American Drug War Essay

For other uses, see War on drugs (disambiguation).

War on Drugs is an American term[6][7] usually applied to the U.S. federal government's campaign of prohibition of drugs, military aid, and military intervention, with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade.[8][9] The initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the UN have made illegal. The term was popularized by the media shortly after a press conference given on June 18, 1971, by PresidentRichard Nixon—the day after publication of a special message from President Nixon to the Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control—during which he declared drug abuse "public enemy number one". That message to the Congress included text about devoting more federal resources to the "prevention of new addicts, and the rehabilitation of those who are addicted", but that part did not receive the same public attention as the term "war on drugs".[10][11][12] However, two years prior to this, Nixon had formally declared a "war on drugs" that would be directed toward eradication, interdiction, and incarceration.[13] Today, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for an end to the War on Drugs, estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives.[14]

On May 13, 2009, Gil Kerlikowske—the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)—signaled that the Obama administration did not plan to significantly alter drug enforcement policy, but also that the administration would not use the term "War on Drugs", because Kerlikowske considers the term to be "counter-productive".[15] ONDCP's view is that "drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated... making drugs more available will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe".[16] One of the alternatives that Kerlikowske has showcased is the drug policy of Sweden, which seeks to balance public health concerns with opposition to drug legalization. The prevalence rates for cocaine use in Sweden are barely one-fifth of those in Spain, the biggest consumer of the drug.[17]

In June 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report on the War on Drugs, declaring: "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government's war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed."[18] The report was criticized by organizations that oppose a general legalization of drugs.[16]

Since his election, President Donald Trump has expressed an interest in reviving the War on Drugs, saying that he was inspired by the Philippines Drug War. He has stated that he favors the execution of all drug dealers.[19]


Main article: History of United States drug prohibition

See also: Legal history of cannabis in the United States

20th century

The first U.S. law that restricted the distribution and use of certain drugs was the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The first local laws came as early as 1860.[20] In 1919, the United States passed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, with exceptions for religious and medical use. In 1920, the United States passed the National Prohibition Act (Volstead Act), enacted to carry out the provisions in law of the 18th Amendment.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established in the United States Department of the Treasury by an act of June 14, 1930 (46 Stat. 585).[21] In 1933, the federal prohibition for alcohol was repealed by passage of the 21st Amendment. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt publicly supported the adoption of the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. The New York Times used the headline "Roosevelt Asks Narcotic War Aid".[22][23]

In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed. Several scholars have claimed that the goal was to destroy the hemp industry,[24][25][26] largely as an effort of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family.[24][26] These scholars argue that with the invention of the decorticator, hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry.[24][27] These scholars believe that Hearst felt[dubious– discuss] that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. Mellon, United States Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America, had invested heavily in the DuPont's new synthetic fiber, nylon, and considered[dubious– discuss] its success to depend on its replacement of the traditional resource, hemp.[24][28][29][30][31][32][33][34] However, there were circumstances that contradict these claims. One reason for doubts about those claims is that the new decorticators did not perform fully satisfactorily in commercial production.[35] To produce fiber from hemp was a labor-intensive process if you include harvest, transport and processing. Technological developments decreased the labor with hemp but not sufficient to eliminate this disadvantage.[36][37]

On October 27, 1970, Congress passes the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which, among other things, categorizes controlled substances based on their medicinal use and potential for addiction.[38] In 1971, two congressmen released an explosive report on the growing heroin epidemic among U.S. servicemen in Vietnam; ten to fifteen percent of the servicemen were addicted to heroin, and President Nixon declared drug abuse to be "public enemy number one".[38][39]

Although Nixon declared "drug abuse" to be public enemy number one in 1971,[40] the policies that his administration implemented as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 were a continuation of drug prohibition policies in the U.S., which started in 1914.[38][41]

"The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."
– John Ehrlichman, to Dan Baum[42][43][44] for Harper's Magazine[45] in 1994, about President Richard Nixon's war on drugs, declared in 1971.[46][47]

In 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration was created to replace the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.[38]

The Nixon Administration also repealed the federal 2–10-year mandatory minimum sentences for possession of marijuana and started federal demand reduction programs and drug-treatment programs. Robert DuPont, the "Drug czar" in the Nixon Administration, stated it would be more accurate to say that Nixon ended, rather than launched, the "war on drugs". DuPont also argued that it was the proponents of drug legalization that popularized the term "war on drugs".[16][unreliable source?]

In 1982, Vice President George H. W. Bush and his aides began pushing for the involvement of the CIA and U.S. military in drug interdiction efforts.[48]

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[49][50] which mandated a national anti-drug media campaign for youth, which would later become the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.[51] The director of ONDCP is commonly known as the Drug czar,[38] and it was first implemented in 1989 under President George H. W. Bush,[52] and raised to cabinet-level status by Bill Clinton in 1993.[53] These activities were subsequently funded by the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 1998.[54][55] The Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 codified the campaign at 21 U.S.C. § 1708.[56]

21st century

The Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report on June 2, 2011, alleging that "The War On Drugs Has Failed." The commissioned was made up of 22 self-appointed members including a number of prominent international politicians and writers. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin also released the first ever National Prevention Strategy.[57]

On May 21, 2012, the U.S. Government published an updated version of its Drug Policy.[58] The director of ONDCP stated simultaneously that this policy is something different from the "War on Drugs":

  • The U.S. Government sees the policy as a "third way" approach to drug control; an approach that is based on the results of a huge investment in research from some of the world's preeminent scholars on disease of substance abuse.
  • The policy does not see drug legalization as the "silver bullet" solution to drug control.
  • It is not a policy where success is measured by the number of arrests made or prisons built.[59]

At the same meeting was a declaration signed by the representatives of Italy, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States in line with this: "Our approach must be a balanced one, combining effective enforcement to restrict the supply of drugs, with efforts to reduce demand and build recovery; supporting people to live a life free of addiction."[60]

In March 2016 the International Narcotics Control Board stated that the International Drug Control treaties do not mandate a "war on drugs."[61]

United States domestic policy

Arrests and incarceration

According to Human Rights Watch, the War on Drugs caused soaring arrest rates that disproportionately targeted African Americans due to various factors.[63]John Ehrlichman, an aide to Nixon, said that Nixon used the war on drugs to criminalize and disrupt black and hippie communities and their leaders.[64]

The present state of incarceration in the U.S. as a result of the war on drugs arrived in several stages. By 1971, different stops on drugs had been implemented for more than 50 years (for e.g. since 1914, 1937 etc.) with only a very small increase of inmates per 100,000 citizens. During the first 9 years after Nixon coined the expression "War on Drugs", statistics showed only a minor increase in the total number of imprisoned.

After 1980, the situation began to change. In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%.[65] The result of increased demand was the development of privatization and the for-profit prison industry.[66] The US Department of Justice, reporting on the effects of state initiatives, has stated that, from 1990 through 2000, "the increasing number of drug offenses accounted for 27% of the total growth among black inmates, 7% of the total growth among Hispanic inmates, and 15% of the growth among white inmates." In addition to prison or jail, the United States provides for the deportation of many non-citizens convicted of drug offenses.[67]

In 1994, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the "War on Drugs" resulted in the incarceration of one million Americans each year.[68]

In 2008, the Washington Post reported that of 1.5 million Americans arrested each year for drug offenses, half a million would be incarcerated. In addition, one in five black Americans would spend time behind bars due to drug laws.[69]

Federal and state policies also impose collateral consequences on those convicted of drug offenses, such as denial of public benefits or licenses, that are not applicable to those convicted of other types of crime.[70]

Sentencing disparities

In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed laws that created a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for the trafficking or possession of crack when compared to penalties for trafficking of powder cocaine,[71][72][73][74] which had been widely criticized as discriminatory against minorities, mostly blacks, who were more likely to use crack than powder cocaine.[75] This 100:1 ratio had been required under federal law since 1986.[76] Persons convicted in federal court of possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine received a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years in federal prison. On the other hand, possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence.[72][73] In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act cut the sentencing disparity to 18:1.[75]

According to Human Rights Watch, crime statistics show that—in the United States in 1999—compared to non-minorities, African Americans were far more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and received much stiffer penalties and sentences.[77]

Statistics from 1998 show that there were wide racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions, sentencing and deaths. African-American drug users made up for 35% of drug arrests, 55% of convictions, and 74% of people sent to prison for drug possession crimes.[72] Nationwide African-Americans were sent to state prisons for drug offenses 13 times more often than other races,[78] even though they only supposedly comprised 13% of regular drug users.[72]

Anti-drug legislation over time has also displayed an apparent racial bias. University of Minnesota Professor and social justice author Michael Tonry writes, "The War on Drugs foreseeably and unnecessarily blighted the lives of hundreds and thousands of young disadvantaged black Americans and undermined decades of effort to improve the life chances of members of the urban black underclass."[79]

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided that the government needed to make an effort to curtail the social unrest that blanketed the country at the time. He decided to focus his efforts on illegal drug use, an approach which was in line with expert opinion on the subject at the time. In the 1960s, it was believed that at least half of the crime in the U.S. was drug related, and this number grew as high as 90 percent in the next decade.[80] He created the Reorganization Plan of 1968 which merged the Bureau of Narcotics and the Bureau of Drug Abuse to form the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs within the Department of Justice.[81] The belief during this time about drug use was summarized by journalist Max Lerner in his celebrated[citation needed] work America as a Civilization (1957):

As a case in point we may take the known fact of the prevalence of reefer and dope addiction in Negro areas. This is essentially explained in terms of poverty, slum living, and broken families, yet it would be easy to show the lack of drug addiction among other ethnic groups where the same conditions apply.[82]

Richard Nixon became president in 1969, and did not back away from the anti-drug precedent set by Johnson. Nixon began orchestrating drug raids nationwide to improve his "watchdog" reputation. Lois B. Defleur, a social historian who studied drug arrests during this period in Chicago, stated that, "police administrators indicated they were making the kind of arrests the public wanted". Additionally, some of Nixon's newly created drug enforcement agencies would resort to illegal practices to make arrests as they tried to meet public demand for arrest numbers. From 1972 to 1973, the Office of Drug Abuse and Law Enforcement performed 6,000 drug arrests in 18 months, the majority of the arrested black.[83]

The next two Presidents, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, responded with programs that were essentially a continuation of their predecessors. Shortly after Ronald Reagan became President in 1981 he delivered a speech on the topic. Reagan announced, "We're taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts; we're running up a battle flag."[84] For his first five years in office, Reagan slowly strengthened drug enforcement by creating mandatory minimum sentencing and forfeiture of cash and real estate for drug offenses, policies far more detrimental to poor blacks than any other sector affected by the new laws.[citation needed]

Then, driven by the 1986 cocaine overdose of black basketball star Len Bias,[dubious– discuss] Reagan was able to pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act through Congress. This legislation appropriated an additional $1.7 billion to fund the War on Drugs. More importantly, it established 29 new, mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. In the entire history of the country up until that point, the legal system had only seen 55 minimum sentences in total.[85] A major stipulation of the new sentencing rules included different mandatory minimums for powder and crack cocaine. At the time of the bill, there was public debate as to the difference in potency and effect of powder cocaine, generally used by whites, and crack cocaine, generally used by blacks, with many believing that "crack" was substantially more powerful and addictive. Crack and powder cocaine are closely related chemicals, crack being a smokeable, freebase form of powdered cocaine hydrochloride which produces a shorter, more intense high while using less of the drug. This method is more cost effective, and therefore more prevalent on the inner-city streets, while powder cocaine remains more popular in white suburbia. The Reagan administration began shoring public opinion against "crack", encouraging DEA official Robert Putnam to play up the harmful effects of the drug. Stories of "crack whores" and "crack babies" became commonplace; by 1986, Time had declared "crack" the issue of the year.[86] Riding the wave of public fervor, Reagan established much harsher sentencing for crack cocaine, handing down stiffer felony penalties for much smaller amounts of the drug.[87]

Reagan protégé and former Vice-President George H. W. Bush was next to occupy the oval office, and the drug policy under his watch held true to his political background. Bush maintained the hard line drawn by his predecessor and former boss, increasing narcotics regulation when the First National Drug Control Strategy was issued by the Office of National Drug Control in 1989.[88]

The next three presidents – Clinton, Bush and Obama – continued this trend, maintaining the War on Drugs as they inherited it upon taking office.[89] During this time of passivity by the federal government, it was the states that initiated controversial legislation in the War on Drugs. Racial bias manifested itself in the states through such controversial policies as the "stop and frisk" police practices in New York city and the "three strikes" felony laws began in California in 1994.[90]

In August 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law that dramatically reduced the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine, which disproportionately affected minorities.[91]

Commonly used illegal drugs

Commonly used illegal drugs include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and, marijuana.

Heroin is an opiate that is highly addictive. If caught selling or possessing heroin, a perpetrator can be charged with a felony and face two–four years in prison and could be fined to a maximum of $20,000.[92]

Crystal meth is composed of methamphetamine hydrochloride. It is marketed as either a white powder or in a solid (rock) form. The possession of crystal meth can result in a punishment varying from a fine to a jail sentence. As with other drug crimes, sentencing length may increase depending on the amount of the drug found in the possession of the defendant.[93]

Cocaine possession is illegal across the U.S., with the cheaper crack cocaine incurring even greater penalties. Having possession is when the accused knowingly has it on their person, or in a backpack or purse. The possession of cocaine with no prior conviction, for the first offense, the person will be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison or fined $1,000, or both. If the person has a prior conviction, whether it is a narcotic or cocaine, they will be sentenced to two years in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both. With two or more convictions of possession prior to this present offense, they can be sentenced to 90 days in prison along with a $5,000 fine.[94]

Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug worldwide. The punishment for possession of it is less than for the possession of cocaine or heroin. In some U.S. states, the drug is legal. Over 80 million Americans have tried marijuana. The Criminal Defense Lawyer article claims that, depending on the age of person and how much the person has been caught for possession, they will be fined and could plea bargain into going to a treatment program versus going to prison. In each state the convictions differ along with how much marijuana they have on their person.[95]

United States foreign policy and covert military activities

Some scholars have claimed that the phrase "War on Drugs" is propaganda cloaking an extension of earlier military or paramilitary operations.[9] Others have argued that large amounts of "drug war" foreign aid money, training, and equipment actually goes to fighting leftist insurgencies and is often provided to groups who themselves are involved in large-scale narco-trafficking, such as corrupt members of the Colombian military.[8]

War in Vietnam

From 1963 to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, marijuana usage became common among U.S. soldiers in non-combat situations. Some servicemen also used heroin. Many of the servicemen ended the heroin use after returning to the United States but came home addicted. In 1971, the U.S. military conducted a study of drug use among American servicemen and women. It found that daily usage rates for drugs on a worldwide basis were as low as two percent.[96] However, in the spring of 1971, two congressmen released an alarming report alleging that 15% of the servicemen in Vietnam were addicted to heroin. Marijuana use was also common in Vietnam. Soldiers who used drugs had more disciplinary problems. The frequent drug use had become an issue for the commanders in Vietnam; in 1971 it was estimated that 30,000 servicemen were addicted to drugs, most of them to heroin.[11]

From 1971 on, therefore, returning servicemen were required to take a mandatory heroin test. Servicemen who tested positive upon returning from Vietnam were not allowed to return home until they had passed the test with a negative result. The program also offered a treatment for heroin addicts.[97]

Elliot Borin's article "The U.S. Military Needs its Speed"—published in Wired on February 10, 2003—reports:

But the Defense Department, which distributed millions of amphetamine tablets to troops during World War II, Vietnam and the Gulf War, soldiers on, insisting that they are not only harmless but beneficial.

In a news conference held in connection with Schmidt and Umbach's Article 32 hearing, Dr. Pete Demitry, an Air Force physician and a pilot, claimed that the "Air Force has used (Dexedrine) safely for 60 years" with "no known speed-related mishaps."

The need for speed, Demitry added "is a life-and-death issue for our military."[98]

Operation Intercept

One of the first anti-drug efforts in the realm of foreign policy was President Nixon's Operation Intercept, announced in September 1969, targeted at reducing the amount of cannabis entering the United States from Mexico. The effort began with an intense inspection crackdown that resulted in an almost shutdown of cross-border traffic.[99] Because the burden on border crossings was controversial in border states, the effort only lasted twenty days.[100]

Operation Just Cause

Main articles: Operation Just Cause and Operation Nifty Package

On December 20, 1989, the United States invaded Panama as part of Operation Just Cause, which involved 25,000 American troops. Gen. Manuel Noriega, head of the government of Panama, had been giving military assistance to Contra groups in Nicaragua at the request of the U.S. which, in exchange, tolerated his drug trafficking activities, which they had known about since the 1960s.[101][102] When the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tried to indict Noriega in 1971, the CIA prevented them from doing so.[101] The CIA, which was then directed by future president George H. W. Bush, provided Noriega with hundreds of thousands of dollars per year as payment for his work in Latin America.[101] When CIA pilot Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua by the Sandinistas, documents aboard the plane revealed many of the CIA's activities in Latin America, and the CIA's connections with Noriega became a public relations "liability" for the U.S. government, which finally allowed the DEA to indict him for drug trafficking, after decades of tolerating his drug operations.[101] Operation Just Cause, whose purpose was to capture Noriega and overthrow his government; Noriega found temporary asylum in the Papal Nuncio, and surrendered to U.S. soldiers on January 3, 1990.[103] He was sentenced by a court in Miami to 45 years in prison.[101]

Plan Colombia

Main articles: Plan Colombia and Paramilitarism in Colombia

As part of its Plan Colombia program, the United States government currently provides hundreds of millions of dollars per year of military aid, training, and equipment to Colombia,[104] to fight left-wing guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), which has been accused of being involved in drug trafficking.[105]

Private U.S. corporations have signed contracts to carry out anti-drug activities as part of Plan Colombia. DynCorp, the largest private company involved, was among those contracted by the State Department, while others signed contracts with the Defense Department.[106]

Colombian military personnel have received extensive counterinsurgency training from U.S. military and law enforcement agencies, including the School of Americas (SOA). Author Grace Livingstone has stated that more Colombian SOA graduates have been implicated in human rights abuses than currently known SOA graduates from any other country. All of the commanders of the brigades highlighted in a 2001 Human Rights Watch report on Colombia were graduates of the SOA, including the III brigade in Valle del Cauca, where the 2001 Alto Naya Massacre occurred. US-trained officers have been accused of being directly or indirectly involved in many atrocities during the 1990s, including the Massacre of Trujillo and the 1997 Mapiripán Massacre.

In 2000, the Clinton administration initially waived all but one of the human rights conditions attached to Plan Colombia, considering such aid as crucial to national security at the time.[107]

The efforts of U.S. and Colombian governments have been criticized for focusing on fighting leftist guerrillas in southern regions without applying enough pressure on right-wing paramilitaries and continuing drug smuggling operations in the north of the country.[108][109] Human Rights Watch, congressional committees and other entities have documented the existence of connections between members of the Colombian military and the AUC, which the U.S. government has listed as a terrorist group, and that Colombian military personnel have committed human rights abuses which would make them ineligible for U.S. aid under current laws.[citation needed]

In 2010, the Washington Office on Latin America concluded that both Plan Colombia and the Colombian government's security strategy "came at a high cost in lives and resources, only did part of the job, are yielding diminishing returns and have left important institutions weaker."[110]

A 2014 report by the RAND Corporation, which was issued to analyze viable strategies for the Mexican drug war considering successes experienced in Columbia, noted:

Between 1999 and 2002, the United States gave Colombia $2.04 billion in aid, 81 percent of which was for military purposes, placing Colombia just below Israel and Egypt among the largest recipients of U.S. military assistance. Colombia increased its defense spending from 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000 to 4.19 percent in 2005. Overall, the results were extremely positive. Greater spending on infrastructure and social programs helped the Colombian government increase its political legitimacy, while improved security forces were better able to consolidate control over large swaths of the country previously overrun by insurgents and drug cartels.

It also notes that, "Plan Colombia has been widely hailed as a success, and some analysts believe that, by 2010, Colombian security forces had finally gained the upper hand once and for all."[111]

Mérida Initiative

The Mérida Initiative is a security cooperation between the United States and the government of Mexico and the countries of Central America. It was approved on June 30, 2008, and its stated aim is combating the threats of drug trafficking and transnational crime. The Mérida Initiative appropriated $1.4 billion in a three-year commitment (2008–2010) to the Mexican government for military and law enforcement training and equipment, as well as technical advice and training to strengthen the national justice systems. The Mérida Initiative targeted many very important government officials, but it failed to address the thousands of Central Americans who had to flee their countries due to the danger they faced everyday because of the war on drugs. There is still not any type of plan that addresses these people. No weapons are included in the plan.[112][113]

Aerial herbicide application

Main article: Plan Colombia § Fumigation strategy and criticisms

The United States regularly sponsors the spraying of large amounts of herbicides such as glyphosate over the jungles of Central and South America as part of its drug eradication programs. Environmental consequences resulting from aerial fumigation have been criticized as detrimental to some of the world's most fragile ecosystems;[114] the same aerial fumigation practices are further credited with causing health problems in local populations.[115]

U.S. operations in Honduras

In 2012, the U.S. sent DEA agents to Honduras to assist security forces in counternarcotics operations. Honduras has been a major stop for drug traffickers, who use small planes and landing strips hidden throughout the country to transport drugs. The U.S. government made agreements with several Latin American countries to share intelligence and resources to counter the drug trade. DEA agents, working with other U.S. agencies such as the State Department, the CBP, and Joint Task Force-Bravo, assisted Honduras troops in conducting raids on traffickers' sites of operation.[116]

Public support and opposition in the United States

Further information: Arguments for and against drug prohibition

The War on Drugs has been a highly contentious issue since its inception. A poll on October 2, 2008, found that three in four Americans believed that the War On Drugs was failing.[117]

At a meeting in Guatemala in 2012, three former presidents from Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia said that the war on drugs had failed and that they would propose a discussion on alternatives, including decriminalization, at the Summit of the Americas in April of that year.[118] Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina said that the war on drugs was exacting too high a price on the lives of Central Americans and that it was time to "end the taboo on discussing decriminalization".[119] At the summit, the government of Colombia pushed for the most far-reaching change to drugs policy since the war on narcotics was declared by Nixon four decades prior, citing the catastrophic effects it had had in Colombia.[120]

Several critics have compared the wholesale incarceration of the dissenting minority of drug users to the wholesale incarceration of other minorities in history. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, for example, writes in 1997 "Over the past thirty years, we have replaced the medical-political persecution of illegal sex users ('perverts' and 'psychopaths') with the even more ferocious medical-political persecution of illegal drug users."[121]

Socio-economic effects

Creation of a permanent underclass

Penalties for drug crimes among American youth almost always involve permanent or semi-permanent removal from opportunities for education, strip them of voting rights, and later involve creation of criminal records which make employment more difficult.[122] Thus, some authors maintain that the War on Drugs has resulted in the creation of a permanent underclass of people who have few educational or job opportunities, often as a result of being punished for drug offenses which in turn have resulted from attempts to earn a living in spite of having no education or job opportunities.[122]

Costs to taxpayers

According to a 2008 study published by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron, the annual savings on enforcement and incarceration costs from the legalization of drugs would amount to roughly $41.3 billion, with $25.7 billion being saved among the states and over $15.6 billion accrued for the federal government. Miron further estimated at least $46.7 billion in tax revenue based on rates comparable to those on tobacco and alcohol ($8.7 billion from marijuana, $32.6 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs).[123]

Low taxation in Central American countries has been credited with weakening the region's response in dealing with drug traffickers. Many cartels, especially Los Zetas have taken advantage of the limited resources of these nations. 2010 tax revenue in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, composed just 13.53% of GDP. As a comparison, in Chile and the U.S., taxes were 18.6% and 26.9% of GDP respectively. However, direct taxes on income are very hard to enforce and in some cases tax evasion is seen as a national pastime.[124]

Impact on growers

The status of coca and coca growers has become an intense political issue in several countries, including Colombia and particularly Bolivia, where the president, Evo Morales, a former coca growers' union leader, has promised to legalise the traditional cultivation and use of coca.[125] Indeed, legalization efforts have yielded some successes under the Morales administration when combined with aggressive and targeted eradication efforts. The country saw a 12–13% decline in coca cultivation[125] in 2011 under Morales, who has used coca growers' federations to ensure compliance with the law rather than providing a primary role for security forces.[125]

The coca eradication policy has been criticised for its negative impact on the livelihood of coca growers in South America. In many areas of South America the coca leaf has traditionally been chewed and used in tea and for religious, medicinal and nutritional purposes by locals.[126] For this reason many insist that the illegality of traditional coca cultivation is unjust. In many areas the US government and military has forced the eradication of coca without providing for any meaningful alternative crop for farmers, and has additionally destroyed many of their food or market crops, leaving them starving and destitute.[126]

Allegations of U.S. government involvement in drug trafficking

Further information: Allegations of CIA drug trafficking

The CIA, DEA, State Department, and several other U.S. government agencies have been alleged to have relations with various groups which are involved in drug trafficking.

CIA and Contra cocaine trafficking

Further information: CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US

SenatorJohn Kerry's 1988 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on Contra drug links concludes that members of the U.S. State Department "who provided support for the Contras are involved in drug trafficking... and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly receive financial and material assistance from drug traffickers."[127] The report further states that "the Contra drug links include... payments to drug traffickers by the U.S. State Department of funds authorized by the Congress for humanitarian assistance to the Contras, in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies."

In 1996, journalist Gary Webb published reports in the San Jose Mercury News, and later in his book Dark Alliance, detailing how Contras, had been involved in distributing crack cocaine into Los Angeles whilst receiving money from the CIA.[citation needed] Contras used money from drug trafficking to buy weapons.[citation needed]

Webb's premise regarding the U.S. Government connection was initially attacked at the time by the media. It is now widely accepted that Webb's main assertion of government "knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers" was correct.[128][not in citation given] In 1998, CIA Inspector GeneralFrederick Hitz published a two-volume report[129] that while seemingly refuting Webb's claims of knowledge and collaboration in its conclusions did not deny them in its body.[citation needed] Hitz went on to admit CIA improprieties in the affair in testimony to a House congressional committee. There has been a reversal amongst mainstream media of its position on Webb's work, with acknowledgement made of his contribution to exposing a scandal it had ignored.

Heroin trafficking operations involving the CIA, U.S. Navy and Sicilian Mafia

Further information: Collaborations between the United States government and Italian Mafia

According to Rodney Campbell, an editorial assistant to Nelson Rockefeller, during World War II, the United States Navy, concerned that strikes and labor disputes in U.S. eastern shipping ports would disrupt wartime logistics, released the mobster Lucky Luciano from prison, and collaborated with him to help the mafia take control of those ports. Labor union members were terrorized and murdered by mafia members as a means of preventing labor unrest and ensuring smooth shipping of supplies to Europe.[130]

According to Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, in order to prevent Communist party members from being elected in Italy following World War II, the CIA worked closely with the Sicilian Mafia, protecting them and assisting in their worldwide heroin smuggling operations. The mafia was in conflict with leftist groups and was involved in assassinating, torturing, and beating leftist political organizers.[131]

Efficacy of the United States war on drugs

In 1986, the US Defense Department funded a two-year study by the RAND Corporation, which found that the use of the armed forces to interdict drugs coming into the United States would have little or no effect on cocaine traffic and might, in fact, raise the profits of cocaine cartels and manufacturers. The 175-page study, "Sealing the Borders: The Effects of Increased Military Participation in Drug Interdiction", was prepared by seven researchers, mathematicians and economists at the National Defense Research Institute, a branch of the RAND, and was released in 1988. The study noted that seven prior studies in the past nine years, including one by the Center for Naval Research and the Office of Technology Assessment, had come to similar conclusions. Interdiction efforts, using current armed forces resources, would have almost no effect on cocaine importation into the United States, the report concluded.[133]

During the early-to-mid-1990s, the Clinton administration ordered and funded a major cocaine policy study, again by RAND. The Rand Drug Policy Research Center study concluded that $3 billion should be switched from federal and local law enforcement to treatment. The report said that treatment is the cheapest way to cut drug use, stating that drug treatment is twenty-three times more effective than the supply-side "war on drugs".[134]

The National Research Council Committee on Data and Research for Policy on Illegal Drugs published its findings in 2001 on the efficacy of the drug war. The NRC Committee found that existing studies on efforts to address drug usage and smuggling, from U.S. military operations to eradicate coca fields in Colombia, to domestic drug treatment centers, have all been inconclusive, if the programs have been evaluated at all: "The existing drug-use monitoring systems are strikingly inadequate to support the full range of policy decisions that the nation must make.... It is unconscionable for this country to continue to carry out a public policy of this magnitude and cost without any way of knowing whether and to what extent it is having the desired effect."[135] The study, though not ignored by the press, was ignored by top-level policymakers, leading Committee Chair Charles Manski to conclude, as one observer notes, that "the drug war has no interest in its own results".[136]

In mid-1995, the US government tried to reduce the supply of methamphetamine precursors to disrupt the market of this drug. According to a 2009 study, this effort was successful, but its effects were largely temporary.[137]

During alcohol prohibition, the period from 1920 to 1933, alcohol use initially fell but began to increase as early as 1922. It has been extrapolated that even if prohibition had not been repealed in 1933, alcohol consumption would have quickly surpassed pre-prohibition levels.[138] One argument against the War on Drugs is that it uses similar measures as Prohibition and is no more effective.

In the six years from 2000 to 2006, the U.S. spent $4.7 billion on Plan Colombia, an effort to eradicate coca production in Colombia. The main result of this effort was to shift coca production into more remote areas and force other forms of adaptation. The overall acreage cultivated for coca in Colombia at the end of the six years was found to be the same, after the U.S. Drug Czar's office announced a change in measuring methodology in 2005 and included new areas in its surveys.[139] Cultivation in the neighboring countries of Peru and Bolivia increased, some would describe this effect like squeezing a balloon.[140]

Richard Davenport-Hines, in his book The Pursuit of Oblivion,[141] criticized the efficacy of the War on Drugs by pointing out that

10–15% of illicit heroin and 30% of illicit cocaine is intercepted. Drug traffickers have gross profit margins of up to 300%. At least 75% of illicit drug shipments would have to be intercepted before the traffickers' profits were hurt.

Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru from 1990 to 2000, described U.S. foreign drug policy as "failed" on grounds that "for 10 years, there has been a considerable sum invested by the Peruvian government and another sum on the part of the American government, and this has not led to a reduction in the supply of coca leaf offered for sale. Rather, in the 10 years from 1980 to 1990, it grew 10-fold."[142]

At least 500 economists, including Nobel LaureatesMilton Friedman,[143]George Akerlof and Vernon L. Smith, have noted that reducing the supply of marijuana without reducing the demand causes the price, and hence the profits of marijuana sellers, to go up, according to the laws of supply and demand.[144] The increased profits encourage the producers to produce more drugs despite the risks, providing a theoretical explanation for why attacks on drug supply have failed to have any lasting effect. The aforementioned economists published an open letter to President George W. Bush stating "We urge...the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition... At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition."

The declaration from the World Forum Against Drugs, 2008 state that a balanced policy of drug abuse prevention, education, treatment, law enforcement, research, and supply reduction provides the most effective platform to reduce drug abuse and its associated harms and call on governments to consider demand reduction as one of their first priorities in the fight against drug abuse.[145]

Despite over $7 billion spent annually towards arresting[146] and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people across the country for marijuana offenses in 2005[citation needed] (FBI Uniform Crime Reports), the federally funded Monitoring the Future Survey reports about 85% of high school seniors find marijuana "easy to obtain". That figure has remained virtually unchanged since 1975, never dropping below 82.7% in three decades of national surveys.[147] The Drug Enforcement Administration states that the number of users of marijuana in the U.S. declined between 2000 and 2005 even with many states passing new medical marijuana laws making access easier,[148]

Mexican troops during a gun battle in Michoacán, 2007. Mexico's drug war claims nearly 50,000 lives each year.
D.C. Mayor Marion Barry captured on a surveillance camera smoking crack cocaine during a sting operation by the FBI and D.C. Police.
The U.S. military invasion of Panama in 1989
Mexico is scheduled to receive US$1.6 billion in equipment and strategic support from the United States through the Mérida Initiative

History of the American Drug War

The first act of America's anti-drug laws was in 1875. It outlawed the smoking of opium in opium dens. This was a San Francisco ordinance. The basis on passing this law was that Chinese men had a way of luring white women to their dens and causing their "ruin", which was the association with Chinese men. Later, other Federal laws such as trafficking in opium was illegal for anyone of Chinese origin. The opium laws were directed at the smoking of opium. The law didn't effect importation of the drug because opium was a common medical drug. This law was specifically targeted at the Chinese, for the smoking of opium was a Chinese custom. Cocaine was outlawed for fears that black men would go on a sexual rampage and rape white women. In the early 1900's, newspapers referred to them as "Negro Cocaine Fiends" or "Cocainized Niggers". There is little evidence that this actually happened. The Harrison Act had started as a licensing law which required sellers to obtain a license if they were going to handle opiates orcocaine. The law contains a provision that nothing in the law would prohibit doctors from prescribing these drugs in the legitimate practice of medicine. The people who wrote the Harrison Act and Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, agreed that a prohibition on what people could put into their bodies was an unconstitutional infringement on personal liberties. Marijuana was outlawed in 1937. The reason for it being outlawed was that the plant had a violent effect on the degenerateraces. The American Medical Association testified that they were opposed to the law. The law would never have passed without the endorsement from the AMA, but when the supporters of the law were asked about the AMA's view on the floor of congress, they had stated that the AMA was all for it. When the law had passed, the AMA protested, but the law was never repealed. It is difficult to determine how many people in the US use drugs. The Federal Government's Household Survey on Drug Abuse, is the most common set of statistics on the use of drugs. According to the latest surveys, conducted by the DEA, there are about 12.7 million people who have used an illegal drug in the past month, and about 30 - 40 million people who have used an illegal drug in the past year. Among the 12.7 people who have used an illegal drug in the past month, about 10 million are casual drug users and about 2.7 million are drug addicts. The figures produced by the Household Survey on Drug Abuse are obtained over the phone. Therefore, there was a problem reaching those without phones, those who didn't answer their phones, and those who answered the question honestly. Other surveys put the figures at least twice as high. Currently, there are about 1.5 million people in state and Federal prisons and jails throughout the US At least 24 states areunder Federal court orders to relieve prison overcrowding. Prison population had been relatively stable from about 1926 to about 1970. From that point, Nixon's war against drugs, then the Reagan and Bush war against drugs, caused a dramatic increase in the number of prisoners. The estimated 30 - 40 million people who have used an illegal drug in the past year, would fill a prison holding the populations of California, Arizona and New Mexico altogether. The cost of holding a single one of these persons would be about $450,000. The cost for the arrest and the conviction is about $150,000. The cost for an additional bed would be anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, depending upon the jurisdiction. It costs about $30,000 per year to house a prisoner, with an average sentence of five years, adding up to be $150,000. The estimated $450,000 (out of taxpayers money), can provide treatment or education for about 200 people. Out of the percentage of people in prison, 59.6% are in prison for a drug offenses. The war on drugs could be won if we were successful in at least one of three areas. If we could stop drug production in othercountries, if we could stop drugs at the border or if we could stop the sale of drugs within the United States. Stopping drug production in other countries has already proven to have failed. In 1993, ABC television aired a major special report on the drug war in Bolivia, which according to the Bush administration, is our "best hope" for winning the drug war in South America. They concluded that there was no hope, and that the war on drug production had already been lost. According to the US Federal Government's estimates, the entire US consumption of illegal drugs could be supplied by one percent of the worldwide drug crop. The US Drug Enforcement Agents working together with foreign governments seized about one percent of the worldwide drug crop in their best year. Leaving 99% free to supply the US The US Government also states that if drug production was stopped in South America, several countries would suffer a major economic collapse. The statistics regarding drug interdiction at the border have proven stopping drugs at the border is an expensive failure. In 1988, Sterling Johnson, Federal prosecutor for New York, under the assumption that there was no increase in drug production, stated that police would have to increase drug seizures by at least 1,400 percent to have any impact on the drug market. In 1990, the General Accounting office had completed a major study on border interdiction. They concluded that border interdiction was a waste of money and that no conceivable increase in funding or effort would make it better. Johnson had made his statement before police had busted twenty tons of cocaine in a single location. This caused the Federal Government to increase all of their estimates of the cocaine market. In most states, the law states that any distribution of illegal drugs is considered a sale. Regardless of whether there is a profit or monetary interest involved. Which, under the law, anyone who has ever passed a joint to the next person at a concert, is a drugdealer. Assuming these people are drug dealers, There are between 12 and 40 million drug dealers in the US Considering most of the prisons in the US are already far in excess of their planned capacity, there is no more room and no more tax dollars to house these "drug dealers". Stopping the sale of drugs in the US would be kind of hard without putting all these "drug dealers" into prison. The use of drugs among teens has risen under the Clinton administration. Clinton states that not only he, but everyone sharesthe responsibility for the increase in drug use. "This issue has been debated literally going back to the Johnson administration." states Clinton in attempt to deflect criticism from Republicans that claim he has not done enough to fight drugs. At the start of his presidency, Clinton had reduced the office of the drug policy director as a part of his effort to reduce government spending. Three years later, Clinton restored funds for the office and announced Barry McCaffrey, an army general, to lead it. "I appointed a four-star general, who led our efforts south of the border to keep drugs from coming into our country, as our nation's drug czar, the most heavily directed - decorated soldier in uniform when he retired. We submitted the biggest drug budget ever, we have dramatically increased control and enforcement at the border. We supported a crime bill that had 60 death penalties, including the penalty for drug kingpins, and I supported a big expansion of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program to support things like the DARE program because I thought all those things were very important....I have consistently opposed the legalization of drugs all my public life and worked hard against them." Bob Dole claims that under a Dole administration, the National Guard would be trained to stop drugs at the border. "I want to stop it from coming across the border, and in my administration we're going to train the National Guard to stop it from coming across the border." Bob Dole continuously blames Clinton for the rise in teen drug use, and how drug abuse doubled when he was governor of Arkansas. Senator Dole had voted against the crime bill that had the death penalty for drug kingpins in it and voted to cut services to 23 million schoolchildren under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act. National opinion polls show Bill Clinton leads Bob Dole by 10-20 percentage points.

Legalization of Drugs

Such an issue stirs up moral and religious beliefs;beliefs that are contrary to what America should "believe". However, such a debate has been apparent in the Americanmarketplace of ideas before with the prohibition of alcohol inthe 1920's. With the illegality of alcohol the mafia couldproduce liquor and therefore had considerable control over thosewho wanted their substance and service. The role that the mafiaplayed in the 1920's has transformed into the corner drug dealersand drug cartel of the 1990's. The justification that legalizedalcohol under Amendment 21 in 1933 should also legalize drugs in1996. With the legalization of drugs a decrease in deathsrelated to drug deals would occur and also the price would lessenbecause bigger businesses could produce drugs at a cheaper price. Thus, reducing crimes that are committed to support a drug habit. Another drug that has played a major role in American society isnicotine. For hundreds of years, cigarettes have been a popularlegal drug within the United States. Only through legalizationand education has the popularity and the use of cigarettesdeclined within the past ten years. Physically, the actualconsequences of using illicit drugs is much less than of usingdrugs like alcohol or cigarettes and the consequences will bediminished. Illicit drugs can and will be made safer than theyare in the present system. In making comparisons, the best is tolook at how countries are functioning that have less enforcementon drugs and what the statistics were after drugs weredecriminalized. Within the last thirty years many groups havetheir attempts. The use of drugs is a victimless crime much likehomosexuality. Homosexuals have fought for a great deal offreedom that is based on their basic human rights; the right tomake decisions and act freely based on what is protected underthe Constitution, so long as anyone else is not affected. Economically, the production of drugs in the United States wouldbenefit the financial well being of the American government andpeople. Taxes should immediately be placed on drugs thusresulting in a significant increase in government income. Themore money that government receives is more money that they canput towards the education of how drugs effect the human mind andbody. Prohibition breeds disrespect for law©enforcement; theagency that "should" hold the highest respect of the Americansociety. Money spent on prohibition is an overwhelming figurethat is not needed and is obviously accomplishing little. Thosewho want to be controlled by a substance should have every rightto do so, because this right has equal jurisdiction as any otherhuman right that has emerged from the sea of oppression andpersecuted freedoms. The deaths resulting in the acquiring of alcohol have all but disappeared. When all non©medical dealings in alcohol were prohibited in the United States in 1919, the results were very similar to today's drug trade. Alcoholquality was brewed illicitly; importers were considered criminals and behaved as such; protection rackets, bribes and gang warfare organized crime in the United States. (Boaz, p.118) The enforcement budget rose from $7 million in 1921 to $15 million in 1930, $108 million in 1988 dollars. In 1926, the Senate Judiciary Committee produced a 1,650-page report evaluating enforcement efforts and proposing reforms. In 1927, the Bureau of Prohibition was created to streamline enforcement efforts, and agents were brought under civil service protection to eliminate corruption and improve professionalism. In that same year, President Hoover appointed a blue-ribbon commission to evaluateenforcement efforts and recommend reforms. Three years laterProhibition was over and alcohol was legalized.(Boaz, pps.49©50) Immediately, the bootlegger stopped running around the streetssupplying illicit contraband. People stopped worrying aboutdrunks mugging them in the streets or breaking into theirapartments to get funds to buy a pint of wine. We now deal withalcohol abuse as a medical problem. Let us deal with the drugproblem in the same way. Let us try not to repeat the mistakesof the past by continuing to escalate a war that is totallyunnecessary.(Boaz, p.120) The repeal of alcohol prohibitionprovides the perfect analogy. Repeal did not end alcoholism©©asindeed Prohibition did not--but it did solve many of the problemscreated by Prohibition, such as corruption, murder, and poisonedalcohol.(Boaz, p.50) We can expect no more and no less from druglegalization today. United States has not tried to ban the use of tobacco on cigarette smoking is one of America's most dangerous drug habits. Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, is exceedinglypoisonous. When isolated and taken orally, it can bring death ina matter of minutes. Cigarette tobacco contains about 1.5percent nicotine; an average cigarette yields six to eightmilligrams of the drug. Cigar tobacco is potentially morelethal; a standard size cigar contains about 120 milligrams ofnicotine, twice the amount of a lethal dose. What apparentlyirony is that tobacco which can be seen as just of a danger ifnot more so than many illicit drugs of today is considered a"good" and perfectly legal drug among the American society. A terrible, controlling substance that alters the mind and kills. This is a true statement; however lead to more deaths in the United States than do illicit drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the official 1988 toll of drug-caused deaths in 27 U.S. cities, the best available measure of the nation's "drug problems" was, for cocaine products, 3,308; forheroin and morphine, 2,480; course, for marijuana, zero. "Emergency-room mentions" for cocaine in the same cities totaled only 62,141. For comparison, smoking killed 390,000 last year and alcohol killed at least 100,000. Alcohol is responsible for more fetal damage than crack and remains the major menace on our highways.(Boaz, p.123) States that approximately 57 million people in this country are addicted to cigarettes, 18 million are addicted to alcohol and 10 million are abusing psychotherapeutic drugs. By comparison, crack, heroin and hallucinogens each accounts for one million addicts. Further, the report states that every day in this country 1,000 people die of smoking-related illnesses, 550 die of alcohol-related accidents and diseases, while 20 die of drug overdoses and drug©related homicides.(Lynch, p.8) The war on drugs might as well be non©existent; supporters argue that the government'sneeds to be focused on more abused drugs that do more harm to theAmerican people, such as alcohol. Therefore drug decriminalization, gives his views on governmental involvement in drug related issues. Nadelmann believes that the government should use the tax system to discourage consumption among kids, and even among adults to some extent. Nadelmann states, "I think it's legitimate for government to play a role in trying to discourage people from using cigarettes. If they want to put the information out there, that sounds fine. But I find incredibly distasteful is the way that they're demonizing cigarette users now. What's happening now, with [FDA Commissioner David] Kessler, is they're heading in a prohibitionist direction, which is something I would regard as very bad on both policy grounds and ethical grounds." Nadelmann continues to point out that, "Progress in the rights ofÔtechnology sophisticated environment, may redound to the benefit of the drug issue. I think also that the war on cigarette users if you want to call it that--is raising the issue of individual autonomy vis-a-vis drug use in a context to which tens of millions of Americans still relate. And the more that cigarettes get tarred as a drug, the more the connection is going to be prominent. You're going to have tens of millions of Americans beginning to identify more and more with the heroin, cocaine and marijuana users. At the same time, you're going to have these arguments about individual rights and the freedom to use drugs in your own home.(Reason, July 1994 p.43) The personal rights and freedoms issue is a pressing point that supporters of prohibition must look towards and decide on what their beliefs are on how deeply government should interact and limit the actions of people. Call for a crusade or an exterminatory witchhunt. In theNetherlands, the focus is pragmatically centered on minimizingthe harm that addict population does to itself and the rest ofsociety. The record speaks for itself: American adolescents usemarijuana at about twice the rate of their counterparts inHolland, where marijuana and hashish have been freely availablefor more than 17 years. The only drug that causes trafficfatalities and violence in Holland is the same one that causesthese problems here--alcohol. Over a 17-year period in Holland,during which possession and use of hard drugs have been treatedunder 22 years of age who use heroin or cocaine has dropped from15 percent to less than three percent. (Perrine, p.12) InHolland, a Dutch reformed parish operate a methadone dispensaryand a needle exchange. There are designated areas where drugscan be used, and permitting such areas is controversial, even intolerant Holland. Drug legalization in England and Holland hashad mixed results. While there has been a slight increase indrug use in those countries, the number of crimes associated withdrugs has decreased. However disagreeable, the visible presenceof junkies in countries like England and Holland plays its part. Dutch adolescents have no problem seeing that this is hardly aglamorous and exciting life-style and that it does not evenprovide much pleasure. Reality, even disagreeable reality, isremarkably educational; and the attempt to legislate reality outof existence is remarkably counterproductive. (Perrine, p.12) Inthe U.S. there were eleven states that decriminalized thepersonal use of marijuana. According to the National Instituteon Drug Abuse(1992), there was no increase in its use in thosestates.(Riga, p.7) Anti©drug supporters argue that corollationscannot be made between the United States and other countries;however, the way in which people conduct themselves and howsociety responds to this is very similar around the world. Heightened awareness of the destructiveness of drugs, and inself-pride programs for society's "have nots." The United Stateshas cut back drastically on its alcohol and tobacco consumptionare dangerous. The same thing must be done for other drugs. Pragmatically, the legal and controlled sale of drugs would notonly reduce crime but channel valuable resources intotreatment.(Riga, p.7) With the treatment of drugs as a medicalproblem, we can then and only then focus on the real problem:people and adulteration of supplies of drugs. Without some system ofcontrol, it is argued, that there is no way to guarantee thepurity or strength of any given cannabis preparation. Widevariations in THC(delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrationcould have deleterious effects on users. Inexperienced smokers,accustomed to low©grade domestic pot, could be adversely affectedby the unexpected introduction of high©potency Colombian orJamaican supplies.(Schroeder, p.54) Today's drug consumerliterally does not know what he is buying. The drugs are sovaluable that the sellers have an incentive to "cut" or dilutethe product with foreign substances that look like the realthing. Most street heroin is only three to six percent pure;street cocaine ten to fifteen percent. Since purity variesgreatly, consumers can produce the desired effects. If a person percent heroin and take a five percent dose, suddenly he hasnearly doubled his open market would face different incentives than pushers. They rely on name brand recognition to build market share, and on incentive to provide a product of uniform quality; killingcustomers or losing them to competitors is not a proven way tosuccess. (Pragmatist, p.3) With major how drugs should be made and what they should be cut with dangerous approach may be taken.As well be the schism that has been created in the American society. Prohibition has set generation against generation, lawªenforcement officials against users, and the system of criminal justice against millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens. The effect of prohibition has not been a decreased marijuanaconsumption--statistics show that the opposite is true. Rather,prohibition has bred disrespect for the law and the institutionsof government, and many have argued that that is too high a priceto pay for even a successful program.(Schroeder, p.55) A loss ofrespect for governmental agencies can be seen as one terribleevent that has occurred within America. Plans that would breedand boost respect for these agencies should be desired and soughtafter. As the prohibition of drugs yearly is an unnecessary andoverwhelming figure. The total annual cost of the drug war, areabout $100 billion dollars annually.(Duke, p.3) For instance,the Air Force spent $3.3 million on drug interdiction, usingsophisticated AWACS surveillance planes, over a 15 month periodending in 1987. The grand total of drug seizures from thatÔof the Coast Guard and Navy, sailing for 2,500 ship days at a cost of $40 million, resulted in the seizure of a mere 20 drug-carrying vessels.(Wink, p.1) They were not enough, domestic production of marijuana continues to increase. It is the largest cash crop in ten states and second largest in the nation, second only to corn. Revenues from drug trafficking in Miami, Florida, are greater than those from tourism, exports, health care, and all other legitimatebusinesses combined.(Wink, p.2) They have a lower cost than throwing people in prison. It costs $52,000 a year to detain someone at Riker's Island. However, a years stay at Phoenix House in New York, for example, costs $15,000.(Yoffe, p.1) If it is not already obvious, the way in which the government goes about it's drug war is inoperative. Money that is spent is a waste; education and treatment. If politicians cannot see this, than weare losing the drug war in our policies and in the minds of our"greatest" law©makers, not on the streets. As I concluded that the prohibition of drugs criminalised users, forced them into contact with professional criminals, temptedentrepreneurial young people from impoverished backgrounds into alucrative criminal life, encouraged gang warfare, resulted inpeople taking impure mixtures in often dangerous methods, andcreated heavy policing costs. It is, in short, not drug abuseitself which creates the most havoc, but the crime resulting from other Western governments, to contemplate some form of licensedsale of drugs which would deprive the pushers of their marketwhile obliging registered addicts to take treatment. The key tobeating the traffic is to remove its prodigious profitability andto deglamorise drug abuse by a heavy programme of publiceducation.(Boaz, 122) The government can continue harassing,humiliating and jailing drug users in the name of helping themstay away from evil. It can continue fostering violence andcorruption in the name of protecting our society. Or, Americacan begin fighting drugs through peaceful means, taking theproblem away from police and jailers doctors and educators. Legalizing drug use©©with certain restrictions©©would eliminate the terrible collateral damage wreaked by the war on drugs. It would respect the right of individuals to make personal choices about what they consume, while still holding them responsible for the harm they cause others. It would free up real money for prevention and treatment programs that currently enjoy more lip service than funding. And it would encourage people with problems to seek help rather than take them underground. Any new approach to drugs must begin by replacing hype and demagoguery with information and analysis. It must discriminate between the uses and misuses of drugs. It must also account for paternalistic moralizing for hypocritical double standards.(Boaz, p. 135) Legalizing drugs would not be a panacea. Many people would continue to use them recklessly andÔjoin their ranks. But scare scenarios of a prostrate, addicted nation have no basis. Clearly, there will be some increase in drug use if drugs are made legal and accessible at a reasonable price. Yet the benefits of legalization will outweigh the negatives: less crime, lessavailable for greater rehabilitation efforts, fewer jail cellsand prisoners, better utilization of law enforcement personnel,greater respect for the law, fewer corrupted policeman, and fewerdeaths from impure substances. Furthermore, taxes from theselegalized substances will fund treatment centers and educationaloutreach. If we can distribute condoms and clean needles tocontrol the spread of diseases, why can't we bring ourselves todistribute drugs cheaply and legally? The same arguments madeabout cause and effect ought to be made here as well. Granted,America has a vast and terrible problem with the issue on drugsin the 1990s, but as Robert Kennedy opined, "If the alternatives[are] disorder or injustice, the rational choice is injustice. For when there is disorder, we cannot obtain or maintainjustice."(Boaz, p. 120)

Should Drugs Be Legalized?

For several decades drugs have been one of the major problems of society. There have been escalating costs spent on the war against drugs and countless dollars spent on rehabilitation, but the problem still exists. Not only has the drug problem increased but drug related problems are on the rise. Drug abuse is a killer in our country. Some are born addicts(crack babies), while others become users. The result of drug abuse is thousands of addicts in denial. The good news is the United States had 25,618 total arrests and81,762 drug seizures due to drugs in 1989 alone, but the bad news is the numbers of prisoners have increased by 70 percent which will cost about $30 million dollars. Despite common wisdom, the U.S isn't experiencing a drug related crime wave. Government surveys show between 1980 - 1987 burglary rates fell 27 percent, robbery 21 percent and murders 13 percent, but with new drugs on the market these numbers are up. One contraversial solution is the proposal of legalizing drugs. Although people feel that legalizing drugs would lessen crime, drugs should remain illegal in the U.S because there would be an increase of drug abuse and a rapid increase of diseases such as AIDS. Many believe that legalizing drugs would lessen crime. They point out that the legalization of drugs would deter future criminalacts. They also emphasize and contrast Prohibition. When the public realized that Prohibition could not be enforced the law was repealed. From this, one may infer the same of legalizing drugs. Legalizing alcohol didn't increase alcoholism, so why would drugs increase drug abuse? However, drugs should not be legalized because there would be an increase in drug abuse due to its availability. Once legalized, drugs would become cheaper and more accessible to people who previously had not tried drugs, because of the high price or the legal risk. Drug abuse would skyrocket! Addicts who tend to stop, not by choice, but because the drugs aren't accessible would now feed the addiction if drugs were made legal. These drug addicts would not be forced to kick the habit due to the availability of the drug they would partake eagerly. The temptation to use drugs would increase when advertisements for cocaine, heroin and marijuana are displayed on television. Instead of money used by employed addicts, you will see welfare funds used to purchase drugs. If welfare funds were being misused, this would cause a major problem in the economy. Drugs must not be legalized. It puts our country at a terrible risk. Health officials have shown that the legalization of drugs would cause a rapid increase of diseases such as AIDS. AIDS poses agrowing threat to addicts, and thus to society as a whole. The virus that causes AIDS is growing, due to drug addicts who share needles and syringes. The sharing of such needles by intravenous drug users helps increase the spread of AIDS. "Infection among IV drug abusers is continuing to occur at a very steady rate," warn Richard E. Chaisson director of the AIDS service at John Hopkins University. In the U.S gay men still make up the primary risk group, although 750,000 to 1 million drug addicts are believed to be at risk to AIDS nationally. The problem here is the sharing of needles, which is causing the spread of AIDS. IV drug abusers are killing our nation at an amazingly fast speed. AIDS which surfaced in the 80's is now on the rise and even more deadly to IV drug users. The sharing of needles must be stopped. Drugs should not be legalized. Although people feel that legalizing drugs would lessen crime, drugs should remain illegal in the U.S because there would be anincrease of drug abuse and a rapid increase of diseases such as AIDS. The United States can not afford this problem. It has become a world power by strengthening its people not by killing them. Drug abuse has gotten worse, with its effects on crack babies, drug addicts, and the I.V user. There must be education for the survival of this nation, not legalization.


Drugs Drugs. What do we know about drugs? What do we imagine when we say this word? White powder or a young person, wiping out any possibility for his future to grow, killing him slowly. Drugs came in our life and destroyed any relations between parents and children. I say "any" because this is the word, defining exactly what happens when a child starts taking drugs. Ignorance. Ignorance from the rest of the world, living in a world with no real friends, no sun, no flowers, no stars, no tears or laughter any love. The only friend of the drug addict is the syringe. And nevertheless, there are people who manage to emerge from all this, to overcome their dependence from drugs and let their life change, continue, develop or whatever word you're comfortable with. Why? Why there are so many drug addicts? There are people, who are more probable to start taking drugs, than others. People, who are more responsible, stronger and are always "in charge" of their own problems, these people "never”, take drugs, as they say themselves. These people are able to obey someone, to entice someone, to listen or act for someone, but to get what they want, to get the joy they want. But there are weak people, who have "closed" and ignored themselves from the rest of the reality, people who live in their own world. They are usually not willing to solve their problems by their own, so they find a "friend" who "helps" them. And all of this, because you don't need to obey, nor to allure the squirt. No, you just take it, and you get the joy you have been longing for so frequently, ignoring everything else around you. You get a false joy, and become unable to feel anything, as you try to get another dose. When it comes to this stage there is only one thing left to do, get medical help, somewhere.

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