A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Monday, March 25, 2013

The War On Drugs - A Monumental Failure

There is probably no more spectacular failure of a government program than the "War on Drugs". Since the early 1970s, the federal government has spent well over a trillion dollars to wage this "war" on drugs -- and it has accomplished nothing (except to fill our prisons with non-violent offenders, and turn us into the country with the most prisoners in the entire world and the most prisoners per capita of any nation).

But this turning of America into a prison-state has done nothing to reduce the availability of drugs, the percentage of the population that are drug addicts, or the profitability of the drug trade by criminal organizations. We might as well have just burned that $1.5 trillion for all the good it has done. And the craziest part is that the government keeps spending ever larger sums of money in the vain hope that someday this failed war on drugs might actually do some good.

If any other government program had this record of utter failure to even minimally accomplish the stated goal, it would have been discontinued long ago. Why then, do we continue to throw money down the war on drugs rat-hole? I think there are two main reasons. First, there are many groups who are making a lot of money off the war on drugs (even though they are accomplishing nothing). Second, too many of our politicians have been deluded into thinking that social problems (like drug use) can be simply solved by criminalizing them.

Whether we like it or not, turning drug use and possession into criminal acts has not worked to combat the nation's drug problem (which has remained pretty constant since before the "war on drugs" was begun). It is time to recognize that fact, and change our national strategy toward drugs. We should legalize marijuana possession and tax the sale of marijuana (at all levels of government). Then we should decriminalize the possession of small amounts of other drugs, and treat them like the medical problem that they really are (through education and rehabilitation).

I know there are some who will say that we must keep the drug laws to prevent crimes like theft, burglary, and armed robbery (which may be committed to get drug money). I disagree. Those are already criminal acts, and those who commit them should be convicted of the actual crime they committed -- not the reason for committing the crime.

It is undeniably stupid to keep spending money on a "solution" that doesn't work (and has never worked). It makes far more sense to search for a solution that does work, and stop this "feel good" waste of taxpayer money.

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