In June 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” and thus began one of the most costly failures in American history. Despite its good intentions, there are a number of reasons that the War of Drugs can be deemed a failure.
#1 Out of Control Spending
What started off as a modest project has created exponential costs throughout the years. In 2010 alone, the United States federal government spent over 15 billion dollars fighting this “war”. That’s about $500 a second.
#2 Drug Use Is Increasing in America
#3 Drug War Targets Minorities
Minorities have been disproportionately locked up since the “War on Drugs” started. African-Americans and Latinos represent about three quarters of those people who are locked up in the United States for drug crimes.
#4 The United States has the Largest Prison Population In the World
The old mantra, “lock them up and throw away the key” has not reduced drug use in the United States. While the United States locks up more citizens than any other country in the world, this key provision of the War on Drugs has not solved any problems. It has just created a country that locks away its citizens.
#5 Prohibition Has Failed Before, Is Failing Again
The idea that history repeats itself applies to the war on drugs. During the 1920s, the United States began the “noble experiment”, outlawing alcohol consumption. This failed, and created a successful and dangerous black market for criminals. The War on Drugs has created a society where dangerous criminals regulate the drug market, rather than the government.
#6 The Drug War Destroys Futures
People who commit minor drug-related offenses are punished severely, and may suffer with that stigma for the rest of our lives. The anti-drug emphasis of the United States prioritizes “law and order” over rehabilitation and recovery.
#7 The Drug War Harms Patients
Victims of the drug war include cancer patients and others who do not have access to medical marijuana because of negative stigma against it. States like Utah do not allow marijuana even for medical use, restricting patients from accessing much-needed medicine.
#8 Drug Rehabilitation is Ignored
For those people who really do have drug addictions, the government has prioritized punishment over helping people with addictions. Instead of locking people up and throwing away the key, the government should spend more money on rehab facilities.
#9 The War on Drugs Attacks Personal Freedom
Politicians cannot even tackle the issue of the national debt, but think that the “government knows best” when it comes to drug policy. In reality, individuals have the freedom to make their own choices. The War on Drugs is an attack on personal freedom, a core founding principle of the United States.
#10 The Drug War Increases Crime
By keeping all drugs illegal, violent crime increases as criminals compete over “turf” in order to control the influx of illegal drugs into the United States. If the United States regulated drugs more, they would be much safer to use.