The War on Drugs Timeline & History
In all of the wars fought the most controversial is the so-called war on drugs. This war was declared in June 1971. This was done to increase the size and presence of the federal drug control policies and the measures set forth were of such as mandatory sentencing and no knock warrants. In this war that was declared by President Richard Nixon, which included that marijuana would be a schedule 1 narcotic, which is the most dangerous category of drugs.
In 1972 a congressional committee recommended decriminalization of marijuana, and this was the platform that President Jimmy Carter ran on and was inaugurated on, and then just a short time into his presidency fell back on the practices of his predecessors.
In the 1960s the upheaval in the social structure, political problems and the beginning of a different type of rebellion gave rise to recreational drug use. This was when the government stopped all scientific research on the safety and efficiency of all drugs. This is when things became heated in this so-called drug war. The rise of Vietnam and many of the soldiers coming back addicted to heroin and the thought movement that the government should be controlled by the people and not the other way around.
The first law that had to do with drug criminalization was the 1914 Harrison Narcotic Act, in 1937 the marijuana transfer tax act was implemented to destroy the hemp industry, and some say it was fully backed by Randolph Hearst’s fear that the hemp industry would destroy his expensive newspaper holdings and industry because it gave an alternative to the type of paper he used and the assets he held.
The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established in the department of the treasury in 1930 to work towards stopping the illegal manufacturing of drugs and the import of narcotics coming into the country. In 1973 the DEA or drug enforcement agency replaced the previous Bureau of Narcotics. In 1982 vice president George W Bush began to push for the intervention of the CIA and the military to control the import of drugs into the country.
However, from 1973 to 1977 eleven states decriminalized marijuana possession, in January 1977 President Carter backed those states and in October 1977 a Senate committee voted for up to 1 oz of marijuana to be legal for personal use. Over time it seems a big point of controversy in the war on drugs is the profiling that has been involved, in the 1870s the anti-opium laws targeted the Chinese, and the anti-cocaine laws of the early 1900s in the south were targeting black men, and the anti-marijuana laws of the start of the 1900s-1930s targeted the Mexicans and the Mexican-Americans. Today it targets the Latino and the black communities. In the 1980s the crack epidemic and scare were targeted mostly to the inner city and young blacks.
When Reagan was elected in the 1980s the war on drugs, hit a whole new level. The just say no campaign and the media scare caused the jump of those incarcerated from 50,000 to 400,00 in about 15 years. A Los Angeles police chief implemented the DARE program or drug abuse resistance education; this swept the nation even though it was and has been proven ineffective. In 1985 only 2-6% of Americans saw drugs as the number one problem facing America. With the hype involved by September of 1989, that number jumped to 64% and then it began to plummet to less than 10% within just a few years.
Clinton advocated for drug treatment in his campaign of 1992, he too after a few months escalated the drug war. Before leaving office, he even stated that we need to re-exam the entire policy of imprisonment for drug offenses and he even said that marijuana should be decriminalized.
George W Bush implanted more money into the war on drugs, even though the war on drugs was beginning to lose steam. During his presidency there were more than 40,000 SWAT raids on Americans every year, most were for non-violent offenses and a majority of misdemeanor charges. In this day and age, there are still 700,000 people still arrested for marijuana use and possession, and 500,000 are incarcerated for other low-level drug offenses. The United States spends 51 million dollars annually on the war on drugs.
In the 1980s drug arrests were up 126% where arrests for other crimes only rose 28%. In 1995 a medical journal report stated that 1,000,000 Americans per year are arrested for drug offenses. In 1993 only 2.5 billion was spent on treatment, and 7.8 billion was dedicated to law enforcement. If legalized America would save 41.3 billion and 46.7 billion would be available for other federal programs if drugs were taxed like alcohol and tobacco. In 1995 there were 750,000 drug cases 75% of those were for personal use offenses. In 1997 717,420 Americans were arrested for violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and in the same year 695,200 Americans were arrested for marijuana charges.
In June of 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy stated that the “War on Drugs” had failed and will continue to fail if it is allowed to be implemented in the same way that it has been in the last 50 years. The purpose of the so-called war on drugs was to eliminate the trafficking of illegal and harmful drugs into the country.
However, all it managed to do was make mandatory sentencing an inflexible means of treatment instead of actual treatment. Of the states that have made marijuana legal such as Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. There has been no increase in violent crimes and those states now have additional funding because of taxation and regulation to put into other programs such as schools, and early education, job search help, and the possibility of helping families stay together instead of tearing them apart for low-level offenses.
These are examples of how the rethinking of the current system and the decriminalization of certain drugs can be overall beneficial. This is a system that obviously needs to be revamped. The history is not encouraging instead of winning lives more have been destroyed, and the financial state of this country is in such a way that this along with other policies needs to be reexamined and redone.
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