10/27/2013 01:20 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

End the War on Drugs

Many in Washington are against drug legalization, even though there is overwhelming evidence that prohibition does not work, and will never work. The Global Commission on Drug Policy reported that between 1998 and 2008, global use of opiates increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent, and cannabis 8.5 percent. The point of the drug war is to diminish the use of drugs, clearly evidence that this war has failed.

If we were to legalize drugs like cocaine, heroin, and yes even meth, we would destroy criminal monopolies that lead to crime, and ultimately curb a lot of violence in America. While people may die from drug use, the war on drugs has not funded reduced usage or saved lives; instead we could be reallocating government money from enforcement to rehab programs. If the drugs were regulated then many deaths would be prevented, as well as a massive reduction in crime as it does abroad.

Criminalization of drugs has also led to stigmatization and marginalization of drug users. Many who use drugs that involve injecting into the blood stream have HIV or Hepatitis C through contaminated needles. If we were to legalize this and provide clean needles we would curb much of this. Some would argue that this encourages a habit, but we encourage a habit and criminal behavior by locking up nonviolent drug offenders who are immersed even more greatly into a drug culture.

Some argue that you cannot be successful if you have used drugs. While one can make the case that it does make it more difficult to prioritize responsibilities many famous people have used 'dangerous drugs' and been quite successful. There are many famous entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and many famous musicians who have cited LSD and other psychoactive drugs as a major influence If these people were arrested for their drug use then we would not have not had such brilliant minds.

Many who oppose the idea of drug decriminalization argue that there is no evidence that decriminalization works. Once Portugal made the decision to decriminalize drugs these numbers went down significantly, as did the rates for infectious disease. As cited by the Cato Drug Institute Portugal has had significant success with their policies. Consumption of drugs fell by half in the study, now one of the lowest in The European Union.

The reality is the majority of drug users are non-violent and to throw them into prison only makes them more violent. Someone who has been incarcerated will struggle to obtain a job, and ultimately be forced into crime to achieve stability in their lives. This is not the society we want to live in. We want our prison system to focus on rehabilitation rather than revenge, and that is not what these nonviolent offenders are getting.

Certainly it is difficult to legalize all drugs instantly. That is an unachievable task at the moment, but we can move toward legalization akin to Portugal. As the president has used marijuana before and he claims it to be harmless why is he against legalization, why is he against decriminalization? He does not have the political capital to advocate decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, but why is this? Why is the American political system so caught up in the drug war? Corporate backers of politicians refuse to go against the status quo, for they do not want competition, yet this is against the very root of a capitalist society.