Legalization of cocaine...?!Can anybody present a brief but well-reasoned argument for OR against the legalization of cocaine use in our society, beginning with your own definition of what...

Legalization of cocaine...?!

Can anybody present a brief but well-reasoned argument for OR against the legalization of cocaine use in our society, beginning with your own definition of what constitutes "legalization"? Include specific measures you would advocate.

10 Answers

marbar57's profile pic

marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

I'm of the opinion that there's a certain mindset amongst our young people: anything taboo is worth getting! It seems the more something is made off-limits (i.e. alcohol-Prohibition, drugs-post 1960's, etc.), the more people clamor for it and go to great lengths to get it. If cocaine was legalized, there would no longer be quite the "I've-got-to-have-it-because-it's-illegal" attitude. But, this would only work with some. I think there's always going to be users no matter what!

Personally I think cocaine is a bad thing, but then I've never done drugs (nor wanted to). It messes things up, physically and morally. It causes people to do things they wouldn't ordinarily do, ruins marriages, bankrupts people, and leads to sin and crime. Parents hate it; schools hate it; employers hate it; law enforcement hates it; most governments hate it! The few that benefit from it are people or governments already engaged in crime anyway.

Legalization, to me, is free and uninhibited access to something. But, could you really do that with a strong drug like cocaine? You can't make it available over-the-counter because it has such harmful, potentially lethal consequences. I think it should have some restrictions, perhaps for medicinal use only and only in the direst of circumstances (like medical marijuana). It should be available by prescription only and only when under a doctor's care. But, there's always going to be someone who's going to get it on the black market, or who's going to "buy off" a doctor to get it for them.

Perhaps another solution would be to make it sell so cheaply that it would no longer be a lucrative business to engage in. I just don't know what the solution is!

lorrainecaplan's profile pic

Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Legalizing is somewhat different from decriminalizing because legalization implies that cocaine would be a product sold like any other product, subject to taxation,  although as the first posting notes, it would be likely to be controlled much as alcohol is. Decriminalization implies that there would be reduced or no penalties for its consumption, but its production and distribution might still be penalized. I should also note that state by state legalization would still be subject to federal law, which preempts state law on this issue, so the only way this would work would be if federal law were changed.

If cocaine were legalized, it would generate tax revenue, it would reduce the time, money, and energy we use now to prevent or prosecute its use, and it would clear out some of our prison population, which would also save us money.  Theoretically, this would take the wind out of the sails of the drug cartels, which would no longer have any need to terrorize anyone.  They could simply set up shop in the United States.  If cocaine were legalized or decriminalized, the prevailing attitude, that it is immoral to use, might eventually be ameliorated sufficiently to allow us to treat addiction as a disease, rather than as a crime, as some other countries do.

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Arguing in favor of legalizing cocaine is not as difficult as it may seem.  Cocaine has been illegal for decades, and people are arrested for possessing or selling it.  One can reasonably ask, how's that working out for us?  We have almost 3 million people in prison, nearly half of them for drug crimes.  We have, by DEA estimates, more than 2 million hardcore cocaine users.  We have major criminal cartels on our borders that are destabilizing the government of Mexico and murdering tens of thousands of people per year.  Why should we legalize cocaine?  What have we got to lose?  We could take the criminals out of the cocaine business.  We could make cocaine less dangerous with production regulations (sounds weird, but it's true) and less people would die from it.  We could tax it and create a new revenue stream we could then use for treatment costs.  We could reduce crime in major cities by putting street level dealers and gangs out of business.  I also don't think cocaine use would be any higher than it is now.

boblawrence's profile pic

boblawrence | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

First of all, Cocaine has been a legally-prescribed schedule III substance used in medicine for decades.  It is used as a spray for anesthesia in oral and nasal surgery.

Street cocaine, on the other hand has also been available for decades.  It has no beneficial use.  In fact Cocaine is probably the most addiciting and disabling drug of abuse...even worse than Heroin.  Legalizing cocaine would make it cheaper and widely available, and therefore possibly reduce the criminal activity currently involved in its production and procurement.  But the medical disaster of cocaine abuse would remain unchanged.

Alcohol and tobacco are drugs that are currently legal.  The abuse of alcohol can ruin a life almost as easily as cocaine.  The use at all of tobacco can cause terrible diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema and oral cancer.

Adding cocaine to legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco will have no benefit to society, and potentially disastrous effects on those who would try it when it becomes legal.

enotechris's profile pic

enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

Legalizing something makes something that was previously illegal permissible by law.  Up unit 1906, there were no drug laws, nothing was regulated. The Food and Drug Act of 1906 began as a labeling law to disclose the components of "medicines;" it didn't prohibit them.  But the  government overstepped its bounds -- rather than focus on consumer protection (which it should) the government attempted to regulate human behavior (which it should not) over intervening years, ultimately by passing the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which among other things, created the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA.)

The "drug problem" is really a "government problem."  We need to go backwards in time and repeal a few laws.  See the link as to how this all evolved:

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Every single one of the above posts offer some great suggestions and analyses of the legalization of cocaine. I especially agree with the post that notes that whatever is considered illegal or "taboo" is worth trying--especially to teens and yound adults. If cocaine was legalized or decriminalized, at least this aspect would be reduced. There are a certain number of people who will use this drug no matter its legal status; a vast majority of people will never have the urge to try it. There is certainly no positive aspects to the drug, but decriminalization or legalization would at least remove the stigma that what is bad must be worth trying at least once. The tax dollars and the reduction of the prison population are certainly two positive aspects of changing the laws regarding cocaine.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Legalization would be something along the lines of how alcohol is treated -- legal for adults, not for kids.  Illegal to consume and drive, etc.

To me, the question comes down to an issue of fact.  That is, what is more addictive and more damaging -- cocaine, or alcohol.  If cocaine is less bad in both of these ways (or equally bad), then there is no logical reason to continue to ban it.  If, however, it is more addictive or if (unlike alcohol) it cannot safely be used in small doses, then I would not think it should be legalized.

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It would be difficult to argue logically for the legalization of only cocaine because the same argument could be used for all other illegal substances. Why not legalize meth? Heroin? If you want to present the most logical argument, you should broaden it to include drugs with similar side effects and sales as cocaine (this would support the tax revenue idea), or you should take the con side so that you could compare cocaine to other illegal substances.

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

There is no medical benefit to cocaine (that I am aware of), so it can't be considered in the same way as medical marijuana.  And while I appreciate the freedoms we have as Americans to even do things that can harm us (ie. smoking, abusing alcohol, etc.) I personally see drugs like cocaine to be in a different class -- much more dangerous for society as a whole. This whole issue is such a slippery slope.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Cocaine has wreaked havoc with drug users for decades.  It is possible that if some forms of it were legal, it could be used for medicinal benefits and the people who are users could get medical help for their addiction (such as alcoholics or smokers) rather than prison.