The war on drugs has proved that the supply of heroin, cocaine, and other substances cannot ultimately be stopped. Police are unable to keep drugs out of their own prisons, let alone out of neighborhoods and cities entirely. The aggressive attempt to do so has destroyed property, homes, neighborhoods, and countless lives of those directly and indirectly involved. In this drug-chase, many thousands of innocent people have lost their lives due to the drug-war, and gang related violence. All the while, the efforts of the state largely ignore the underlying causes of drug use, and actively under fund facilities which aim to treat and reduce recidivism (repeat use).
For many, the war on drugs began in 1971 with Nixon’s declaration, but many policies which were implemented were a continuation of drug policies which started in 1914. The battle has been raging for decades, and it has cost billions of dollars. In 2010, the U.S. Federal government spent over $15 billion on the war on drugs, which is roughly $500 per second. Thousands of arrests for non-violent drug law violations are made every year. Roughly $1 billion in taxpayer funds is spent every year to incarcerate cannabis offenders alone. With growing accessibility to the internet, more individuals are seeking alternative information, and finding the truth about “evil drugs”. The truth leads them to see how illicit drugs are arguably no more dangerous than synthetic poison, cigarettes, alcohol, many pharmaceuticals, or other items we “legally” indulge in or feel that we need.
Anything in excess, whether good or bad, can be unhealthy for the human body. Marijuana has even been shown to be safer and more efficient in treating symptoms than “legal” painkillers and synthetic medications. Alcohol, excessive tobacco use, and prescription medications have each contributed to the deaths of millions of individuals, and can also be blamed for ruining the lives of thousands of people who are indirectly involved (such as their family members).
At the end of the day: is it worth it? Drugs are still readily available, so the only accomplishment has been more money lost, and more violence initiated. Prohibition has proven itself a failure, and despite the efforts of the state to quell drug abuse, addiction rates have remained relatively stable.
The war on drugs is more of a war on personal choice, a war on your right to decide how you live your life. If someone wants to ingest something; put it into their own body, their own property, and they aren’t harming any other human being, animal or property, then where is the harm in that? How is the state justified in telling me that I cannot consume a natural substance? As long as your personal choice doesn’t infringe on the freedom of others, then people should be allowed to be live and act freely.
The war on drugs affords the police the justification to frivolously violate the Constitutionally protected right to be secure from unreasonable searches. In the name of fighting drug abuse, millions of dollars worth of property has been confiscated by the state because of possible links to ‘drug crime’, items include: boats, houses, jewelry, bikes, and cars. The confiscated funds have been used to buy a variety of items: food, gifts, football tickets, even TV ads for a district attorney’s re-election campaign. Talk about policing for a profit, the state has effectively incentivized drug-crime.
A growing realization of the power that the people hold, has those aware of jury nullification encouraging others to learn about it. Jury nullification is a system by which a jury can dismiss or acquit a defendant, regardless of the weight of evidence stacked against them, if those jurors believe that the individual is being prosecuted under an unjust law. This can come in handy for those who are being prosecuted under anti-drug laws, if they are guilty of a non-violent offense.
The broad use of the term ‘drugs’ inhibits the ability to think openly about the substance abuse problem in our society. We can’t make sense of the problem unless we first converse using correct terminology. Instead of using an umbrella term, one should give an indication as to whether the substances are psychedelics or sedatives, etc.., understanding and discussing each in respect to their different effect on our physiology and perception of reality. Because of the generalization, drugs, is a highly polluted term, with many negative associations. We are conditioned to see ‘good drugs’ and ‘bad drugs’, and it appears the only ‘good drugs’ are the ones that can be patented and that the government is able to regulate and tax. Natural substances that compete with the billion dollar pharmaceutical companies are not in the states, or the healthcare system’s, best interest.
Places that have ventured to experiment with decriminalization have found that, contrary to common critics against illicit-substance use, the decriminalization of such substances does not lead to an increase in usage. It isn’t a wild concept to assume that of those individuals who now have no interest in using heroine, or other such substances, aren’t going to suddenly start doing so at the mere announcement of decriminalization.
More support is being garnered for decriminalization, with efforts around the globe from Colorado and Washington, to Uruguay, and Canada showing that people are considering new perspectives. Unfortunately, there are thousands of individuals whose livelihood and jobs depend on arresting these non-violent criminals, and private prisons are profiting enormously from housing these non-violent people.
When the Department of Justice recently made the public statement that they would allow Colorado and Washington to implement previously approved legislation regarding the legalization of marijuana for adults, it angered many in the criminal justice field. Many organizations including sheriffs, city police, and narcotics officers, have expressed disappointment with the decision. At the end of the day, the war on drugs causes a lot of unnecessary violence and suffering, innocent people are even murdered when the Drug Enforcement Agency break into the wrong home over and over again, and billions of dollars are wasted in a goal that is never achieved.
Isn’t it time the state recognized a person’s right to free choice, a right to own our own bodies?