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For decades, many governments in the world have declared war on drugs. Resources drain into this war; as governments try to save their citizens particularly the young people against the adverse effect of the use of these drugs (Neuspiel 1996, p51). It is the mandate of governments to protect its people against the negative effect of drug abuse. Governments in many states take this war with the weight it deserves, to attain the objectives of maintain order in their country. This war targets the producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs. This paper gives a comprehensive detail on the facts and reasons for the failure of the war on drugs in America.
For years, the United State of America government has passed several policies to assist in the war against drug production, trafficking and consumption. In 1920, United States passed the National Prohibition Act; which deals with sales, production, trafficking, and consumption of alcohol. In 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established in the Department of Treasury. In 1937, the government established the Marijuana Transfer Tax Act in the Department Of Treasury. These are just examples of the policies that the government has tried to use in the war on drugs. Despite the policies put in place, the war on production, trafficking, and consumption of drugs have not been worn. Reports show that drug use has been on increase in the United States of America.
The American government has the domestic policy of arresting and incarceration as one of its strategy of the war against drugs. Reports indicate that on yearly basis the number of people in the incarcerated is one million in number. The number of drug offences has increased, in 2008; the numbers of people arrested due to drug offences were about 1.5 million of which 500,000 were imprisonment. From 1990 to 2000, the drug offences increased; this resulted into increased of 27 percent of black inmates, 7 percent of Hispanic inmates, and the white inmates increased by 15 percent. Though every other drug has shown an increased number of inmates, Marijuana recorded the highest increase with 82 percent of all the arrests between; 1990 to 2002. This drug had resulted to 12.7 percent and 12.4 percent of state and federal prisoners respectively (Hall 1997, p.609-621).
This strategy of war against drug can be termed as futile; it has not shown any positive outcomes. The number of people in custody, and under imprisonment continues to increase despite the policy. For example, America has a higher imprisonment policy of 25 years than most of the Europeans countries, but the rate of imprisonment is even higher than the European counterparts. This indicates that, apart from arresting and imprisonments, there are other forces that affect the war. The strategy has just filled the prisons, and if the tread continues, the government has to spend a lot building new prisons to avoid over crowding.
The people of America consider the arrest and imprisonment as racial discriminating move. There are disparities on the treatment of crack and cocaine. The blacks are prone to crack usage while the whites are more likely to consume cocaine than crack. If convicted in the state courts in possession of 5 grams of crack, the person will serve a minimum of five years. On the other hand, possession of 500 grams of cocaine the person receives the same 5 years imprisonment. African America people, criticize as it is unfair treatment to them. The national wise report indicates that the African- American in state prisons is 13 times the number of whites. The white are the majority, and both whites and the African- American have equal proneness to drug production, trafficking and consumption. The war on drug, therefore, turns to be targeting the minority group.
A significant section of the American members of public criticizes the war, as it is a cause of many misfortunes. The war has led to unnecessary death, imprisonment, underclass citizens, and wastage of public funds. There is also an increase in environmental destruction, and black market operations. The war on drug is the government duty for the benefit of the people; it is, therefore, clear that this strategy is a failure as the same people argue against it.
The war on drugs has seen young people into prisons, to serve the penalty on drug crimes
These people serve in prison for permanently or semi- permanent bases. Such young people move from the education system remaining illiterate for lest of their lives. After serving in the prisons, they struggle in vain for job opportunities to earn a living. These people turn into permanent poverty, and some will later involve into criminal in the attempt to earn a living.
The war against drug production, trafficking and consumption, is not economically effective. The amount the US government spends on this war has no tangible results (Row 2006, p. 87-96). These funds come from the taxes paid by the public. A part from the internal expenditure the government has spent a lot of funds to assist other governments in their war on drugs. These governments include Mexico, Peru and Bolivia among others which have not yet succeeded (Sterling 2006, p. 347). On the other hand, legalizing drugs would increase the amount of tax collected and cut down the costs of the war against it. The war is, therefore, regressive in nature as those involved in drugs production and trafficking earns a lot which is tax frees. This fact makes the black market more attractive to many; increasing the number of people involved in this market. In the year 2008, it was estimated that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion the economy improving the GDP of the country greatly as the burden of tax payers can be reduced.
The war on drugs has failed the environmental sensitivity test in the United States of America. Some of the methods used cause the pollution of land the atmosphere. For example, the use of bomb-fire in the destruction of a marijuana plantation is environment insensitive act. The emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere increases the rate of global warming. On the other hand, the burning of such plantations leaves no any other plant standing. The land turns bare and will take a lot of time to recover the plantation that existed. This among other environmental destruction makes the war on drugs to be futile in America and other countries using such methods.
The campaign to encourage farmers to use their land for legally acceptable crops has failed. Substituting the drug crops such as coca and marijuana with other crops such as maize, bananas, and beans among other are not appearing to farmers. This specifically affects the Latin American farmers, who earn 4 to 10 times from on drug crops growing as oppose to other legal crops. The drug dealers and kingpins assist such farmers in order to increase their productivity and improve on the quality of the drugs produced. It is, therefore, unwinnable war to reduce the production and distribution of drugs.
The legal war on drugs has failed to bear fruits for the government
Those accused of drug crimes have challenged the legal grounds, and get away with out been charged. There are six commonly legal grounds that suspects use to defend themselves successfully. The drug prohibition violates the substantive due process as its benefits do not justify the encroachments on the rights. Some human rights activists call for the due process to be followed in the legal war against drug production, trafficking and consumption.
The law of the United States of America advocates for religious respect and freedom for its citizens. Some religious groups recognize the use of some drugs in their rituals and for personal ‘benefits’. For example, the Native American Church allows the use of peyote; other religious groups use marijuana as their religious herb (Enid 1999, pp. 115–138). This brings about contradiction between the two sets of law bringing about contention in the law against such drug consumption. The commercial clause gives the state law the power to regulate drug use but not the federal law. This is a legal challenge in that the federal law has no grounds to be involved in the control of drug use. It is, therefore, successfully challenged by many people.
The legality of war on drugs has been challenged on the bases of racialism and targeting some regimes and ethnic groups. For example, the war on cocaine and crack indicates disparities between the cocaine prone white and crack prone African-American people. A person accused of possessing 5 grams of crack is imprisoned for five years as a person accused of possessing 500 grams of cocaine. This is against the constitution which advocates for equality among the people of America (French & Manzanárez 2004, p. 129). The burden to prove that a suspect was possession of drugs is another challenge that has led to the legal war on drugs a futile activity.
Involvement of Central Intelligence Agency in drug trafficking are sad news to the war on drugs in United States of America. These are the people who should be at the fore front in the fight against drug trafficking but, they collaborate in doing the same. From reliable sources members of this powerful government department assist drug dealer with arms in exchange for money. Some of drug traffickers have disclosed to give financial and material support to this department of the government. In return, they assist in shipment and protect them against arrest.
In conclusion, there are various reasons to support the statement that ‘War on drugs is a futile concept’. It has failed in various ways as this analysis elaborates. The domestic policies that the government has in place are not effectively implemented and hence the intended results remain underachieved. The numbers of people involved in drug crimes have increased despite the arrest and imprisonment policy by the government. This has resulted into filling the jails without the reduction of drug crimes. The law on drug possession, production and consumption contradicts with the provision of the constitution. For example, the freedom of religion and racial equality; which makes it, challenged in the court of law.
The war on drugs has failed the economic efficiency test in America
It is a cost on tax payers while the drug dealers continue to earn untaxed large amount of income. It is also not easy to convince the drug crop growers particularly at the south to forego the most profitable crops for the substitute of legal crops. Some methods of fighting the production of drugs such as burning of marijuana are environmental insensitive in nature. They lead to pollution of air and land. Lastly, the involvement of Central Intelligence Agency and the Navy is a tremendously extensive set back to the war on drug.