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drug_research_paper2 - Joshua Smith English 169 Alastar...

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Joshua Smith English 169 Alastar Hunt America’s Drug War All one has to do is to walk around a high school or college campus like Madison to realize how common drug use is despite the dogmas and laws against it in our society. It is an unmentionable vice; in the Individualistic society of the United States it is one of the few things a person cannot do legally that does not threaten the lives of others. Despite this, drug use is rampant; in 2002 a survey found 50 percent of high school students had used marijuana along with high percentages of other drugs. Drug use however is not limited to just adolescents and teenagers, of people 18-25 55 percent have reported using illegal drugs (ONDCP Data). One has to wonder why drugs are even outlawed, not only are they popular now, but historically as well. In the past they were integral to the lives, and cultures of people around the world. Cocaine was integral to the culture of South America, tobacco to the natives of North America, alcohol to Europeans, while opiates and marijuana were predominant in the Middle East and Asia (ACLU). Further, despite what current societal and governmental views would have you believe, currently illegal psychoactive drugs through the 1900’s were both legal, and very popular in the United States. Contrary to today’s society tens of millions of people took opiates, cocaine and a wide assortment of drugs for both recreation and medication. Unsurprisingly they were used frequently for enjoyment, for instance popular soft drinks like Coca-Cola were laced with cocaine (Nadelmann). These psychoactive drugs were also very useful as medications. Many products and medicines contained cocaine to treat chronic fatigue, hay fever and sinusitis along with other ailments. Opiates like Morphine have a long history of being pain killers. Further, marijuana was found useful in treating insomnia, migraines, rheumatism (ACLU). Suddenly however, by 1914 the view of drugs had changed, culminating in the first step towards drug prohibition, passing of the Harrison Narcotics Act. Drug use was shifting considerably from the upper to lower class, not only resulting in negative propaganda, but association with lower status. Large pharmaceutical companies were lobbying for its prohibition so they could monopolize markets for medications. This was amplified by a new age of moral
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authority in and of itself coming to Washington, which would lead to the prohibition of most drugs, including alcohol (Nadelmann). Drug use has, and continues to be popular in the United States and not only is drug prohibition a violation of civil liberties, it is impractical as well.
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