War on Drugs

Topics: Drug Enforcement Administration, Ronald Reagan, Drug addiction Pages: 6 (1959 words) Published: August 21, 2013
The War on Drugs:
The Trillion-Dollar Failure

Shamsher Sawhney

Economics MYP5
Mr. Daniel
Boca Preparatory International School
May 20th, 2013

Contents

History …………………………………………………………..………………………………………. 1-3 Current Status…………………………………………………………………………………………..3-5 Projected Future……………………………..………………………………………………………..5-7 Works Cited….………………………………………………………………………………………….....8 Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………………………..9

Sham Sawhney
Mr. Daniel
MYP 5 –Economics
April 27th 2013
War on Drugs: The Trillion-Dollar Failure
In 1925, American journalist H. L. Mencken wrote, "Prohibition has not only failed in its promises but actually created additional serious and disturbing social problems throughout society. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic but more. There is not less crime, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished." Nearly 90 years later and this is still perfectly applicable today with the United States’ war on drugs.

In June of 1971, former president Richard Nixon would famously be the first to declare a national “war on drugs”, a campaign of prohibition for illegal drug use and trade, citing drug abuse as “…public enemy number one.” Despite a 1972 commission led by former Republican Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shaffer giving a unanimous recommendation to decriminalize marijuana, the Nixon administration ignored these suggestions, and continued the pursuit against drug-related crimes in America.

By 1973, the Nixon administration had created a new federal drug control agency known as the Drug Enforcement Administration, which would play a critical role in making drug enforcement a criminal justice issue. In the same year, Operation Intercept was initiated, a plan which would pressure Mexico to regulate its marijuana growers. This is the first time we would see that the war on drugs would come with a high price, with the United States spending hundreds of millions of dollars tightening border regulations, which would cause trade between Mexico and America to come to a complete standstill. Throughout the Nixon and Carter administrations, spending on the war on drugs continued to rise, and incarceration rates began to climb dramatically. But once Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election against incumbent Jimmy Carter, the war on drugs would reach a new level of federal spending.

Just Say No, the powerful slogan championed by then-first lady Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign would teach children to stay away from drug use and unite Americans for the war on drugs. This became a iconic phrase associated with the 1980’s and 1990’s, and would bring the negative aspects of drug use to the forefront of homes. However, the 1980’s were also a decade where crack/cocaine peaked in popularity, becoming cheaper, more accessible, and significantly more common, despite a decade long effort to reduce drug use in the United States. From the time Reagan took office, the federal spending for the war on drugs was just under 2 billion dollars per year, and within Reagan’s 8 years as president, that number skyrocketed to being just over 5 billion dollars per year. (The Atlantic Wire, “A Chart That Says The War on Drugs Isn’t Working)

Federal spending continued to increase exponentially as every new administration entered the White House, growing from 5 billion to 12 billion per year under George H.W. Bush, 12 billion to 18 billion per year under Bill Clinton, and 18 billion to over 20 billion per year under George W. Bush (The Atlantic Wire, “A Chart That Says The War on Drugs Isn’t Working), and with tax payers not only contributing to the outrageous spending on what seemed to be a fleeting war, incarcerations have also reached staggering heights. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, since 1980, the number of people behind bars for drug-related crimes has increased 1100% (Drug Policy Alliance, “Drug War Statistics), causing more of...

Bibliography: Breeding, Brian. “Does Marijuana Really Kill Brain Cells?” Yahoo.com. 11
September 2009. Web. 4 May 2013.
National Public Radio. “Timeline: America’s War on Drugs” NPR.org. 2 April
2007. Web. 12 May 2013.
Herer, Jack. Hemp & the Marijuana Conspiracy: The Emperor Wears No
Clothes. Newcastle upon Tyne: Green Planet, 1994. Print.
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