Most of us can agree that drug abuse is bad but lets face it, the War on Drugs is a failure and has little to do with concern for public health. According to this CDC factsheet, an estimated 480,000 people die annually from smoking-related health problems. The research paper Pharmaceutical Overdose Deaths, United States 2010 found that 22,134 people died from overdoses of pharmaceutical drugs that year while the CDC reported 25,692 deaths related to alcohol in 2010. According to the UNODC (2009) “The United States saw 38,400 deaths from illicit drug use in 2006” an increase from 2001 figures that could be linked to increased opioid accessibility and use due to US restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry.
The US government (CIA in particular) has also been linked to drug importation from Mexico, Honduras and Vietnam. The Drug War can be viewed as racist because a disproportionate number of people of color have been arrested and imprisoned on drug-related charges. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, African Americans comprise 14% of regular drug users but make up 37% of those arrested for drug offenses. Using it’s outsize economic influence the US pressures other countries to adopt similar policies but people are starting to wake up.
In his article “Worldwide Protests Erupt Over the Racist, Devastating, Failed War on Drugs”, Owen Poindexter of Alternet.org reports that on June 26, over 100 cities in at least 46 countries will speak out against the war on drugs. Among the issues that need to be addressed:
- Drug trafficking-related violence has soared
- prisons are stuffed with drug offenders (many of them non-violent), with minorities disproportionately represented.
- It is a costly, global economic disaster with economic gains from cannabis and other drugs restricted to the black market.
- Scientists are kept from studying cannabis, a plant that has proven to ease the suffering of countless medical patients—and those patients are forced to break federal law if they want to obtain their medicine.
- Even by the drug war’s own misguided metrics, the project has failed.
- The US alone has invested $51 billion annually but drug use and availability have not decreased.
- Drug potency has steeply risen over the last several decades and the public is not safer for the drug war’s efforts.