Let's not forget that the War on (Some) Drugs
has some supporters who lobby
for its continuing practice
for reasons other than their moral
opposition to the use of drug
s (and it is
a moral issue). I believe the story begins around the time just after World War II
, so that's where I'll start.
After World War II, there were a great many businessmen who had made their fortunes in the most patriotic way possible, by supplying their government with the tools of war. Of course, these weren't limited to guns and bullets and things which cause death. They also included food, clothing, and support staff (bureacrats, administration, and their ilk).
Now, these terribly wealthy businessmen didn't want to stop making money just because that great big war was over. Fortunately for them, world politics found itself divided into two camps: those behind the "Iron Curtain" and those in the "Free World". Also, the United States had very conveniently unleashed the marvels of atomic energy on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, demonstrating that millions upon millions of lives could be ended with just a few billion of dollars in funding to the right projects. The threat posed by atomic energy required a large standing army (because atomic weapons were supposed to be used as a last resort) and a program to develop and stockpile ever-larger arsenals of ever-stronger atomic goodies (in case their "peace-keeping" powers failed after all).
And so the ballet of international politics continued for nigh on 30 years. A plutonium pirouette on one side of the Iron Curtain, and the same happened on the other side. Again and again and again. There were a few close calls, supposedly. One might, if one is bold of heart and equally paranoid, believe that these close calls were staged to keep everyone thoroughly afraid of the Godless Commie bastards, so afraid that they never questioned the exorbitant defense budgets on which their taxes were spent. The United States even got a war out of the fear of communism, in a fairly inconsequential nation in Southeast Asia. Like the War on (Some) Drugs, it wasn't an official, declared war, but that's what it was, and that's what we call it today: the Vietnam War.
The thing about Vietnam was, a fair number of people didn't particularly care for it. As it happens, a great many of those people didn't particularly care for a lot of things that the fellows responsible for Vietnam stood for, and among those many things were those fellows' drug laws. This was something completely different, and the result was that some of those very same people in opposition to the Vietnam War went to jail.
Meanwhile, back in Vietnam, things were going very poorly for the fellows on the front lines trying to keep the world safe for democracy. As a result, the war became less and less popular, and it started to become clear that this sort of thing just would not do anymore. By the time the war was over, the United States had a number of recreational drug users, some of whom had also been intrepid defenders of the American Way back in Vietnam. The businessmen (remember them?) who made the very expensive things the military loves so much were thoroughly entrenched as the military industrial complex, a powerful economic and political force.
So then we had the Eighties, and a lovely little thing called glasnost. The Cold War winding down; the loosening of tensions between those red sons of bitches and ourselves. Whatever would the military industrial complex do when world peace rears its ugly head? But they had nothing to worry about; we also had an escalation in another war, the War on (Some) Drugs.
Let's take a look at what it takes to run a War on (Some) Drugs, shall we? First, we need someone to tell us which drugs on which to war--that would be the government, something we already had. Next we need people who will, with the power of the government behind them, stop other people who are manufacturing, selling, and distributing drugs. Note that this makes the War on (Some) Drugs very difficult to fight because one side isn't even fighting--all they've got to do is hide, and presuming they're anything but brain-dead, they'll be very good at it in a very short time. The people enforcing the government's laws will need guns because...well, because that's how laws are enforced. Laws that are broken through violence and laws that are broken to make lots of money, both of which are generally broken by people who are violent offender one way or another, anyway. Then we need a judicial system, one of the functions of our government, to figure out what to do with these people. This already existed and only needed modifications. Then, when the people convicted of violating laws against drugs are sent to prison. Prisons we got. Enough prisons to house all those folks getting sent upstate, we don't. And so here's where I (finally) get to the point.
Especially since the advent of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, lots of drug offenders are sent to prison, many of them going there for a very long time. Those folks need to be clothed, fed, and regulated for the duration of their sentences. This takes weaponry to keep them in line, administration to run the show, and someplace to put the offenders in question. Since our government doesn't own the means of production, it's got to hire outside contractors to build large facilities to hold all these prisoners. This is where the prison industrial complex comes in. If this sounds a lot like the military industrial complex, I'm doing something right.
So who do you suppose lobbies harder for the maintenance of the status quo where U.S. drug policy is concerned, the military industrial complex or the prison industrial complex? The military industrial complex has a stake, too, because they're the ones supplying war materiel to the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA. The DEA being the one that conducts all those overseas operations against manufacturers in places like Colombia in conjunction with other military forces, as well as waging their war right here in the good ol' U.S. of A.
U.S. drug policy isn't static, outmoded, unjust, illogical, and, in my humble opinion, evil only because the right people haven't changed their minds. Drugs make money for more people than just the drug dealers.