An Unfair Drug War

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  • Topic: Mandatory sentencing, Drug control history, Drug
  • Pages : 6 (2110 words )
  • Download(s) : 40
  • Published : April 19, 2008
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Drug production and drug dealing today has become a substantial source of revenue. Whether for making up budget deficits or for the enrichment of certain individuals, population groups, firms or even countries, drugs are distributed worldwide. Drugs also involve economically marginalized sectors of the population, such as peasant producers or some small-scale drug dealers, criminal organizations or certain closely-knit sectors of society in the world of business or State institutions. The recycling of profits is central to the economy and society in terms of land, real estate and financial assets. It directly involves businesses and financial institutions. The social transformations stemming from the development of the drug economy reveal a growth in the sectors of illegal activity. These issues, which now concern all parts of the world, take different shape from one region and location to another. Politically, the issue of drugs is extremely significant. The War on Drugs has been a long and expensive fight to decrease the usage and sales of drugs. Although politics have struggled to end the large usage, it seems as if the war is a waste of time. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being poured into this Drug War and it seems to be very ineffective. The history of the non-medical use of drugs in this country dates back to the 1900s. During this time people were far more addicted to drugs than today (Tackling). This was because of the high dosage of morphine used by doctors during medical operations. The first criminal law at the Federal level that illegalized the non-medical use of drugs was the Harrison Act in 1914. This law applied to drugs such as morphine, opium, and the derivatives of the coca leaf like cocaine. There was no mention of drugs such as marijuana, amphetamines or any hallucinogenic drugs that are used today (Tackling). The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was created to prohibit the use of marijuana (Tackling). In 1956 the Daniel Act was passed to increase the penalty for possession of marijuana or any other drugs. The mandatory minimum for sale of marijuana in Virginia was twenty years; which was higher than sentencing for murder and rape. In no part were you eligible for parole, probation, or a suspended sentence (Tackling). In 1969, the Dangerous Substances Act gave up the effort to define narcotic drugs and classified all drugs by their medical use and their potential for abuse. This includes all drugs except alcohol and nicotine. The 1969 act also lowered penalties in every offense category (Tackling). The 1980s was believed to be a dramatic increase in drug usage and drug sales. During this time, the War on Drugs was established by President George H Bush. Law after law was created to raise penalties and by the 1990s, 30% of the minority population of the City of Baltimore, who were male and between the ages of 20 and 29, were under court supervision for drugs (Tackling). Thomas Eddy was among the first to be sentenced under the Rockefeller drug laws (Marks). He was arrested in 1979 for selling two ounces of cocaine. He only expected to get a couple of years but instead the sophomore at State University of New York, Binghamton, a National Merit Scholar, got 15 years to life (Marks). He was granted clemency after 13-1/2 years. Eddy is now about to earn his law degree and is determined to fight the mandatory-minimum drug laws. “What destroyed me was not drugs, it was a mandatory-minimum sentence,” he says.

In 2001 the Louisiana Legislature overwhelmingly approved a legislation that was designed to override the state’s tough drug laws. This legislation cut drug sentences, repealed mandatory minimum sentences for many nonviolent crimes, and created a “risk-review” panel to review the sentences of certain inmates to see if they should receive a pardon parole (Louisiana). As the state with the highest per capita incarceration rate in the nation, Louisiana could not afford to continue...
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