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Sunday, October 23, 2016

It’s been a war on justice, an assault on equal protection under the law.

And a war on families, removing millions of fathers from millions of homes.

And a war on money, spilling it like water.

And a war on people of color, targeting them with drone strike efficiency.

We never call it any of those things, though all of them fit. No, we call it the War on Drugs. It is a 42-year, trillion-dollar disaster that has done nothing — underscore that: absolutely nothing — to stem the inexhaustible supply of, and insatiable demand for, illegal narcotics. In the process, it has rendered this “land of the free” the biggest jailer on Earth.

So any reason to hope sanity might assert itself is cause for celebration. Monday, we got two of them, a coincidental confluence of headlines that left me wondering, albeit, fleetingly: Did the War on Drugs just end?

Well, no. Let’s not get carried away. But it is fair to say two of the biggest guns just went silent.

Gun 1: In a speech before an American Bar Association conference in San Francisco, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal prosecutors will no longer charge nonviolent, low-level drug offenders with offenses that fall under mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Those Kafkaesque rules, you may recall, got Kemba Smith, a college student with no criminal record, sentenced to almost 25 years without parole after she carried money for her abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend.

Gun 2: A federal judge ruled New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional. The tactic, more in line with some communist backwater than with a nation that explicitly guarantees freedom from random search and seizure, empowered cops to search anyone they deemed suspicious, no probable cause necessary. Unsurprisingly, 84 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, a civil rights group, which says illegal drugs or weapons were found in less than 2 percent of the searches.

  • Dominick Vila

    Considering how profitable the prison system is, and the fact that many politicians and lawyers are heavily invested in it, I would not bet on meaningful changes to the status quo. This, like so many other issues, has more to do with money than moral values or common sense.

    • sunmusing

      exactly…they will just figure out another way to fill the prisons…another war on the population…maybe with abortion doctors and patients…

      • FredAppell

        That has already been suggested. I have heard of many conservatives calling for prison terms for abortion doctors.

      • Sand_Cat

        I think they’d prefer another way to get at blacks and other “non-white” minorities, but sure, abortion providers would probably do well as a consolation prize.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      That’s why I term the prison and justice system as;
      The Prison Industry
      The Justice Industry

      No, there won’t be a lot of changes in the system. Too many businesses, people and concerned entities are making too much money off it. Within each state, the Prison/Justice Industrial System(s) is one of their most profitable businesses there is.

      And, also lets not forget IF you don’t go to jail/prison and are required to see shrinks, this is another huge Industrial System that keeps the mandatory user, including all the meds that is required, paying out the ass for years to come. And, this can start as early as childhood.

      This is all a contrived TRAP. Once caught up in it, you’ll pay hell getting out of it. And, you don’t need to be found guilty of anything to get involved either.

  • FT66

    The war on drugs could had been: “The war on users”. Once you cut off the demand, you don’t see the commodity in business and in full swing. The war was poised mainly to the supplier and not to the buyer. That was quite unfair. The war could had been ended long time ago, if the supplier plus the buyer could had been taken to prison both at the same time.

    • charleo1

      It was for a time, a war on users. When Ronald Reagan put Nancy out front
      with this benign message, to just say no to drugs. In the background, with the help of former Federal Prosecutor William Bennett, the minimum mandatories were passed down to judges, and we had 18 year olds serving a 10 year sentence, for possession of as little as an ounce of pot. Prison populations exploded. We couldn’t build them fast enough. Today, we have
      one fifth of the world’s population, and twenty-five percent of the world’s
      total population of individuals who are behind bars. On the enforcement side, Constitutional protections were thrown to the wind. Search, and seizure was the game. And America’s first experience with what was, and continues to be in many ways, a Police State.
      The results have been a failure from the start. Upon enacting the tough
      new drug laws that allowed the State to carry out the death penalty on
      large traffickers, the stakes changed. And with longer sentences mandatory, violence at the street level, created a war like atmosphere, where guns
      were now, nearly always involved. But the appetite of Americans for drugs, despite inane advertisements starring a clueless Nancy, never wavered. Regardless of the billions spend to stop the flow, even the price of more dangerous drugs, like crack or heroin, actually fell. We were clearly losing.
      But, like most wars, an entire industry had sprung up, with vested interests
      in continuing, even doubling down on the war on drugs. Now, from Police Depts. addicted to the extra Federal monies, to lawyers, probation,and parol, to rehab, and the incarceration corporations, many State Governments have turned to, that now lobby lawmakers for even tougher parol requirements that practically guarantee their, “profit, ” which is actually a person, in their corporate prison, will be making a profit for them, and living off the tax payers dime, for many wasted years to come.

      • FT66

        Thanks for the information. That time of Reagan era I was in my teens time and didn’t engage myself in politics except my Dad. It is good to know now what happened. You have really enlighten me.

      • SibyllasStuff

        Well put. thank you.

    • tdm3624

      I agree that we have a drug problem because of demand. Simply put, people want some crack so drug dealers supply it. Shutting down a few suppliers doesn’t make the demand go away.

  • Urbane_Gorilla

    Before everyone breaks out a doobie in celebration, I’d like to point out that our administration also said they would leave legal marijuana dispensaries alone 2 years ago. And clearly they did nothing of the sort.

  • Allan Richardson

    Drug prohibition is as useless a social strategy as alcohol prohibition was. The really dangerous drugs would have a shrinking customer base of long time addicts, with no new customers, were it not for the fact that the LESS harmful marijuana can only be obtained from the pushers of dangerous drugs. If marijuana were that addictive, then how come the vast majority of users in the 1960’s quit, albeit reluctantly, when corporations began testing for it, and are staying clean even now (as attested by the corporate testing), WITHOUT having to go to rehab? We know that rehab only admitted a very small fraction of the total formerly pot smoking population, yet almost all of them quit.

    As for memory loss, look up Cheech Marin’s record on celebrity Jeopardy! games.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      I don’t know if legalizing Reefer is going to really do anything than reducing the prison population. They’ll find other ways of re-populating the prisons. You can be sure of that.

      The only reason most of us stayed at home and toked was because it was/is illegal and you could go to jail if found toking in public.

      I think Reefer could get just as bad as Booze is now as far as DWIs. One good thing about Reefer is that normally, you don’t get violent as people do drinking Booze.

      As far though as Reefer being a Gateway Drug, that is partly true, IF you’re stupid enough to use more harder drugs. Reefer in and of itself is not very addictive. Smoking Tobacco is a lot harder to stop, if not dam near impossible for the majority of us who use it.

      Seems to me, we live in a society that is all screwed up. We legalize very addictive things like like Tobacco and Booze, but make illegal a drug like Reefer that isn’t addictive or that dangerous.

      Goes to show how stupid this country truly is.

      • charleo1

        I thought you made an important point about pot being a gateway
        drug, leading inexorably to other harder drugs. I think the true answer
        is it could. Not by the pot certainly, as you point out, Surprisingly non
        addictive. However, where it’s bought, and if the dealer is a one stop
        shop, then, he might push his harder wares on his pot clients. But to
        claim it’s pot=coke=crack=meth=death, is not necessarily so. I heard
        a fellow ask one time, if they legalized crack, would run out and buy
        some? How about heroin?

  • stcroixcarp

    I remember how Ronald Reagan ended the war on poverty with cynical words. We have a war on poverty and poverty won. Remember Nancy Reagan on drugs, “Just say no.”? How about this we have a war on drugs and drugs won.

  • Robert Cruder

    The physical harm from recreational drugs never justified the legal penalties for possession.

    Are you aware that mere possession of a sport supplement that was legally available at GNC a year ago is now a federal felony with those same penalties? Why should possession of performance-enhancing drugs by private individuals who are not engaged in drug-tested sports be prosecuted?

    Why reduce penalties for recreational drugs which can harm health while increasing them for drugs that improve health?

    The stated reason is to keep such drugs from teens who might abuse them. We do not criminalize possession of alcohol, tobacco or automobiles by adults when each kills teens every day.

    The managers of drug-tested sports see an ageing fan base whose members of both sexes have used or will use hormone replacement therapy and who see little reason to punish its use.

    Criminalizing possession allows the managers to punish the athlete not for drug use but for performing a criminal act.

    Is it possible that private citizens are being incarcerated just to make PR easier for managers of sports?