Friday marked the 40th anniversary of a war as terrible as the man who started it. Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs has been a failure from the start and only continues to expand its parade of misery and hate. It has not kept drugs off the street or even reduced their presence by much. Now that we’re trying to legalize harmless drugs like cannabis, the War on Drugs is actually directly hurting responsible citizens as the DEA raids dispensaries in every state where dispensaries are legal. The general consensus among the government seems to be, “States had better follow federal law, or else.” I guess they haven’t heard of states’ rights.
Still, this war continues to be a grim reminder that the American government sometimes holds its own interests above those of the people. With so many Americans opposed to the War on Drugs, it’s a wonder the damn thing’s made it to middle age. There is no evidence to show that the War on Drugs has affected drug trafficking within the United States. And the War on Drugs is a trillion-dollar program–with that kind of tax money flowing into a program, you’d think we’d see some serious results after forty years.
So why is this cancer on American policy still going strong? According to a report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, a majority of the money from the War on Drugs goes to five major corporations: DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, ITT, Raytheon, and ARINC. From TokeOfTheTown.com:
“Counter-narcotics contract spending increased by 32 percent over the five-year period from $482 million in 2005 to $635 million in 2009. Falls Church, Va., based DynCorp got the biggest piece of the wasted pie, a whopping $1.1 billion.”
$1.1 billion to DynCorp? They must do a lot to get drugs off the streets to deserve that much of the American People’s money. According to their website, DynCorp “operates… law enforcement and intelligence training and support.” Training. DynCorp got $1.1 billion over five years to train and support DEA agents. Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen.
Okay, so maybe the DEA needs training–after all, you can’t win a war without knowing how to fight it. But what about those “difficult to characterize” expenditures the Senate mentions? I guess $5,000 for “rubber ducks” is a little difficult to explain when that $5,000 came out of the paychecks of millions of Americans. According to a Pentagon spokesman, those rubber ducks are replicas of M-16s used in training exercises. The aforementioned Senate report admits that the Defense Department has an “error prone” system for tracking contracts like these. It also admits that there’s no reliable data on how successful the War on Drugs has really been.
This failed war has cost us billions of tax dollars and we’ve seen no real results except that dispensaries have had to shut down or not even open to begin with. When responsible, nonviolent citizens are arrested in the name of eradicating drug trafficking, someone has to step up and say “Enough.” And across the country yesterday, Americans did just that. Protests were held in major cities against the War on Drugs, and it wasn’t just civilians fighting the good fight. Law enforcement officers who were directly involved in the War on Drugs have spoken out against it. Norm Stamper, former police chief in Seattle, WA, had this to say: “Since President Nixon declared ‘war on drugs’ four decades ago, this failed policy has led to millions of arrests, a trillion dollars spent and countless lives lost, yet drugs today are more available than ever.”
Stamper and officers like him speak out against crimes the government commits against cannabis users through LEAP–Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. They know just as well as the rest of us do that the War on Drugs is a monumental failure and needs to be stopped. To me, that seems like a pretty big sign to the American government. If the very people you pay to enforce something think it’s wrong, then it might just be time to end it.