Since the result of the 1980’s War on Drugs has been largely (but not universally) seen as disappointing, increasing numbers of people have concluded that America should move in another direction. Rather than criminalizing drugs, many now argue that legalizing them may open up drug use for discussion, free choice, and treatment.
It is precisely on these grounds that the War on Drugs has been criticized - shutting down open conversation, turning drugs into a fearful issue, removing choice, and often limiting treatment, since offenders are committed to jail. As prison systems have grown and filled in America, these critiques and the arguments of drug legalization have become more appealing.
In response, many Americans (both Democrat and Republican) argue that drug legalization reflects a naive trust in human ability to be responsible about (or resist at all) the usage of psychoactive drugs that are currently illegal. While many Americans celebrate the growing legalization of marijuana throughout the country as a victory for freedom, others see it as a reflection of America’s growing neglect of others’ well-being in order to preserve a “right”that is largely indulgent and dangerous.
QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:
-If there were no legal repercussions to unlimited drug use where you live right now, would you use them? Is that a good thing? What about if your children or other relatives used them?
-Is drug use a disease or a crime? What has led you to that opinion?
-If the War on Drugs had been successful, what would have been the result, and what would the country be like now?
-Which is better: a world with no psychoactive drugs, or a world where psychoactive drugs are used safely? Is either of these things possible?
-If every vice were illegal - including alcohol, cigarettes, and even unhealthy junk food - would the country be better or worse off? Why?
Living Room Conversation Guide:Legalized Marijuana
Illegal Drugs: What Should We Do Now? (NIF Issue Guide) National Issues Forums Institute
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