War on Drugs

War on Drugs began its former life as Prohibition in the United States, which banned the production and consumption of alcohol by the 18th Amendment in the Constitution since 1920, and ended with the 21st Amendment which repealed prohibition in 1933. The people who started the cause on Prohibition, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, were well-meaning: they wanted to prevent abuse of women from alcoholic husbands. They were later joined by parties of questionable political interest: the nativists such as the Ku Klux Klan used Prohibition to shut down urban saloons where politicians courted for votes from the new immigrants because they were frequent patrons to the saloons.

The Prohibition introduced some long lasting socio-economic impact. It replaced funding of the federal government from alcohol tax to federal income tax (the IRS had a Bureau of Prohibition for the purpose of enforcement), but the Great Depression caused income tax revenue to plunge. The revenue stream of alcohol sales went to the black market which made organized crimes flourish. Drug abuse increased. The cost of enforcement rose. The Bureau of Prohibition also suffered corruption.

In 1929, just a few years before the repeal, Harry J. Anslinger started work as an assistant commissioner in the Bureau of Prohibition to reform the Bureau. In 1930, Anslinger became the first commissioner of the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He campaigned to implement the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act in 1934 and the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. After Anslinger retired in 1962, the bureau merged with Bureau of Drug Abuse Control into Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in 1968, a predecessor of the Drug Enforcement Administration which was established in 1973 by Reorganization Plan No. 2, signed by Nixon.

So even after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the Prohibition and the agencies enforcing it continue to live on to this day. It is no wonder that War on Drugs has many parallels to Prohibition, from the violence committed by organized crime rings and the racial targeting done by law enforcement. African-Americans are 7 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites.

Many who support the War on Drugs, like their predecessors who supported the prohibition, are well-meaning, but they don't realize the approach is wrong. DEA has been lying that marijuana is a gateway drug, even though it is not.

Drug addicts (like alcoholics) need help, but putting them into prison is not helping. It's segregation. It's persecution. It's the society collectively abusing the marginalized demographics. The theory that justifies criminalizing drug use due to anticipation of future criminal behavior is a false justice known as pre-crime, which punishes crime never committed. But the DEA thrives on incarcerating people for drug offenses because privatized prison is a hugely profitable business.

DEA also thrives on civil forfeiture. They will confiscate any personal property just by making the excuse that the property could be used for drug related criminal activity. And they get to keep it without bringing any court charge under due process of law, and even if it results in a court case, the burden to prove innocence falls on the defendant. They also collude with the state police by equitable sharing of the seized proceeds. The result is the militarization of police force, unnecessarily escalating peaceful encounters into a deadly military action. It is a rampant contempt of the US Constitution (4th, “right to be secure in persons,” and 5th, “due process of law”).

Legalizing marijuana is not about endorsing recreational drug use. It's about reclaiming civil liberty by removing the abusive, cancerous power of the DEA. It's about looking at more constructive ways to help people recovering from drug abuse. It's about correcting the injustice of the DEA and bring justice to the people, and ending Prohibition once and for all.

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