The War on Drugs is a Failure

In a world arguably consumed by ignorance, it’s no wonder we have something as silly as the “War on Drugs”. Many believe that this is a noble war, and see no problem with it. Whether you approve of illicit drug use or not, the facts take no sides. This “War” on drugs has (with no surprise) fallen short, and in many cases has caused irreversible damage to our country. Such a bold statement must have reason to be said, right? Well, let’s begin.

In essence, the very roots of the war on drugs is found in corruption and racism. In 1875 “china white” heroin was steadily entering the country by way of Chinese immigrants. As it’s well-known, public opinion of immigration from China during this era was not very positive, and hostility was very present. Especially so in San Francisco, where the first ever drug ban in the United States was initiated. Why? Because many white women where found to be using heroin in Chinese worker’s “Den’s” while their husbands were away. To say the least, this displeased many people. And in a time where America was beginning to develop it’s own culture, this was seen as unacceptable. In fact, there is no record of there actually being a drug problem in San Francisco. Opium was pretty common place (not to advocate it’s use, but facts will show, it was not a priority for banning), unfortunately so was the racism, ignorance, and intolerance.

Some see the war on drugs as a good thing, and at all costs we should keep these blasphemous substances off the streets. Well, such a statement is not only ignorant, it is also extremely dangerous. By doing this we maintain illicit drug’s statuses as illegal, thus increasing the rate of crime. People have been getting high since the dawn of man, and that’s not going to stop anytime soon. So the increase in crime rate? That won’t stop anytime soon, either. But the stunning thing is that, in the African American community over the last generation, 1/4 of black males have been in federal prison for non violent drug charges. This has many negative impacts on society as a whole. For one, you just took 10 million non violent offenders, tossed them into a prison, and now have hardened criminals on their way back into society.

It’s a never ending cycle which has started and stayed in full swing even since prohibition. Not only have we created more danger on the street, we also are pouring our tax dollars into keeping these inmates contained. (Current rate is $24,000 a year per inmate, times the average annual incarceration rate: roughly 2.5 million. Do the math) Now, that’s not to say all prisoners don’t deserve to be there. But a good portion of them don’t, regardless of your personal beliefs, for the tax payer’s sake, they don’t belong there.

Another great benefit of the war on drugs we have, are criminals. No, not the ones we have in our prisons. The major drug cartels we have infecting our country, making billions upon billions of dollars on the annual drug market. And you know what makes their undeniable success possible? The illegality of drugs. It takes simple logic to figure this one out. How does the government make money? Through taxes, right? Most of the items we buy everyday have taxes on them: in essence, sales tax. It’s on pretty much everything we buy, be it groceries or cigarettes. However, drugs are exempt from this tax. Thus, our government cannot regulate their distribution, and cannot control taxes on said products. Instead, all this money goes into the hands of the ones who have taken control of the manufacture and distribution of these products: organized crime. And organized crime is not good news.

According for archives, the death toll due to the war on drugs in Mexico has reached nearly 23,000. This is all made possible because of the enormous profits to be made off of drugs. To put it in perspective, a gram of cocaine will run you $3-4 in Columbia. Once it gets to New York, or any major city in America, you’re looking at $80-120 for that one gram. With profit margins like that, the distribution of illicit drugs will never stop, no matter the cost. The lives lost in Mexico have proven this.

All the lives lost, the tax dollars wasted, the lives ruined. You only have to ask yourself, is this “War on Drugs” really worth it? Some say we’d be way worse off if we weren’t wasting all this money and time. However that’s not true. Statistics show that most of the source countries for these drugs, minus the poverty, have no drug problems to speak of. It’s no doubt we could be spending the $40 billion a year that we do on this war on something better, maybe something that isn’t based off of ignorance.