It is amazing that in spite of immense focus and emphasis on U.S. budget deficit and national debt reduction, during current presidential race for 2012 elections, no major candidate, with the exception of Ron Paul, is talking about the drug prohibition in United States.
While U.S. government spent $15 billion on war on drugs in 2010, which means $500 per second, with practically no significant results and benefits, this is not only a constitutional, human rights, discrimination and health issue, most politician and media pundits do not care about, it is a very significant monetary issue, too.
Ladies and gentlemen, many of you would be surprised to learn that our land of brave and the land of free has the highest incarceration rate in whole world. More then China, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela and North Korea. Mind blowing! Isn’t it? Is this because we, as a nation, are lot more criminal then other nations in the world? Or it is just our broken and excessive legal system? I am sure your answer is a broken and excessive legal system.
If you give a careful look to our history, you will be surprised, how our legal and justice system framework has switched from freedom and justice to restrictions and enforcement. This first, most unique and freest society in the world which started with the golden principle of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all, has over time fallen into the ditch of everyone telling everyone what to do and what not to do, what is acceptable and what is not? what is right what is wrong? what is American and what is not? what is allowed and what is not? What a bull crepe?
What happened to the society in which you were allowed to do anything and everything, as long as you did not hurt anyone? Why is it that we are being looked over our shoulders by someone, all the time? It is like, we are a nation of kids, not of responsible and grown up adults?
Since 1914, when our policies, attitudes and approaches towards personal freedoms and right took a major turn and when Harrison narcotics tax law was passed, we have been consistently going downhill, with ever increasing restrictions on personal freedom and ever increasing cost of enforcement on these restrictions, without making any major progress in reducing the use of drugs, which is the original purpose of all these expensive anti-drug laws. Only major effect and results these laws and restrictions have created so far are an ever increasing margin of profit on drug trafficking, strengthening drug related mafia and gangs around the world, discrimination against minorities, under served and poor communities and sharp rise in drugs related healthcare and enforcement cost, while drug use keeps rising, around the world, including United States.
In 1971, 50 different stops on drugs had already been implemented since 1914, resulting into a very small increase in incarceration rates per 100,000 citizens. But, since 1980, after Nixon declared a war on drugs, the situation has become drastically grave. In 1994, it was reported the one million Americans were being incarcerated, on drug related charges, every year, since 1980. 225,000 of these were for the possession of cannabis, fourth largest cause for imprisonment in United States. In 2008 1.5 million Americans were arrested on drug related charges, 500,000 of them were imprisoned. In 1980s, while the arrests for all crimes rose by 28%, the drug related arrests rose by 126%. Among the state prisoners, the proportion of prisoners, imprisoned on drug related charges, remained unchanged during 1997 and 2004 (21%). During 1990 and 2000, the drug related charges were responsible for 27% growth in black inmates, 7% in Hispanics and 15% in whites. Federal and State policies also have collateral consequences, not applicable on other criminal charges, for drug related charges, such as denial of public services and licenses. Marijuana constitutes about half of all drug related arrests. Between 1990 and 2002, Marijuana caused 82% of the rise in drug related arrests. In 2004, approximately 12.7% prisoners in state prisons and 12.4% prisoners in federal prisons were serving a sentence on marijuana related charges.
In 1986, U.S. congress passed a law that created a 100 to 1 disparity for the possession or trafficking of crack, as compared to the possession or trafficking of powder cocaine. Since, it’s passage in congress, this law has been widely criticized for discrimination against blacks, who are more likely to use Crack, as opposed to whites who are more likely to use powder Cocaine. A 100:1 ratio was required by this law. It meant the if person was found in possession of 5 grams of Crack, he or she was liable to have the minimum sentence of 5 years. This minimum sentence applied on powder Cocaine trafficker only if he or she possessed 500 grams of powder Cocaine. In 2010 the Fair Sentencing Act cut this disparity to 18:1. In 1998, African-American drug users comprised 35% of drug related arrests, 55% of convictions and 74% of the people sent to prison on drug related charges. Am African-American drug user was 13 times more likely to end up in a prison then a white drug user. All this, while African-Americans comprise only 13% percent of drug user population. Drug related charges have thrown hundreds of thousands of black Americans and other minority youngsters, into a lifetime of poverty and misery.
Results? In 1986, U.S. Department of defense, funded a two year study by RAND corporation, which found that the use of armed forces to stop the smuggling of drugs into United States will have little or no effect and may actually raise the profits made by drug traffickers. Study also noted that the seven prior studies have reached the same conclusion.
We are literally spending hundreds of billions of dollars on drug laws enforcement, arrests, sentencing and incarceration of drug traffickers, and on drug related healthcare complications, due to prohibition. Still, all these efforts have been a complete failure. Drug use is still on rise, around the world, including United States. Drug cartels and gangs are getting stronger and richer. Their profit margins are continuously increasing due to prohibition. Illicit sharing of needles, sub-standard drugs, lake of availability and reluctance to get help on related healthcare issues due to anti-drug laws, is causing a dilemma that is getting increasingly complicated and expensive. It is a duty of current and future U.S. presidents to make total, positive, rational, scientific and fiscally responsible change in policies on drugs.
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