The United States’ reputation and credibility around the world is at an all-time low. Its bullying, its arrogance and its aggression have led to several disastrous wars in succession.
With all these American misadventures so prominent in people’s minds, it is easy to forget yet another war the United States has initiated and has been fighting for over 40 years. This war has destroyed lives, economies and societies in many countries around the world. Like the majority of American wars, this war which is based on failed policy, is brutal, insane, costly, and unwinnable. Unlike the others, this war has continued insidiously and unremittingly for 40 years, with little chance that reasonable politicians would ever admit a mistake and change course. This undocumented holocaust which has squandered US 2.5 trillion dollars thus far is Richard Nixon’s brain-child called “The War on Drugs”.
Let us examine the many reasons why “The War on Drugs” is a failed policy and an unwinnable war, and why its continued prosecution should be reconsidered not only by the CARICOM region, but by every nation which considers itself civilised.
IT IS A VIOLATION OF THE MOST BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS
Ask yourself the following questions: Who should have the final authority over what goes into your body? You? Or a mob of rich alcoholic politicians in Washington DC who determine what policies best suit their investments and then force them on the rest of the world?
After all, what is a human being’s most sacred possession, if not his own body, without which there would be no life itself? Even if you make poor decisions about what goes into your body (as most people do), does that mean you should go to jail, when you have not harmed anyone in your life with the possible exception of yourself?
If you believe that YOU should have sovereignty over your own body, and you shouldn’t be owned by a government of highly imperfect people, then you already have enough reason to oppose “The War on Drugs”.
If you believe that government should own your body and dictate what you may consume, then you cannot believe in true liberty, freedom or humanitarian principles. But perhaps you still believe in common sense, so please read on…
IT IS THE CREATION OF CRIME WHERE CRIME DID NOT PREVIOUSLY EXIST
This is the most important and least understood aspect of “The War on Drugs”. Without a doubt, the manufacture, sale and use of illegal drugs is surrounded with gangs, guns, and violent crime. An uninformed person might think that the crime arises from the use of the drugs themselves, but there is nothing inherent in Cannabis, cocaine or even heroin that causes one to act criminally. Most users do not engage in criminal behaviour.
Neuropsychopharmacologist Dr Carl Hart, (author of High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society), has been studying drug addiction for the past 15 years and research has shown that, “80 to 90 percent of drug users are not addicted”, policies that aim to punish drug users are the actual cause of crime, as this marginalises them into poverty while research indicates “drugs are scapegoated for problems related to poverty”. One study proved that drug addicts behave rationally, and make sound economic decisions. When given the choice of money or drugs, they would never take the drugs.
Drug related crime arises primarily from the lack of legal recourse for suppliers in the event of theft, sales area conflicts etc. which also makes them fairy easy targets, thus the need to “protect themselves, and their investments”.
Are there guns, gangs and violence associated with the trafficking and trade of regular commodities? No, of course not.
We need only look at Guyana in the 1980’s for the epitome of prohibition caused violence. After an incident where the US confiscated a ship, carrying wheat bound for Georgetown because the US government declined to accept a Guyana government cheque, Forbes Burnham implemented a banning of all imported food. The result was a thriving “black market” where persons were injured or killed over items such as evaporated milk, near the Venezuela and Suriname borders, where illegal groceries were heavily trafficked by gun toting “bandits”.
It is curious how the United States and its “War on Drugs” has been able to deceive the public for so long, in light of this overwhelming evidence. Alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s is wholly responsible for the birth of “Organised Crime” in the USA. Powerful Mafia gangsters like Al Capone were created by prohibition, and when the US government realized that they could never stamp out alcohol, very much the same as is happening today, they conceded that it was better to legalize it and tax it. After alcohol prohibition ended, with many jobs at risk and their enormous alcohol-prohibition legal apparatus lying idle, they decided to turn their attention towards banning cocaine, Cannabis, and opiates instead.
IT IS A HYPOCRITICAL POLICY
The United States is a pill-popping, drug addicted nation. For evidence of this fact, just turn on your American exported television programming for 15 minutes or less, and regardless of the channel, you will find advertisements pushing prescription drugs for every occasion, the majority of which have countless potentially devastating side effects including death!
In some cases the US Government forces children to take debilitating drugs for the symptoms of childhood (which they have renamed ADHD) to the point where (in some states) children who do not comply to take the drugs they prescribe, are not allowed back in school. Ironically, ADHD is a condition caused by the legal stimulant caffeine, which American children and adults consume in copious amounts derived from various carbonated beverages such as Coca-Cola.
The pharmaceutical companies in the USA are multi-billion dollar corporations with plenty money to meddle in government policy to keep Cannabis illegal. I would like you to consider the following: there are thousands of legal drugs and stimulants approved by the FDA, yet every year in the US, 32,000 people die from prescription drug related deaths. Tobacco kills more people each year than all the people killed by all the illegal drugs combined – over the last 100 years! There has never been a death from Cannabis use in all of recorded human history. There is clearly a double standard here.
To add insult to injury, these goons did not even take the time to also categorise as harmful and make illegal some of the actually poisonous, potentially deadly plants out there… some examples are bitter cassava, manchineel, castor oil bean (from which the elusive and very potent poison, ricin is derived), oleander, and many others.
The US government is owner of Patent number 6630507 B1 of October 7th 2003, entitled CANNABINOIDS AS ANTIOXIDANTS AND NEUROPROTECTANTS states: “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and auto-immune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke or trauma or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and HIV dementia”. The patent goes on to say “Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil (YES! This typo is in the patent abstract… that should read cannabidiol), are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses”.
So, this brings us up to date. 21 states in the US have medical marijuana, and 3 states have flat out legalization for adults. The sky has not fallen, and neither have 15 million Americans fallen destitute or resorted en mass to lazy or criminal behaviour.
Greenwald’s whitepaper on cato.org offers evidence to show that Portugal, a country which decriminalised all drugs in 2001, is experiencing lower rates of drug use than its EU counterparts with strict drug laws, and judged by every metric, the Portuguese decriminalisation framework has been a resounding success.
IT’S A BRUTAL AND RACIST WAR
The effect of “The War on Drugs” is far more harmful to any society than the effects of the illegal drugs themselves. The start of “The War on Drugs” marked the end of an era where the public and the police had a harmonious relationship. Instead of being society’s protectors, with a mandate to apprehend criminals who posed a physical threat to the person or property of others, “The War on Drugs” demolished that relationship, transforming police into aggressors whose job it now became to invade people’s privacy to “protect them from harming themselves”.
There are countless cases of police entrapment where one may see a cop stopping on a corner in a poor neighbourhood to buy $5 worth of crack cocaine, then arresting a young black man, who will likely spend years in jail away from his family and loved ones. Do you think these same cops are infiltrating the cocktail parties of the rich and famous with their lines of coke and synthetic party drugs in their luxury houses? Did you know the mandatory jail time for crack is many years longer than for powder cocaine? Even though they are the same drug in different forms? Do you think perhaps that could have something to do with who are the users of crack cocaine vs. who are the users of powder cocaine?
Research has shown that white people use crack cocaine at approximately the same rate as black people, yet 85% of people incarcerated for crack cocaine are black. African-Americans represent only 12% of the US population, yet they comprise 44% of all the Americans in prison. There are approximately 1,360,000 prisoners in the United States and 80% of them are in prison for non-violent drug related offences.
The latest and most disturbing trend in “Federal Drug Policy” is the whimsical removal of young children from their loving caring Cannabis consuming parents and their subsequent placement into a strange home by the US government for financial profit. This is just about the most traumatic experience a young child could have with the possible exception of sexual assault/abuse. The consequences of this decimation of the family and societal fabric promises to be a disaster of proportions unknown with far reaching consequences.
THE GLOBAL AND ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES
So what if a country refuses to accept the United States government’s most revered export (“The War on Drugs”)? Well, in some cases they do the governmental equivalent of “packing up, taking their marbles and going home” which means they withhold valuable aid or impose economic sanctions depriving the offending nation of food and medicine, but this does not affect drug traffickers who can afford the same quality care as US senators if not better, this affects the poor and destitute struggling human beings who had nothing to do with the drug trade or drug use.
In other cases they will invade the offending country with their military.
From a purely financial point of view, Non-drug-using taxpayers should be most eager to see the repeal of prohibition, since the cost of prohibition and funding of jail time for non-violent persistent drug users must be borne by them.
As the lower and middle classes have become unable to fulfill even the most basic of needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, crime has almost doubled, and with the worst economic depression in over 70 years, it makes little economic sense to destroy a valuable commodity or to squander law enforcement time and resources to such when there are countless other crimes with victims that remain unsolved.
Lastly, used in the industrial context, Cannabis (hemp) is an omnipotent resource, with infinite possibilities for manufacturing, including food, fibre, medicine, non-toxic fuels and sealants and hemp-lime concrete for construction. In fact, the only things hemp cannot make are glass or metal. To destroy such a resource which can be so beneficial to poorer countries is illogical.
In conclusion, “The War on Drugs” is America’s war. It is not our war, and if we are to consider our country as independent, then we must find a way to become free of America’s dictates, especially those which are profoundly detrimental to our progress and society. Drug abuse must be dealt with as a health issue not a criminal matter. The way to do that is with education. That means truth in education, not propaganda. If indeed drug abuse is a problem, then it is a problem for the schools, families, communities and religious organisations, not for the criminal justice system and not for the police.