"Declared" by the Reagan Administration, the concept dates back to the days of Prohibition (when alcohol and cocaine were criminalized), gained steam after alcohol was relegalized (Reefer Madness), and began peaking with the criminalization of LSD in the mid-60's.

This "war" seeks to eliminate all vestiges of controlled substances by any means short of martial law. But grab all the Viagra, Prozac, and Budweiser you want.

An interesting phrase with a strong psychological impact - it makes you feel good to be a part of it. However, this war is only waged against illegal drugs, not legal ones like caffeine, nicotine, alcohol etc.

As Robert Anton Wilson suggests, whenever you hear this phrase, replace it in your mind with the phrase "War On Some Drugs", and you will approach the truth.


I don't pretend to know what would happen if we legalized drugs, but I do find some gross hypocrisy involved in this whole War on Drugs deal. The most cynical side of me thinks that the government will never legalize drugs because they are the ones making the money; but that's way too provocative a statement to ever be proven by a mere mortal. However; here is the hypocrisy I see:

Many years ago, the religious elements of society would not allow autopsies because of the idea of desecration of the dead. Once autopsies were allowed, many medical breakthroughs were realized due to doctors being able to analyze the result of diseases and other contributing factors to premature deaths.

When airplanes were first invented, no one thought much about a crash. That's pretty much what one would expect from a crazy flying machine, isn't it? As the years went by, it became standard procedure to try and reconstruct crashes to try and determine what caused the plane to go down. This had led to much safer aircraft.

So what about the results of this War on Drugs? I know where I live, the production of methamphetamine is said to have grown around 1000% in the past 15 years. 60 Minutes did a piece last night on ecstasy and how the powers that be cannot seem to put a dent in its production or use. Crack may have lost its luster, but cocaine and heroin use is apparently around the same level it's been for several years.

What's my point? There's been a death here when it comes to this War on Drugs. Why is no one examining the corpse? There's been a crash here in the government's plan to fight drug sales and use. Why is no one trying to reconstruct the damage to see what went wrong?

No, there is no analysis of why this war is being lost on all fronts. There is only a cry for more money to be spent. If all 20 Alaska Air planes that took off one day went down, would Alaska Air be calling for spending more money on that type plane?

I just don't understand why no one is asking this question in the mainstream media.

The war on drugs has it's roots in racism. For a long time the government didn't make any of them illegal, but the first attacks were against opium being shipped in by immigrant Chinese. They played around with various levels of tarriffs for a while, in an attempt to stop it.

I believe that marijuana was the first drug made illegal, and done so because it's use was mainly among non-whites, though it was used in a large variety of forms by many people.

Nowadays, them claim it's for the benefit of people, though somehow tobacco, more addictive than almost any other drug, and causing more deaths than any other drug, is not only legal but subsidized by the government.

There is some suspicion that the war on drugs is kept alive for the wealth it brings the government, due to horrific search and seizure laws enacted to "combat" drugs. There is so much latitude that the government systematically ruins peoples' lives if there's even a possible connection to drug money, by taking all the property. I've even heard of a case where a woman's house was seized because her son sold drugs from there once.

The reason the war on drugs is failing is simply this: The problem is being attacked incorrectly. Kids don't want to hear how their brains will resemble scrambled eggs, or that they'll go to prison. In fact, this may cause children to experiment with drugs to rebel against society, as most teens will do in whatever way that they can.

Parents, listen up!
Do you want to keep your kids off drugs?
Then some of the anti-drug commercials are on the right track. Talk to your kids. But focus on addiction. Not the same old 'Drugs are bad, mmmkay?' speech. Teach them the definition of addict.

ad·dict
Pronunciation: &-'dikt
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Latin addictus, past participle of addicere to favor, from ad- + dicere to say -- more at DICTION Date: 1534
1 : to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively (addicted to gambling)
2 : to cause addiction to a substance in

This they will come to fear more than anything else. What do teens hate more than anything? Not having a choice. Being told what to do. If you want your kids to stay away from drugs, tell them that you won't be bothered if they want to experiment, but if they become addicted the only thing you can do is say 'I told you so'. This will be sure to steer them away.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for the legalization of drugs. I like my recreational drugs. However, I do believe that they should be regulated for safety, there should be recommended doses, and there should be an age prohibition. I don't believe that the brain of a child is developed enough to experiment with drugs. However, I do not feel that I am qualified to determine at what age the brain is fully developed.

What it boils down to is this. The only way to keep kids off drugs is to not make such an issue of it.
If we can help in any way to get the kids to quit, or not start, I believe they'll leave the rest of us alone.

"We have a right to eat, drink, or inject a substance--any substance--not because we are sick and want it to cure us, nor because a government supported medical authority claims it will be good for us, but simply because the government--as our servant rather than our master--hasn't the right to meddle in our private dietary and drug affairs." - Thomas Szasz

"Policies are judged by their consequences, but crusades are judged by how good they make the crusaders feel." - Thomas Sowell

"Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use." - Jimmy Carter, August 2, 1977

Most of the good points WRT this topic have been made, but there are some left:

By saying that "all drugs are bad," you are setting yourself up to be discredited. The moment they try one that doesn't instantly turn them into a pathetic addict, you've lost credibility.

There are some drugs that can seriously screw you the first time you try them, and there are others that won't hurt you even with repeated use. It should be treated more like sex and STDs, where you just make people aware of the risks and how to still engage in certain activities (be they premarital sex or drug use) safely.

Also, legalization would standardize it. People will continue using drugs whether they are legal or not, as demonstrated by the Prohibition Era. Buying drugs now is risky; you can't be sure of what you're getting or how potent it is. If you were to buy it like alcohol, cigarettes, or over-the-counter medication, you could be sure of the contents and strength.

While alcohol is frequently obtained by persons under eighteen, it is discouraged and if not difficult, not easy. The same goes for cigarettes. If we did that with drugs which are currently illegal, we might be able to shift the age-group for users up a bit.

A little bit of irony I've noticed growing up in urban Canada is that from age 13 to 18, it is usually a whole lot more difficult to get alcohol than it is to get marijuana. There's no shame in getting weed from a drug dealer, and they aren't that hard to find. But fake IDs are expensive, and it feels kind of silly to ask people to buy booze for you. So, I ended up spending a lot more time smoking pot than drinking alcohol, and it's a good thing, too. After all, pot just makes you dumb and giggly for a few hours, and alcohol kills brain cells permanently, and impairs your judgement, and causes liver damage, and if you're not careful, it can kill you. Marijuana has never killed anyone directly. Eating ten raw potatoes causes more of a toxic reaction than any amount of cannabis you could eat. At least six international studies have shown that moderately regular marijuana smokers suffer no physical or mental degradation at all.

I don't think that the government should interfere with people's informed decisions about what they put in their bodies. As long as people are educated about the potential risks involved with drug use, they should be allowed to learn for themselves what they enjoy and what they don't.

My parents didn't really give me any sort of drug talk in my childhood, and I still don't really know what their position on the whole thing is. For all I know, they might have a stash of their own (though I doubt it). The best thing they could have done for me would have been to teach me about different drugs, share any experiences they may have had with them, and encourage me to be careful and learn everything I can about a drug before experimenting with it.

I used to get paranoid a lot when I smoked up, but I don't anymore at all, and I recently came to the conclusion that the reason was that part of me had still thought that drugs were bad and worried about what my parents would think. I am sure that this mentality is the cause of a hell of a lot of anxiety for teenagers everywhere. I think that the War on Drugs has caused a lot more damage than anyone really imagines.

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 drugs (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.

I can't sit still in class.

They give me Ritalin™.

They give me A's.

I get drug-induced fears of the sun spontanously exploding and of black holes at the age of 6.

They take me off Ritalin™.

I can't handle school. I leave school. I get depressed. They give me Prozac™.

I stop taking Prozac™.

I smoke Cannibis.

I don't get depressed anymore.

They give me jail.

We should be looking at a very interesting question, and one that I will most likely leave open at the end of this bit of text on the War that Rages. Why do people decide to use drugs?

I, for one, am a 16 year old drug user. Call me the "target audience". I began using drugs when I was 14. And yes, there was the crutial moment of innocence: should I do this? At the time (and I devulge how I am more like the target audience of troubled adolescents) I was near to being kicked out of my home. The situation was shot for 14 year old me. But this did not cause me to use drugs. This caused me to cease to care whether I used drugs or not.

Then came a kind of second emotional reaction. I was so angered and terrified of the fact that my world no longer provided enough to sustain me, I embraced the drug.

I hold that there's nothing immoral to actual drug use. It'll kill you, but a lot of things will. The real issue is that drug users cease to care about their own lives. A person addicted is a person who is unable to get a job, unable to maintain themselves. They lose the respect of their family. At this point, the user uses drugs as a tool of hatred, both of themselves and of the outside world.

I make no claim that this is true for every drug user, but I've seen enough of it in the real world to get a sense of what is ruining lives.

Even if you think that making (certain) drugs illegal is a good idea, naming this the "War on Drugs", or calling for a "War on Drugs" above and beyond simply illegality, is a bad idea. This is because war is something that (generally) you win or loose. But it's impossible to a War on Drugs; it's impossible for the government to eliminate any sort of undesirable behavior, from jay-walking to murder. And if a War on Drugs makes sense in spite of this, wouldn't it also make sense to declare a "War on Crime"?

So, what's the problem with an illogical name/slogan? The problem is that it influences the way that people look at the problem. Rather than looking at drug use as something to be minimized and contained, like law enforcement does for other crimes, it looks at it as a problem that must be eliminated, something that must be won. Since whatever current efforts are being made don't work, why, pour more resources into it. And if that doesn't work, pour even more resources into it.

Also, war is a (hopefully) unusual state of affairs, somewhat like a drawn out emergency. The rules are different in a war: people get drafted, martial law can be imposed, foreign civilians are killed by collateral damage... With the idea that the fight against drugs is a war, some people are more willing to put up with negative things, like insanely harsh sentences for drug crimes and the loosening of requirements for search and seizure. In fact (this is from memory), Daryl Gates (or some other police chief) once claimed that drug users should be shot, because if there's a War on Drugs, then taking drugs is an act of treason.

So if you want to keep drugs illegal, come up with some other phrase for it.

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