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NCJ Number: 119446 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Law Enforcement Response to Legalizing Illicit Drugs
Journal: Police Chief  Volume:56  Issue:8  Dated:(August 1989)  Pages:57-59,61-64
Author(s): E J Tully; M Bennett
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 7
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
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Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
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NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Basic arguments presented by proponents of legalizing illicit drugs are outlined and discussed.
Abstract: The central theme of many arguments to legalize illicit drugs is the protection of individual rights. Key issues are whether society and government have the authority to protect the public from the harmful acts of drug abusers, whether society should protect individuals from themselves, and what measures are acceptable in terms of diminished individual rights to promote the common welfare. According to legalization advocates, the law enforcement approach and the use of punitive measures lead to violence, the corruption of public officials, and a significant increase in general crime. Proponents of legalization also indicate that, despite law enforcement's best efforts, the supply and substance purity of drugs have increased while price has decreased. This argument, however, does not address the issue of what the magnitude of the supply problem would be if no law enforcement efforts had been made. Advocates of legalization further argue that if laws making the production, distribution, purchase, and consumption of drugs are repealed, the number of crimes will be reduced. Proponents of legalization estimate the cost of drug law enforcement at about $10 billion annually and suggest that this money could be better spent on drug rehabilitation programs. Most proponents of legalization believe that making drugs legal will not dramatically increase drug abuse and that illicit drugs are not as dangerous as believed. The arguments presented by proponents of legalization are refuted from a law enforcement perspective. It is concluded that proponents of legalization have not made a case for the freedom of individuals to choose to use illicit drugs regardless of the consequences, that the threat of intemperate drug use is a significant threat to the common welfare, and that the removal of sanctions will make the threat more pronounced.
Main Term(s): Drug legalization
Index Term(s): Drug abuse; Drug law enforcement; Drug Related Crime
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