The War On Drugs Doesn’t Work – It’s Time To Change
In 1971 President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs, and things have not been the same since. 43 years later here we are, and the exact opposite thing government officials hoped would happen is the reality we all live in today. Marijuana use by high school seniors is up around 67% from 2 decades ago and continues to rise. Use of other drugs such as cocaine and heroin have remained around the same or dropped ever so slightly, but with a fairly new drug called ecstasy, use rose an astonishing 128 percent between 2005 and 2011 among people younger than 21! $35 billion dollars was spent just last year alone on the so called war on drugs. So what good is wasting this money doing anyone anyway? I’ve heard a saying that goes “You can’t expect different scenery riding the same train every day. That’s the definition of insanity”. I think that fits quite nicely here, don’t you?
Here’s how I see it. It’s important to note I’m not a user of hard drugs nor do I condone the use of them. But being as though we live in a free society, it should be ones legal right to choose and control what they do or do not put into their own body. What people do with their own bodies and own minds is their business providing that they do not inflict any harm on other individuals in society. The United States constitution grants us freedom of choice, but the way the laws are currently written, there is a prohibition on drugs. People think their would be mass chaos if drugs were all legalized, but is that really what would happen? Just because something is made legal doesn’t mean everyone is going to run out to try it allowing civilization to slip into chaos. Thinking logically, I’ve come up with a couple things I think full legalization would accomplish:
- Money could be generated off of taxing legal drugs
- It would kill the black market and drug cartels
- Fewer criminals would rot needlessly in US prisons
- Police & Court systems would have more resources for real crime
- Quality could be controlled limiting the amount of people made sick from contaminated drugs
- Dosages could be controlled limiting the amount of people that overdosed
- Would help reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis
People use drugs because they work. No matter what kind of television commercials you make and what your latest message is to the kids, some are going to end up doing drugs at one point in their life or another. How society deals with people that make this choice and have problems says a lot about that society. What do we do here in the United States? Why prison of course!
The United States is a Prison Society
When you make something illegal that people still want, you create criminals. In the year 2012, 1.55 million people were arrested for drug related offences. 42% of that number was for marijuana offences. To put that into perspective for you, that is the equivalent of a drug arrest every 20 seconds here in this country, with a marijuana related arrest every 42 seconds according to calculations by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials who support the regulated legalization of drugs. One or two of those may have been dangerous drug kingpins and drug dealer types, but for the most part, most of those are non-violent people doing real time for a victimless crime like being in possessions of a small amount of pot. The money spent on the incarceration of these people is absolutely staggering.
In a time when our economy is still totally in the shitter, state and federal governments should be doing everything possible to free up money. The rough number thrown around is that is costs us as a society around $25,000 per year to house an inmate. In 2012, the US spent close to $40 billion dollars housing inmates on drug related crimes alone. And every year, more and more people are thrown in jail for this bullshit, and the numbers just keep going up and up. These numbers represent a tremendous loss of human lives and potential. Figures estimate one in every 200 American is arrested every year on drug charges. Throwing these folks into prison is helping no one. It breaks apart families and needlessly destroys lives.
Some states, like my home state of Arizona, even treat drug cases as felony offences. So what you end up with is a college student arrested on a Saturday night with a joint who now has a felony drug record the rest of his or her life, which is going to make finding a decent job difficult. You also end up with people who are truly addicted to something like heroin or crystal meth thrown into jail, when in fact they should be getting help for the addiction. Just where does any of this make any sense to anyone whatsoever?
People who are addicted are thrown into jail, when they should be getting help. Just where does any of this make any sense to anyone whatsoever?
Radical Problems Call For Radical Solutions
Most of the money used in the war on drugs is being spent either on preventing drugs from getting
into the country, and then intercepting the drugs once they are already in the country. This is the wrong approach though. This money needs to all go to education and treatment options. Every single cent of it. That is how you combat hard drug use. Control the quality and quantity the population is doing to keep them safe and then offer help when they come and ask for it. Let people make choices for themselves. Sure you can ruin your life with heroin, but you can ruin your life just as easily with gambling or alcohol which are both perfectly legal in this country.
What do you do when a program setup to try and fix a situation actually just makes things worse? Currently 84% of Americans are against legalizing all drugs, but 74% of Americans say the current war on drugs is a failure. For teenagers here in America, it is easier to buy heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, and LSD then it is to buy alcohol. Why is that you ask? Because a drug dealer doesn’t ask your son or daughter to provide an ID. They will just take their twenty dollar bills and not ask any questions. That how it works when something is illegal. And if you are a parent, that is something that should scare the pants off of you. Alcohol is legal and regulated, but you have to provide proof of age to buy it, therefor making it harder for the kids to get their hands on. It’s common sense. These are all problems of our own retarded making.
I say it’s time to get off this crazy train we’ve been on ever since Richard Nixon pulled it out of the station. We have the chance as a society to right some of these wrongs. I already spoke of the legalization of marijuana in depth, but I think what’s best for this country is an even larger step. Fully repealing the prohibition of drugs would not be the mess most invision. Billions upon billions of dollars could be devoted to educating the population starting with kids on the realities of drugs. Billions more could be spent on treatment. Sure it’s radical thinking, but wouldn’t you consider some of the problems we are facing as a country now sort of radical themselves? It’s time to derail Nixons train of thought and finally see some new scenery.
What do you think? We’d love to hear you sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!