Losing the War on Drugs
In 1980, President Reagan began what would be called by him and his successors "the War on Drugs". Every president who has followed him in the White House has continued what he started, regardless of party affiliation.
Mr. Reagan and his advisors told the public they believed that a war on drugs was the only way to stop the problem of useage of illegal drugs by our society, the only way to stop the ever escalating number of impaired persons whose lives became burdens on society and whose alcohol and drug addiction would also become the ever increasing in size stepchild of society.
The belief of all these administrations and of all law enforcement persons (at least those whose jobs depend on it) is this: if you take out the source, the problem will stop. So they invade other countries, denude the landscape, destroy ecosystems, destroy all crop bearing capacity of millions of acres of foreign soil, pay millions to poor countries so they do not grow poppy plants, blow up buildings, donate military personnel, DEA agents, CIA agents, Gulfstream aircraft, military aircraft, military munitions and armament, seize bank accounts, arrest people domestically and abroad, carry out hits on people in other countries, and arrest persons domestically and seize their property and money.
Has it worked? Lets see.
1. In 2002, our government will spend 19.2 billion dollars of our tax money on the "War on Drugs", or .$609 per second. State and local governments will spend at least 20 billion dollars of our tax money.
2. So far this year, over 80,000 persons have been arrested for drug law offenses, and the total for the year is expected to exceed the 1,579,566 arrests made in 2001. They all have to be incarcerated, and we pay for that too.
3. Medillin Cartel: gone. Cali Cartel: gone. Now there are many more smaller cartels that have taken their place.
4. Since 1980, drug related deaths have increased a whopping 540% (that is not a typo). Hmmm.....
5. Since 1980, incarceration for drug arrests has gone, what do you think? Down? Well, you'd think as much if the politicians and the cops were right. But no, it has gone up from 25,000 arrests in 1980 to a whopping 275,000 in 1995. Huh.
6. Has US drug policy protected children from drugs? In 1975, 87% of adolescents said it was "very easy" or "fairly easy" to get marijuana. In 1998, that percentage went UP to almost 90%. Since 1992, federal surveys show that adolescent drug use has gone up, not down. This despite ever increasing spending, arresting, seizure of property, and pouring millions of dollars into other countries, not ours.
7. Based on federal surveys and by definition of state and federal law, more than 50% of all high school seniors are drug criminals who should be imprisoned. Wow. Something is wrong here.....
8. Are more or less drugs getting into the country as a result of the War on Drugs? One fact for you here: Heroin availability is way up, the purity is way up, price per gram has gone from about $3,500/gram in 1981 to $1,000/gram in 1996. It is the same thing with the other drugs, only now we have Meth and Pot made right in our own neighborhoods.
The War on Drugs is a total waste of my and your money. It does not work, and it has been going on long enough. We are pouring money down a rat hole, and it is coming out of my wallet and your wallet. We are not talking about a leak in the dike but a full breach in the dam.
What we need is a healthy and fresh approach to our national and state drug and alcohol abuse policy (alcohol abuse dwarfs all drug abuse statistics put together). We need to be spending the money HERE, not abroad. Stop giving other countries military equipment and other aid in the name of the War on Drugs.
Public health, information, and a rearranging of our way of thinking of how we use drugs, alcohol and tobacco would be a start. More money into making half way houses or the like available for recovering addicts and alcoholics. More available in patient treatment and out patient treatment.
Get rid of the harsh penalties on drug users. We got enough persons living off my dime in prisons. Property seizures should only FOLLOW conviction, not precede it as is the case now. The forfeitures are just lining the pockets of the cops, and they are tying up prosecutors who could be prosecuting more serious criminals.
Any other suggestions?
"...If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters the same....you'll be a Man, my Son!"
- Rudyard Kipling