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Home / Articles / News / News /  Ending war on drugs
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Thursday, June 16,2011

Ending war on drugs

By Boulder Weekly Staff

 

June 17 will mark 40 years since President Richard Nixon, citing drug abuse as “public enemy No. 1,” officially declared a “war on drugs.” Activists say that a trillion dollars and millions of ruined lives later, the war on drugs shows no signs of ending — or of succeeding.

Drug policy reform advocates across the country will mark the date with a day of action to raise awareness about the failure of drug prohibition and call for an exit strategy to what they call a failed war.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary, drug policy reform organizations will hold a national day of action. Colorado joins 15 other states in holding events in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans. The day of action will be highlighted with a large-scale event with elected officials in Washington, D.C.

In Denver, a rally will be hosted by the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and Drug Policy Alliance. A bipartisan group of speakers and concerned citizens, including Mike Krause of the Independence Institute, Mason Tvert from SAFER and Dr. Vincent Harding from the Iliff School of Theology, will discuss the impact of 40 years of drug prohibition.

“Since the declaration of this war, millions of people have been incarcerated for low-level drug violations, and trillions of dollars have been spent, but addiction, overdose and incarceration are more prevalent than ever,” says Pam Clifton, communications coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. “Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost in the United States due to drug overdose, Hepatitis C and AIDS because life-saving interventions were not readily available.”

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the federal government spent more than $15 billion in 2010 on the war on drugs, at a rate of about $500 per second. Individual states spent an estimated additional $25 billion. In 2009, 1,663,582 people were arrested across the country on drug charges. Since Dec. 31, 1995, the U.S. prison population has grown an average of 43,266 inmates per year, and about 25 percent of new inmates are sentenced for drug law violations. The U.S. incarcerates more people for drug offenses than the nations of the European Union lock up for all offenses combined. About 501 million people live in the E.U, and the U.S. population is about 309 million.

“Some anniversaries provide an occasion for celebration, others a time for reflection, still others a time for action,” says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Forty years after President Nixon declared his war on drugs, we’re seizing upon this anniversary to prompt both reflection and action. And we’re asking everyone who harbors reservations about the war on drugs to join us in this enterprise.”

In Colorado, 90 percent of incarcerated women were found to be in need of substance abuse treatment, and 69 per cent of people in Colorado prisons for drug offenses are people of color.

“The War on Drugs has created an environment in which police abuse civilians before asking questions,” says Art Way, Colorado manager of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The militarization and subsequent dehumanizing of law enforcement is a direct result of the political cover, equipment and resources provided by the war on drugs.”

For more information, see www.ccjrc.org.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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The biggest hurdle to overcome in the fight for legalization is that the War on Drugs provides too much income for too many people. Not just drug dealers but law enforcement officers, CIA, DEA, public and private prisons and their employees, lawyers, judges, etc. On top of that, the liquor and big pharma lobbyists will fight legalization to protect their interests as well.

You want to know why drugs are still illegal? Follow the money.

 

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When we legally regulate (as opposes to prohibit) the use of something we do NOT automatically condone it's use; the legal regulations concerning the sale and manufacture of alcohol and tobacco are there to protect us from the vast increase in criminality and mayhem that would otherwise surely exist if we were foolish enough to prohibit them.

 

Nicotine is the biggest killer of all known drugs, but it's sale is legally regulated. Now why is that? Alcohol Prohibition made cigarette smoking a national habit. High on the evangelicals' hit list, second only to alcohol as a substance that had to be prohibited. In 1921, cigarettes were illegal in fourteen states, and anti-cigarette bills were pending in twenty-eight others. The prohibition of cigarettes, promoted by the very people who gave us the prohibition of alcohol, made cigarette smoking almost irresistible. As the experiment of Prohibition failed, the anti-cigarette laws fell. By 1930, they were legal almost everywhere; during Prohibition, the consumption of tobacco had nearly tripled.

 

An important aspect of Individual freedom is the right to self-medicate, or to do with yourself as you please as long as your actions cause no unnecessary suffering or direct harm to others. Some among us may disagree with this, and they should be free to believe what they wish. But the moment they are willing to use force (paid for with our own hard-earned taxes) to impose their will on the rest of us, is the exact same moment that the petty criminals/dealers, the Mafia, drug barons, terrorists and corrupt government officials/agencies enter the equation. The problems created by any possible self-harm then rapidly pale into insignificance as society spirals downwards into a dark abyss, while the most shady characters and black-market corporate entities exponentially enrich themselves in a feeding frenzy likened to that of piranhas on 'prohibition engendered' bath-tub meth.

 

Every-time the ghastly consequences of prohibition are falsely blamed on the users, it diminishes the culpability of those who are truly responsible for maintaining the status quo. Prohibition is an absolute scourge -the end!  The use of drugs is NOT the real problem, the system that grants exclusive distribution rights to violent cartels and terrorists IS.

 

When governments prohibit drugs they effectively and knowingly hand a monopoly on their sale to dangerous criminals and terrorists. Without a legal framework in which to operate, these black-market entities can always be expected to settle their disputes violently, while terrorizing many peaceful and innocent citizens in the process. Were the users of alcohol to blame for the St Valentines massacre in 1929? Of course not! It is just as naive to assume that one can compel all the users of Marijuana or Cocaine to  simply quit, as it is to assume that all the users of Alcohol should have stopped drinking after the introduction of alcohol prohibition in 1919. 

 

Nobody can be expected to obey bad laws, like ones that infringe on logic as well as the fundamental right to decide on what medicine or poison an individual adult may, or may not, ingest. The corruption, violence and death ultimately arising from such bad public policy should always rest squarely on the shoulders of those ignorant imbeciles who are responsible for implementing and supporting such foolishness.

 

Prohibition is nothing less than a grotesque dystopian nightmare; if you support it you must be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.

 

“The greater the number of laws, the more corrupt the republic.” Tacitus

 

 
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