Essay On "War on drugs is an Extreme Failure"

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War on drugs is an extreme failure

The United States annually prosecutes thousands of drug related cases. The issue of drugs in the American justice system has become a thorn it flesh and questions have been asked whether or not the war on drugs has been sucessful. The war on drugs has been on the lips of many sociologists and its impact on the society. The government through the justice department has tried to establish new laws in order to decrease drug trafficking and usage in the United States. This paper is going to present an argument in regards to the fact that war on drugs in the United States has been an extreme failure.

War on Drugs as was declared in the 1997 signing of Comprehensive Prevention and Control Act on Drug Abuse by Nixon administration, marked the start of the current mandatory minimum sentencing, privatized prison, racism and powerful constituency era which benefits due to drug prohibition. The psychoactive substances have been part of human experience so long as humans have existed on earth. Indeed there is minimal hope that there will ever be curtailing of drug production, so long as its demand is increasing; demand has remained steady even if it has been more than forty years since the commencement of the said war. As it was plainly put by Judge James Gray of Superior Court of the Orange County asking where the origin of the policy was. He concluded after conducting an inquiry that this drug prohibition laws came about due to reasons of ignorance, racism, and empire building (Baum, 1996).

War on Drugs is motivated politically as a way of profiting. One may wonder how the government benefits financially from such policies. They do so in several ways. Exorbitant amount of money is spent by the government in an attempt of combating the production and usage of drug. Over a trillion dollars has been so far spent by the U.S, government while attempting to eradicate the problem of drugs. Having spent so much time, money, and effort there is need for something to show. Unfortunately there is more prevalence of drugs that are cheaper and potent today than have ever been seen before. Even the United States’ drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, admits that current policies have not been effective. The grand scheme has failed because after more than forty years later, there has been a magnification and the intensification of drug concerns and problems, this would probably signify a current policy shift. More money has more than ever to drugs enforcement law without any study showing the effectiveness of the strategy (Fellner, 2009).

One thing that is obvious is that regardless of the produced results, the government makes money from the criminal justice system getting payments from the budgeted drug money. Police officers, judges, lawyers have historically increased together with the creation of the entire government organizations which make money directly due to the prohibition.

Law enforcement are not the only ones that would wish to see the prohibition remain as it is; drug dealers too because such prohibitions have resulted to making the handling of the prohibited drugs to become risky, hence driving the prices astronomically up resulting to a business with profits that run into thousands of percentage and no taxation on it. The most infamous Los Angeles crack-cocaine dealer, Ricky Ross in an interview while in jail confessed that his addiction to money and the power made him to risk doing the business. Indeed this person gets an opportunity of making amounts of money that are extraordinary as long as the current prohibitions stay intact. If the drug dealers and the government would like to see perpetuation of the prohibition then something is clearly wrong. It so happens that in some cases the government is working on both law sides (Bobo & Thompson, 2006).

There are allegations that CIA, through the support of Contra resistant group based in Nicaragua has participated actively in the importation of cocaine while still being protected as a government agency from prosecution. Former DEA head, Rober Bonner has in an interview being recorded responding to a question on importation of a ton of cocaine by CIA saying that it was what had happened. This shows that there is a disconnect because the government is on one side telling its citizens that drugs are evil , on the other side, the very government is importing the product which it claims to be protecting its people from. Whatever is going on is for you to make a decision. Other United States corporations also lobby for keeping the current policies intact due to their vested interests. The alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries have always emphasized on a distinction between legal and illegal drugs, in their effort to have a market lock down for use of drugs. Tobacco, alcohol and some pharmaceutical drugs are equally addictive and harmful, yet they differently distinguish themselves (Gans, 1995).

There is a group in America that advocates against illegal drug use called the Partnership for Drug Free America. The group seems to be harmless enough until you establish who the main funders are. Ironically the group’s predominant funders are from alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies. This demonstrates that such industries have lockdown on the market for the legal psychoactive substances and a possibility of drugs legalization is a threat as it would dramatically affect their profits downward. Such industries have enormous amount of money where they are able to lobby against any legislation that would eventually advocate for policy change regarding the drug laws. Indeed there is incredible influence of money and on Capitol Hill; a lot of it come from these industries. As though this was not that bad, there is a huge market for the privatized poison. This is the recent phenomenon that has resulted from an increase in offenses that are related to non-violent drug that account for almost sixty percent of total inmates in state prison (Glaeser, 1996).
In all America, there were just five private prisons in 1990.Currently, there are more than one hundred such prisons. Indeed this is scary because there is a demand for prisoners because of more space that has been created. There has been a substantial growth in the private prison sector to a forty billion dollar annually from the industry.

They base the stock prices on a number of people that have been locked up .There has been in the last twenty years no substantial rise in the use of drugs. However, there has been an almost six times increase in the number of convicted drug users. It leaves one wondering how an institution exists through making direct profits from incarceration of human beings. It is puzzling indeed because most of the private prisons force prisoners make goods which are later sold for profit. Prisoners are left with only two choices; working for a few cents per hour or be taken to solitary confinement. For the private prisons, this is great because the prisoners lack freedom to strike, or even the right to take their employers to court because of wrong doings. Truly this is a form of modern slavery where individuals are treated as if they are property and a way of making money (Gutierrez Aire, 2012).

Some of the eye-opening statistics of such prison systems are; less than one third of one million state prisoners are the only ones that have committed violent crimes.16% of the two million prisoners in the country suffer from mental illness. This means therefore that there is a clear abuse of the country’s criminal justice system. There is something wrong when America has twenty five percent of world’s prison population and only five percent of its total population. Despite all this, still more advocate for prohibition in its failing state. Politicians for example say that any drug legalization thought or discussion will be viewed as political suicide and would make them miss space during the preceding elections. Though this is true, there is someone who is willing to go out say whatever he or she believes and if enough political communities would do this, the rest will follow with certainty (Wood, 2006).

There are others dissenters that cite health as the only viable reason of criminalizing drugs. They state that the drugs are detrimental and harmful to the society. This also may be true but not a reason valid to allow for prohibition of anything. The government does not get a go ahead to entirely outlaw something because it is harmful, things like cave diving and other extreme sports are allowed for the participants that have the will to take up the involved risks. A similar principle is applied for drug use where people need to have freedom of putting whatever they choose in their bodies and nobody should decide for what another one can or cannot consume because by doing so there is no freedom.

People need to have the ability of making a choice in doing what pleases them as long as it does not infringe on others’ rights. This was the cornerstone into which America was founded upon and everyday it is being disregarded by the existence of the War on Drugs. There is therefore need to look at the ultimate good that will at long last come from this program instead of looking it at from a biased point of view. Abortion was legalized and consequently, this made it safe and the abortion related deaths have been decreased substanatially. Further, monitoring has also increased in this sector and this will be the same case in the multi-billion dollar drug industry.

The solution that is most obvious and logical that exist on the surface, is the outright legalization of all the drugs. This for legalization of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, PCP and all other drugs not because people condone in any sense the use of drugs, but because people do condone logic regarding drug policy that would lead to a reduction of unnecessary harms that have been created by the prohibition. This would cut the funding from black market and drug cartels, cut the unnecessary fifty billion dollars that are spent annually in drug offenders’ prosecution and incarceration and will simultaneously raise an estimated 73 billion dollars as tax revenue from drug sales (Fellner, 2009).

It will result to decline in violence in nations that produce the drugs through taking away the current monetary incentives that has been imposed on them. There will also be freeing up almost half of the space in jail, reduce the inherent dangers that go with the use of drugs such as potency and impurities, start the needle exchange program so as to greatly reduce the epidemic of AIDS. The drug affordability will result to addicts don't steal property so as to sustain the habits.

The generated money would cover more than the health costs of drug use that is being currently paid for the illegal use. The other money would be used in drug education and treatment so as to prevent any addiction in the first place (MaCroun., 2001).

In conclusion, it is not in actual sense a criminal issue to use drugs but a healthy one and need to be treated as such. War on Drugs has wasted a large amount of money and there is absolutely nothing to show. It has fueled violence, incentivized people into getting involved with such high profit business that is not taxed. Part of many families have been broken whereas criminals have come out of the non-violent users, perpetuated by big corporations’ interests without any interest to the general public well being. It most importantly infringes upon every human being’s right. There is a need to advocate for a system which is advantageous to everyone and not for just a selected


Baum, D. (1996). Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure. Little Brown & Co.
Bobo, L. D., & Thompson, V. (2006). Unfair By Design: The War on Drugs, Race, and the Legitimacy of the Criminal Justice System. Social Research , 73 (2): 445–472.
Fellner, J. (2009). Race, Drugs, and Law Enforcement in the United States. Stanford Law & Policy Review , 20 (2): 257–291.
Gans, H. J. (1995). The war against the poor: the underclass and antipoverty policy. Basic Books.
Glaeser, E. L. (1996). Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2) , 507-48.
Gutierrez Aire, J. (2012). Blood, Death, Drugs & Sex in Old Mexico. CreateSpace.
MaCroun. R. (2001). Drug war heresies: Learning from other vices,times and places. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge UP.
Wood E., T. M.-A. (2006). Attendance at supervised injecting facilities and use of detoxification services. New England Journal of Medicine , 354, 2512 – 13.