The war on drugs is an industry that purports to serve society, but in many ways creates more criminals. Illegal drug dealing is a bloody, violent, harmful business. Regulation is inconsistent, and sometimes insane.
Because harmful drugs can and do create cravings that lead to theft, assault, and murder, much effort goes into combating the trade. For less harmful drugs, such as cannabis, enforcement is justified because these are lumped together with other criminal trades.
How did this come about? In every situation where there is a living to be made, people will do so. The “bad guys” sell the drugs. The “good guys” work in a system of patrol, arrest, incarceration, court assessments, and more. Where corruption exists, many profit from both sides. It is hard to shut down a graft system which rewards many handsomely.
Drugs are just like money. Addiction to either is destructive, yet need for them is obvious. Both can be abused, and/or used wisely. In fact, the same could be said of any resource, even the resource of earth itself. Drugs both save lives, and kill people. What needs to happen is to sort out which drugs are truly dangerous. Many people will be surprised to know that the huge pharmaceutical corporations produce and sell some of the most destructive substances. At the same time, that shady looking character on the corner could be selling less harmful pain management marijuana for your grandmother.
A clear distinction is made between which one is the “dangerous outlaw.” It is backwards.
Distinctions are made among substances too, but they are contradictory and not consistent. Tobacco, alcohol, and even caffeine are recognized as drugs by most, but are not affected by complex drug schedules of controlled substances.
Which drugs are deemed acceptable, and which are deemed demonic, largely depends upon which era in history we examine, social and cultural norms, politics, and of course, profits. Drunks and addicts have often been sources of our greatest arts and literature.
Illegal and legal drug trades fuel wars, terrorism, and global, as well as local economies. Yet, in those nations with a “war on drugs” the very rich and powerful are almost never touched or impacted to slow the flow of narcotics. Often they are the officials themselves. Only those who are on the lowest rungs of the trade business are targeted on the front lines of this war. Much is made about crime, both petty and heinous, when these “low-lifes” are caught, but almost no mention or consequence exists for those who profit the most from this ambiguous kind of “War.”
In other words, just as in any other form of industry, trade, regulation, or distribution, those with the most power and money decide what is harmful and to whom it may cause harm. This is where true education and vigilance from we the people needs to step in to demand a more sensible system.
Every year, statistics prove that law enforcement taxes society heavily. Incarceration, and the court costs also add to our financial burden. Many are convinced that far from being rehabilitated, prisoners serving time often graduate to more destructive and profitable crime involving harder drugs. Statistics also bear out that education and public service efforts which mislead and exaggerate negative emphasis on less harmful drugs often destroy credibility of those programs.
Real education that regards people with respect, to improve their knowledge and judgment will be more effective. Real compassion for addicts, and the mentally ill need to be provided, rather than punitive measures that exacerbate the problem.
Finally, there are certainly Re-hab programs that work, but it must be pointed out, that these too are part of the industry. Some criminals learn to “play the system.” Some learn to get out of the lowest rung which is persecuted, and rise to a higher rung where consequences are less severe. Some learn to get out of the drug life completely, and become more productive members of society.
Still, there are others who realize, recognize, and are fighting to introduce sensible legislation to de-criminalize drugs that do more good than harm, and to better regulate drugs that do more harm than good. Meanwhile, the blood and drugs continue to flow.
Our economy has seen what occurs when the most rich and powerful are first in line to get bail outs and aid from taxpayers, when crisis hits the financial sector. In a similar way, for many decades, probably centuries, drug dealers at the top protect themselves first at the sacrifice of those at the bottom.
Police officers need to have jobs that put them at less risk, and that allow them to perform duties that protect and serve, not add to the bullets and mayhem aimed at them. How demoralizing it must be to work so hard to get the “dealers” and see how ineffective the present system is at truly cleaning up our streets?
Those that work in the “system” are often soldiers in a war without redemption, without consistent solutions, and without an end in sight. The war will likely go on, as long as addiction, crime, and destroyed families are a profitable aside-collateral damage-in the war on drugs.