The Flaws of a Set of Prohibitionist Policies in the United States: [Essay Example], 2845 words GradesFixer
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The Flaws of a Set of Prohibitionist Policies in the United States

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One of the countries that assume high responsibility as far as drug control in the world is concerned is the United State of America. The country has invested heavily in combating the vice of drug abuse and peddling, aside from establishing an international wide network to control its influence. In June 1970, President Nixon formalized the fight against drugs by making a classification of illicit drugs and non-illicit ones, while terming the former as “public enemy number one” (The US Constitution, 2015). Consequently, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act that provides the foundation for modern day practices in the whole fight against drugs and other illicit substances. In sharp contrast, various schools of thought have emerged with the implementation of the drug policies that are largely viewed to have connections with United States recommendations. While proponents, led by the American government, have called for the adoption of a set of prohibitionist policies around the world, opponents have called for a review of the same. Their argument is that the creation of stigma and focus on criminalization is not effective. In this light, prohibitionist drug policies are not effective in preventing the spread of the vice amongst the young population.

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The international trade of drugs presents some multi-dimensional challenges that have direct implications with regards to the national interests of the United States, as well as the international community (Mineta, 2016). Some of the most common drugs that are trafficked globally include cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. According to the country’s intelligence body, the vice of drug abuse has the impact of destabilizing regional and political stability. Second, they can bolster the capabilities and roles of criminal organizations with transnational nature in the course of the trade. Some of the main areas of this paper’s concern include Afghanistan and Latin America, which are regarded as lucrative focal points in America when it comes to the efforts required to combat the processes of manufacturing and transporting cocaine and heroin. As such, the use and subsequent addiction to drugs have a negative impact on the construction of the social fabric. Other impacts include destruction to the economic endowment and development and also present an economic burden on the health infrastructure in the public domain.

International Policy Framework and Debate

The international efforts to combat drug abuse and trafficking feature as a robust and long-term set of multilateral commitments, to which the American government takes an active participation. Their involvement is based on the philosophy that helping other administrations to control the issue goes a long way in curbing the availability and use of drugs in America. Based on this, the Trump administration consistently pursues the goal of eliminating and reducing the illegal flow of drugs through international channels. It means that when there is a high degree of international cooperation, the trade is disrupted. Contributions also help in interdiction efforts and the reduction of demand.

In spite of the international collaboration and commitment to combat the transit of illicit drugs, tensions are bound to exist, especially between the United States foreign policy on drugs and the international community (Merrigan, 2016). In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of global advocates, such as former and sitting presidents (Merrigan, 2016). In the same fashion, they have strongly supported the re-evaluation of the current prohibitionist policies. Some possible alternatives to the current regimes that are focused on international drug control include decriminalizing or legalizing some kinds of drugs. The direction of the debates could also shift from resources and priorities among various approaches towards counter-narcotics, such as demand reduction and supply, the distribution of international and domestic funding for drug control, and the balance of law enforcement, civilian, and military roles when it comes to anti-drugs initiatives (Merrigan, 2016).

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There is a raw material called the industrial hemp, which is used by manufacturers in the making of textiles, paper, and other commercial products. The United States government prohibits its use in the country since it is associated with marijuana. It explains why the legalization advocates have pushed the issue of industrial hemp to the extent of wearing T-shirts that are woven from industrial hemp. They hold the firm belief that this is a marginal issue that could win over the support of moderates anytime soon (The US Constitution, 2015).

Latin America currently strikes the image of the center of discussions on efforts to promote reform in drug policy. Since time immemorial Latin America governments were obsessed with the drug programs and policies that were recommended by Washington. These included prohibitionist policies movements and models that the United States government created. Consequently, there were growing frustrations that led to a review of the policies, models, movements, and sundry, so as to question the underlying premises that are contained in the majority of worldwide drug control paradigm. The outcome has been a call for debate, which has triggered a series of worldwide repercussions.

The Social Cost of Drug Debate

When people are deprived of their liberty for drug-related offenses, then there is the need for the adoption of the social cost of drug policy (Mineta, 2016). According to the views and findings of the Research Consortium on Drug and the Law, there is an increase of mass incarceration of non-violent drug offenders across Latin America (Merrigan, 2016). This is despite the wide-reaching debates on the need to overhaul the current drug policies and programs. The body conducted a thematic research to assess the nature of the gap between reality and discourse. Other areas that it highlighted include alternatives to incarceration, criminalizing consumption, the issue of female offenders jailed for drug-related crimes, and the involvement of Latin American youth in drug consumption.

A survey conducted in Latin America revealed that one out of every five prisoners was incarcerated because of drug-related offenses. In addition, this category of the population has experienced sudden increases compared to the general prison populations (Merrigan, 2016).Imperatively, this kind of organized confinement bears no impact when it comes to drug trade because people who are held in prison facilities are low-level traffickers, persons who suffer from vulnerable situations, and those who are easily replaced in the trade networks (Merrigan, 2016). In Colombia, the number of those incarcerated for drug-related offenses reflected a quadruple rise in the last 15 years, from 6, 300 in 2000 to 25, 200 according to 2014 results (Mineta, 2016). Brazil showed a 320% rise between 2004 and 2013, a sharp contrast to the general population, which stood at 51%. Going by the findings of a new research, between November 2006 and November 2014, there was a 1,200 increase in the number of people held in Mexican prisons because of incarceration due to drug offenses (Mineta, 2016). In addition, close to 60% of inmates confined in correctional centers in ten states of Mexico are imprisoned because of cannabis related offenses.

The reports were adopted by the Drug Policy program at the Center for Research and Teaching Economics along with the House of Representatives of Mexico in a conference that was titled People Deprived of Liberty for Drugs in Latin America: The Social Costs of Drug Policy (Merrigan, 2016). As a whole, the data reflect problems like criminalization, feminization of crimes related to drugs, and the use of incarnation to control the drug problem. The reports are also a way of highlighting the disturbing increase in the number of incarcerated women for drug offenses (Merrigan, 2016). Going by the findings of the study, about 65% of female prisoners are confined as a result of drug-related offenses. The figures rise to 75% and 77% respectively for Peru and Costa Rica, where the majority of society members include single mother, young people who are low income, and people from minority groups (Mineta, 2016).

The outcome of the report seems to suggest that the prison population of offenders charged with drug-related crimes has increased at a faster rate than the general population of other convicts. Moreover, unfair and long sentences have presented a negative impact on female offenders whose imprisonment rate rises steadily. Their confinement means the rise of vulnerability conditions for their children.

Another school of thought, on the decriminalization debate, maintains that such a move (decriminalization) would lead to an increase in the use, the social and economic costs of drugs (Merrigan, 2016). This is based on the rationale that decriminalization is not quite sufficient when it comes to making notable achievements in the war on drugs (Merrigan, 2016). As such, the debate that maintains that legalization of decriminalization of drug abuse and trade will lead to a better budget (solving the budget crisis), cripples drug cartels and reduces the overcrowding in prisons does not have any evidence to support it (Mineta, 2016). Moreover, the benefits of ensuring that marijuana and other harmful drugs illegal clearly outweighs the predictable and negative consequences of legitimizing them (Merrigan, 2016). In this light, various academic distinctions exist between legalization and decriminalization. According to the experience of the United States, arguments for decriminalization are usually viewed as a typical political rhetoric and tool. The advocates usually use them extensively to strive to open the door for decriminalization. It means that our position is evidence based and simple, meaning that both decriminalization and legalization of those illicit substances would lead to an increase in their use, alongside their associated social and health costs (Merrigan, 2016). Both arguments appear to be self-refuting not unless those advocates of outright legalization or decriminalization can concur to the fact that more supply and drug use feature as a net worth for the society.

The administration of Barack Obama realized significant changes in the drug policies of the United States government, but they reflect the realities of experience and science (Mineta, 2016). They show what has been effective in the past, as well as what needs to be improved. This is based on the realization that drug addiction is a major disease, one that requires instant eradication through evidence-based intervention, comprehensive treatment, and preventive approaches (Merrigan, 2016).

The criminal sanctions that are established against drugs are not a mere tool for punishment. As such, the existence of a threat of penalties frequently spur individuals who struggle with substance abuse of addiction, with the aim of enabling them to get the treatment they might never be motivated to receive or seek on their own (Merrigan, 2016). Moreover, close to more than one-thirds of all referral treatments in the United States emanate from the criminal justice system (Merrigan, 2016).The support received from drug courts, the criminal justice system, and drug market initiatives include innovations that rely on moderate and swift sanctions. Consequently, it reflects the multifaceted and invaluable role that the criminal justice system assumes in the course of addressing the use of drugs and subsequent consequences.

The drug policy recommended by the United States government seems to address both the public safety and health aspects of the use of drugs through an expanded support that focuses on treatment and prevention (Merrigan, 2016). So far, it has already reduced the minimum sentencing when it comes to the disparity between cocaine and crack. This feature as a historic first-time reduction in terms of the mandatory minimum sentencing that was signed into law by the Obama administration. It is highly supportive towards millions of Americans who are in recovery mode. These feature as policies that are guided by what people know since they make more sense as opposed to changes when it comes to the dubious decriminalization and proposition (Mineta, 2016). Accordingly, they believe that these are the best steps when it comes to sweeping away the multiple problems that emanate from drug abuse.

The United States’ long experience with two legal substances, including tobacco and alcohol, is a good demonstration of how legalization increases the chances of a society’s availability, acceptance, associated costs, and use. This is despite the fact that alcohol and tobacco cause more hundred deaths per annum than all the combined illegal drugs. This is because they are widespread in use. According to latest statistics, tobacco and alcohol’s usage currently stands at 52% and 27% respectively, amongst the older population (Merrigan, 2016). On the other hand, marijuana is regarded as an illicit drug that is most common amongst the youth. Its usage hovers around 7%. Proponents suggest that the drug is mostly popular amongst the young population than alcohol or tobacco because of its illegal nature.

Another factor that seems to discourage the widespread use of illegal drugs is the fact that they are relatively expensive. Various multiple economic analyses seem to suggest that current prohibitions on marijuana raise the cost of production by more than 400% (Merrigan, 2016). The ensuing higher prices are responsible for controlling usage rates. Patterns of consumption for marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco are always sensitive to price changes, especially in the category of young drug abusers. In fact, according to the findings of a rigorous research, marijuana consumption rates are greatly affected by slight changes in price levels. This is consistent with the same study that was conducted on cigarette smokers. As such, research indicates that when there is a 10% drop in price levels, there is a consequent rise from 8% to 9% in demand (Mineta, 2016).

The Youth in Drug Control Policies

According to the views of one critic, the youth are often seen but not heard when it comes to the design of drug policies. According to a drug expert who was called upon to make a speech at a conference, he maintained that no matter the extent of prohibitionist policy applied, the use of drugs amongst young people will not be altered (Merrigan, 2016). In this regards, the focus should shift from efforts that work with it. Mineta (2016) also suggests that while the youth are always invoked in the various drug policy debates, they are rarely invited to take part in those discussions. During the CND forum that took place at the United Nations Office in Vienna, perceptions were greatly challenged (Merrigan, 2016). The event was organized by a group of young organizers who used the findings of the Global Youth Coalition Consultation, in a forum whose title was Protecting the World’s Youth from Drug Policy (Merrigan, 2016). Amongst some of the areas of discussion include human rights, harm eradication, and sundry. The panelists were sufficiently clear that the youth are well aware of their wants, and one thing is that the drug policies have to make more sense to them.

For starters, there are some legislations, such as the RAVE Act that was passed by the United States Congress, which criminalizes practices aimed at harm reduction, and which are targeted towards young people who consume drugs in various festivals such a prohibitionist measure must be opposed at all means (Merrigan, 2016). As such, the proponents maintains that it is against their will to die from heart stroke just because venue owners and event organizers fear to be prosecuted because of providing free water and an air-conditioned space (Mineta, 2016). In addition, drug testing centers and services must be availed so that people in nighttime life setting can make use of them. Consequently, campaigns, such as What’s in the Powder, seem to be, more effective provided a chance is created for their adoption. This is based on the rationale that sensible policies that are highly youth-focused should be concerned with developing a curriculum that is not grounded on scare tactics, but one that reflects great objectivity and makes good use of age-appropriate information (Merrigan, 2016). For instance, programs that emphasize on the harmfulness of drugs are not objective and effective in any way when it comes to imparting the required knowledge for making informed decisions in the real world (Mineta, 2016). Since time immemorial, it has been proven that stigma is not regarded as an effective tool for teaching (Merrigan, 2016). Yet in the majority of drug eradication programs around the globe, young people are always made to think that those who abuse drugs are morally deficient (Merrigan, 2016).


The paper has revealed how a set of some prohibitionist policies are not effective when it comes to preventing the spread of the vice amongst the young population. There has also been a discussion of decriminalization, incarceration, legalization, and others. It was argued that governments should consider the issue of drugs legalization since it will lead to a lower rate of abusers, which will undermine the influence of cartels. One of the regions that place a sharp focus on drug reforms policy is Latin America, where a majority of alienated governments are interested in departing from the ideologies of United States model and review their own customized drug control policies. Then there is the social policy debate that suggests that when people are limited from their freedom as a result of drug-related offenses, then social costs are bound to arise. As such, this kind of organized confinement does not create any impact in terms of controlling and preventing drug trade. It is because incarceration only holds low-profile drug offenders, some of who are easily replaced in the drug trade hierarchy.

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