Drug usage: A freedom, not a legislation

Mia Adduci, Student Life Editor

There’s no reason to beat around the bush: the U.S. is approaching substance legislation entirely wrong, from cannabis, to cocaine, to heroine. What right does the government have to grab our citizens by the throat and turn their heads away from the discussion that many fear to have without reservations?

In such debate, there is no place to sit and weigh the risks of drug usage in any form or quantity. The mere premise of this discussion surrounds the freedom to choose, to experiment and to learn without risk of punishment. That is, in almost every other case, the bare minimum.

It is as if we were to make sexual relations between consenting adults illegal; there holds a risk for several different contracted diseases and health complications, in addition to the potential for an unprepared pregnancy. Sex addictions are also very real, and in many instances, can manifest in dangerous forms. Is it our government’s role to assess these risks and punish us for taking them? If so, it seems as if we are to outlaw these items in our modern society as well.

To perpetuate the stigmatization of one addiction while downplaying numerous others creates an imbalance that reduces the validity surrounding the experience of addiction on all accounts. Legal or not, if someone is plagued with addiction, they will contract the disease regardless. Its manifestation will not yield for the law, nor will it come on more quickly if legislation is not a roadblock. This isn’t something to be punished for, the same way we would never consider punishing someone for the manifestation of any other disease.

The concerns surrounding freedom in drug usage may be considered logical to many. I am not here to debunk every notion of people’s fears; however, there is a progression of thought that must be heard in order to understand the sense behind unconfounded drug legalization in the U.S.

The U.S. prohibited alcohol from 1920 to 1933. To say that this attempt was a failure would be an understatement on many accounts.

Over the span of 13 years, organized crime increased, as did alcohol consumption.

In Australia, studies surrounding active decriminalization of cannabis found that many positive correlates were drawn from the removal of what many are considering “needless” criminalization. Those who possess drug charges are more likely to return in contact with the criminal justice system again down the road, and suffer many employment issues, coming as a result of the mere possession of the drug, with the charge holding no indication of harms performed as a result of such possession.

This not only harms the quality of life of the individual in a ripple effect, but negatively impacts the economy and floods the criminal justice system, including prisons, with overcrowding through drug charges. This is not only drawing attention away from other categories of pressing cases, but pulling billions of dollars in prison costs every year for something that, truthfully, is an incredibly outdated cause to be punished on the premises of.

At the university level, is it truly the solution to remove people from the education system for something that doesn’t affect how deserving they are to maintain a degree? We should not strip careers out from under people working to matriculate to a higher level of education.

We are well beyond the point of imprisonment for alcohol consumption, unless such consumption leads to unsafe activity or threatening behavior. In these cases, the punishment is on the premises of activity that is likewise conducted in a sober state.

National decriminalization on the legislative level would, with confounded proof, actually reduce addiction and overdose rates, and levels of drug usage-related disease would most likely decline as well.

Enough with the analogies, the wordplay, the verbatim accounts of saying what should be said outright until change ensues: it is nobody’s place to dictate what enters another person’s body.