The desire to curb the production, sale and use of illicit drugs has presented governments all over the world with an insurmountable challenge. Drug hot spots such as Mexico are on the brink of legalizing narcotics after futile attempts at prohibition. In the US, the situation is not different.
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Although the leadership is reluctant to admit it, the fate of the war on drugs is already sealed. The failure of the efforts to curb the trafficking and use of illicit drugs may be a new experience for many countries across the world, but not for the US.
In 1919, the US ratified the 18th Amendment to its constitution resulting in what came to be known as Prohibition I. Prohibition I was a 13-year span in US history during which alcohol was illegal. The bizarre occurrences that took place during this period resulted in the repeal of the 18th Amendment. The prohibition of alcohol was one of the country’s worst mistakes.
Close to 40 years after the repeal of the 18th Amendment, President Richard Nixon’s administration set the Prohibition II ball rolling by officially initiating the war on drugs. Also, he facilitated the setting aside of 100 million dollars to fund the war. All the regimes that succeeded President Nixon incorporated the war on drugs in their agenda. In an attempt to improve it, they increased budgetary allocations towards it.
During the 2009/2010 fiscal year, President Obama’s administration allocated slightly over 15 billion dollars towards this war. Analysts extrapolated that the 40 years that have gone by since the inception of the war on drugs have seen about one trillion dollars go down the drain.
Unfortunately, the efforts of all the regimes that have participated in the war on drugs have proved futile. The prevalence of drug trafficking and abuse remains largely unaffected. It is creeping into areas that were initially free from drugs. In addition to the increased use of drugs, brutal killings akin to those witnessed during Prohibition I characterize most American urban settlements today.
To the detriment of the public, a growing number of the political class, government departments, and security agencies are infiltrated by influential drug cartels. As a result, drug barons continue to coordinate their operations seamlessly while in custody.
Arguably, the prohibition of drugs only leads to the emergence of a lucrative black market whose control is the reason behind the brutality associated with drug dealing. As such, liberally minded individuals are agitating for the legalization of drugs such as marijuana.
They allege that if drugs are legalized, it will be easy to control their sale and use through measures such as harsh taxation. This way, the war on drugs will come to an amicable end, and the government will be able to draw legitimate benefits from this 300 billion-dollar global industry.
Further, the U.S. will be able to draw the numerous benefits of hemp, which the war on drugs compelled it to ban due to its resemblance to marijuana. A single acre of hemp can produce four times more paper compared to trees. Also, it can provide reliable building materials and ease the pressure on forests.
With these emergent factors in consideration, the U.S. loses far much more than the benefits it draws from the war on drugs. Therefore, an alternative to prohibition should be sought before the situation degenerates to the Mexican levels.