portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts global

drug war | police / legal

the War on Drugs is a Complete Failure

The U.S. War on Drugs has been an utter failure, and has led to the destabilization of countries around the world, the incarceration of millions of U.S. citizens, and a tremendous loss of resources that could be otherwise put to good use. Below are excerpts from articles detailing the carnage this phony "war" has caused.
by Charles Shaw

Forty years. One trillion dollars. Half a million prisoners. Millions disenfranchised. Failed states. Spiralling cartel violence. No real drop in use or demand. This is the broadsheet for the American "war on drugs".

So why does the US keep "fighting" this "war"? It's as if the US is addicted to the war on drugs itself. International drug policy is at a tipping point, and the world seems ready to begin making serious shifts, yet the US still pursues this obsessive "war" against plants and people, even as the consequences of these policies have become larger than the problems they were put in place to solve.

Case in point. Earlier this year a panel of three federal judges in California ordered the California prison system - choked far beyond capacity by the war on drugs - to reduce its inmate population of 150,000 by 40,000 (roughly 27%) within two years by releasing nonviolent offenders. This, the judges said, is the only way to change what they called an "unconstitutional prison healthcare system that causes one unnecessary death a week."

In response, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger first tried to get around the court order by privatising the prison system, which would have ended the reign of the California prison guards union as the most powerful lobby in the state. Those efforts failed miserably, so the state assembly crafted a bill that would have transferred those 40,000 to already overloaded municipal and county jails. That fell flat too. The last recourse was for the California Department of Corrections to appeal the ruling to the US supreme court, who (in record time) agreed to hear the case. All indications point towards the ruling being overturned.

Is anyone paying attention? Because this is madness!

When you get down to it, beneath all the pontificate moralising on crime and drug use, the primary drivers of this issue are economic: money and jobs. Any significant shift in either drug control or criminal justice policy would invariably lead to politically unacceptable levels of unemployment. The US criminal justice system consumes $212bn (132bn) a year and employs 2.4 million people, more than America's two largest private employers, Wal-Mart and McDonald's, combined.

see the rest of the article, from the guardian (UK)



Looking for a Fix

By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post
Sunday, August 18, 1996

For more than 100 years Americans have had an up-and-down love affair with dangerous drugs. The cycle begins with infatuation, graduates to obsession and invariably culminates in disaster. Each time it happens, the nation stumbles, at first failing to recognize the dangers, then minimizing them, then belatedly launching a scattershot "war on drugs" that often seems as debilitating as the scourge itself.

The failure of the United States to recognize history's lessons and its sloppy coping strategies form the themes of two new books documenting American drug abuse and efforts to combat it. Both Jill Jonnes's Hep-Cats, Narcs and Pipe Dreams, a history of American drug use, and Dan Baum's Smoke and Mirrors, recounting the failures of "drug wars" since the Nixon administration, lay down some hard truths.

First, says Jonnes, drugs are "very different from alcohol and far more dangerous," because they can be snorted, injected or smoked, providing a quick kick that needs quick reinforcement, something drinking can't match. It is easier to get hooked on drugs, and harder to get unhooked. Second, "availability is fundamental." Whenever drugs are easily obtained, history shows that use and addiction rise dramatically, often with catastrophic effects on entire societies.

Hep-Cats documents the history of American drug abuse in three "epidemics:" opium and cocaine at the turn of the century; postwar heroin, marijuana and the psychedelics; and the current splurge of cocaine and crack. Jonnes's narrative is filled with fascinating anecdotes and factoids. The word "dope," the reader finds, derives from the Dutch "doop," meaning "sauce," an apt description of the cooked brown opium goo smoked by early users. Patent medicines, loaded with coca and morphine, hooked respectable matrons like playwright Eugene O'Neill's mother, finally prompting the government to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

After a hiatus during the Great Depression and World War II, drug abuse resumed, promoted first by Harlem's "hep-cats," extending to the Beat counterculture and culminating in the hippie movement of the 1960s. Be-bop saxophonist Charlie Parker looms large in the period, a legendary hedonist who managed to exploit his prodigious talent despite a heroin habit that ultimately killed him. The belief that Parker had somehow found genius in a syringe drove many aspirants to imitate him, with disastrous consequences. When the charm wore off, survivors like Dizzy Gillespie wrote the obituary for an era: "When a dude is using drugs, no one can help him."

It was the hep-cats, strung out on marijuana and heroin, who popularized law enforcement's favorite notion that marijuana leads to hard drug use. Debunking this theory is a major focus of Dan Baum's Smoke and Mirrors.

Baum repeatedly points out that marijuana has never killed anyone, and notes that while pot use has yo-yoed as high as 70 million smokers, the heroin addict population remains relatively steady at 500,000. No matter. Federal drug warriors continue to use pot-inflated statistics to leverage ever-greater sums of money in futile efforts to curb drug abuse through punishment. The results, he contends, are an all-out assault on constitutional protections against search and seizure, massive and indiscriminate incarceration and a disproportionate and ultimately embarrassing vendetta against young, black males.

read the rest, from the Washington Post


Ex-presidents of Latin America urge legal marijuana

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (CNN) Former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil called Wednesday for the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use and a change in tactics on the war on drugs, a Spanish news agency said.

Ex-presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil made their announcement at a meeting in Brazil of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, the EFE news agency said.

"The problem is that current policies are based on prejudices and fears and not on results," Gaviria said at a news conference in which the commission's recommendations were presented.

The 17-member panel worked on the report for a year and will forward it to all Latin American governments as well as the United States and the European Union, EFE said. Gaviria said the time is right to start a debate on the subject, particularly with the pragmatic openings provided by the election of President Barack Obama in the United States.

"In many states in the United States, as is the case in California, they have begun to change federal policies with regard to tolerating marijuana for therapeutic purposes. And in Washington there's some consensus that the current policy is failing," EFE quotes Gaviria as saying.

from cnn

 link to www.cnn.com

Prescription Drug Abuse Sends More People to the Hospital

Published: January 5, 2011

The number of emergency room visits resulting from misuse or abuse of prescription drugs has nearly doubled over the last five years, according to new federal data, even as the number of visits because of illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin has barely changed.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found there were about 1.2 million visits to emergency rooms involving pharmaceutical drugs in 2009, compared with 627,000 in 2004. The agency did not include visits due to adverse reactions to drugs taken as prescribed.

Emergency room visits resulting from prescription drugs have exceeded those related to illicit drugs for three consecutive years, said R. Gil Kerlikowske, President Obama's top drug policy adviser.

"I would say that when you see a 98 percent increase," Mr. Kerlikowske said, "and you think about the cost involved in lives and families, not to mention dollars, it's pretty startling."

In 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to painkillers jumped 400 percent from 1998 to 2008. And in a growing number of states, deaths from prescription drugs now exceed those from motor vehicle accidents, with opiate painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin playing a leading role.

see the rest of the article, from the new york times


For an very detailed source of facts related to the war on drugs, see Drug War Facts


this article originally appeared on end times news, and was enhanced for indymedia.


the War on Drugs is a Complete Success 08.Jan.2011 14:49

Emmit Goldman

Ever wonder why the word "marijuana" is used rather than "hemp"? Look who's incarcerated for using it.

If I can't smoke, I don't want to be part of your revolution.