A review of my personal crime prevention strategy Essay
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My idea for the preventative crime strategy is “soft drug” education. In many European countries, softer alcohols like wine and beer are not policed as strongly as hard liquor. The idea behind this began in Germany when alcoholism was beginning to become more and more prevalent. Said problem was thought to be solved if alcohol was introduced differently. To be introduced to the family or at a younger age, as less of a risky or dangerous or rebellious thing. This has led to a drop in alcoholism as these drinks are normalized from a young age.
In turn, the United States school system has, for decades, been using the D.A.R.E. program but this has been shown not to actually work. It uses fear mongering and essentially educating students that if they were to come in contact with marijuana, they would die. This does not, has not, and will continue not to work. My idea is to create a strategy of soft drug education. This means treating marijuana, though schedule 1, as a weak or even purely/mostly medical drug instead of a dangerous gateway to amphetamines or heroin. So by removing the stigma of being a gateway, I hope to remove it from actually becoming one.
Marijuana education would be taught differently; especially as decriminalization and legalization continue throughout the country in various stages. As of now, it is schedule 1, which means it has no medical properties. Currently, even cocaine is ranked as schedule 2, meaning it can be used in some medical scenarios. Marijuana is also often spoken of as a starter drug or gateway drug. An idea that began as simply an idea, but recently has become more of a reality. Drug dealers lacing the marijuana with addictive drugs, or mental addiction, even with people just chasing the high. But a new education could reframe the plant. This would be done so the young people coming in contact with it know what it does, what it looks like, and how it feels. Lying about drugs no longer works in a digital age. A heroin addict I once spoke to talked about how no one ever said how good drugs could feel, so if they lied about that and lied about weed killing you, why not keep trying? The gateway effect was not due to him wanting to try more drugs just to try more drugs. He had felt that if marijuana had not been this addictive and deadly substance, the other dangerous drugs would not be either. The lie itself led him to those harder drugs. So essentially institute a normalization effect on marijuana. Remove the idea that it is a narcotic. The best-case scenario would be for it to be seen as a medical drug first. Similar to Tylenol or cough syrup, a drug that is purely medical in the eyes of the public, first.
The first way to go about it would be getting to the smokers first. Many times children will pick up a tobacco habit before marijuana and thus before hard drugs. So the first step would be printing medical information on cigarette cartons. More and more, tobacco companies have to put the cancer-addled pictures on the cartons, and though it is meant to be a deterrent from smoking, most smokers probably just don’t look at it. This is instituted by the Surgeon General and thus cannot be fought by the tobacco companies. So putting medical facts and statistics would lead a wandering eye to see benefits of what they may have previously heard is a dangerous drug. From here, there would need to be the differentiation between marijuana and harder drugs sucks as heroin, methamphetamine, and LSD. Those listed previously are all scheduled as narcotic only with zero medical use whatsoever. Again, cocaine is listed as safer than marijuana. So it is first important to work on changing this view. This could occur by interlacing the failing scare tactics with the benefits of marijuana. Many shops exist countrywide, and even on South Street here in Philadelphia where “tobacco paraphernalia” are sold. So in those places make ads that may push marijuana and tobacco but put down hard drugs. Along the lines of “When you snort cocaine your heart explodes, when you smoke weed you get hungry.” Different things similar to these. This along with the D.E.A. (Drug Enforcement Administration) rescheduling, the adult/population-wide feeling against the plant could begin to lift. If various states are legalizing and/or decriminalizing, along with the national government says it is less risky, people would be more open-minded.
The most important push, however, would be the medicalization side. The best way to remove a stigma, to remove a dark side of something, is to make it beneficial. The inverse of this was seen with the medicine Sudafed. It was pulled from shelves when it became public knowledge that the drug could easily be used to manufacture forms of methamphetamine. Marijuana has already begun to be shown as a medicine. The drug has been used for soldiers to relieve post-traumatic stress disorder, with chemotherapy patients it increases appetite, in various illnesses such as arthritis it stops inflammation. Marijuana already has shown the potential in many ways to be a medicine. A cheap, easy to create, strong, and it has multiple uses, drug. If it were to be rescheduled and pushed publicly, in news or music or shows, as less of a narcotic and more of a medication, the stigma would fall away.
This relates to community crime prevention in many ways. The first idea of which is the connection to the basics needed to commit a crime; a place, a person to commit the crime, and a crime itself. Even without a straightforward target, if the drug is no longer seen as a drug then the target is hardened. It is more difficult to see a legal, medical, plant as a dangerous and rebellious activity. This also falls into social disorganization theory, if marijuana is medical and harder drugs fall away, then the usage of marijuana could be seen as a norm in communities similar to tobacco use or over the counter pain killers; drug culture would begin to fall away and thus rougher communities could come together more against the harder drugs. A generation bypassing heroin use would more easily be able to push out the heroin dealers. So not only would the soft drug education lead to fewer people using the harder, more deadly drugs, but it could lead to communities pushing harder and more openly against drug dealing. (As a side note: those who dealt/grew marijuana would easily be able to ascertain occupations in the then-legal marijuana growing industry, thus a legitimate job would prevent them from dealing other illicit drugs). As well as with fewer drug dealers present in neighborhoods, violence would drop dramatically. No more people violently high on cocaine or PCP or other “uppers” as well as no more drug-based robberies. Many drug dealers are robbed because they are seen as sources of money; so either they get robbed or often times they will carry firearms and shoot their robbers. Either way, there would potentially be a drop. As well as the growth of marijuana by those who have (though illegally) been doing it for years could show to be lucrative and make low-economic-class areas into self-made enterprise zones. As discussed in class, there must be an audience to market these ideas too as well. There are two main audiences: those who are 40 years old or older, those 12 and younger. The older crowd in order to push the idea that marijuana is not harmful, the younger in order to push that it is “really a medicine” and to keep pushing for other drugs being dangerous.
As the FBI and ATF speakers also spoke about, the Hobbes Act is extremely important. But the ATF speaker brought up a strong point: marijuana can be grown anywhere hydroponically. It is currently not a Hobbes Act infringement because it cannot be traced. To tie in with my idea before, if Pennsylvania were to follow through with any of these ideas, then marijuana is no longer a drug and thus any/all sales of illicit drugs become federal crimes. There is nothing scarier than saying “ALL _____ CRIMES ARE FEDERAL CRIMES” and this would push drug sales into that category.
The soft drug education has multiple parts. The rescheduling of marijuana, the bettered education and allowance of use, and the final step to make it publically seen as more of a medicine than a drug to get high off of. Especially since the indicia strain of marijuana (as opposed to sativa) mostly works with treating pain, hunger, insomnia, stress, anxiety, inflammation, and other medical ailments with less of a physical “high” from the drug. With the proper pushing to legalize then re-educate the masses, hard drug use would drop dramatically. The main purpose is not only to allow for a medication to be used by the medical community but if this works it should prevent the gateway effect. Within a generation, a large-scale drop in heroin, LSD, cocaine (crack and powder), Mescaline, ecstasy, and all other truly dangerous schedules 1 drugs. That is my crime prevention strategy. Prevent the gateway effect and thus prevent a generation of drug crimes or drug-related crimes (such as in Goldkamp’s trichotomy) on a massive scale.