The "War on Drugs"


The War on Drugs does more harm than good. 

The War on Drugs destroys millions of lives in this country--orders of magnitude more than drug use itself. Prohibition does not stop drug use or crime, and is responsible for the creation of large-scale, violent, well-funded and well-armed criminal syndicates. Every school child in this country is taught about the harmful effects of alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s, and we can see the same story repeating itself today. The United States has the largest prison population in the world. The drug war costs us over $40 billion per year and destroys millions of lives. Over 20% of the US prison population is incarcerated solely for victimless drug crimes, as well as 25% of the population on probation, and 33% of the population on parole.  Many of those people left with no choice but to turn to a life of crime, as a result. Drug abuse is a health problem that should be dealt with by health experts, not a problem that should be clogging up our courts, jails, and prisons. In addition to the significant financial strain, the drug war has led to the the expansion of police powers through civil forfeiture laws, "no-knock" warrants and other "anti-drug" measures. The drug war has also created conditions where warlords and terrorists including Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and 121 other entities throughout the world that we know of (according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime), often turn to the drug trade to finance civil wars and conflict throughout the world, especially in South America and Asia.

Even the people who are hurt by drug addiction today would be better off in a system where drug use was not criminal. Legalization would allow addicts an avenue to pursue safe, uncritical treatment, just like for alcohol abuse, without worrying about legal consequences, or becoming an unwitting target for law enforcement. 65% of illicit drug users report only using marijuana. Nearly half of all drug arrests in this country are for marijuana alone. 42.4% of all drug arrests in the United States are for marijuana possession alone. Without prohibition, access to less dangerous, legal marijuana would prevent users from turning to more harmful synthetic alternatives--or even alcohol and tobacco, which are legal, but demonstrably more damaging. The results of legalization in Colorado are clear: marijuana use by locals has not increased dramatically, but black markets are drying up, crime is down, enforcement costs are down, and even the use of other illegal drugs appears to have decreased.