March 26, 2011
End the War on Drugs NowBy Zbigniew Mazurak
Despite federal and state expenditures of billions of dollars per year, severe punishments, and frequent unconstitutional raids on private homes, the War On Drugs is a failure. Since this futile war began, the number of drug users in the US has grown rather than shrink, and the rate of drug usage has grown along with the profits of drug cartels. America's Southern border has become very dangerous as a result of the War, and Mexico is a failing state because wealthy, well-armed drug cartels can afford to fight a regular war in that country and bribe (or assassinate) its officials.
By any objective measure, the War On Drugs is a disastrous failure. It's time to end this madness now.
The War began in 1970, when President Nixon declared it and the Congress passed various legislation outlawing drugs (even relatively harmless ones such as marijuana). The Congress didn't even bother to change the Constitution (as it did when it banned alcohol beverages), and simply ignored the strict limits the Constitution imposed on it.
Since then, federal and state authorities have been arresting and prosecuting just about anyone they caught possessing, growing, using, or selling drugs. It doesn't matter to them that to date, no one has died because of ingesting marijuana, while thousands of people die every die around the world as a result of overuse of alcohol and smoking tobacco. Moreover, alcoholics and tobacco smokers harm not only themselves, but also everyone else in their orbit.
Even by the 1980s, there were signs that the punitive policies were failing. Nonetheless, Washington politicians didn't end the War - they doubled on it.
They ignored the lessons of the Prohibition Era, when alcohol prohibition drove distillers underground, but did not eliminate alcohol from the private market. Even worse, the alcohol market was monopolized by gangs, including the Mafia, making Al Capone a very wealthy man. These gangs were terrorizing adults on streets everyday, and drive-by shootings were common. The same dismal results occurred everywhere where prohibition of alcohol (or drugs) has been tried, including Russia under Gorbachyov. Al Capone opposed the 21st Amendment (which ended the Prohibition), because it opened the door to the legalization of alcohol, thus creating numerous legal, law-abiding competitors for him. Capone went to jail in 1932, before Prohibition ended, but its end radically decreased his Mafia's annual income.
What are the results of the War on Drugs?
A million innocent Americans are sitting in prisons right now solely because they've been caught storing, buying or using drugs. A million people who haven't harmed anyone else. Americans prisons are overcrowded as a result.
Taxpayers dollars and limited police resources are being squandered on arresting people who may have harmed themselves but haven't harmed anyone else, rather than be used chasing truly dangerous criminals.
America's Southern border is dangerous and de facto governed by drug cartels, which are also present in hundreds of American cities, even NYC, Chicago, Tacoma, and Anchorage.
Drug gangs have high annual incomes, and therefore can afford to buy lethal weapons, bribe officials, and build villas for their leaders. This income is not taxed.
Meanwhile, Americans who want to buy drugs for recreational (or even medical) purposes are forced to buy them from these gangs rather than pharmacies. These drug cartels also supply weapons to other criminal organizations, and could sell them to terrorists.
During the last two decades, a few states, such as California, have legalized medical marijuana and proposed to legalize recreational weed. Government officials and cops, eager to protect their bloated bureaucracies and budgets as well as their police prerogatives, opposed these initiatives. Sometimes these policies were approved by voters, sometimes not. But whenever they came up for a vote, government officials said they would disregard the result (i.e. the people's verdict) and enforce federal drug laws anyway.
Such was the case with the 2010 Proposition #19 in California. Its citizens submitted a proposal to legalize marijuana (at least for medicinal purposes) in a referendum, Washington politicians arrogantly promised to disregard the results before such referendums occurred, and discredited establishment politicians, led by George Shultz (a man who shouldn't even dare to speak publicly) and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, spoke out against such proposals. They, like all other liberals, believe that the government should decide for private citizens what's best for them, like a nanny state; that adults are too stupid to decide for them. Proposition #19 failed. Luckily, Arizona voters passed a similar measure, Proposition #203.
What if the War on Drugs is ended and drugs are legalized?
The US prison population would immediately shrink by a million people, thus stripping dictators around the world of the argument that the US incarceration rate is. Prison expenditures would decrease significantly. There would now be enough cells to lock up all truly dangerous criminals, rather than people who may be harming themselves but aren't doing harm to anyone else.
Annual federal expenditures would shrink by at least $44 billion and, if drugs are taxed, annual federal revenue would grow by $33 billion. States' coffers could be similarly filled with revenue and state expenses would shrink.
Drug gangs would lose their source of income and would cease being able to buy weapons, bribe officials with big money, and assassinate people. They would stop being able to terrorize people on the streets, travelers on America's borders, or the country of Mexico.
Police resources would be allocated to real priorities (i.e. fighting dangerous criminals), and courts' dockets would be significantly reduced.
Truly ill people who need medical marijuana (which can be medically beneficial) would be able to buy (or grow) it legally, with doctors' prescriptions, and youngsters who want to use it for recreational purposes could do so too; they wouldn't need to fear overzealous cops and punishment that would make these decent people into criminals.
Finally, the size, scope, budget and prerogatives of the federal government would be significantly decreased. That is also the real reason why politicians and bureaucrats oppose drug legalization. They don't want to see the federal government and its prerogatives reduced. They are addicted to it, and addiction to governing is more dangerous than addiction to drugs. They couldn't care less whether the American people live healthy lifestyles or not (and to be honest, it's none of their business). They just want to micromanage Americans and their lifestyles.
It's time to end the War on Drugs. It's not a conservative policy, its results are dismal, its costly, and it has made America's drug problem worse, not better.