War on drugs drains vital money, resources
The U.S. economic crisis cannot be denied. It’s in every newspaper, news broadcast and on everyone’s lips, but in these unsure times, when money is short and the future is uncertain, one issue that’s not getting so much coverage is America’s drug war and its costly and continued failure.
In an article in the Huffington Post, Norm Stamper, a retired Seattle police officer and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, argues the U.S. has spent $1 trillion on this fruitless pursuit since 1971.
‘ ‘We’ve arrested tens of millions of Americans for nonviolent drug offenses, most for simple possession of marijuana,’ Stamper said. ‘We’ve damaged or ruined the lives of countless citizens who’ve lost school loans, publicly subsidized housing and jobs. And yet, drugs are more readily available.’
Amid all this, drug use has never waned – especially marijuana use.’
A National Household Survey on drug abuse conducted in 2001 showed 83 million Americans older than 12 had tried marijuana at least once. The same study stated among 10th graders, 40 percent had tried the drug and nearly 20 percent were still users.’
Yet the war rages on, wasting dollars that could be spent with much better purpose in other areas.
‘ ‘The nation’s longest running armed conflict, the drug war, financed to the tune of about $70 billion a year, is an unmitigated economic disaster,’ Stamper said.
A January poll by CBS and the New York Times showed 51 percent of people are still against legalizing marijuana compared with 41 percent for it. That small majority may be shifting – if ever so slightly.
California State Assembly member Tom Ammiano introduced a bill to legalize marijuana and earn possibly $1 billion through taxing it.
Ammiano’s press secretary said the bill ‘would remove all penalties in California law on cultivation, transportation, sale, purchase, possession, or use of marijuana, natural THC, or paraphernalia for persons over the age of 21.’
Ron Paul, the often-outspoken Republican congressman from Texas, told Political commentator Bill Maher, ‘I don’t like pot, but I hate the drug war, so I would repeal all of prohibition.’
Even President Barack Obama, while on the campaign trail, said the war on drugs is a failure.
While these are passionate words, it is unfortunately just that. Ammiano’s bill has yet to pass and Paul lacks the power to repeal any prohibition on his own.
President Obama has also been reluctant to tackle the issue since the election.’
He said to students at a Northwestern campus debate, ‘I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws, but I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana.’
There is still a long way to go for any real discussion on America’s drug war, which seems unfortunate. In a time when money is so important and unnecessary policies and spending are being weeded out, perhaps this is a topic that deserves a little more discussion.