There are many instruments of social control, and the law is one of them. In American, it seems that we often exaggerate the importance of the law in controlling our behaviors. In truth, our personal sense of morality, the opinions of our peers, our education, and other informal forms of social control dictate our behavior as much as or more than the law. I imagine that most of us would not commit a murder even if there was no law prohibiting it because we believe that murder is wrong. The consequence of the America’s reliance on law to regulate behavior at the sake of alternative means of social control… in other words, the American tendency to deal with social problems with criminal sanctions first and foremost… is that America has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Other countries either regulate certain behaviors less severely or not at all.
Chapter 10 of your textbook discusses the regulation of vice crimes (often called victimless crimes). Societies seem to persistently struggle with the question of how to best respond to behaviors such as gambling, prostitution, pornography, and drug use. It may be helpful to us to understand how the modern response to at least one of these behaviors – drug use – has evolved. The video, “Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got that Way”, presents an account of how present day American marijuana policy was created.
Obviously, public attitudes towards certain substances, especially marijuana, are changing. Given the history of drug control detailed in the “Hooked” video, do you believe that marijuana should continue to be classified as an illegal substance? Do you favor legalization for medicinal use but not recreational use? Or, do you favor complete legalization? What is your opinion?