It is becoming increasingly obvious that the United States government’s war on drugs, and especially its war on marijuana, is being torn down by state and local governments choosing to move in a less punitive direction. But, drug warriors, in and out of government, are trying their best to keep the war going and the casualty count increasing. From Rep. John Flemming (R-LA) promoting misinformation about marijuana in the US House of Representatives to former “Drug Czars” William J. Bennett and John P. Walters writing nostalgically in the Boston Globe about the drug war that they assert “worked,” the drug warriors are refusing to just fade away.
In an insightful USA Today editorial “Bitter-end drug warriors do more damage than weed” published Friday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) dresses down the drug war promoters, whom he terms “bitter-enders.” Rohrabacher devotes substantial attention in the editorial to criticizing marijuana prohibition in particular. Still, much of his critique extends to the entire war on drugs.
Fortunately, the “bitter enders” are losing their fight to perpetuate the war on drugs that, as suggested in Rohrabacher’s editorial, is most properly understood as a war on freedom, both in America and abroad.
Rohrabacher’s editorial begins as follows:
The end of the second prohibition era draws near. The disastrous consequences of the misbegotten “War on Drugs,” with its focus on marijuana, are now widely recognized. More humane approaches to drug use are being implemented as states ease restrictions.
But not if the bitter-enders prevail — as witness Gov. Chris Christie’s struggle with the issue in Wednesday night’s GOP debate.
President Nixon declared war on drugs in 1971, placing the counter-culture’s favored drug, marijuana, on Schedule I of controlled substances. Since then, countless lives have been ruined, not so much by the drug itself, but by the legal regime that followed.
Whereas it is true that less than 10 percent of pot arrests are designated felonies, recorded misdemeanors stay on offenders’ records. This especially damages minority and other young Americans seeking jobs. In the most serious cases, appallingly long sentences, counted in decades of imprisonment, disrupt sustainable employment and tear apart families.
Our criminal justice system has been corrupted and our foreign policy — as every Mexican president since Vicente Fox has complained, as well as other Latin American leaders — perverted, undermining our ability to conduct positive relations with our neighbors.
Inner-city violence and hostility to militarized police stem both directly and indirectly from the drug war. Beyond our borders, a wave of anti-American sentiment grows as an unintentional consequence of our global do-goodism.