Changing the War on Drugs – Yes

The sun is going down and the corners of E. 110th Street in Manhattan are getting busy. A leisurely stroll down the street and you will quickly find out what drug you can purchase. Cars with license plates from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut are slowly cruising around, looking for their regular dealer so they can pull over and conduct business. This is a typical spring evening in many urban neighborhoods in many cities in many states.

A car pulls up in front of a lovely split-level home on a quiet, tree-lined street. A woman gets out of the passenger side of the vehicle, walks up the brick path to the front door, rings the doorbell and is let into the house. Two minutes later the woman comes out, walks back to the waiting car, gets in and the car pulls away. The drug sale that took place in the house is repeated over and over again in countless suburban neighborhoods in towns all over the United States.

Every year, the American government spends a fortune on the war on drugs. Police officers spend a lot of time making arrests, public defenders spend countless hours representing those charged with drug offenses, judges and court personnel are involved at the arraignment, hearing and trial level and then more tax dollars are spent to incarcerate those who are convicted. The vicious cycle of the war on drugs in the United States is a never-ending, losing battle. Those who are dealing are soon back on the street dealing or quietly selling from their homes and those who are addicted continue to be addicted.

Illegal drugs are cultivated, manufactured, distributed and sold all over the world, and it is a multi-billion dollar business. The war on drugs is and has always been a losing battle for law enforcement and for anyone who is addicted to drugs. The prohibition of drugs is, however, an extremely profitable business for drug cultivators, manufacturers and distributors. Additionally, people will always use drugs in order to experience an altered state just like they drink alcohol and no laws, penalties or even threat of incarceration will stop them from trying to obtain the drugs.

Drug use by humans is as old as humans themselves. Anthropological evidence has shown that humans have used psychoactive substances for millenia, and they have traced this as far back as 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia when opiates were made from the poppy plant. The violent drug war that has been going on in the U.S. will not cure addicts from their addiction, nor will it prevent people from using drugs.

Marijuana (Cannabis), which was used in China 3,000 years ago, should be legalized, taxed and sold in the U.S. The revenues that the government could collect from the sale of marijuana would be enormous. Marijuana does not cause people to become addicted to other drugs, as many have claimed. Alcohol causes addiction, countless deaths every year, and many lives to be destroyed and yet it is legal. There is no reason why the U.S. should not benefit from the sale of marijuana.

Drug abuse is not caused by drug manufacturers or distributors but by a variety of other issues, including peer pressure, abuse in the home, depression and many other psychological disorders, to name a few. There will always be some drug addiction and the fight against it should begin with education. Teaching the young about the life-long effects of drug addiction should be the first step in prevention. The proper treatment of psychological disorders, together with medication and therapy can help prevent drug abuse. The drug abuser who repeatedly goes into drug rehabilitation needs help to overcome the underlying reasons of their addiction.

The money that that U.S. government presently spends on fighting the ‘war on drugs’ can be used so much more efficiently on education, mental-health treatment and other similar programs. Legalizing and taxing the sale of marijuana would create incredible revenues for our government and it would put an end to the violence associated with the constant search, apprehension and incarceration of those involved in its sale.