The War On Drugs

Declare a Victory by Ending the War on Drugs

And Send the Prisoners of That Awful War Home

By Dan Smith

The 47-year-old War on Drugs is an attempt by New York state and the federal government to protect you from yourself. Their rules will put you away if you take or sell certain drugs. Not all drugs, just some drugs. And they’ve made some curious choices. They permit you to drink the powerful drug, alcohol (albeit under a heavily-taxed, heavily regulated, corrupt three-tier system designed in the 1930’s which only goes to raise prices and promote corruption). They permit you smoke cigarettes, which kills seven million people each year and which is equally corrupt and which the state profits from mightily ($6.86 of tax on each pack of 20 in NYC).

Despite them approving and profiting off of those deadly drugs, New York chooses to hunt you down, throw you in jail and ruin your life for something relatively benign like marijuana, which many states have legalized (and which New York is finally considering legalizing). They will throw you in jail for otherwise peaceful actions, thereby creating criminals from nowhere and generating violence in the form of no-knock raids and turf wars among drug dealers whose activities have been driven underground by the state.

Other deadly drugs are illegal, too, of course. No one is recommending methamphetamines, crack cocaine or heroin for people. People are right to consider them bad news, very bad news. But making them illegal is not proving to be a deterrent. The laws are not curbing use and, worse, they are keeping people who get hooked on these dangerous substances from getting the treatment which could help them. The effort to stop them is expensive and immoral.

In short, it is not for society to make these decisions for others and it is wasteful to try.

As witnessed in America’s experience with prohibiting alcohol under the Eighteenth Amendment, violence was unleashed by a law which forbids the sale and consumption of that drug.

Americans problems with alcohol were bad. The government’s solution was worse, much worse.

And just like alcohol prohibition, policing becomes a more violent activity in the War on Drugs—an unnecessarily violent and often corrupt one—as everyone from the DEA to state and local police departments to corrections departments line up for more equipment and bigger budgets to fight this war. But while budgets grow, police officers unnecessarily risk their lives creating violence where none would have otherwise existed.

Luckily, we got rid of that heinous, mistaken Constitutional Amendment 14 years later. When will Americans learn the same lesson about the War on Drugs?

On a moral level, many of us see that non-violent drug offenses are victimless crimes. Our jails are full of such ‘offenders.’ Many studies and scholars have shown that incarcerating such people does not deter crime, as many pro-law enforcement politicians would have you believe. While it’s true that crime falls when you lock up violent offenders, the same is not true with non-violent offenders, as the Brookings Instutite’s Hamilton Project, the NYU-Brennan Center Crime Study and many others have shown.

Another NYU-Brennan Center study showed that an estimated 39 percent (approximately 576,000 people) [in federal and state prisons in the U.S.] are incarcerated with little public safety rationale.” In other words, they hurt no one beyond themselves. But because politicians have declared them criminals, despite the absence of a victim or a real crime.

But there are other choices: decriminalize this activity. Set aside your distaste for the drug user and only prosecute a drug seller or user if he or she commits an act of violence. Otherwise, let them be free to make this potential mistake and free to seek help without fear of incarceration.

One international example of what happens when you decriminalize drugs is Portugal. In 2001, they did just that. The results have been stunning. With more than 15 years to examine, we can see that drug-related HIV is down 90%, drug related deaths have gone from been being one of Europe’s worst to being its second best, drug use has declined steadily each year, and use of the most dangerous drugs has fallen and violence related to drug use is down substantially. In other words, Portugal’s drug war was itself creating many of the problems.

Portugal isn’t alone. The Netherlands has a “tolerance policy” on soft drugs, which not led to chaos, as anyone who’s been there knows. Uruguay has had liberal drug policies with a great deal of success. And most Americans know of the success that Colorado and Washington and others have seen in decriminalizing marijuana.

Our government’s poor choices about drug laws need to come to an end. The rules make no sense. Worse, they are enforced in the most ham-handed, expensive way possible—wasting billions is taxpayer dollars (more than $1 trillion in the US since 1971) and costing many, many lives. One can’t be blamed for thinking wasting taxpayers’ money has become a primary goal of the War on Drugs, given the overwhelming evidence of our loss of that war.

End the War on Drugs! Declare a victory for New Yorkers and the American people. Send the prisoners of that war, the non-violent ones at the very least, home to their loved ones so they can restart their lives and deal with their problems.

One thought on “The War On Drugs

  1. Dear Mr. Sharpe,

    I just heard some of the Shannon Love Show & I had to look you up online. I am a registered Republican only so I can vote in the primaries. I almost voted for the Libertarian who was running for president until he was asked who was his favorite world leader & he couldn’t name one. They then asked can you name any world leader & he said he couldn’t think of one. I was NO WAY going to vote for Hilliary so I looked at Trump as a businessman & thought maybe someone who has never really been in politics is a person I could vote for & I did. He isn’t perfect but we are a lot better off than having another Clinton in the White House.
    So you want to decriminalize drug users, are you going to make marijuana legal for recreational use? I’m over 60 & am currently on medical marijuana & it helps but it’s too expensive! I live on a VERY tight fixed income & I can’t afford to buy it as much as I need it. It also only has 5mg THC in the 7ml 20-1 bottle & that’s nothing compared to what is sold on the streets. If I knew someone that I trusted that sold the real stuff I’d buy it in a heartbeat! But being over 60 I don’t. I did in the 70s & did partake but always went back to alcohol because it was legal & I didn’t want to get busted. Alcohol is one dangerous drug & that’s legal! A supposed drunk driver killed both of my parents when I was a senior in high school. He testified in court that he was drinking & parting but only got a ticket for failure to keep right. When he finally did hit us head on we were in a field. Marijuana was only outlawed because of William Randolph Hearst & Mr. Du Pont. Hearst was a bigot & owned acres of trees for paper & he knew that 1 acre of hemp could make as much paper as 10 acres of trees. Henry Ford created a car completely out of hemp & was fueled on hemp oil but Mr. DuPont created plastic out of oil. Fords car was stronger than steel but people with BIG money can do anything & make politicians make both illegal, making statements & small films that said weed would make you crazy especially if you were Mexican or African American. Of course, people are sheeple & believe everything they hear & that’s sad. I ran into an old friend at a car shop & she was going through chemo & was smoking weed cuz the pills they tried to give her she just couldn’t keep down. She gained back the weight she lost & was feeling so much better. A man overheard our conversation & said when he was a teen he grew it & sold it & learned that if you use the same kind of weed that your body got use to it & so he started growing different types but he said that was in his past & he couldn’t go back to his old lifestyle. He’s right using medical marijuana from the same dispensary you are getting the same type each time & they also GMOed it!
    Now on the topic of school debt. My son went to school in NY & he owes over $70,000 in college loan debt! He lives in Pittsburgh & I told him & his sister not to move back to NY because we are in a state of depression! My daughter lives in Texas as a travel COTA & loves her job. She had someone looking for her for a job up here & he told her what her wages would be & she laughed but he was serious. She said I could make more at Taco Bell! And she’s right! As much as I love both of my kids I don’t want them to live in a state that right now appears that it has no future. And if I had the money to fix up my home I’d sell it & move south. My property taxes along with my school taxes are crazy! In my old home that we had to sell because my husband divorced me was my dream home. It had 1995 sq ft + 1600sq ft in a finished basement. It was on an acre of land in the next town over & my taxes there were half of what mine are! My house is 1100sg ft on 0.18 of land. It’s so sad how things are in this state.
    I can’t vote for Cuomo! So I’m voting for you if you can make marijuana legal for recreational use! I wish I had the money to support you but I just don’t have it. I’m sorry Sir but I will vote for you & I will tell all my friends about you with hopes we have you as our next governor!
    My Best Regards,
    Bonnie J Stewart

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