Is the U.S. Closer to Drug Legalization?

According to Vice President Biden, drug legalization in the United States is not in the cards. Last week, Biden addressed leaders of Latin America, who are debating this question right now, and reaffirmed that the U.S. would oppose the legalization of illicit drugs. Biden acknowledged that discussion on legalization would be welcomed, but in the end, “there are more problems with legalization than with nonlegalization.”

Currently, Portugal is the only country in the world that has actually decriminalized drug use. In Latin America, leaders are seeking out their options to address the ongoing violence and corruption intertwined with the drug trade and illegal drug consumption. Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, advised that the United States should seek out these “market alternatives” as well – in other words, the legalization of illicit drugs. One of the frontrunners in the race to legalization is Guatemala, as the new president, Otto Pérez Molina, stated that he would call for the legalization of drugs at a meeting with other Central American leaders. Again, Guatemala, like many other nations, is arguably considering legalization in order to address organized crime and violence or strategically placing itself in a position to garner greater antidrug aid.

What are your thoughts on drug legalization? Could legalization mean the end to corruption, smuggling, and violence if drugs have a solidified marketplace? Could legalization grant more power to established drug cartels, thus encouraging even more of a power struggle? Why now? Why not?

Original article from The New York Times


  1. I’m not surprised to learn that Vice President Biden, along with the United States government, is not considering budging from our position on the decriminalization of illegal drugs. Other than with the debate over legalizing marijuana, is there an argument for legalization of all illegal drugs? This is where I am confused, since I have heard many arguments for legalizing marijuana, but not other illicit drugs (other than reducing the amount of people in prisons). Do other countries actually have good reasons for the legalization of all drugs? This seems highly dangerous to me, as though it would result in more problems than it could possibly fix. But perhaps I am wrong, and there are better arguments of which I am currently unaware.

  2. There are credible arguments in favor of and against drug legalization. Supporters of drug legalization argue that by eliminating the black market for drugs, we will also eliminate violence associated with the black market. Those who support this position cite prohibition as an example of of the dangers associated with a black market. They argue that criminals capitalize on illegal black markets just as Al Capone did during prohibition.
    Those who oppose drug legalization argue that legalizing drugs encourages drug use. Increased drug use, it is argued, leads to increased violence. In addition, those who oppose drug legalization argue that the government should not subsidize the use of harmful substances.

  3. I do not think drug legalization is the answer to our countries problems. Drugs in this country have always been a problem. I have personally seen many people succumb to drugs. Their entire lives turned upside down and many have gone to jail. Many people in this country argue that marijuana should be legalized and that it is not a gateway drug. In all the drug users I have encountered non of them say they started with harder drugs. Granted these people are susceptible to addiction. There are plenty of people who smoke marijuana and never touch another drug. I believe, however, that most people with a serious problem with drugs like heroin, cocaine or meth did not decide one day to start with those drugs. They got high for the first time on a drug we probably all deem “not a problem” like marijuana or prescription pills. Maybe even alcohol started their addiction. Something needs to be done in this country in terms of reforming our drug rehabilitation programs. The U.S. should be focused on bringing these users back to being functional members of society and not worry so much about legalizing certain drugs.

  4. How many energy drink options do you have in the United States? How many energy enhancing supplements can you buy in the US? How many Starbucks coffee shops do you see when you are walking around just New York City? Specifically with marijuana, one reason why it will not be legal in this country is that the US encourages energy enhancement and a drug like marijuana just does not fit. Would marijuana slow us down? The US is a fast paced country where we are encouraged to accomplish as many tasks as possible, especially in big cities like Manhattan.

    An argument in favor of legalizing marijuana may be the money the government could make off selling this drug. The taxes of cigarettes for example have escalated in recent years. What if marijuana was taxed? Considering the estimated illegal marijuana usage in the country, would the US profit from legalizing marijuana?

    Regardless if that may be true, where does marijuana fit in with Red bull, Monster, Five Hour energy and Rock star?

  5. I think the United States is wasting an immense amount of resources battling drug cartels who are bringing marijuana over the border. I saw a program recently which followed DEA agents who were tracking and arresting cartel members who were harvesting marijuana. Couldn’t these resources and funds be better served battling drugs which pose a legitimate public health risk? The United States, in my opinion, could raise millions of dollars by legalizing marijuana, regulating the industry, and taxing individuals who choose to use it. Outside of the legalization of marijuana, I cannot think of a legitimate purpose for the decriminalization of other illegal substances,.

  6. The United States is right not to legalize drug use. I do not think that this will solve any problems, and ultimately may lead to more. I think that legalizing drugs would make people feel as though drugs are not as bad as they thought. I do not think that the United States government wants to come off as if they support drug use, but many will view it that way if they decide to legalize it. In addition, I do not think that legalizing drugs will help the violence issue that surrounds drug cartels. By legalizing drugs the government may be pulling more people into this violent world. I think that the drug cartels would get more territorial about their drug sales and may become even more violent because they would have more competition. I really do not think that much good would come out of this, and it would be wise to focus our attention on how to stop the drug problem as opposed to aid it.

  7. While I do not necessarily believe that drug legalization is the answer to the war on drugs, one has to admit that there are at least some convincing arguments in favor of legalization. The first of which is promoting the safer use of drugs. When drugs are illegal, obviously the drug supply and those people supplying the drugs are unregulated. As a result, such drugs are often cut with dangerous materials that are sometimes more dangerous than the drug itself. Alternatively, sometimes the drugs are not diluted with anything, in which case people overdose because they are not used to a drug of that strength. However, if drugs were legalized, there would be greater regulation of drug suppliers and the drugs themselves which would ensure a safer and more consistent mix of drugs. Another major reason revolves around lessening the violent crime associated with drugs. When drugs are illegal, illegal organizations compete with each other which frequently results in violence. For instance, during the American Period of Prohibition, major cities were plagued with violent events, such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, because of competition among organized crime organizations to supply an illegal substance. Granted, this example deals with the illegalization of alcohol, but the nature of cause of the violence is comparable.

    Before concluding, it is important to note that there are counterarguments to these arguments, but one cannot deny that these arguments hold some merit. Regardless, I still do not think that drug legalization is the answer.

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