The Failed War on Drugs

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Author: Marie Minnich

A war on Citizens….

Our courts are clogged with case after case of petty drug use crime, such as possession of  drug paraphernalia,  a minor amount of marijuana, or addicts who have engaged in low-level non-violent criminal and illegal activities to get their drug of choice. Sometimes addicts are put back in prison not because they committed a new crime, but because they relapsed and “dropped dirty”, a parole violation. It should be obvious that our current public policies on Law Enforcement and addiction are not working.

How is it possible that over six million of our citizens are convicted felons?  How is it possible that the state of Michigan alone has almost 18,000 citizens on parole? The consequence of the closure of  many mental institutions for lack of federal funds, starting in the 1980’s, was the dumping of  thousands of mentally ill clients, including drug addicts, into the criminal justice system. What does that say about us as a society? In particular, the stigma of drug addiction needs to be re-evaluated, with many drug-related crimes made misdemeanors.

Illegal drugs and heroin are rampant on our streets. Drug policy in the United States gives the government the duty to keep heroin off of our streets. Because the war on drug is failing, however, the criminalization of  millions of innocent citizens has resulted.

Walter Cronkite (2006) notes in the Huffington Review:

“Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.

I am speaking of the war on drugs.

And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.

While the politicians stutter and stall – while they chase their losses by claiming we could win this war if only we committed more resources, jailed more people and knocked down more doors – the Drug Policy Alliance continues to tell the American people the truth – ‘the way it is.’”

Source: (retrieved Jan. 01/2010)

Drug addiction needs to be seen for what it is: a massive public health crisis tantamount to a bubonic plague of the modern century.”

“The war on drugs has failed. And it’s high time to replace an ineffective strategy with more humane and efficient drug policies. We should focus on reducing harm to users and tackling organized crime, not prosecuting the end-users*.”

*Cardoso, et. Al. (2009), Source: The war on drugs has failed:, Wall Street Journal.