Since Richard Nixon declared war on drugs in 1971, the United States has followed down a policy path which dramatically increased the size of federal drug control agencies, the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders, and the penalties for drug use. These policies have done little to stop drug use while also leading to a higher incarceration rate than any other country in the world through the imprisonment of non-violent drug offenders. Drugs are winning.
The drug war has failed us, even worse; it has harmed our country through its draconian policies. The tide is currently swaying towards legalization of marijuana, but that will not be enough to undue this systemic harm. It is time to stop the war on drugs and replace its policies with ones which are less egregiously unjust.
While there is currently no high public demand for legalization of heroin or cocaine the times certainly seem good for pot. Numerous states are moving towards decriminalization or legalization, and it’s even off the DARE program. With public opinion slowly changing, and the economic arguments for its legalization in the potential billions of dollars in revenue, it’s likely that we will see marijuana fully legalized in the next twenty years. But this is only the first step that needs to be taken in undoing the damages of the drug war.
The public is beginning to see that the detriments of marijuana prohibition, in particular imprisonment for minuscule amounts of it, can be more harmful than helpful. They have also seen the benefits of rehab as oppose to prison in this debate. The benefits of rehabilitation instead of imprisonment extends to all drugs though, and our policies should reflect this. Prohibition has failed to decrease drug use, another approach should be attempted.
If one state alone could just attempt a purely rehab based approach it could show us what benefits we could reap. But due to the federal government’s involvement due to their war this cannot happen, as so many of the drug offenders wind up in federal court. The federal government swims in hypocrisy on this issue though.
Check out this list or this one. The very people standing behind these drug policies are admitted users! It's been close to thirteen years of rule by presidents who likely did cocaine! I think the full insanity of this is lost because of how common it is, but think about it this way. By supporting these policies these politicians are effectively saying that they should have gone to prison when they were younger and tried drugs. I wonder how many would actually go to jail to work off their past crimes if they had the option to do it today. Hint, the answer is none because they are special and didn’t get caught, which makes them “experimenters” and not “drug users.” If anyone who has tried drugs does not support decriminalization they should turn themselves in, pure and simple.
We need to rethink our approach, and try to limit our hypocrisy.