It’s Time To End Dismally Failed ‘War on Drugs’
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It’s Time To End Dismally Failed ‘War on Drugs’
Posted by CN Staff on June 06, 2011 at 18:24:29 PT
By Jesse Jackson
Source: Chicago Sun-Times 
USA -- How do you end America’s longest war that is an abject failure? No, not Afghanistan. This month marks the 40th anniversary of the day Richard Nixon launched the “War on Drugs.” And now, four decades later, it would be impossible to invent a more complete failure.About $1 trillion has been spent on the war. Millions of citizens who pose no threat to anyone have been incarcerated in prison. Some 2.3 million now overcrowd America’s prisons — 25 percent of whom have been arrested for nonviolent drug crimes.
Our neighbors to the south — Mexico and Colombia — are being torn about by gang violence and corruption. In Afghanistan, where our soldiers risk their lives, fully one-third to one-half of the entire economy is generated by the opium and heroin trade. All of this is in reaction to nonviolent acts that were not even crimes a century ago.Yet despite this, drugs are just as available and cheaper than they were 40 years ago. As the U.S. drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, concluded: “In the grand scheme, it has not been successful. Forty years later, the concern about drugs and the drug problem is, if anything, magnified, intensified.”And the war’s casualties are mounting. The war on drugs turned, early on, into a new Jim Crow offensive against people of color. Although whites abuse drugs at higher rates than African-Americans, African-Americans are incarcerated at 10 times the rate of whites for drug offensives. Millions have been deprived of the right to vote for being convicted of nonviolent crimes. Hundreds of thousands have died and millions suffered because the drug war made treating addiction as a public health problem more difficult.Now the state fiscal crisis is forcing states — even states as conservative as Texas — to empty overcrowded prisons and seek alternatives to incarceration. Yet the war goes on, the money is wasted, the violence and corruption escalates, and more lives are ruined.In a new report, the Global Commission on Drug Policy calls for admitting that the war is a failure and turning instead to dealing with drugs as a public health problem.I have spent decades talking with young men and women about the perils of drugs, in classrooms, in church basements, in prisons and jails and on the street. The scourge of drugs is destructive of lives and of hope. But so, too, is the war against drugs.We must use the 40th anniversary of a failed war to call that war into question. What if we treated drug addiction like alcohol addiction as a public health problem? Marijuana accounts for one-half of all drug arrests in the U.S.; decriminalizing it would save millions that could be used to treat addicts rather than arrest kids. Alternatives to incarceration should be preferred for those who pose no threat to others. Harsh mandatory and minimum sentences should be repealed. Why not take drug addiction out of the criminal justice system and treat it in the public health system? It surely would be better to spend the money not on locking people up, but on clinics that might treat their illnesses.Ending the “War on Drugs” doesn’t mean we abandon the effort to regulate them, to teach children of their dangers, or to treat those who are hooked. But it does mean we don’t waste millions more lives and billions more dollars on a war that cannot be won.The drug war has been waged by both parties. Politicians have postured tough on crime, competing to invent the harshest punishments. Money was no object. An entire prison complex — with powerful private interests — has grown up to warehouse the prisoners of the war. But now, 40 years later, isn’t it time to put aside the posturing, and have a fundamental debate about alternatives to this failed war? Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)Author: Jesse JacksonPublished: June 6, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Sun-Times Co.Contact: letters Website: URL: Justice Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on June 11, 2011 at 10:56:20 PT
I suspected that was what you meant, but wasn't sure. Thanks for clarifying.Decriminalization puts us where the prohibition of alcohol was. You could possess it, but it couldn't be bought or sold. It's definitely better than full criminalization but it's still prohibition of a popular, sought after substance and it still breeds all that bad stuff that prohibition brings with it. 
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Comment #5 posted by CaptainAjnag on June 10, 2011 at 20:09:48 PT:
Though outright legalization would be incredible...I'm really not sure how the citizens of America would react to it. To me it seems like decrimalization would be the first step, even though that would open the door to a whole new set of problems. It still kind of sends the wrong message. I just wish everyone could see our point of view when it comes to cannabis change. Then outright legalization really would be PERFECT.
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on June 08, 2011 at 17:28:05 PT
Why do you think "Outright legalization" might not be the "Best way to fix" this? I believe it would, of course. 
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Comment #3 posted by CaptainAjnag on June 08, 2011 at 16:03:14 PT:
If I Wrote A Letter To The President
It'd go something like this.Dear Mr. President,	After 70 years of prohibition, cannabis is at its all time high. No pun intended. As the reefer madness hysteria fades away, the population of the United States is slowly becoming aware of cannabis' true potential. But what happens when everyone realizes that cannabis isn't the evil weed it was once thought to be? When we the "sheep" figure out that marijuana is actually one of the most effective drugs, capable of battling a whole array of different ailments. Do we lose faith in our leaders after believing 70 years of lies used to fuel a failing drug war? Or should we just carry on and pretend our government doesn't lack proper judgment? We can all agree that this prohibition has done nothing but hurt young Americans and kept the Mexican drug cartel thriving. Cannabis is nothing like the portrayal given to us by the DEA. It grows from the earth and even in its most concentrated form it still can’t kill you. Its quite hypocritical to even say cannabis is a Schedule I drug, seeing how 16 states and Washington D.C. currently allow medical marijuana under state law. It seems kind of odd that 16 states would allow MEDICINAL USE of a drug that is said to have no medicinal values. Why can't something be done about this? Outright legalization probably isn't the best way to fix this, yet its quite obvious that we need some sort of solution to this problem. Why? Simply because cannabis is, and always will be, a strong part of our society. 
	We are the young America that voted you into office. We will be the future leaders of this great land. Should we really have to wait until our generation rises up the ranks before we can obtain some sort of change that would better the country as a whole? You’ve been granted a position that holds a tremendous amount of power. I shouldn't be the one to have to remind you to use it wisely.									
								     A concerned American
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Comment #2 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 08, 2011 at 12:58:57 PT
More than half of the POWs are african americans.
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Comment #1 posted by christ on June 07, 2011 at 08:23:57 PT
Jesse Jackson
Not that it surprises me, but i never realized Jesse Jackson was anti-prohibition. Excellent!
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