Drug Use and Crime Essay Example

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Drug Use and Crime8

Drug Use and Crime

Drug Use and Crime

Criminal offenders are mostly associated with drug taking. The relationship between crime and illicit drugs has been a subject of debate for a long time. Some scholars suggest that making illicit drugs legal will reduce the level of crimes as the police will have time to crack down non-drug related offenders. Others opine that making such drugs legal would be inviting more criminals in the society. This essay is critically explains the relationship between drug use and crime. The essay also discusses whether criminal behaviour is reduced by making illicit drugs legal.

Analysis of illegal drug use and crime relationship

Scholars have tried to explain this relationship in different ways. Powell (2011) in his article takes a threefold approach in analyzing this relationship. First is the establishment between illicit-drug use and the likelihood of committing the crime subsequently. The next step is that the violent act committed must come after the use of the drug and finally. According to Powell (2011), if there were other factors that contributed to the violent behaviour, they must be explained or done away with. White and Gorman (2000) on their part argue that substance use leads to criminal behaviour or vice versa and the two are intertwined.

Logically, if one takes hard drugs, the possibility of getting intoxicated is very high. At this point, one is rendered in law is being temporarily insane. As a result of the insanity, getting involved in criminal behaviour seems to be a normal thing. In support of White and Gorman’s arguments, the chances of committing a crime increases with the level of an intoxicated mind from substance use. Drug addiction plays a greater role. As the body gets used to the use of a certain drug, it is difficult to stop unless under a rehabilitative process. As a result, one goes to any extend in order to acquire the drug. This includes robbery, fraud and even murder in order to acquire the drug.

One may consider the benefits derived out of commission of a crime. Single et al. (2000) point out that with crime like robbery with violence, the gains, if one is not caught are better the risk itself. If drug taking will boost the morale of committing such a crime, then the offenders are obliged to take such drugs. Drug trafficking is offence by itself; those who get engaged in the act cannot easily escape their use as the drugs are readily available to them. The income that accrues from this business also supports their criminal tendencies (Single et al., 2000).

On the second argument, it is also true that crime commission may lead to substance use. When one commits a heinous crime such as murder, they end up losing their mind from distress and regret. To avoid this, they seek solace from hard drugs in order to shun their thoughts from the world. According to Grabosky (2010), the two result from a set of similar causes. A murderer may take drugs after committing the act or he may commit the murder after having taken some drug. Violent acts may ensue as a result of drug trafficking. In the market, there are forces of competition and cut-throat rivalry for common customers may result in crime. Disputes may also arise in the market among the drug barons themselves who are prone to resort to violence (US Department of Justice Fact Sheet, 1994).

Drug and Crime Have No Relationship

Conversely, other scholars contend that drug and crime have no relationship whatsoever. According to Campbell (2010), drug use may result out of other socio economic factors. For instance, high levels of poverty may contribute to drug use as a means of shunning reality. Also, peer pressure may contribute as a result of wanting to belong and fit in what your peers are doing. Early childhood arrests and sentencing may also play a greater role. Children who face the harsh life of juvenile institutions undergo depression and resort to drug use. There are also those in the society who wish to maintain their hierarchy in terms of wealth. They engage in illegal drug trafficking which of course earns them handsomely. This continued supply of drugs floods the market with cheap drugs thereby increasing the chances of drug use.

Criminal behaviour on the hand may result into family related wrangles to the extent of bloodshed. Extreme poverty and inadequate job opportunity also act as stimulants. For want of a means of survival, people engage in crimes such as theft, robbery with violence and fraud in order to obtain money. Engaging in corrupt acts in order to enrich oneself occur not necessarily from use of drugs. Peer pressure may also contribute to criminal behaviour as well as coercion (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001).

The impact of legalizing illicit drugs on criminal behaviour

As per a report released in 2012, it shows that Australia is one of the countries in the world that have campaigned for legalization of illicit drugs for almost twenty seven years. This has made it a leading population per capita in terms of illicit drug consumption. This subsequently increased the level of crimes in the country such as australia21. They claim among other things that; legalization will not lower the rate at which people consume, that legalizing will eliminate the criminal aspect from the drug market (DFA position statement, 2012)

In a mythical argument against legalizing marijuana in the United States, the author states that a criminal will always remain a criminal whether or not illicit drugs are legalized. The reasoning behind this argument was that there are those who traffic drugs as a way of life in order to make easy money and not because it is illegal. No amount of legalization will make them get legitimate jobs and pay taxes as other honest citizens. Smuggling drugs is what makes them most money (Allen, 2007).

According to Hammersley (2008), legalizing marijuana in the US will not alter the same status in the neighbouring states like Mexico. Employing the same argument to Australia with reference to all other hard drugs, the situation will only change in Australia. This will not alter drug traffickers from smuggling drugs in Australian markets as they do this for money. Reference is made to 1933 in lieu of the lift on the ban of alcohol stating that this lift did not reduce the rate of crime. Subsequently, a lift on the ban on marijuana will not change the rate of crime. The author illustrates a finding in 2008 where cocaine of almost 16.9 metric tons was transported from Mexico to the US.

Donnelly et al. (1995) state that legalizing drugs will tend to make people believe that the drug is harmless. The result will be that there will be increased usage of such drugs. The costs of rehabilitating and treating addicts far outweighs the cost acquiring the drugs; people will therefore resort to criminal activities in order to counter these costs. According to Anglin (1988), the perception that the drug is harmless will also increase crime rate because of the effects of the drugs in the body. Reference is made to the Netherlands which saw a double increase in heroin addicts and marijuana usage between the ages of eighteen to twenty five. This happened after allowing marijuana to be publicly sold. The country was left with no choice but reverse its laws on drug control (Fluellen & Trone, 2000).

The DFA (2012) report established that there would be no crime reduction as market operators profit making will not be affected and therefore they will not stop engaging in drug trafficking. In fact, this will open up their mind to more harder and dangerous substances. Reference is made to the estimated number of cigarettes which are smuggled yearly; almost 600 billion.

According to Caitlin and Stevens (2007), legalizing will reduce crime rates. This is because the police will now divert their attention from cracking down drug users and concentrate on other offenders. These other offenders would have resulted from other causes not associated with drug consumption. I opine that this can only be true if other causes of drug use are at a constant and not drug-crime related.


In summary, it can be concluded from the discussion that most drug users are offenders in one way or the other. This majorly arises from the fact that drugs and crime are intertwined and one may be caused by another. Though it is argued that criminalizing drug tramples on a countries sovereign rights of safe usage, it is evident that the usage is more harmful than beneficial. Most countries opt to criminalize illicit drugs as decriminalizing sends a wrong message of the drug being harmless thereby increasing usage which subsequently increases the level of criminal behaviour.


Allen C. (2007). Crime, Drugs and Social Theory: A Phenomenological Approach.
Aldershot UK: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Anglin, M. D. (1988). ‘A social policy analysis of compulsory treatment for opiate dependence: Introduction’, Journal of Drug Issues, Vol. 18, no. 4, pp503-504.

Caitlin, H. & Stevens, A. (2007). The Effects of Decriminalization of Drug Use in Portugal. The Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme Report

Campbell, A. (2010). The Australian Illicit Drug Guide: Every Person’s Guide to Illicit Drugs. London: Blank Inc.

Donnelly, N. et al. (1995). The effects of partial decriminalization on cannabis use in South Australia, 1985 to 1993. Australian Journal of Public Health 19: 281-287.

Drug and Alcohol Services Council of South Australia, Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Unit. (1991). The effects of cannabis legalization in south Australia on levels of cannabis use. DASC Press: Parkside Australia. Retrieved 6th May 2014<norml.org/ >

Fluellen, R. & Trone, J, (2000). Vera Institute of Justice, Issues in Brief: Do Drug Courts Save Jail and Prison Beds? New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Grabosky, P. (2010). The Cambridge Handbook of Australian Criminology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hammersley, R. (2008). Drug and Crime. Cambridge, UK: Publisher Polity.

MacCoun, R. & Reuter, P. (2001). Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes: British Journal of Psychiatry 178: 123-128

Powell, A. (2011). A Comprehensive Analysis of the Drug-Crime Relationship. Illinois: Southern Illinois University Carbondale Research Paper.

Single, E. et al. (2000). The Impact of Cannabis Decriminalisation in Australia and the United States. Journal of Public Health Policy 21: 157-186.

White H. R. & Gorman D. M. (2000). Dynamics of the Drug-Crime Relationship. Volume 1. Retrieved on May 8, 2014 from <