Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs, which began decades ago, has wrought havoc on families around America. This has been a war against civilians, not drugs. There have been countless broken families as a result of arrests and imprisonment, children removed from their parents, fathers locked up and literally millions of dollars spent on incarceration, sometimes just for the possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Not only are families torn apart, but there is ongoing injustice in the form of a criminal record. This means a loss of educational and employment opportunities, loss of public housing, food stamps and in some states, the right to vote.
According to the statistics, the amount spent annually on the war on drugs is more than $51,000,000,000. The number of arrests for marijuana law violations in 2014 amounted to 700,993. America has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world for drug related offences.
Despite comparable drug use and selling rates across all racial groups, African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately punished for drug law violations. This is because drug violations are an easy solution for police officers who are under pressure for high arrest quotas, resulting in thousands of wrongful arrests that overwhelmingly victimize communities of color.
The drug war not only destroys the lives and liberties in the US, but has resulted in appalling violence and corruption in countries like Mexico, which has seen over 60,000 drug war fatalities the past few years.
Has this war on drugs, including marijuana, been successful in any way? In short, no. The evidence suggests that these efforts have been unsuccessful in eradicating or even controlling the production, trade, transportation and use of illicit substances. According to the Wall Street Journal, “while prohibition may well have induced lower drug use through higher prices, it has likely also increased the rate of addiction.”
Surely it’s time to move on? Happily, marijuana has been decriminalized in over 20 states, and is gaining recognition has a natural medicine and food the world over. A major re-think of international drug policies is under way, according to the London School of Economics.