During the Nixon administration, the President started a little fight called “the war on drugs.” Forty years later, it could be considered the longest active war in American history. It started with propaganda and went downhill from there. Looking back on it all, how do we see it now?
Maybe the problem was we took the president too serious? It is certain that the Carter administration didn’t with its cocaine parties in the white house. The President, who was once joked about as being a poster boy for a laxative, did not choose a popular stance among the youth of the 70s.
Portugal and Czechoslovakia, along with local states such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska have started the trend of making marijuana legal for recreational use. Has the world started going to pot? According to studies on the new legal societies, there has been no significant change in the alarming factors of crime and citizen waste warned about by the war on drugs. In fact, it could be argued that the war on drugs had no effect as well. Except to put more people in jail for as little as one joint in possession.
Since the war on drugs, the prison population has increased to the point that the United States is second in the world in percentage of incarcerated citizens. Worse, it has specifically picked on those who are economically challenged which is almost always a racial or ethnic minority. Keeping people who are already down even further down the list is propagating the unequal imbalance in our society. We can’t have equality if we choose to keep targeting the same part of our society.
Does anyone remember prohibition from 1919 to 1931? Ok, that might be a reach but we have heard about it right? Organized crime grew during prohibition like germs on a piece of rotting meat. The nation drank itself even more silly than it really is. Telling someone not to do something rarely works. Just ask any parent. A good way to put more people in prison is to make something you can’t control illegal. Just ask Stalin.
Any war will have its cost. Lives will be lost or ruined. Trillions of dollars in defense spending. All for an effort that has proved futile? Today, 45 years after Nixon started it all in 1971, the drug problem has gotten worse. More people use drugs than ever before. Prisons have never contained so much wasted life behind bars. But what has done more damage? Drugs or the war on drugs? Looking back, it is a sobering question for us all. To think drugs are a modern problem is to kid ourselves. Drugs have come from a part of our religious heritage in prehistoric times to a recreational sideline. What has changed is the way we look at drugs. As always, the problems lie not with the drugs but with our perception of drug use and the way we choose to handle an unwinnable war.