War on Drugs in the U.S
The term “War on Drugs” was first used by U.S president Richard Nixon. The term is used to describe a campaign of prohibition, foreign military aid and military intervention undertaken by the United States government, with the help of other countries, and the aim to reduce the illegal drug trade. The war on drugs began in 1914 but became more popular four decades ago, on July 17, 1971. This war was declared by President Nixon who said “Drug abuse was public enemy number one!” One would think that war on drugs would have ignited because of the ghettoes or Woodstock festivals in Nixon’s era. In actuality this war began because of the addiction of soldiers who were fighting in Vietnam. President Nixon took action immediately and ordered urine testing for all US troops in Indochina. Nixon signed his war on drugs into law January 28, 1972, Nixon saying “I am convinced that the only way to fight this menace is by attacking it on many fronts”. Although Nixon took action, this wasn’t the first law that attempted to put a halt to drugs in the US. In 1920, the United States passed the National Prohibition Act along with the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption on a national level. The attempt to stop illegal drugs went on even before 1920 with the passing of the National Prohibition Act. The first U.S. law that restricted the distribution and use of certain drugs was the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The first local laws came as early as 1860. So even though Nixon declared this “War on Drugs”, it was escalating way before his presidency. The main goals & intent of the War is too discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of illegal drugs. In other words, the war wants to slow down or even stop the making & selling of illegal drugs. It would also like to put a stop to the usage of these illegal drugs. If the selling, usage & production of these illegal substances can be stopped, the United States feels as though this can make the country improve. Although the war on drugs may not have been put in effect because of blacks in the past, but as of today, most of the drug related crimes are committed indeed by blacks or lower class Americans. So another goal for this war in modern day would not only be too stop the illegal drugs but also too help the ones who are involved in these crimes. This war against drugs indeed is affecting the U.S. economically. Many believe that if you simply just stop the war and legalize these drugs, a substantial amount of money will be saved. United States spends approximately $600 per second on the war on drugs. Not only that, but it cost a total of $15.2 billion to lock up all of the nonviolent state and federal prisoners in 1998. That cost taxpayers a total of $24 billion to incarcerate the nonviolent prisoners. These numbers do not include the hidden costs like construction, operation of the prisons, and debt services on prison bonds which drive the cost it takes to incarcerate a prisoner from $20,224 to around $40,000. If the jailing of all of these prisoners actually stopped people from doing drugs than all the money might be worth it, however the drug problem still exists. The government’s anti-drug campaign failed in producing results, and has even encouraged more teenagers to try marijuana, costing taxpayers $929 million by 2002. This shows that the U.S. is putting large amounts of money towards the war on drugs but still have yet to see any results in the end. The Justice Department feels as though with this war against drugs we have “an overburdened justice system, a strained healthcare system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction. In 1970, proponents said beefed-up law enforcement could effectively seal the southern U.S. border and stop drugs from coming in. Since then, the U.S. used patrols, checkpoints, sniffer dogs, cameras, motion detectors, heat sensors, drone aircrafts and even put up more than 1,000 miles of steel beam, concrete walls and heavy mesh from California to Texas. None of that has worked to stop the drugs. The Office of National Drug Control Policy says about 330 tons of cocaine, 20 tons of heroin and 110 tons of methamphetamine are sold in the United States every year. Almost all of it brought in across the borders. Even more marijuana is sold, but it's hard to know how much of that is grown domestically, including vast fields run by Mexican drug cartels in U.S. national parks. The dealers who are caught have overwhelmed justice systems in the U.S... U.S. prosecutors declined to file charges in 7,482 drug cases last year, most because they simply didn't have the time. That's about one out of every four drug cases. The U.S. has in recent years rounded up thousands of suspected associates of Mexican drug gangs, then turned some of the cases over to local prosecutors who can't make the charges stick for lack of evidence. The suspects are then sometimes released, deported or acquitted. The U.S. Justice Department doesn't even keep track of what happens to all of them. Mexican President Felipe Calderon says “if America wants to fix the drug problem, it needs to do something about Americans' unquenching thirst for illegal drugs.”
Obama requested a record $15.5 billion for the drug war in 2011, about two thirds of it for law enforcement at the front lines of the battle: police, military and border patrol agents struggling to seize drugs and arrest traffickers and users. While only about $5.6 billion would be spent on prevention and treatment. The war on drugs is causing a lot of confusion in the justice system and it’s showing no signs of stabilizing. The U.S. looks disjointed and bamboozled when it comes to illegal drug prevention.
Although it may be true that drugs may be harmful to our economy, I think the legalization of all drugs, in the end, would be even more harmful to our nation as a whole. I do agree with the legalization of some recreational drugs, which I also think we could benefit economically from, however, the harm that many drugs cause, especially if easily attainable, would negatively effect our people as a society. However, with the recession that we’re in, with drugs illegal the U.S. does spend a massive amount of money to not see any type of progress. I feel as though the United States isn’t a country, it’s more of a business in my eyes and legalizing drugs would be a good business decision. As far as the country is concerned, legalizing illegal drugs will destroy the U.S. and cause harm to the environment and the people in it. I don’t believe this war on drugs is working, apparently because numbers don’t lie. Since the declaration of this war the only thing that has happened is; more money has been spent, drug trade and drug use has increased and the justice system has fallen apart. It seems as if the U.S. has only received negative results with this fight against illegal drugs. Therefore I believe this “war” is harming the U.S. Jails are being overpopulated, causing thousands of cases to be simply ignored. One out of these thousands of criminals being released could be a major problem in a community somewhere in the U.S., causing disruption and chaos. So is this War on Drugs really doing more harm than good? I believe so. I believe that the war on drugs is doing more harm than the drugs itself. The U.S. goes as far as doing police raids on people’s homes, which in some cases causes innocent people to be shot and killed. Also should drug abuse and possession really be the U.S. main focus? Most of the criminals in jail now are drug dealers, drug abusers or traffickers, yet the illegal drug crimes are still rising. I believe the U.S. has gotten so tied up with this war on drugs that they overlook the real crimes that are actually taking lives of innocent people. 20 people per hour are being arrested for drugs today, but we have maniacs out here going on massacres towards innocent civilians. Schools, movie theatres and other places people come to socialize are being gunned down and we are losing our elderly and children to guns. Yet the focal point is still on drugs. These drugs that we are trying to stop aren’t killing innocent four year old children in the 1st grade, guns and psychopaths are. So I feel as though, instead of putting all this time, effort, and trillions of dollars on trying to stop drugs that will never be put to an end, we should spend wisely on more important things that will protect are communities from losing innocent lives. Also these drug offenders are overcrowding the prisons because the U.S. tends to punish minor offenses with major punishments. So as these jails overpopulate, violence and death increases. Also deduction in sentences given to those being sentenced to or already in prison, which releases potentially dangerous offenders into society. As well as spread of disease and stress among the inmates and staff. Although these people are criminals, this is surely not healthy nor tolerable. The “War on Drugs” have been going on as early as the 1860’s and we still haven’t seen any positive in this fight. The U.S. has good intentions but has made a lot of bad decisions which is still causing disruption and disorder to this day. We can only wait and see how this war will end in the future. Will the U.S. come out victorious or will they fall to defeat and all the money and valuable time they have spent will all have been for nothing?