’s report suggested that “The percentage of the population reporting past-month use of some illicit drug declined by half between 1985 and 1992. Since then, however, drug use by that measure is up by about a third....
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