The War on Drugs is Costing America Billions
America has been fighting a drug war for almost a century, and unfortunately a victory is nowhere in sight. Drug users continue to cause violent crime and still make up the vast majority of our courts, hospitals and prisons. The U.S focuses its drug control efforts on the criminalization of drug use, and this is where the problem lies. Spending billions of dollars on law enforcement and efforts to decrease the supply of drugs have not been effective; in fact, they have been counterproductive- illegal drugs are more abundant and cheaper than ever.
American Drug War: The Last White Hope does an incredible job at portraying America’s “War on Drugs” as the most expensive war our country has ever faced. The film suggests that actions taken by the government to control our countries drug problem have ultimately failed; as we see more drug addicts incarcerated and more drugs to the street. So even in the face of such failure, why are we still engaging in this “drug war”? The answer lies in a corrupt and greedy system driven by money. Elected officials in America refuse to believe that decriminalization will lead to a victory despite documented success in other regions across the globe. If the war on drugs continues, these wealthy and corrupt politicians will continue rising to the top of the government while the rest of America is stuck believing that preventing poor black men from selling crack in the ghetto is our utmost priority.
A FILM REVIEW: The American Drug War
Nixon declared a war on drugs and allocated millions of dollars to combat the increasing prevalence of illegal drugs in America. A list of drugs was created which divided illicit drugs into five categories based on their potential for abuse and medical value. Marijuana, LSD and mushrooms were listed as schedule I drugs, while cocaine, crack, and methamphetamine were listed as schedule II. Today, our government maintains the same war on drugs and the same drug schedule; however, their attempts to prohibit drug use have only led to more available, dangerous and cheaper drugs. The war on drugs is tied up in racism, corruption and deceit by the American government. These efforts have led to the oppression of minorities (especially African Americans) and the lower class, all while abusing the civil rights of American citizens. The impact that this drug war has had on black communities is devastating. African Americans have been incarcerated, and treated unfairly by the justice system. We can see that officials appear not only to be fighting a war on drugs, but also a war against low-level street dealers in communities populated by African Americans.
Supporters of our countries war on drugs portrayed in the film include Barry McCarffrey and a police officer in Tulia, Texas argue that legalization and decriminalization will not rid our country of its drug problem even in the face of evidence proving its success In other countries. For example, in Holland today, policy makers understand the benefits of taking a harm reduction approach and have moved towards an organic basis for their drug laws. In result, they found that the decriminalization and legalization of various drugs have led to decreased drug use and crime throughout the city. In addition, even after countless instances in which marijuana has been proven medically beneficial for terminally ill individuals, the government still refuses to believe legalizing it will benefit our country.
The government takes a prohibition approach to controlling drugs in America, causing the drug industry to only move further underground. In result, this will only make the control and regulation of drug use more difficult. We continue incarcerating non-violent drug offenders as the primary means for controlling drug use instead of providing drug users with treatment for their medical illnesses. So, the question still remains, why does America’s government still choose to take a prohibition approach to controlling drugs rather than attempting to decriminalize or legalize them? We can see throughout this film that the presence of illegal drugs and all associated drug activity has lead to large-scale government corruption; where idea of profit gain has shifted the interests of America’s leaders away from the welfare of our citizens. The greedy appetite of our government can be seen through actions taken by the CIA. A former DEA agent describes CIA drug operations in which the government itself smuggled mass quantities of cocaine into the United States. Once these drugs were circulating in our country police task forces then attempted to rid them from the streets, and in result these operations would bring in money for the government. Throughout the course of this war it has become clear that people who hold power create victims so that police and the judicial system isolate individuals. We see countless drug addicts being sent to prison while other who have organize the crime continue to profit and thrive at the top levels of our government. Ultimately, the government does not mind spending money to fight the drug war each year. By withholding the truth from the public, they generate billions of dollars more through illegal activities like drug smuggling, than they actually spend on stopping it. In reality, the drug was has not protected America from drugs; and until society is informed of this abuse of power, the drug war will remain profitable to the government.
Understanding the Root Cause of America’s War on Drugs
Advocates pushing for a continuation of our countries drug war using prohibition as its means of drug control clearly do not see the devastating nature of addiction and what it can do to individuals and communities. It is true that addiction is generally viewed in different ways by medical, law enforcement and political communities. The medical community understands addiction is a disease that requires treatment. The law enforcement community believes that addiction is a crime and that it should be punished. And lastly, the political community relies on legislation to rid America of drug use and addiction. In the film, we understand that McCaffrey undeniable believes that drug policy is the promising solution to this problem. If we are ever to see an end to this devastating drug war, we need to address the underlying problem- addiction. Sending individuals to jail where they will not only learn more dangerous crimes, but will receive no drug abuse treatment is not a promising solution to this problem. Efforts need to be shifted from a punitive orientation towards treating substance abuse which is the root of this drug war.
America Needs to Learn from it’s Past Mistakes
Another reason why we continue to fail in the war on drugs lies in our inability to learn from prior mistakes. Over a century ago, the 18th amendment established national prohibition in America making all alcohol production and use illegal. However, it was a tremendous failure and before long it was officially repealed. Making alcohol illegal lead to drastic increases in organized crime, corruption and community violence. Even though the manufacturing and consumption of alcohol was criminalized, the majority of people who drank wanted to do so. Prohibition didn’t make alcohol disappear; it merely provided crafty individuals with the opportunity to create an elaborate, but dangerous underground market. Even though this attempt failed miserably in the past, we still use the same tactics to prohibit drug use and it still is not successful. We arrest millions of drug abusers every year and see even more people dying from drug overdoses. Prohibition policy spends an enormous amount of money on law enforcement, and despite these efforts drugs are cheaper than they were before. Instead of locking up mass numbers of non-violent drug offenders, the government needs to invest in treatment and rehab opportunities which are capable of addressing the root of our countries drug problem. Evaluation research has proven time and time again, that federal supply-reduction approaches such as legislation and law enforcement are and will never be as cost-effective and beneficial as demand-reduction treatment approaches.
Before watching this film, my understanding of America’s war on drugs was nowhere near what it is now. After watching this film it’s clear to me that understanding our countries drug war is all about understanding profit. The persistence of a drug war creates opportunities for the government to profit, and this is where their primary interests will always remain. Marijuana has been proven to be effective in treating a wide range of illnesses that drug companies would like to charge thousands of dollars to treat. However, the decriminalization or legalization of drugs, like marijuana, would cut the profits of large industries and selected government officials by huge amounts. Overall, this film shows how truly broken our government has proved to be. Citizens are trapped below “elected” officials who hold all the wealth, power and privilege and continue making strides with their own interests in mind. A significant portion of the film was devoted to explaining the role of the Regan administration in the importation of cocaine into the United States in the 1980’s in order to fund America’s war at the time. I was completely ignorant to these operations by the CIA before watching this film, and this in itself explains why there will be no victory against the war on drugs.
Why Everyone Needs to Watch this Film
The government is clearly not protecting America’s citizens by looking the other way or by directly involving itself in illegal drug activity. We see the ones with money and power receive protection while the rest of society is left to cope on their own. A large majority of our country approves the use of medical marijuana, and yet the federal government rules against it. We see cancer patients being sent to jail over the use or possession of marijuana, when in reality it is far less harmful than other pharmaceutical drugs on the market. American Drug War: The Last White Hope examines hard evidence for instances where people in power have broken the law and innocent citizens pay the price. Elected officials in America refuse to believe that decriminalization or legalization of illegal drugs will lead to a victory despite documented success in other regions across the globe. If the war on drugs continues, these wealthy and corrupt politicians will continue rising to the top of the government while the rest of America will remain brainwashed. These people will be stuck believing that efforts to combat the war on drugs revolves around preventing poor black men from selling crack in the ghetto.