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More Government Won’t Solve Drug Problems in U.S.

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    People are born with inalienable natural rights: the right to life, liberty, and property so long as one does not violate the rights of others. Government exists to uphold the rights of individuals, although it often supersedes the very rights it is supposed to protect. Does the government therefore have the authority to intervene in people’s private lives when they are doing no harm to others? The answer of course is no, they don’t. This begs the question, should marijuana and other drugs be legalized?

      I recently spoke with a friend who supports the legalization of marijuana. His reasoning behind it makes sense; marijuana is a relatively safe substance to use and many who use it do so responsibly. Because of that, he believes the government should let people use marijuana. After hearing his reasoning, I was able to see the difference between our understanding of the issue and role of the state even though we agree policywise.

     While logical, my friend’s stance has the underlying assumption that government should intervene in people’s private lives if it deems something to be unbeneficial to the individual. He supports the legalization of marijuana because he thinks it is not dangerous. Whether marijuana is good for people is not the question we should be asking though. Whether something is bad or good for an individual is irrelevant to why it should be legal or illegal. Proponents of big government miss the point: it is not government’s job to run people’s lives. So long as it doesn’t directly restrict the freedom of others, the government has no business in restricting individual liberty.

      What about hard drugs like meth or heroin should they be legal? In the Northeast the opioid crisis is taking lives and destroying families. People can become addicted or even die after using heroin just once. Opioid addiction destroys people’s lives and is connected to violent crimes and theft. Far more than marijuana, hard drugs are a scourge on humanity.

     That being said, I’m hesitant to say drugs like heroin or meth should be illegal. What right do I have to force you not to use a drug? We should always be doubtful of trusting the government to control aspects of our lives. If the use of a certain substance is inherently causal of violent crime and theft, then there is a case for it to be made illegal because it would directly result in the loss of the freedom of others. A drug should only be illegal if it can be proven that the use of a certain substance always leads to an assault on the liberty of others. By that same logic, people who choose to use drugs should be held accountable for the consequences of their actions even if they are addicted because at one point they made the choice to use. They have no right to the labor or property of others.

     The argument that a drug should be legalized because it’s “not so bad for people” misses the point that government has no authority to restrict one’s freedom. That being said, I am strongly opposed to the use of drugs on a personal level. My position is based on the moral, cultural, and societal cost that drugs pose. The narrative that drugs are good and make society better is false; apart from medicinal uses and the occasional individual using marijuana responsibly, drugs are detrimental to humanity. You can think something is wrong while still supporting it being legal.

     The key to solving drug problems is not big government, it’s restoring the moral fabric of society. We as individuals should set higher standards for people and help those who have drug problems. It’s immoral for the state to punish people for using drugs when they are doing no harm to others. The government and community should only step in when the wellbeing of others is compromised by someone’s drug use.

    Most, if not all drugs should be legal because people have the right to their own self and property. We must stop embracing authoritarianism by giving the government control over people’s private lives. The solution to drug problems is more freedom and stronger families and communities, not more government.

Matthew Noyes

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Matthew Noyes is a conservative columnist and assistant opinions editor of the Albany Student Press. He is also president of the University at Albany's Turning Point USA chapter and a writer for Campus Reform. Noyes, a New Hampshire native, is a political science and Japanese double major.

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