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Criminal Justice System: Drugs and Crime


In the recent past, there has been an increased focus on the relationship between drugs and crime in most states in America. This has resulted in an increased focus on the enforcement of laws related to drugs in order to curb the rate of crime.

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The body that is concerned with this is the criminal justice system which is a system of government institutions that is aimed at deterring and mitigating crime so as to withhold the social standards.

The main objective of the criminal justice system is to ensure the delivery of justice for all. It mainly concentrates on the detection of crime, bringing the perpetrators to book through conviction of the guilty. It’s also concerned with helping those involved with crime stop their behavior in order to protect the innocent. Its duties also extend to fulfillment of tasks delegated to it by the courts such as a collection of fines, supervision punishment administered to the guilty such as community service or custodial punishments.

In conducting its war on drugs and crime, the criminal justice system is inclusive of the police department which is the first point of contact of the perpetrator with the criminal justice system as the law enforcement agency. The role of the police is to apprehend the suspects and investigate the issues before bringing them to court.

Change In The Role Of Police With The Introduction Of War On Drugs

In the recent past, the role of the police has experienced a trend from their traditional role of peace officers to legalistic officers’. Drug enforcement in the US has resulted in the reshaping of the criminal justice system. Their role was basically related to domestic crime, illegal drugs, and internal maintenance of order.

Currently, less emphasis is being given to the rehabilitation of drug abusers and their treatment. In many of the cities, less treatment is being provided and drug abuse is perceived as a criminal act other than a social problem that has made the police wage a real war on drugs.

Their legalistic role is currently that of war on drugs. The police have currently shifted their legalistic role related to drugs. More professionalism has been incorporated in the execution of their duties and politicking is left out. They conduct their duties with diligence to identify those involved in drugs and crime before carrying out an arrest.

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In the war against drugs, the police have widened their role by shifting from the role of controlling the drugs entering the US from international locations only. Currently, the police departments have formulated strategies that are aimed at fighting drugs right at the source. The police are now concentrating on wiping outcrops that are used as raw materials in the production of drugs and closing down the laboratories.

Due to the risk involved, there have been several amendments to ensure the execution of the war on crime effectively. They are becoming more militarized in their activities and hence that of the entire criminal justice system. More training has been done on various police departments such as the SWAT to enhance them in the conduction of tasks correlated with their activities. Their role has changed to being more legalistic so that they can fit effectively within the criminal justice system. This has resulted in a change of public perception on their role of war on drugs as being enemies and the penetration of the military technology into the civilian society, (Eric 2000)

Their scope of operation has also changed to a more bilateral level by incorporation of bilateral agreement.through this the police department has been involved in exerting pressure on Latin American countries to increase their leverage on their war on drugs,(Wesley,1993).

Marijuana legislation in the US shaped by ethnic bigotry

It is evident that marijuana legislation in the US was inclined to ethnic bigotry.this is due to the US the existence of racism that penetrated into the legislature since the leadership of Jimmy Carter. The racist politicians are inclined on racism to push the legislation on marijuana. Drug enforcement in the US concentrates mainly on the African American communities. This has resulted in the formulation of policies that are harsh. The penalties that are subjected to the drug users have got more effective than the use of the drug itself.

The effect of marijuana on the US community is gracious which makes it important to decriminalize it and start considering it as a social problem. The Mexican immigrants were branded as the first segment of the population in the US who brought the use of marijuana into the US.although the herb existed even before their migration due to political instability. The use of marijuana is mainly considered to be rampant amongst minority communities. This resulted in racism being a base for politicians who were opposed to marijuana. Most of the communities that were victimized were the immigrants from Mexico and later the African Americans, (Roshan, 2007)

According to Roshan, the politician’s move to criminalize marijuana on the basis of ethnic bigotry was reinforced by the media which made a misrepresentation to the public. It linked the increase in the rate of crime to marijuana users which culminated in illegalizing the herb in 1937 at a federal level, (Roshan, 2007)

Marijuana prohibition has resulted in an increase in the number of arrests made by users. These arrests are marred with racial disparities resulting in overcrowding in the jails.

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Marijuana’s potential as a gateway drug

A lot of research has been conducted to determine whether marijuana is a potential gateway or a stepping stone to the usage of other hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency, one of the consequences of marijuana is its capacity to lead users to use other drugs. This is due to the fact that it brings the users into close contact with the users of hard drugs thus increasing the chance of trying more dangerous drugs. It conducted a study on drug use by high school students for a long time and the findings were that most of the users had initially used marijuana before trying other drugs. Also according to research by Columbia University on drug addiction, the findings were that a large percent of the youths who use marijuana have a higher potential of lapsing into other drugs and crime.

The reason behind marijuana being a potential gateway drug is the increase in the level of intoxication which may lead the users into curiosity about trying other drugs. The perception of marijuana users is that it results in benefits that may be physiological or psychological in nature. Continued use of this drug may lead to a reduction in the benefits obtained prompting the user to try other more dangerous drugs in order to regain their original level of euphoria,(Jeffrey,1998).

According to Jeffrey, the gateway theory is also be explained by an economic model of addition. The model stipulates that an increased level of past consumption of marijuana has a chance of increasing current consumption due to its addictive nature. Cocaine and marijuana are complementary and hence it’s potential as a gateway to using cocaine.

The result of the hypothesis of the gateway theory does not fully support the argument that usage of marijuana results in the users trying other drugs. According to the federal government statistics on drug use, the use of Marijuana has been fluctuating over the years whereas other drugs such as hallucinogens did not change at all. Most of the American youth from the age of 12 years admitted to using marijuana but they never tried cocaine.

Impact of the film “Reefers Madness” on public awareness of marijuana

The film reefers madness film that was produced in early 1936 had the effect of criminalizing marijuana amongst the people. The movie mainly concentrated on the negative effects of marijuana. It shows a boy who kills his family after raping a girl and a man who kills a stranger, whereas another one tries to kill his wife and finally kills himself. All of their actions are associated with using marijuana

The result was that most of the crimes that occurred in the US were linked to the parties smoking marijuana which had the effect of insanity and criminality. This resulted in the emergence of diverse myths about marijuana which resulted in efforts to eradicate to be a matter of national security. Most of the activities by the minority groups such as their jazz type of music and other forms of entertainment were considered as satanic as a result of using marijuana, these groups include the Mexicans, Filipinos, and Negroes. According to Mick, the movie was used by An slinger who runs the federal bureau of narcotics to criminalize marijuana, (2007).

Profiles used in the identification of drug smuggling in commercial airlines. According to Gregory the US, the government has put in various strategies that can help it in the identification of drug smugglers through the Drugs Enforcement Agency especially in the commercial airline’s sector, Some of them include the following.


These include secretive continuous or periodic monitoring of individuals, vehicles, and places with the objective of identifying individuals involved with drug smuggling. This technique can the drug agent in the identification of where the drugs are stashed.It also identifies the distributors and other partisans. The surveillance is of various kinds which include mobile, stationary, and electronic. The mobile surveillance profiles are conducted either on foot or using a vehicle as and they can effectively be able to report on issues such as who the drug peddler met.The commercial airlines and buildings are fitted with gadgets that detect drugs being smuggled into the airport. The electronic devices are in the form of cameras that are used to surveil any suspects

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Telephone service providers

The drug agents also use the services of the telephone services providers to gain access to information made by the suspects through the calls they have made. In the US the telephone companies are required to provide information to the airport authorities in enabling them to apprehend the suspects. This enables them to link to other airport authorities to ensure effectiveness. The information obtained from the telephone service providers is analyzed by airport intelligence agents with the help of the law enforcers.

Use of undercover operations

These are individuals whose role is the identification of drug smugglers within the airlines but their identity is concealed as so. They work as flight attendants, captains, or travel agents. These individuals possess a characteristic of being sophisticated and advanced knowledge in the area of drugs such as how they are packed, transported, concealed, and used. The undercover operators lure the suspects by pretending to be potential clients enabling their apprehension.


In conclusion, the concentration of the criminal justice system on war against drugs has resulted in a change of some of the roles of its departments such as the police. It has also led to the determination of the relationship in the usage of drugs by considering drugs that can be potential gateway drugs. Identification of gateway drugs can help in the identification of strategies that form the basis of the war on drugs.

In its war on drugs, the criminal justice system needs to focus on various legislation to determine their basis such as the legislation on marijuana. This will enable the effective administration of justice and ensure that equity is established other than being inclined on ethnicity..


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Mick,F.(2007).Los Angelas City Beat :Lies,Damned Lies and Marijuana. Web.

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