It’s been over 45 years since President Richard Nixon dramatically expanded federal drug control agencies and declared an all-out war on mind-altering substances by the federal government.
Since then, politicians have continuously told us that the drug war is a necessary evil, warning us about the dangers of drug use and asserting that only harsh governmental intervention can save us. However, in all the time since that fateful day in June of 1971 when the drug war began, has it really achieved what it was set up to?
Here are the top ten reasons drug war policies need to end – now.
Prohibition Does Not Stop Drug Use
Despite what politicians might say, the drug war has not stopped users from getting high. Instead, it de-incentivizes addicts to get help out of fear they will be put in jail and have their job prospects ruined by court records.
A 2015 Gallup poll showed that 44% of Americans have tried cannabis at least once in their life. That was even before many states legalized it for recreational use. Naughty Americans.
In fact, a 2019 Pew Research Center Survey found that two-thirds of Americans support legalization, while only 8% think that smoking the devils lettuce should be a crime.
Criminally Run Monopolies Are Created Through Prohibition
When drugs are made illegal, gangs dominate the underground market. This is exactly what happened in the 1920’s when alcohol was made federally illegal with the passage of the 18th amendment.
We know this all too well along the border, where drug traffickers run rampant. Just last week, border agents took over 3,000 pounds of meth and dozens of pounds of heroine and fentanyl worth $7.2 million from smugglers.
“I’m proud of the CBP officers’ dedication to our mission,” said San Diego Customs and Border Protection (CBP) director of field operations Anne Maricich. “They continue to stop dangerous drugs from entering our communities.”
Legalizing and regulating even dangerous drugs such as these could help stop underground trafficking and put less harmful substances such as marijuana and LSD in the hands of citizens and law enforcement instead of violent gangs.
Some Users Are Driven to Dangerous Synthetic Drugs
As scientists discover how to mimic mind-altering compounds like THC with similar chemical structures, companies and underground dealers alike are able to market even more dangerous synthetic drugs to users which in many cases have not been tested at all. Each time one of those substances is banned, chemical researchers can just make a new one with slightly altered components.
I remember back before cannabis was made legal for recreational use in Washington State. We had a huge synthetic marijuana problem that we still do not understand the implications of. Luckily, cannabis was made legal here soon after and that issue has largely gone away.
Private Prisons Make Big Bucks for Locking Up Nonviolent Drug Offenders
The only people who benefit from the war on drugs are pharmaceutical pushers, alcohol producers, and private prison executives. Everybody else is on the losing side of this fight.
In 2014, police made about 619,800 arrests for marijuana possession alone. If you break it down, that’s roughly one arrest every 51 seconds in the United States. Many of those people have never committed a serious crime in their life, but will now find it hard to get a job because of their newfound public criminal record. That’s after they’ve likely spent time in jail.
Prohibition Costs You A Lot of Money
The Urban Institute Justice Policy Center estimates that each inmate kept at a minimum security prison costs the taxpayer about $21,006 a year.
If each individual arrested for a marijuana-related offense in 2011 were housed in a minimum security prison for the national average of 36.8 months, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, that is $44,765,690,442 (nearly $45 billion) for one year of arrests.
According to IRS numbers, about 143.3 million Americans payed taxes in 2017. Dividing the total cost of a year of marijuana sentences by the number of American taxpayers comes to about $312 per person. If you pay taxes, this is about how much it costs to house nonviolent criminals for smoking a plant.
Of course, taxes are different based on how much you make and which tax breaks you receive, and much of this goes straight to the national debt (which currently sits above $27 Trillion, by the way, another good reason to stop spending money on frivolous pot crimes) but this a pretty good rough estimate. Thanks, government.
Instead of spending money on arrests and sentencing of nonviolent offenders or sufferers of addiction, by regulating and legalizing drugs we can actually make tax money off of them instead of wasting it.
Some Illegal Drugs Have Been Found to Be Harmless
Many illegal drugs are not even harmful to users. A 2015 study from the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that Psilocybin (the substance found in magic mushrooms), LSD, and Mescaline all showed no association between lifetime use and any impairment of mental health.
“[There are] no significant associations between lifetime use of psychedelics and increased likelihood of past year serious psychological distress, mental health treatment, suicidal thoughts, suicidal plans and suicide attempt, depression and anxiety,” said the study author.
All of these drugs, as you probably guessed, are illegal under federal law.
Prohibition Outlaws Industrial Hemp and Medical Cannabis
What may surprise you is that in pre-colonial times, settlers were actually required to grow industrial hemp.
“In 1619, in the Jamestown Colony in Virginia, a law was passed that required farmers to grow ‘Indian hemp-seed,’ along with various other ‘must grow’ laws spanning the next two centuries,” writes MIC.
However, because of prohibition, industrial hemp is illegal to grow in the United States despite having next to no THC content, the psychoactive component of marijuana.
Industrial hemp is touted by some as being the most environmentally friendly form of fuel, paper, clothing, and building material in the world. Not to mention the incredible medical implications of the plant.
If politicians were to get rid of its illegal status, a new wave of environmentally sound products and herbal medicines would be unleashed and new businesses could open up which provide higher quality products and jobs than we’re getting now.
But, sadly, politicians do not want solutions – they have points to be scored during election time and fingers to point when they inevitably fail to follow through on their promises.
The CIA Sells Illegal Drugs for Cash
According to award-winning journalists like Gary Webb, intelligence agencies sell illicit drugs like cocaine to help fund their operations with secret money.
“In March, 1983, Plumlee contacted my Denver Senate Office and … raised several issues including that covert U.S. intelligence agencies were directly involved in the smuggling and distribution of drugs to raise funds for covert military operations against the government of Nicaragua,” said a copy of a 1991 letter from then-Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) to then-Senator John Kerry (D-MA).
The Drug War Gives Unintended Powers to Government
Because of the illicit nature of certain drugs, the government has the opportunity to arrest those who possess these substances. Around the world, this gives corrupt cops and deep state agents the power to plant illegal drugs on citizens in order to extort them for bribes, sexual favors, or simply put them in jail.
Nobody Has the Right to Dictate Your Personal Life
In what may be the most brief yet important point, it is simply not another person’s decision what you do or don’t put in your own body. Simply out of principle, because you own your body, another human being does not have the right to decide what you do with it, whether or not they like the outcome.
That’s called freedom.
“We’re really talking about the people’s laws and if we’re not satisfied with the laws that our federal government is enforcing then we’ve really got to take a look at what our responsibility is.” – Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper
About the Author
Phillip Schneider is a staff writer and assistant editor for Waking Times. If you would like to see more of his work, you can like his Facebook Page, or follow him on the free speech social network Minds.
This article (Top Ten Reasons to End the War on Drugs – Now) originally appeared at PhillipSchneider.com and may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author credit, and this copyright statement.