Should all drugs be legalized for recreational use?

Dylan Eguiluz, Staff Writer

The growth of the cannabis and opioid industry is symptomatic of the acceptance of recreational drug use. Ultimately, recreational use will become a damaging force for the general public and will only be solved through the regulation and banning of illicit drugs.
Access to marijuana has gradually increased within the past couple decades; recreational marijuana is legal in ten states and prescribable by a doctor for medicinal use in 33 states. Cannabis has become one of the most used illicit drugs in the U.S. with 33 million current users according to a federal survey conducted in 2015. It is arguably easier than ever to purchase cannabis in the U.S. legally and illegally. While medicinal laws vary by state, marijuana can be prescribed by a physician who has determined that their patient will benefit from medical marijuana.
While medicinal use of marijuana has been shown to treat seizures, cancer and HIV/AIDS, users may abuse the legal system in order to obtain cannabis . The standard for which medical marijuana is prescribed is too lax, because it is ultimately up to the physician to decide. There needs to be a strong regulation of medicinal use to prevent substance abuse.
Drug use is escapism. By normalizing drug use the U.S. will see the succeeding generation rely on constant stimulation. The amount of dopamine people receive today from entertainment and technology alone is already overwhelming.
“Often, if you have the earliest predictor of a reward—a sign of a social media alert, like your phone buzzing—you get a rush of dopamine from that condition stimulus,” associate psychology professor at Rutgers University Mauricio Delgado said. “That might trigger you to go check out the outcome, to see what it is. That type of reinforcement is something that you now seek out.”
Constant stimulation already exists. Recreational use enables users to perpetually seek a greater high, a greater want. Pharmaceutical companies take advantage of those seeking stronger drugs through opioids. The opioid crisis is has led to the popularization of pills such as Xanax and Vicodin which are pain relievers. Overtime constant use of opioids will lead the human body to develop an immunity, and in order to reach a greater high, users will need to consume more than what is prescribed, which can lead to an overdose.
A common misconception is that by decriminalizing drugs, the incentive to use illegal substances is gone and drug use will overall increase. In 2001, Portugal established a drug policy of decriminalization for all drugs within the country. Portugal notoriously developed multiple drug crises throughout the 1990s and in order to combat the overflow of drug users in jails, Portugal decriminalized illicit drug use. However, the intent was not aimed at stopping drug use altogether.
Encouraging a healthy lifestyle free from drug use is key to maintaining a strong and competent society.