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Problems with the War on Drugs

The United States Government’s methods of combatting drug use are entirely ineffective and need to be reformed.  In order to come closer to solving these problems, a massive change in policy is needed soon.

In order to see what caused the current issues with the American “War on Drugs” came from, a closer look into its creator is required. This infamous “War” can be traced all the way back to Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (Gladstone). Harry started the war on drugs by pinning the blame of narcotics on America on minorities, specifically African-Americans. He claimed that minorities used drugs more often than whites, also convincing that the problem of drugs in society was entirely the fault of minorities. By looking at why Anslinger initiated the War on Drugs, it is easy to see the ripples of unjust motivations in the United States’ current day motives in drug policy. The current large-scale attack on drug users was racially motivated! To this day, black men are arrested on drug charges at 13 times the rate of white men (Newman). This injustice must continue no longer, and reform begins with a change in policy.

Another way in which the government has been ineffective in combatting drug use is through its drug-education programs (which were created to minimize drug use). The government created several programs in order to educate teens about the dangers of drugs and deter them from using such drugs, but most of these programs have backfired. An example of a failed government drug education program is D.A.R.E. This program was created to educate children about the dangers of drug addiction and how to resist urges to use illicit drugs. However, many have grown to see how ineffective the program is. Students who complete the D.A.R.E. program have been proven to be just as likely to use addictive drugs than those who don’t. Due to its ineffectiveness, the government has cut D.A.R.E. funding from $10 million a year to under $3 million. U.S. politicians obviously did not design a potent and effective program to achieve their goals. Policymakers need to rethink their programs in order to actually encourage safe habits and discourage early addiction.

Finally, the American view on drugs has also caused prison overpopulation and massive costs to the government. Police forces currently send people to jail for minuscule drug offenses, resulting in massive overpopulation in prisons. As of 2015, 48.6% of all people incarcerated in federal prisons were in for drug offenses (Roeder). With over 1.3 million people in federal prisons, more money is needed than ever to cover the expenses of prisons. These massive costs take away valuable government money from other branches. Even though it may seem that more arrests result in safer streets and neighborhoods, that is not true. This common incorrect view is only furthered by inaccurate police and media reports of drug busts. If the monetary worth of drug busts were not inflated by media outlets, the general public has a chance to realize that maybe all these arrests aren’t as great as they seem. Without the excessive incarceration of drug users and dealers, this wouldn’t be a problem. The United States Government needs to realize incarcerating all drug users is not worth millions of tax dollars.
In summary, the United States Government’s method of combatting drug use is entirely ineffective and requires immediate reform. The ‘War on Drugs’ is built on the racial injustice that is still reflected today. Government-issued drug education programs such as D.A.R.E. have not been effective in accomplishing their goals. Third, the United States’ views toward drugs are one of the main causes that U.S. prisons are being overpopulated. Public awareness is key to solving the crisis of drug policing today.  In order to come closer to solving these problems, massive policy reform is needed soon. Let your voice be heard! Speak up and let policymakers know that a change is needed now.

Adams, Cydney. "The Man behind the Marijuana Ban for All the Wrong Reasons." CBS News. CBS Interactive, 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
Gladstone, Brooke. "The Man Who Declared War on Drugs." Audio blog post. WNYC. WNYC, 14 Apr. 2017. Web. 16 May 2017.
Hari, Johann. "The War on Drugs: Harry Anslinger and the Spectre of Racism." Le Savoir. Le Savoir, 24 Oct. 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
Murtha, Jack. "When It Comes to Drug Busts, Journalists Often Don't Ask the Right Questions." Columbia Journalism Review. Columbia Journalism Review, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
Newman, Tony. "10 Ways the Drug War Is Causing Massive Collateral Damage to Our Society." Alternet. AlterNet, 03 Jan. 2013. Web. 19 May 2017.
Roeder, Oliver. "Releasing Drug Offenders Won't End Mass Incarceration." FiveThirtyEight. FiveThirtyEight, 15 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.

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