Should Criminal Penalties Be the Same for Illicit Drug Users/Abusers and Drug Dealers/Traffickers? Essay

Illegal drug use is admittedly a serious social and medical problem in the United States and in many other parts of the world. The existence of drug users in the modern times necessarily entails the existence of drug suppliers or sellers. The government has legislated ways of dealing with drug abuse and trafficking. In 1988, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act that penalizes abusers of illicit or controlled substances in the bid to control the problem of drug abuse (U. S. DEA, n. d. ).

While it has been found that drug abuse is associated with other crimes, illicit drug use should definitely carry lighter penalties compared to drug trafficking. Drug trafficking refers to the production/cultivation, importation/exportation/ transport, selling’s, offering or possession with the intention of distributing or serving as supplier for commercial gain (Illegal drug trafficking, n. d. ). Drug abuse, of course, refers to the non-medical abuse of narcotics or other similar substances.

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Owing to the clear distinction between illicit drug users and suppliers, it is apparent and undeniable that drug traffickers bring more harm to others while gaining monetary compensation for themselves in selling such substances. If the law will be made to penalize both drug users and traffickers to the same degree, then the legal system becomes overly punitive beyond a commensurate degree. Admittedly, it is true that evidence now points to the tendency of drug users to commit crimes as compared to non-users. Frequently, drug users arrested for crime engaged in criminal acts while under the drug’s influence (Drug related, 2000).

However, it should be noted that whatever other crimes the drug abuser commit carry their own individual punishment that the person will have to face in court separate from that of drug use. Moreover, evidence also points to how drug trafficking is often linked to not just petty but, rather, violent crimes (Chapter II, n. d. ). It should never be forgotten that abuse of illicit drugs has a medical dimension. Thus, drug abuse should definitely carry lighter penalties. References Chapter II: America’s drug abuse profile. (n. d. ). Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://www. cjrs. gov/htm/chapter2. htm Illegal drug trafficking. (Updated 18 Jan. 2006). Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://eldd. emcdda. europa. eu/html. cfm/index5766EN. html President Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2009, March). Drug-Related Crime. Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://www. whitehousedrugpolicy. gov/publications/factsht/crime/index. html U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (n. d. ). Chapter 1: The Controlled Substances Act. Retrieved July 26, 2010 from http://www. justice. gov/dea/pubs/abuse/1-csa. htm#penalties2


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