The War on Drugs Has Failed - Should America Legalize Drugs?
The war on drugs has failed;
We must make peace, heal our wounds, and change our laws.
Chair, NAACP Prisoner Rights Sub-committee
In 2005, International Activist Cliff Thornton invited me as Chairman of the NAACP Prisoner Rights Sub-committee, to participate in a drug conference in Hartford, Conn and after several years of research as it relates to drugs and its side effects, I offer these thoughts.
The drug war can't be won, and we have lost. We merely repeat the mistake of Prohibition. The harder we try to stop this evil, the more lucrative we make it, and the more it spread. The war on drugs cannot be eradicated by making it more profitable and at the same time creating more jails/prisons, disparities, casualties and tax burdens.
This view is shared by activists like Jack Cole a conference participant, a retired police lieutenant who worked on the front lines of the war on drugs, and who feels that prohibition causes more damage than the drugs themselves do.
According to Cole, "The war on drugs was really responsible for about 99% of all the things that we attribute to the, quote, `drug problem.'" Furthermore, Cole maintains that the federal government's attempts to stamp out the drug trade merely "inflates the values of these products virtually by up to 17,000 percent" and "creates an obscene profit margin, making many people willing to kill."
Rutgers University professor Douglas Husak gives more detailed statistics, citing studies that have shown that the types of crimes generated by illegal drug use occur "when drug users and dealers battle over drug sales, turf, and other aspects of illegal drug sales." Husak maintains that the crimes caused by the drug trade "would be virtually eliminated if drugs were available at retail stores." Jack Cole, the retired policeman, expresses much the same sentiment when he says that drugs need to be legalized "so that you can control it and regulate it and keep it out of the hands of our children." The goal of legalization is not to encourage drug use, but to discourage the victimization of drug users, as well as society, at the hands of the illegal drug trade.
Cliff Thornton the founder and president of Efficacy, a drug reform organization based in Hartford Thornton called for a three-pronged approach to deal with the various drugs that are now illegal: legalization of marijuana, medicalization of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines, and decriminalization of the rest. He said the so-called drug war is a war on people, especially people of color, that has cost billions of dollars and has destroyed families and communities, but has done nothing to curb the flow of drugs into the country.
Cliff has shared with me, his life story on this issue and his ongoing advocacy, as well as other like minded national advocates and I think we must signal a "Code Blue". The rash of recent crimes and murders in Chicago, Philadelphia, DC and other major cities across the country, are thought to be drug related, lend to this conversation "The War on Drugs Is Destroying Lives."Richard P. Burton, Sr., Director
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Cole, Jack. "The War on Drugs Is Destroying Lives." Legalizing Drugs.
Cliff Thornton. "Under The Influence" --edited by Preston Peet
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