On the ride into work this morning, while listening to NPR, I heard Oregon has decriminalized all drugs. It’s about time some politicians began growing a brain. Kudos to Oregon.
Since 1971 when Tricky Dick declared the war on drugs (which his aides all admitted later was mostly a ploy to lock up huge numbers of black men even though whites used more illegal drugs than black men) the U.S. taxpayer has paid an estimated $1 trillion to wage this failed war. In 2015, the U.S. taxpayer paid $9.2 million every day to keep mostly nonviolent drug users incarcerated, that is $3.3 billion annually. The biggest waste of taxpayer money ever stolen from taxpayer pockets.
These numbers do not reflect the enormous social and economic cost of locking up two generations of people. These numbers do not reflect the cost of ripping mothers and fathers away from their children, my guess is double the estimated numbers if one wants to calculate the true cost to our social and economic fabric. Then factor in the carnage and loss of life illegal drug use by Americans has cost other countries like Mexico, Columbia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.
Can anyone even imagine what could have been if all that time, money and effort had been used to improve quality of life for Americans, rather than creating a nation which now has a for-profit prison industry, an industry which operates using contracts demanding their for profit prisons be kept at 80% full capacity? That premise in itself should put a chill in everyone.
The war on drugs is a complete failure.
I can open my front door and shout “I need some heroin” and bucket loads could arrive at my door in minutes. I can open my front door and shout, “I need some crack cocaine” and wheel barrows full would be delivered as fast as somebody could rock it up. Somebody could put a mountain of all that stuff right in front of me, and like most people I still wouldn’t want it.
Amsterdam reported as soon as they made all drugs legal drug addiction went down 70%. Enough is enough. End the war on drugs, decriminalize every one of them, close prisons and open rehab centers. Everyone should read the book “Drug Crazed” if they want the real story of the war on drugs, and how much money it has made for the few.
• Linda A. Orr resides in Juneau.