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Drug Legalization: Myths and Misconceptions

by The US Dept. of Justice

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Introductory Pointers 2

Chapter 1: Addiction Rates 3

Summary Sheet 8

Chapter 2: Crime and Drug Legalization 11

Summary Sheet 16

Chapter 3: Experience of Foreign Countries 19

Great Britain 19

Netherlands 21

Switzerland 22

Spain 23

China 23

Japan 23

Other Countries 23

Summary Sheet 25

Chapter 4: Economics of Drug Legalization 29

Summary Sheet 32

Chapter 5: Lessons of Prohibition and Drug Legalization 35

Summary Sheet 38

Chapter 6: Role of Alcohol and Tobacco in the Drug Legalization Debate 41

Summary Sheet 43

Chapter 7: Medical Uses of Presently Illegal Drugs 45

Summary Sheet 51

Chapter 8: Individual Right and the Legalization of Drugs 55

Summary Sheet 57

Chapter 9: Legal Issues Surrounding the Legalization of Drugs 59

Summary Sheet 61

Chapter 10: Environmental Issues 63

Summary Sheet 64

Chapter 11: "Anything is Better than What We Are Doing Now", Hopelessness, Drug Control, and Potential Solutions 65

Summary Sheet 68

Appendix 1: How to Debate the Issue 71

Bibliography 73

Drug Legalization: Myths and Misconceptions

U.S. Department of Justice

Drug Enforcement Administration

220 W. Mercer Street, Suite 104 Seattle, Washington 98119

May 12, 1994

Dear Friends,

Law enforcement has a responsibility to be involved in the prevention of all illegal or harmful activities. At this time in our nation's history, there is no crime problem of graver consequence than the drug problem. While law enforcement acts as a deterrent to drug abuse and drug trafficking, we know that the long-term answer to the drug problem goes beyond traditional law enforcement actions.

In 1987, the Drug Enforcement Administration initiated a drug prevention and education program when Special Agents were assigned as Demand Reduction Coordinators in each of the agency's 19 field divisions. With limited resources they have provided support, assistance and training to grassroots organizations. Many requests are for information on the issue of drug legalization.

Lee P. Brown, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy stated in the 1993 Interim National Drug Control Strategy, "Drug use among our nation's youth has dropped since its peak in 1985 and 1986, prompting some to conclude that the drug problem, if not over, is no longer a crisis. This conclusion is as dangerous as it is wrong. The loss of public focus has also allowed the voices of those who would promote legalization to ring more loudly and be heard more clearly. The declines thus far in the use of drugs are in part because they are illegal. Legalization is a formula for self-destruction. The [Clinton] Administration is unequivocally opposed to any 'reform' that is certain to increase drug use."

S/A Tom Pool has compiled and edited a list of the most common arguments used by proponents of drug legalization. These arguments fall into eleven general areas, hence the eleven chapters in the attached manual. These arguments are analyzed and information is provided to defeat these arguments.

This manual will be revised and expanded. I solicit the readers to assist us by submitting comments, position papers, research, and documented sources of information to:

S/A Tom Pool - Demand Reduction Coordinator

Drug Enforcement Administration

220 West Mercer Street, Suite 104

Seattle, WA 98119

Tel: (206) 553-5443

I hope that this "debate manual" will prove useful to the police officers, parents, teachers, and others faced with the myths and misconceptions of drug legalization.

Raymond J. McKinnon

Special Agent in Charge

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