United States’ War on Drugs

The fight against prohibited drugs has long been a battle the United States could not claim to have won over the years. Various campaigns and policies were created in order to build a ‘drug free society. ’ But the present situation illustrates a divergence from this ideal society that the government has been trying to establish. The use of drugs is deeply rooted in the history of the United States. Along with the vast campaigns against its use, spontaneous proliferation and distribution of prohibited drugs in various kinds within and outside the country has become dominant.

In order to address this problem in the society, law enforcements were strengthened. Government spending constantly increased in order to address the need for a more profound strategy to limit, if not totally prevent, the number of people getting hooked to it. But as the federal government continue to adapt the policies of the ‘War on Drugs’ no positive effect has been perceived since it was first initiated. There was instead an increase in the distribution and drug trafficking. Growing crime incidents caused by the use of illegal drugs have spread over the media.

Gangs ruled the streets and prison population involving drug use and trafficking has tremendously increased. (Wisotsky, p. 25) The use of the different forms of illegal drugs has not only doubled but quintupled. In the recent years, one of the most troubling scenarios found to be even more depressing is the involvement of young adolescents with ages 12-17 in the selling of illegal drugs. (“War on Drugs”) Various issues are also associated with the United States policy on its fight against illegal drugs.

The hundreds of billions of dollars spent on its implementation have always drawn the attention of its critics. Racism is but another strong accusation that has been pointed out as the major cause of implementing such policy creating a new process that leads to slavery. Yet today, the drug war continues. However, unending criticisms were then elicited by this depressing fact. And to add insult to injury, ‘War on Drugs’ policies has become one of the many dilemmas that the American society faces. ‘War on Drugs’ Roots in the US

The drug war in the United States has started since the 19th century when it made an agreement with China to prohibit opium shipment between the two countries. (“War on Drugs, para 2) From then on, several acts and policies were enacted by the US government against the use of illegal drugs. Alcohol was even prohibited (“War on Drugs, para 5) along with the belief that it causes addiction as well. ‘War on Drugs’ was initially used by President Richard Nixon in 1971 referring to the new set of initiatives or policies involving the prohibition of illegal drugs.

He started combating drugs in 1969, labeling its use as “public enemy number one in the United States. ” (“War on Drugs,” para 2 & 7) Consequently, it was under his administration when he recommended that the use of marijuana, one of the widely used kind of illicit drug, be legalized for medical purposes. Under President Ronald Reagan, the “War on Drugs” campaign was seriously and publicly launched. (“War on Drugs, para 8) Policies on drug use were intensified promoting aggressive ones. He had promised to have a drug-free society starting from school campuses and workplaces.

Drug treatments were expanded, law enforcements and drug interdiction efforts were strengthened, and campaigns were intensified to provide public an awareness of the detrimental phenomenon in the society. (“Ronald Reagan,” para 1) The Cost of the Drugwar Huge amounts of money have been spent by the US government in its pursuit to win the war on illegal drugs. In 1986, an overwhelming $1. 7 billion dollars was approved and signed by President Reagan upon enacting a drug enforcement bill into law.

(“Ronald Reagan,” para 1) But this was regarded by the Bush administration as insufficient such that he provided approved a budget that is a thousand times when Nixon first set his hands on this problem of the society. (“The War,” para 127) In 2005, the estimated total cost that the government has put on the “War on Drugs” policies was to be roughly $12 billion dollars. Additionally, in a separate report, the U. S. government reports that the cost of incarcerating drug law offenders was $30. 1 billion — $9. 1 billion for police protection, $4.

5 billion for legal adjudication, and $11. 0 billion for state and federal corrections. In total, roughly $45. 5 billion was spent in 2005 for these factors. (“War on Drugs, para 10) But these huge amounts of money that is poured over the campaigns and policies prohibiting the abuse and trade of illegal drugs, it remains to dominate the society. As the US government lost its money to this kind of war, drug trades are on the other hand gaining as much money through underground operations. (Glenny, p. B01) Issues Concerning the “War on Drugs”

According to Wisotsky (1993), “War on Drugs” is a war not against its use, production and distribution, but a war set by the government against its people. It was not able to commit its success in prohibiting the proliferation of illegal drugs, but it has succeeded in curtailing the liberty and privacy of the Americans. There was too much exaggeration on the strategies enacted by the government that it neglected the fact that the people’s privacy is already invaded. The search and seizure operations are already harassing those who are suspected to be possessing illegal drugs.

Surveillance of the US mails were also implemented, wiretapping, and stopping of cars on public places were other examples of harassments that the Americans were experiencing when “War on Drugs” was enacted. There were 7,500 Congressmen, entertainers, clergymen, industry leaders, and foreign dignitaries who were investigated secretly for alleged illegal drug activities. Yet another form of harassment and invasion of people’s privacy was the extreme military surveillance providing the police forces with high-caliber arms that they can posses through the process of investigation.

The justice system had been giving offenders of the law on illegal drugs with excessive punishments wherein even members of the justice system are expressing protests against the government policies for drug users and dealers. (Wisotsky, p. 27) The federal government has been proud of the huge number of arrests made in accordance to the “War on Drugs” policy. However, the government has neglected the reality that these arrests are merely superficial and that there is a deeper predicament that needs to be addressed.

As a principal means of punishment for those who were caught violating the drug law, the US government has relied solely on this means to fight the drug war. But the ballooning number of incarcerated illegal drug violators is troubling. Two million Americans have been brought to prison in 2001 alone. And in comparison to any other country, the United States has imprisoned most of its citizens than any other nation in the world. (“Race,” para 3) Racism was also an issue that was connected to the “War on Drugs” policy.

Research show that in the United States prisons, there was an observed 62. 7% blacks and 36. 7% whites incarcerated. Black men admitted to state prison on drug charges at a rate that is 13. 4 times greater than that of white men. In large part because of the extraordinary racial disparities in incarceration for drug offenses, blacks are incarcerated for all offenses at 8. 2 times the rate of whites. One in every 20 black men over the age of 18 in the United States is in state or federal prison, compared to one in 180 white men. (“Summary,” para 2)

The “War on Drugs” policy is considered by many as the newest tool to generate new slaves in the form of prisoners. The drug law has been superficial considering the number of blacks who are incarcerated. The disparity between these arrests and the extensive media hype creates an impression to the public that the blacks are the major offenders in the drug war. (Small, p. 31) “War on Drugs”: Success or Failure After 36 years when the first drug war policy was implemented, there is but a bleak hope that awaits the American society.

The hundreds off billions of dollars spent by the US government were put to waste considering the fact that the number of arrests connected to illegal drugs continues to increase. Moreover, drug syndicates are even making more profits. The more that the US government intensifies its policies and campaigns regarding the prohibitation of drug use the more the producers increase its monetary worth. As a result, they gain as much profit while the US government loses more of its people’s money. (Glenny, p. B01) The problem starts with prohibition, the basis of the war on drugs.

The theory is that if you hurt the producers and consumers of drugs badly enough, they’ll stop doing what they’re doing. But instead, the trade goes underground, which means that the state’s only contact with it is through law enforcement, i. e. busting those involved, whether producers, distributors or users. But so vast is the demand for drugs in the United States, the European Union and the Far East that nobody has anything approaching the ability to police the trade. (Glenny, p. B01)

Works Cited:

Glenny, M. 2007. The Lost War: We’ve Spent 36 Years and Billions of Dollars Fighting It, butthe Drug Trade Keeps Growing. Retrieved from http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp- dyn/content/article/2007/08/17/AR2007081701716. html on November 19, 2007. Race, The War On Drugs And The United States Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from http://www. drugpolicy. org/about/position/race_paper_crim. cfm on November 19, 2007. Small, D. 2001. The war on drugs is a war on racial justice. Social Research. War on Drugs. Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/War_on_Drugs on November 19, 2007. Wisotsky, S. 1993. A society of suspects: the War on Drugs and civil liberties. USA Today.

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