By Charles Hugh Smith
Addiction and drug use are medical/mental health issues, not criminalization/imprisonment issues.
It’s difficult to pick the most destructive of America’s many senseless, futile and tragically needless wars, but the “War on Drugs” is near the top of the list. Prohibition of mind-altering substances has not just failed–it has failed spectacularly, and generated extremely destructive and counterproductive consequences.
What was the result of the Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s? Prohibition instantly criminalized 40+% of the adult populace and created hugely profitable criminal organizations.
What was the result of the “War on Drugs”? This modern-day Prohibition instantly criminalized large swaths of the adult populace and created hugely profitable criminal organizations.
If you want to increase drug use, criminalize innocent citizens and spawn gargantuan criminal organizations, then by all means declare “war” via Prohibition. The results of Prohibition/War on Drugs are so visibly perverse and so destructive that the entire enterprise is sickeningly Orwellian.
The well-paid apologists for Prohibition/War on Drugs claim that imprisoning millions of people “helps” them avoid drugs. If you think being tossed in prison for a few years “helps” people, then step right up and accept a fiver (5-year sentence) in an American prison, which is essentially a factory that produces one product: people damaged by imprisonment, deprived of their full citizenship, hobbled by a felony conviction–ex-con beneficiaries of years of tutorials by hardened criminals.
This is as Orwellian as the Vietnam War’s famous “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”
If you think throwing millions of people in prison “helps” them or society, you are either insane or you’re making a living in the gulag or our sick system of “justice”. If you don’t think America has a “War on Drugs” Gulag, please glance at this chart of Americans in jail and prison–many for drug-related offenses:
The US population has increased about 40% since the War on Drugs started in earnest in 1980, while the prison/Gulag population has increased over 400% since 1980.
(Modest correction: The US population is 323 million, global population is 7.4 billion, so the US population is a mere 4.3% of the world population.)
Let’s recall that fully legal alcohol kills tens of thousands of people annually and cripples tens of thousands more via drunk-driving accidents, domestic violence and alcohol-related diseases.
If you know any emergency room physicians and nurses, ask them how many tragic medical situations arise from alcohol abuse and how many arise from marijuana abuse. You’ll hear endless tales of the terrible consequences of alcoholism and drunkenness, and essentially zero accounts of death and mayhem resulting from marijuana use/abuse.
Marijuana, a Schedule 1 drug equivalent to heroin and cocaine according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), has never been conclusively identified as the sole cause of a single traffic fatality. I researched this a few years ago; feel free to duplicate my research.
And let’s not forget the tens of thousands of annual deaths attributed to that other fully legal addictive substance, tobacco. “Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States.”
The “War on Drugs” policies defining what is “dangerous” and criminalized and what is terribly dangerous yet legal are visibly nonsensical. After decades of tremendous expenditures of taxpayer funds and counterproductive manufacturing of gulags and criminal enterprises, average Americans are finally waking up to the reality that the “War on Drugs” never made sense.
The DEA actually stands for the Destruction Enforcement Agency. The DEA recently denied that marijuana has any potential health benefits, and it remains a Schedule 1 drug equivalent to heroin and cocaine in the DEA’s view.
Denying the potential health benefits of cannabis is like denying gravity–yet we let the DEA deny gravity because, well, the all-powerful and all-pervasive American government loves criminalizing stuff and politicos love pushing harsh penalties for all the stuff the power-hungry state has criminalized.
Mesmerized Americans have watched countless film/TV police and court dramas, and so criminalizing the counterculture, poverty and youth in an unlimited War on Americans (oops, I mean on drugs) seems as natural as, well, throwing millions of nonviolent people in prison on trumped up charges–you know, like those other regimes concerned with “helping” people via harsh prison sentences, the Nazis and the USSR.
“Where you find the laws most numerous, there you will find also the greatest injustice.” Arcesilaus (315-241 BC)
“The more laws and restrictions there are, the poorer people become.” Lao Tzu
It’s time to stop the madness and abolish the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and America’s “War on Drugs” Gulag. It’s time to expunge the criminal records of everyone who was convicted of nonviolent drug-related crimes (using drugs, dealing nickel bags, growing marijuana, etc.) and restore their full citizenship.
Addiction and drug use are medical/mental health issues, not criminalization/imprisonment issues.What we need is a national system of community clinics devoted to helping people drawn to using addictive substances with the underlying issues that are driving them to self-medicate with self-destructive, addictive substances.
(People with positive goals, purpose, meaning and relationships have no interest in getting addicted to anything. Burdening themselves with an addiction is the last thing they want for themselves and those they care about.)
It’s time to abolish the DEA, the drug-related criminal justice system and the thriving War on Drugs gulag. Yes, thousands of well-paid bureaucrats, apparatchiks and functionaries will have to seek gainful employment, but perhaps they can find employment in positions that actually help people overcome the medical/mental health issues behind their addictive drives and drug use rather than destroy their lives by throwing them in prisons with violent offenders.
Of related interest: