The Drug War: a Lost War?
 

    A family of three sits around the TV, the mom is reading the paper, the dad taking a nap, and their three-year-old son is watching his favorite Disney Movie. Suddenly there is a thud on the door and eight men rush inside. They have on bulletproof vests, helmets, M-16's, shotguns, and handguns pulled. They scream "THIS IS THE POLICE, GET ON THE GROUND! Hands Behind your head." The little boy is crying the Mom and Dad have their head s on the ground, while the men start looking around?
  
    If this was your normal family, what are you thinking? What id the crime they have committed? They have done nothing wrong, it is the police who have messed up. They have the wrong house. The warrant was misprinted and they were to be two houses down. This whole thing could have been a lot less scary if the police had made a attempt to get in the house without force, but thanks to new laws on drug raids the police do not have to say anything, they can just fly in guns out. You may think the story of the wrong house is a little far fetched, but there are many cases where this has happened. People have had this happen to them. This brings up two questions, is this force needed, and also is the drug war worth the costs?
  
   We must either make drugs legal or at least decriminalize them. While we may not like drugs this drug war we have been fighting has not helped, and may have made it worse. First of all I know the first thing opponents will say is that I am just a drug addict, who is trying to make it easier to get my drugs. I have never used drugs, and I do not wish to ever use drugs. I do not think drugs are something are good for people, but also I do not see any need for innocent people to be killed because a person cant get some, and if he had would not have bothered anyone if he had access to them.
  
   First I wish to talk about the drug war itself. The drug war was started in the late 60?s and early 70?s, not because people wanted to be protected from drugs, but to control people who were against the war in Vietnam, equal rights, and other things. This culture was known for using drugs and this gave the government reason to go after these groups. You can?t go after some people rallying against the war, but since many used pot, LSD, or other drugs, you could arrest them for that. They needed a way to go after groups with these political views. It was there political views they were after.
 
Drug use accounts for more then 1.6 million or 50% of all inmates in prison. With overcrowding, many offenders of more violent crime are let out early to make room. With all of these arrests, drug use is still at about the same level as it was 10 years ago. While they make arrest and make it harder to sell drugs, the price goes up, and the profits go up. This means that more people who have no money are likely to try to sell, and see it as a way to maybe get out of poverty. As far as the buyers go, higher costs don?t effect them as much. Users still need it, they may steal, kill, starve their kids in order to get money, but they will still get it.
  
Some say, well if the cost is so high, just stop. Well I have heard 1,000 times "If cigarette prices go up again, I quit." Well they were $2.25 a year and a half ago, now $3.50, and sales have not dropped much. How long before they say tobacco is a drug, and make it against the law? They already have said you can?t smoke even in your yard, in parts of Nevada. It also has been shown to be far more damaging then pot is. While drugs are bad, kill, and mess up people?s life, so do many other things that are legal. Cocaine, and heroin kill 8,000 a year, alcohol and nicotine kill 600,000. The number of deaths from pot to date, according to the Controlled Substance Act, is 0. You need to smoke forty pounds of it in an hour in order to for death to occur. There is large debate over making pot legal for medical use, and some areas they have already done this. So if there is all this debate around it, can we justify some of the long sentences for its use?
  
Some well known people have come forward to say they feel the drug war has gone too far. I have some quotes form some high-ranking judges.
  
Chief Judge Myron Bright of the 8th Circuit "The unwise sentencing of policies which put man and women into prisons for years, not only ruins the lives of the prisoners and often family members, but also drains the American taxpayers of funds which can be measured in billions of dollars." (The November Coalition)
  
U.S. Chief Judge Juan Torruella of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals "Current discussion of drugs is ruled by political rhetoric and anti-drug hysteria. It is a loosing battle and drug prosecutors and law enforcement have run rampant over the Bill of Rights" (The November Coalition)
  
Chief Judge of the 7th Circuit Richard Posner. (The November Coalition)The fact that there is debate about the law in the first place makes 10 years to life sentences even worse then they already are. "Prison terms for these offences have become excessively long, especially for conduct that, arguably, should not be criminal at all"
  
    ;A major investigation found that the CIA had at one time used drug money to help support undercover operations in foreign countries. After an investigation they finally admitted to this fact, and caused a huge setback for the war. If our own government was involved in drugs, how can we expect to ever win?
  
So while just making them legal may not be the answer we must look possibly decriminalization, and more at mandatory rehab, and smaller sentences.
  
Brian  Dobbs
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