rmined researcher among those presenting estimates, Herbert Kleber, basically claimed that “if cocaine were legally available, as alcohol and nicotine are now, the number of cocaine abusers would probably rise to a point somewhere between the number of users of the other two agents, perhaps 20 to 25 million” (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001, 72).
This study analyzes and reveals what is known about the effect of harsh prison sentences or the aggressive enforcement levels of drug prohibitions in contemporary America. This study makes two arguments. It is possible that harsh drug penalties could be significantly lessened without substantially escalating use and reoffending but also that legalization could result in considerable escalations in use and reoffending. The two arguments are not conflicting, nor is this study attempting to take up a guarded ‘neutral’ position. Significantly reduced user authorizations may have qualitatively diverse impacts than modifications in the legal position of drug production and sales.
To a lot of people, it may appear apparent that reduction of harsh prison sentences or penalties would increase drug use and reoffending. But MacCoun (1993 as cited in MacCoun & Reuter, 2001) claimed that this may not be the case. Similar to the premises of this study, the article enumerated seven different processes by which drug penalties influence drug use and reoffending and analyzed the existing empirical and theoretical literature on each process. Most of these processes put off drug use and reoffending, but hardly any seem to really support it; they are among the numerous accidental outcomes of harsh drug penalties (MacCoun & Reuter, 2001). MacCoun (1993) asserted that lack of knowledge regarding the enormity of each these outcomes- in particular at the legal-illegal threshold—prevented any certain inferences about whether legalization would affect drug use and reoffending, much less the scale of any escalation.
But from 1993 thereon, a