Thursday, September 21, 2006

Political News (Special Issue) Post 2 of 5

2: The U.S. War on Drugs- Fighting the Good Fight. Right? (John Spalding)

Many Americans believe the “War on Drugs” is an abysmal failure. There is plenty of information available on the Internet and news media on this issue. The PBS website ( had some great information they published in their “Frontline” series. They have several articles highlighting the role American drug users play in the drug trade, the efforts of the CIA, drug organizing and money laundering--the role of the American Business in making sure we don’t get illegal drug money back.

This issue has several sides. Some prisons are privately owned, and therein, they stand to benefit monetarily from having prisoners. The US government only cuts into a small percentage of drug crops when they go on missions. Businesses within the US have taken money that has been laundered from Columbian and Mexican drug dealers. Police seizure of items (cars, computers, phones) is a lucrative money making operation. There is an agency called LEAP- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( that seeks to have more sensible drug laws. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws well as others such as Marijuana Policy Project-, The Drug Policy Alliance--, and Stop The Drug War-- are all organizations that promote extensive change to the way our society does to confront individual drug use and seek sensible solutions.

Is the War on Drugs worth fighting? Why?

We have lost billions of dollars in this war. However, we employ a lot of people to run prisons, the police make a lot of money from taking possessions, our corporations sell millions of dollars in merchandise to the major countries that ship us our drugs, and we have thousands of employees and organizations around the country who get money to try and “prevent” a kid from using drugs. Over and over, news stories demonstrate that our prevention efforts don’t touch the surface of the problem, because drug use is a personal matter. It should not be an issue that is regulated by national government. One might further argue that it should be regulated by states, counties, and cities. Why is it the business of the National Government to regulate the medical or recreational use of drugs that are considered illegal?

Neil Peirce wrote an article for that also appeared on AlterNet entitled “An Exit Strategy for the War on Drugs” which outlines the plan written in part by the King County (Wash.) Bar Association. The Bar Association set 4 goals for its community wide coalition:

1. Reductions to crime and disorder- “to undercut the violent, illegal markets that spawn disease, crime, corruption, mayhem and death.”
2. Improving public health by stemming the spread of blood born diseases
3. Better protection of children from the harm of drugs
4. Wiser use of scarce public resources

Pierce observes that the association wants to look at better ways to treat and handle drug issues as opposed to “punitive approaches”. Some of the ideas mentioned in the article from the Bar Association were homegrown cultivation laws, respecting young people by providing them with honest information, and registering hardcore drug users in “controlled use settings and ongoing treatment”.

This argument depends solely on who is in power at the national level and what our organizations will do with regard to this war that is being lost on both sides. Companies that own prisons, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and local law enforcement have a great monetary stake in the “War on Drugs”. Organizations that can compete with this type of infrastructure will have to be connected and mobile. Political reform agencies teaming up with local citizen groups, legal associations, and other interested organizations would be logical partnerships to “re-focus” the war on drugs. It may also need to have a compelling campaign that can appeal to mainstream America.

The issue of drug use is a personal and family matter. It should be handled in a small setting by those affected or involved. It is not a national issue. Let’s give communities a chance to help its citizens by coming up with reasonable solutions to this human condition that is not going to go away.


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