Ending the War on Drugs
I worked for the Hudson House/United States Mission for five and half years. In that time, I’d met many people who were addicted to drugs. Back in the 80s, rock cocaine was the main drug that scourged the streets of Los Angeles. We had a name for those that who were hooked on cocaine and that was “Rock Monsters”. The reason for that was because they would do anything to obtain their next high, if it meant stabbing their own mother to death. They became monsters who preyed on whomever they thought they could get enough money to get twenty-dollar to buy another rock of cocaine.
Later, the drug of choice was Crystal Meth, a completely different kind of high but just as addictive. Both of these drugs could lead someone to the grave or at least prison.
Personally I didn’t hook up on those kinds of drugs. I smoked my share of pot but that was it. Working in a mission gave me a firsthand look at the damage these drugs could do.
The war on drugs in all of this has been a complete failure. It never stopped the steady flow of drugs into major cities like Los Angeles. All it really did is it made drugs a very profitable business for drug kingpins and everyone beneath them. It destroys countless lives as it doesn’t solve the problem at all; it only encourages it.
I’m not absolutely sure if legalizing it will make much difference either, but I do know that it won’t make it any worse. The main point is that our government on every level spends billions of dollars fighting illicit drugs and it’s all a waste. It would be better if that money went into treatment instead. I do know when someone reaches the point that they want to get off of whatever drug they’re on, it is next to impossible to do so without professional help.
Our prison systems are overloaded and they continue to grow. In fact, more states are turning toward privatizing them which means it’s becoming a for-profit business. This is a big mistake because it means that there’s a real motivation to encourage crime, and what better way than to encourage drug dealing, and the way to do that is to increase the demand. And, to increase the demand calls for more people on illegal drugs.
There are two directions that we can go here; we can continue down the same path and by doing so, our government will become more overwhelmed with trying to provide prisons for even more people as our society continues to deny that the “war on drugs” is a failure. Then the profit-making corporations can move in and take over, taking the problem off of the government’s hands.
Before you know it, they’ll also want to take up law enforcement too and surely the government – always a servant of Big Business, will oblige and turn it over to them. If we just take a look into the future of what this will do to our society, big corporations making a profit out of our nation’s crime problem. Eventually, they’ll be doing what they can to see that there are more of the same – crime will grow, not decrease. Or at least more people will end up in the penitentiary system simply because it’s profitable to the corporation or corporations that’s running it.
The second direction is that we can look the problem in the face and make an about-face – stop the “war on drugs” and if anything; stop prosecuting drug possession offenses. Start investing the money we’ve used to enforce and imprison drug users into treatment programs.
Put drugs on the same level as alcohol and continue to enforce laws that protect our citizens as far as driving under the influence and violent acts and then make new laws that regulate where and how drugs are sold and distributed. Levy a tax on drug sales and use a big portion of that tax to educate our young along with provide treatment.
It’s not the best answer in the world but the current system isn’t the answer at all. I do know that legalizing it won’t encourage the use of it. Those who are wise enough not to do those drugs now will still be just as wise, and those who’re dumb enough to allow themselves to get addicted now will be just as dumb.
- Richard Branson: It’s time to end the failed war on drugs (boingboing.net)
- Sundance doc examines costs of US war on drugs (pbpulse.com)
- Video: The War on Drugs, “Brothers” (thefader.com)
- Sundance doc examines costs of U.S. war on drugs (ctv.ca)