An examination of the legality and morality of drug use reveals inconsistencies and suggests that we ought to look elsewhere to solve the world’s problems.
While many find the idea of legalizing a whole slew of illicit drugs abhorrent, they seem to happily tolerate nicotine and alcohol. Cigarette smoking is a euphemism for sucking on carcinogenic tar, and I’m unconvinced that the short-lived buzz associated with its abuse or even measured use is worth a decrepit lung. An occasional shot of liquor may be innocuous, but a sufficient number of imbeciles on this earth have no misgivings about operating automobiles while intoxicated and needlessly inflict unimaginable misery upon the friends and families of people they kill. Nicotine and alcohol may seem pedestrian to some, but they are drugs, and their abuse has proven to be fatal.
Would crime related to drug-dealing end with the legalization of heroin, cocaine or crack? Perhaps, but drunk husbands will continue to beat their wives, drugs will ruin the lives of the unborn, lustful criminals will continue to stealthily intoxicate the dates they subsequently rape, and life will continue to be miserable for those unfortunate enough to feel the menace of drug abuse.
Our arbitrary prohibition of some drugs but not others seems to derive partly from confusion about the morality of drug use. Mind-altering substances are chemicals not unlike those naturally found in the brain. We would be mistaken to think that all people are created equal. Some may be genetically predisposed to alcoholism or other kinds of addiction which serve to compensate for an innate biochemical imbalance. Also, our sink-or-swim capitalism disposes people to abuse drugs as a way of attaining a fleeting state of transcendence. Life is not always fair – many will plainly contend that, for them, it sucks.
I’m not sure that life would have any purpose if all sorts of nastiness didn’t exist in the world, and so I gloomily affirm that drug abuse, like prostitution, is here to stay. Still, I think we can minimize the effects of drugs by continuing to educate people about their dangers, rehabilitating those whose lives have been wrecked by them and keeping them as far out of reach as possible. We also have to cultivate strong families and communities, promote moderation and other secular ideals and realize that there remains much to be learned about why people behave in certain ways.
After much deliberation, I seem to favor neither an official prohibition on illicit drugs nor their official legalization. A war on drugs is misdirected. We would be better off fighting our own shortcomings.
Raj Singh is a junior majoring in philosophy.