The war or prohibition on drugs has been raging since the early 1900’s but was not seriously addressed by the federal government until the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 was implemented by the Nixon administration. During this period the use of illegal drugs dramatically escalated due to the hippy movement and by Viet Nam war combatants. Since then the US government has tried to fight the domestic production of drugs as well as foreign importation of illegal drugs by both military and diplomatic means from South-Central America, the Golden Triangle in South East Asia, and elsewhere. However the huge profits made in the illegal production and distribution of drugs makes it too lucrative to be stopped. Whenever the US stops drugs in one place there are always others to take up the very lucrative high US demand. Many third world countries secretly support drug production because of the huge kickbacks they get from rich drug kingpins, cartels, and warlords. There is simply too much seemingly easy money to be made compared to the risks taken. Regardless of how much money and resources the US government puts into these wars it seems that the harder the government fights, the higher the price of drugs are driven and the more are willing to risk it all on providing illegal drugs to the eager American public. Very sophisticated organizations both foreign and domestic exist to devise better ways to get around government efforts to stem the flow of drugs. It seems a hopeless battle with no end in sight.
The cost to America is huge in terms of money lost by users, lost tax revenues from illegal sales, and lost lives both from direct or collateral engagements in drug activities or wars fought over drugs by gangs, and government interventions. Huge law enforcement efforts from the federal all the way down to municipal governments utilize substantial resources to fight this drug war costing tax payers significant percentages of local, state, and federal tax dollars. Courts concentrate large amounts of resources in handling crimes and civil cases resulting directly or indirectly from illegal drug use and trafficking. Our prison systems are overflowing with both victims of drug abuse and criminals involved in the trafficking of illegal drugs. So full are our prisons that many convicted of nonviolent crimes are now being released early. So the problem keeps escalating in both lives effected and tax dollars spent on a battle that isn’t getting any better and has no end in sight.
We’ve been fighting this war for about a century and have failed to solve the problem of drug abuse. The problem has actually gotten worst. So what are our options? Continue doing the same old thing or variations of the same theme or perhaps try something dramatically different? America seems to have a very simple way of looking at undesirable things. Take overwhelming military type actions and the problem will be defeated. Declare war on terrorism and they will all be killed. Declare domestic war on drugs and drugs will disappear. Declare war on foreign drug cartels and they will be destroyed. Declare war on your congressional opponents and they will be overwhelmed and submit. Declare war on poverty and it will vanish. Examples of this contemporary American mentality are endless. It’s all or nothing. Destroy and conquer. If something doesn’t work try doing it harder. We keep on making the same mistake over and over again without rationally analyzing the consequences of our actions and learning from them. There is simply very little accountability for the lack of tangible results. But in truth destroy and concur very rarely works in everyday life. Life is not a war, it isn’t about elimination you opposition. It is at the very least about peaceful coexistence, a cold war term that still has relevance today. It’s not about doing what is right, because your right can be my wrong; it’s about doing what is smart with the fewest number of victims at the lowest possible cost in terms of lives and money. It needs to be sustainable, a term frequently used for the environment but most relevant to everyday life. It must result in the greatest amount of harmony and the least amount of conflict. It must require the minimum amount of laws and enforcement and the greatest amounts of individual freedom. It must be respectful of everyone’s right to the pursuit of happiness not at the expense of others. To me these concepts were the visions of our founding forefathers, the authors of the Declaration of Independence – a declaration of freedom from an oppressive government, the framers of the Constitution of the United States – their vision and roadmap for the future, and The Bill of Rights – an admission that nothing is perfect and that there is always room for improvement. I wish our founding father were here today to set us straight.
I feel that it is time to end this war on drugs. It is time to reflect on what we really want to accomplish. Do we want to cram our form of morality down the throats of others or should we be looking at a more humane approach to the drug problem. Perhaps it would be useful to reflect on whether there really is a problem. Is the problem, that drugs generally do undue harm to others, the reason that it must be stopped? Or is it primarily something self inflicted or affecting. Is it any worst that substance abuse that exists legally today from things like alcohol and smoking? Is the enforcement against such substances more or less costly to society than non-enforcement would have been? Imagine if drugs were legal in our country. Would the consequential financial burden to society be any more costly than they are now? Would the humane treatment for drug abuse be any more costly in ruined lives and cost to society than the war on drugs waged today? Would there be more or less crime as a result of decriminalizing drugs? Would law enforcement and the legal system be any more burdened with criminal and civil cases if drugs were not a criminal offense but treated like alcohol and tobacco are in terms of liability and minors using it? Consider the reasons why the end of Prohibition occurred in the mid-1930’s. Do you see any similarities between the Prohibition of alcohol and the Prohibition of drugs? Is it not time to end the Prohibition of drugs and to deal with it as a social and economic issue instead of a criminal or moral problem?
Let us instead make this a domestic business and revenue generating proposition. Let us regulate its manufacture, quality, and distribution and tax it as with alcohol and tobacco to generate tax revenues. Let it become more of a financial benefit than a legal liability. Perhaps there may be more drug addicts but there will also be more money and help available to treat it humanely as a social and health issue rather than a criminal one turning otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals with criminal records. Perhaps, like cigarettes, their use can be restricted and voluntary ‘No Drug’ campaigns started as they are for cigarettes or drinking while driving. There are plenty of better alternative to what we are currently doing. One thing is for sure, what we are doing today is not working. And we are spending a lot of money doing it.
I think a good place to start is with the decriminalization of marijuana. It is less addictive than alcohol or cigarettes and actually has medical applications and benefits which cannot be said for the other two vices. It’s time to stop taking the moral high road and star doing what really works. Making it a crime doesn’t work. Treating this as a social, general health, and legitimate revenue generating issue will with infinitely more winners than losers.
How do you feel about the War on Drugs and the my views about it? I invite you to Leave a Reply below. I also encourage you to take the Poll. Thank you.