Analysis

America’s Futile War on Drugs

Strict drug laws cause more harm than the drugs.

For decades, the United States have waged a War on Drugs, both within its borders and in Central America. The struggle has claimed tens of thousands of lives. Drug use in America has not declined. So what’s the point?

On his Fox Business Network show, John Stossel asked precisely that question, arguing that whenever the war appears to be successful — for example, in Colombia — the problem moves elsewhere — to Bolivia and Mexico.

Drugs remain easy to get in America. The country is funding both sides of the war, with the government spending almost the exact same amount on law enforcement and foreign aid to drug-producing countries as American citizens buy in drugs.

By any standard, the War on Drugs has been a failure.

It’s also wrong.

False claims

It’s not the government’s job to protect people against making bad decisions.

Prohibitionists argue that drug use poses a threat to the community, because people who are high on drugs, like people who are drunk on alcohol, have less control over their behavior and can act erratically or aggressively.

They also allege that drug use would rise if drug laws are loosened.

Both claims are false. Popular drugs, like cannabis and MDMA, do not make users aggressive; they make users more relaxed.

Drug addiction and abuse are serious problems, but hardly more so than alcohol and tobacco addiction and abuse. It makes no sense to criminalize the one and regulate the other.

There is no evidence that legalization would lead to higher drug use. If anything, there is evidence to the contrary: the Netherlands decriminalized cannabis in the 1970s and has lower cannabis use than the United States.

Strict laws do more damage

Strict drug laws, including mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, are informed not by evidence, but by fear. The result is something of a police state, as Stossel pointed out.

SWAT teams barge into American homes when police suspect drugs may be present. Parents are arrested in front of their children for smoking weed in the privacy of their own house. Teenagers who try marijuana can be ruined for life.

More Americans are arrested every day on drug offenses than all other crimes combined. In 2008, 1.5 million Americans were arrested on suspicion of a drug crime. 500,000 were imprisoned. Weed constitute almost half of all drug arrests.

Stossel’s conclusion: “the drug laws do more damage than the drugs.”

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3 comments

  1. The problem is that the government is making too much money off of this; to them the war on drugs is another stick to beat the taxpayer piñata with. And added benefit is that it gives the government an excuse to tighten the leash and take away more civil liberties. A classic case where it did happen was in the case of the No knock warrant where the police can just simply kick down your door if they think you are housing more narcotics than you can use in one day; which is called Possession with intent to distribute.

    Another case that hasn’t happened yet but the cause they would use is, in some circles it’s called the Mexican Gun Canard. The claim is 80% or there about of the guns used by the Cartel come from the United States, this includes their rocket launchers, machine guns, and hand grenades. Roughly 80% of the guns /sent back/ to the United States for testing came from the United States and most of those were hand guns and a good deal of which were stolen. Seeing as how Rocket launchers and hand grenades are illegal to own in this country any way, and machine guns are way too expensive to own and require a fair bit of red tape to get in the first place to sell them south of the border the ones they get are made in Pakistan or China. But let’s not let the facts get in the way of tighter laws in the name of the war on drugs.

    There you have it, money and power. The two reasons the end to this Endless War on Drugs isn’t going away anytime soon.

  2. Prohibition is a sickening horror and the ocean of incompetence, corruption and human wreckage it has left in its wake is almost endless.

    Prohibition has decimated generations and criminalized millions for a behavior which is entwined in human existence, and for what other purpose than to uphold the defunct and corrupt thinking of a minority of misguided, self-righteous Neo-Puritans and degenerate demagogues who wish nothing but unadulterated destruction on the rest of us.

    Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation.

    By its very nature, prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model – the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous and ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved. Thus, the allure of this reliably and lucrative industry, with it’s enormous income potential that consistently outweighs the risks associated with the illegal operations that such a trade entails, will remain with us until we are collectively forced to admit the obvious.

    A great many of us are slowly but surely wising up to the fact that the best avenue towards realistically dealing with drug use and addiction is through proper regulation which is what we already do with alcohol & tobacco, clearly two of our most dangerous mood altering substances. But for those of you whose ignorant and irrational minds traverse a fantasy plane of existence, you will no doubt remain sorely upset with any type of solution that does not seem to lead to your absurd and unattainable utopia of a drug free society.

    There is therefore an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. Anybody ‘halfway bright’, and who’s not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem, it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand. If you are not capable of understanding this connection then maybe you’re using something far stronger than the rest of us. So put away your pipe, lock yourself away in a small room with some tinned soup and water, and try to crawl back into reality A.S.A.P.

    No amount of money, police powers, weaponry, diminution of rights and liberties, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safer, only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

    If you support the Kool-Aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, and erroneously believe that you can win a war without logic and practical solutions, then prepare yourself for even more death, tortured corpses, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, economic tribulation, unemployment and the complete loss of the rule of law.

    “A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”
    Abraham Lincoln

    The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation while turning even our schools and prisons into black markets for drugs. Regulation would mean the opposite!

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