A survey by the government found that forty seven percent of Americans have tried drugs. Yet for the last 40 years administration after administration has kept the War on Drugs going, creating not only human rights issues but also civil ones, impacting not only the United States but the globe. This got us thinking: is the “war on drugs” actually working? We delved deeper into this thought and here are six reasons that we believe prove that the war on drugs is, in fact, not working.
Six Reasons That Prove The War On Drugs Is Not Working
1. Disproportionate Punishment
You would think that countries like China, Russia, or even North Korea would have the most people in prison. But unfortunately, it is the US of A. The United States incarcerates more people per 100,000 than Russia and china combined. And it isn’t because we have more murderers, pimps, gangsters, rapists etc. According to TIME, nearly half of all inmates are in on drug charges. Mostly this is thanks to the laws like mandatory minimum sentences. Which give the same amount of prison time to someone who is carrying a couple grams of crack as say someone with an assault charge. Because of this, the prisons are overflowing with addicts, people who need help. And when the prisons are overflowing it requires the government to turn to the private sector for help. So then privately owned prisons start popping up and guess how private prisons thrive? They thrive by keeping their prisons full and the government is legally obligated to keep them way meaning drug laws get harsher, and people with no prior records end up getting life sentences for like dealing pot.
If you think racism is dead, well you’d be dead wrong. Racism is alive and well and we see it with the war on drugs.
Drug laws overwhelmingly affect African-Americans. Despite having one of the lowest rates of substance abuse and accounting for only 12 percent of drug users, black people make up 38 percent of all drug arrests. Behind bars it’s even worse—over half of those in prison on drug offenses and 80 percent of those doing time for crack convictions are African-American. For comparison, over two thirds of crack users are white or Hispanic. Nor does it stop with conviction rates: simply being black will land you, on average, a longer prison term than someone who is white—a sentence no-one should be writing. But the war on drugs doesn’t just discriminate against minorities…
3. Targeting the Poor
Thanks to a cripplingly low rate of social mobility, drug use is at its highest at the very bottom of the income scale. So it stands to reason the majority of drug busts should take place in poorer neighborhoods. Except it’s not just the majority—nearly all of them do. As far back as 1996, Human Rights Watch compiled interviews with police departments and found cops disproportionately arrested poor users simply because it was easier. Since drug arrests are incentivized with big fat bonuses, it makes more sense for a cop to just round up a few poor street dealers at the end of the month than attempt to bust that middle class cocaine party in the gated community. It is basically laziness that affects the lower class. And this means poorer people are more likely to be harassed or accidentally killed when officers raid the wrong house, while the middle class gets to see police time diverted away from making them safe and into rounding up unemployed pot-heads.
4. Violating the Constitution
When you live in a dystopian society, that is also a police state you have to put up with corrupt officials illegally detaining you, harassing you and stealing your stuff. Thank god we don’t have to up with that in the land of the free, right? Except of course we do put up with that. You might remember a 2009 story about a 13 year old Arizona schoolgirl who was strip searched when the headmaster suspected her of hiding drugs. The fourth amendment is supposed to protect you from unnecessary intrusion, so that strip search was a violation of the constitution. Also, the drugs she was allegedly hiding were just over the counter headache pills. While that made it to the Supreme Court and was ruled really illegal, this sort of thing happens ALL the time. You remember Florida’s plan to randomly test state workers for drugs, or the recent noise being made about testing welfare recipients. Not only are they both unfair, they are also a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.
5. Funding Brutal Killers
Mexico’s cartels are some of the most violent, ugly, and terrible criminals to walk the face of the earth. And thanks to the war on drugs, they’re also really, really rich. Before the vote on the legalization of marijuana in Washington, Colorado and Oregon, a respected Mexican think-tank released a study claiming a ‘yes’ vote could cut the cartel’s income by up to 30 percent.
And if you really want to see what the end of the war on drugs could do, all but fifteen percent of the cartels’ profits come from drug smuggling—take away the black market and you’ve destroyed their entire economic model, and you have done it overnight.
6. Devastating Third World Communities
Since the 1980s Colombia has seen almost impossible amounts of pesticides used in all of its farming communities, national parks and indigenous reserves by US contractors. These pesticides, meant to stop cocaine production, have instead destroyed agriculture, poisoned livestock and left children with severe chemical burns. See, most coca isn’t grown on vast plantations guarded by men with machine guns like we have seen in movies. Poor farmers who have seen their livelihoods swallowed up by supermarkets grow coca since they basically have no other choice, they grow coca and since they often grow on tiny strips of land just outside villages, crop dusters who are dumping harmful chemicals often miss and hit things like shops, churches, and even schools. After dusting, entire villages become unusable for agriculture forcing people to flee where they end up living in disease ridden slums. And that isn’t just in South America. In Afghanistan, NATO has taken to obliterating opium crops in much the same way and it is driving resentment among the rural poor often driving them into the arms of insurgent groups like ISIS.
Does the war on drugs work? What can we do differently as a nation to promote education and awareness about the disease of addiction? Please post your ideas and thoughts about this topic below. For additional education about drug addiction and how to help a loved one in need of treatment, call 855-441-2449.