The War on Drugs is in reality a war on the American people, on your life, liberty and property. This insane and senseless conflict has not only been an utter and complete failure, but has wiped out personal privacy, taken away personal liberties supposedly protected by the Constitution, given the government power to confiscate your property without even accusing, let alone convicting, a person of crime, and put so many harmless marijuana smokers in jail on 20-year sentences that there’s no more room for rapists and murders.
After 30 yeas of shredding the Bill of Rights in a vain and vainglorious crusade to eradicate the Demon Drugs, the government can’t even stop drugs from getting into prisons. As my friend Ron Crickenberger used to ask, “If the government can’t keep drugs away from inmates who are locked in steel cages, surrounded by barbed wire, watched by armed guards, drug-tested, strip-searched, X-rayed, and videotaped – how can it possibly stop the flow of drugs to an entire nation?”
The most atrocious aspect of the government’s inept and ineffectual War on Drugs is that it is the classic example of a war initiated and justified based on a lie. Before World War I, a 10-year old could walk into a store and buy heroin. It was sold as a sedative and pain reliever, in measured doses, just like aspirin is today. And despite this unrestricted availability, there was no “drug problem” in America, no drug gangs terrorizing American cities and no drug cartels supporting international terrorism. No children addicted to drugs!
All that changed overnight when the Federal government began waging this war in the 1960s. The immediate effect was the creation of a black market in drugs run by criminal gangs, the beginning of drive-by shootings that kill innocent children, people dying from impure drugs, over-crowded prisons and widespread corruption in government and law enforcement. Alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, America’s first object failure at social engineering, gave us Organized Crime; the insane War on Drugs has given us Drug Cartels.
“The War on Drugs is a price support system for terrorists and drug pushers. It turns ordinary, cheap plants like marijuana and poppies into fantastically lucrative black market products. Without the War on Drugs, the financial engine that fuels terrorist organizations would sputter to a halt.”- Ron Crickenberger
While drug abuse is bad, the war on drugs has had far worse consequences for Americans. The abuse of power and the trampling of rights by law enforcement officials perpetrated under the guise of fighting this endless war has resulted in more harm to society than the drugs themselves. The lesson here is when drugs were decriminalized in the 1920s, virtually no children were harmed, but since the government has made them illegal, children are now killing each other on our nation’s streets over drugs. Prohibition breeds war and history proves it is a failure as policy.
Libertarians believe people should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. That does not mean we support or encourage their behavior. People who suffer from drug abuse are sick, and should be treated as patients, not as criminals, unless they have harmed someone else.
The solution is clear. Stop the war on drugs. Return to the pre-war policy of decriminalization and regulation. It’s a natural tendency in the free market for legal products to come safer and more useful over time, as competing producers cater to consumers and take advantage of technological advances. Automakers have added many such features to car, even without government prompting, such as radial tires, disc brakes, dual mirrors, safety glass and power steering. Food manufactures have produced a wide-variety of low-fat, low-calorie and low-cholesterol foods.
Illegal products, on the other hand, don’t get safer. There is no incentive. So if people are going to use drugs anyway, which is the better situation for them and for society?