The war on drugs

Richard Nixon started the war on drugs in 1971. Has it been successful in removing illegal drugs from the streets? No! Despite spending trillions of dollars, there are more drugs on the streets now, they’re cheaper and are being used by more people than ever before.

Prohibiting drugs puts control of these substances into the hands of criminals, such as Al Capone and his gang when alcohol was prohibited. Incidentally, alcohol and tobacco kill more people every year than all illegal drugs combined, including opioids.

Has the war on drugs been successful in another way? Yes! It has jailed too many non-violent poor whites and persons of color and taken away their right to vote. There are more people incarcerated now even though violent crimes are declining, but wealthy whites continue to use illegal recreational drugs without fear of prosecution.

Unnecessary incarceration costs a fortune and ruins far more lives than the drugs themselves. The alternative to this societal problem is legalization, regulation and taxation, just like alcohol and tobacco.

The war on drugs has not removed illegal drugs from the streets, but it has wasted trillions of dollars in law enforcement and ruined too many lives by incarceration when treatment would have been more effective and much less expensive.

David L. Faust