It all began in 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act, disguised as a revenue bill, was passed and an entire plant species was banned by means of regulation enforcement. This was just four years after the 21st amendment repealed the Volstead Act, which should have ended the government’s constitutional authority for prohibition. The American Public had enough of the failed prohibition of alcohol, which began in 1919, and gave rise to some of the most violent and notorious criminal organizations of all time. One thing was clear, government bans on anything would enable opportunistic criminals and never prevented anything.
Fast forward to 1961. The Single Convention Treaty on Narcotic Drugs was adopted by the United Nations, allowing for stepped up enforcement of drug regulations. This was all happening at the same time the C.I.A. went into Vietnam. Heroin started being imported to the U.S. from Asia, courtesy of the central intelligence agency. The United States Supreme Court struck down the Marijuana Tax Act in 1969, ruling that the law was unconstitutional. Authority for drug control was eventually written into a “scheduling” hoax that allowed the illegal and unconstitutional prohibition of natural and man-made narcotics.
What happened next would surprise most Americans in today’s time. The year was 1970, and George Bush Sr. (a congressman at the time) joined the growing majority of those in office who were in opposition to “Mandatory Minimum” sentences. Citing that it “removes a great deal of the court’s discretion.” President Richard Nixon, in 1972, appointed a National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. Known as the Shafer Commission, the panel called for the decriminalization of marijuana and recommended a policy of control based on medical risk. A disapproving Nixon denounced the report and declared a “War on drugs”. Clouds of corruption quickly cast themselves over Nixon’s Presidency and he resigned during his second term in office.
This brought in the era of Pres. Jimmy Carter, who publicly supported the decriminalization of possession of up to one ounce of pot. Behind the scences, however, Carter labored to get the “drug war” back on course. In 1980, the “drug warrior” himself, Ronald Wilson Reagan (each name has 6 letters, scary) assumed office and brought the military-industrial complex into the battle.
The C.I.A. once again, started operations outside of the U.S. After the agency’s arrival in Central America, cocaine began to flood the streets of America. “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” cried Reagan, who promptly militarized the drug war and ‘zero tolerance’ placed stepping stones to widespread practices of urine testing. When Bush took Presidential office, he reversed his stance on mandatory minimum sentencing, pushing for tougher punishments and aggressive enforcement.
President Bill “I didn’t inhale” Clinton campaigned on relaxing harsh penalties for weed smokers, and turned his back on the position after his election. After further escalating the drug war, Clinton passed the 1994 Federal Crime Bill, which allowed the death penalty as a punishment for growing marijuana. By 1996, more than 60% of federal prisoners were locked up for drug convictions. And if that number is shocking, just see where we are at today. In 2010, there was one drug related arrest every 19 seconds in the USA according to FBI Data. That is 3 every minute, 180 per hour, 4,320 per day, 30,240 per week, 120,960 per month for a staggering 1,451,520 drug related arrests for the year 2010.
Out of the 1.4 million drug arrests, 858,838 were marijuana based offenses and there are glaring racial disparities in the enforcement of the laws. While drug usage is typically even amongst blacks and whites, 33.6% of drug arrests and 37% of state prison inmates are African-Americans. Who only make up 12% of the national population. According to a 2011 report by the New York based, Human Rights Watch. With our nation in economic ruins, people are pointing fingers and trying to place blame. Truth is, drug prohibition is likely the cause of the financial struggles. The U.S. Drug war costs more than $50 BILLION dollars EACH year. $13.7 Billion spend to fight marijuana, $22.3 billion from cocaine and heroin, and $12.8 Billion for other miscellaneous drugs. (Figures from: The Budgetary Implications of Drug Prohibition. Feb. 2010)
After 40 years of ‘fighting’ the ‘drug war’ the total cost has been $1 TRILLION DOLLARS and counting. In 2010, the rate of funding the drug war was about $500 per second. Legalizing Marijuana alone would boost annual tax revenues by $2.4 BILLION a year according to a 2005 study conducted by Harvard economist, Jeffrey Miron.
The numbers don’t lie. We are in challenging times, and we have never needed a real and positive change more desperately than we do at this time. There once was a dream of America. Envisioned by our founding fathers and kept alive by great men such
as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The end of federal prohibition could very well bring about the finest and most prosperous age this nation has ever seen. I urge you to share this on facebook, twitter, and any other social media site you may use. Encourage your elected representatives to read this post and impress upon them the urgency of the matter. Write letters to President Obama, House Speaker Boehner and everyone else in Washington who needs to be bitch slapped with cold hard truths. End the 40 year war!
- Poll: Only 10 Percent of Americans Think the Drug War Is a Success, 66 Percent Think It’s a Failure (reason.com)
- A Turning Point in the Drug War (txconnectme.wordpress.com)
- Time for Obama to join the debate over the failed war on drugs | Observer editorial (guardian.co.uk)
- The War on Drugs is Racist and Expensive (libertarianreview.us)
- “It’s nice to see a popular Democrat take a strong stance against the drug war.” (reason.com)
- The More America Spends On The Drug War, The Cheaper Drugs Become (businessinsider.com)
- John Stossel on the Drug War (reason.com)
- Stossell on the Drug War (youviewedblog.wordpress.com)
- The Forty Year War: Drug War By Numbers (circuswagon.wordpress.com)
- Addicted To The Drug War (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)