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Why Litigate? We Control our Fate

An Arguement for the Legization of Illicit Substances

        For the last quarter century, the war on drugs has been a highly criticized and widely debated policy fashioned by the Richard Nixon Administration.  Milton Friedman’s essay, “There’s no Justice in the War on Drugs,” is a weak attempt to point out the drawbacks caused by strict enforcement of controlled substance laws.  He systematically lists each problem and provides a brief section of support for each aspect he brings up. Friedman lists a total of seven complications which he believes are the direct result of drug prohibition.  The argument fails to make the connection of how the war on drugs has caused the problems being described and is in desperate need of more compelling support.  Many appalling aspects of American society are brought up in the essay, but the evidence used to link these to the war on drugs is insignificant and inadequate for a meaningful case to be made.  Friedman also neglects to recognize the opposing argument.  One must surely assume that the war on drugs has produced at least some benefits to society. The author’s failure to recognize these benefits leaves the reader with an entirely one sided view on the topic.  Although the essay does an exceptional job of describing certain problems with our culture, it does little to show the correlation these problems have with American drug policy.  

      The argument begins with an explanation of that fact that it is necessary to have informants to expose violators of drug laws.  Because both the buyer and seller benefit equally, it is hard to obtain reliable information to put drug criminals behind bars.  Friedman also explains how the enormous sums of money involved in drug transactions often tempt dishonesty among high ranking officials.  He supports this statement by drawing a parallel to the corruption that occurred during alcohol prohibition.  Even if corruption exists, he offers no justification for the legalization of controlled substances.  Also, the reader is supplied with no supporting evidence to anchor the claims made by the author. With all details aside, the corruption of informants is an unpersuasive topic to initiate an argument against the war on drugs. 


 Friedman makes his strongest points when explaining how the prohibition of drugs creates greater risks to drug users.  Addicts are constantly faced the dilemma of paying high prices for products that could possibly be altered and unsafe.  He implies that the legalization of controlled substances will allow users to easily buy quality products without the health risks of the drugs currently available on the street.  Legalization will also allow drug users access to sterile needles which will prevent the spread of disease from sharing needles. These points are valid, and definite advantages of drug legalization, however there is no mention of the possible consequences that may accompany these advantages.  As addictive substances become readily available, it is safe to assume that the amount of addicts will rise as well.  No solution is presented to the reader of how these evils could be avoided.  Even with his strongest point being made, Friedman still lacks the substance needed to create a realistic line of reasoning. 

      Exclusively using statistical evidence, Friedman makes a significant point about the nations rising prison population.  America’s prison population has risen six fold to the relative growth in total population since the implementation of the war on drugs.  A troubling statistic indeed, but the author fails to correlate this evidence with drug policy.  The evidence merely proves an increasing prison population while not contributing to his conviction that the war on drugs is the cause for this increase.  Without additional evidence to verify drug policy as the culprit, the reader is left to speculate on what other factors may have caused the prison population to rise.  Continuing with the incarceration theme, Friedman lays guilt on the war on drugs for a disproportionate amount of blacks being detained in our jails.  There is absolutely no attempt to draw a parallel between this evidence and the war on drugs.  It is hard to understand why this segment was included in the argument because it does little to advance the authors argument.  Friedman uses gripping facts about America’s reformatory system throughout the essay, but he is unsuccessful at associating these facts with drug policy.

      Friedman concludes his magnum opus with a depiction of the suffering America’s war on drugs has created on the global level.  He insinuates that the countries of Columbia, Peru, and Mexico have experienced enormous tribulations due to our pursuit of drug manufacturers using military force.  Then going on to contradict himself, he states the reason for this is America’s inability to enforce controlled substance laws at the domestic level.  This idea conflicts with his previous implication that the legalization of drugs will generate benefits for our country.  By presenting problems on both sides of the equation, the author squanders his ability to present a viable solution to the crisis being argued.  Statistical evidence is also lacking to support the claim that “Our drug policy is the cause of thousands of deaths…”  Such a serious allegation should be reinforced with legitimate evidence.  Friedman’s final portion of the argument is followed by no concluding thoughts that would help the reader sort out his scattered perception of the war on drugs. 

       “There’s no Justice in the War on Drugs” is best summarized as a collection of problems that America is faced with today that loosely tie together with the war on drugs.  Milton Friedman makes an unimpressive effort to hold the war on drugs accountable for the seven negative aspects listed in the essay.  The major flaw of the essay is its failure to make basic connections between societal problems and their supposed cause, America’s drug enforcement policy.  Friedman does not offer any explicit solution to the problem.  However, he carefully implies that a complete end to substance regulation is a resolution to the problems we face.  Although ending drug laws may lessen the problems, there is a wide variety of new problems that complete legalization may cause.  The author makes no leap of creativity to imagine what types of complications may ensue.  Nor does he present any of the positive achievements of the war on drugs.  Milton Friedman’s pessimistic viewpoint and lack of supporting evidence ultimately diminish the essay’s chance of exposing the truly inexcusable aspects of America’s Awar on drugs.

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