APCP Research Paper
Drug Policy: A Look at America’s Ineffective Approach to Drugs
Introduction In January 2004, senatorial candidate Barack Obama firmly opposed the twenty two-year war on drugs, saying that the United States’ approach in the drug war has been ineffective (Debussman). Although the term, “war on drugs,” was originally coined by President Richard Nixon in 1971, it wasn’t until Ronald Reagan announced that “drugs were menacing society” that it became a major policy goal to stop widespread use. Following Reagan’s promises to fight for drug-free schools and workplaces, the United States boosted its efforts in its most recent declaration of war. Thirty years later, at the Summit of the Americas, President Obama staunchly opposed the legalization of drugs in a classic political flip-flop, claiming that unregulated use of drugs would be more corrupt than the status quo (“Blunt Talk”). The president’s view is naïve and inaccurate. The legalization of drugs is the most effective way to decrease corruption and violence in Latin America. Legalization would result in less crime across the region, less money for drug cartels, and significantly reduced corruption in Latin American governments. Background Since Reagan’s declaration, the war on drugs has been a dismal failure. The New York Times book review quantifies the extent of the war’s failed approach, saying that it is hard to think of a single lasting accomplishment. (Guillermoprieto). Eradication efforts have worked against what the war intended to do, and have actually increased drug production in Latin American countries. Although Columbia spends six percent of its annual GNP on drug eradication (Guillermoprieto), the amount of land devoted to growing coca in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru has risen to more than 700 square miles. These are the highest levels of cultivation since 2001. (“Coca”).
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