The war on drugs, the supposed “public enemy number one”, established under the Nixon administration and intensified under Reagan has been a colossal failure. The logic behind the war on drugs was if you eliminate the drugs you eliminate drug addiction and drug related crime. This was not the case. Instead the war on drugs increased prison populations of drug offender, worsened racial imbalance in America, and increase crimes related to illegal drug production all at the cost of an estimated one trillion dollars since 1971.
Americans make up twenty five percent of the world’s incarcerated population. Fifty percent of which are non-violent drug offenders and while african americans only makeup thirteen percent of the American population they makeup forty percent of the incarcerated population. A large contributor to the disproportional population in U.S prisons was the crack down on crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is a cheaper and easier alternative to cocaine which made it prevalent in poor inner city communities that are generally populated by minorities while cocaine was more common in richer areas outside the city. Despite their nearly identical molecular makeup the sentence for possession of one gram of crack was equal to eighteen grams of cocaine. It is policies like this that unfairly target black and hispanic populations.
Though the war on drugs did decrease American drug production however the nature of economic only helped foreign cartels. The crime related to drug production and trafficking increased and worsened when the market was moved to Mexican cartels. The amount of deaths caused by overdose has increased from 20,000 to 64,000 since the nineties. This doesn’t even account for deaths outside of the United States or drug related deaths not caused by overdose.
The War on drugs may be the worse modern social injustice enacted by the American government, that fact that it was continues even worsens its crimes. Contrary to the large amount of drug related deaths and arrests occurring in the U.S other countries have begun to learn how to address the real nature of drug abuse. Amsterdam established needle exchange locations that greatly reduced the spread of HIV and allowed addicts to seek treatment without fear of jail time. In the face of rising HIV cases Portugal decriminalized possession of LSD, heroin, marijuana, and other street drugs. The war on drugs created a huge imbalance in America that we will spend years fixing however there appears to be a silver lining occuring around the world concerning drug use.