The war on drugs began in the United States in 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared war. President Nixon increased the number of federal drug control agencies, increased mandatory sentences for drug offenders, and utilized no-knock warrants in attempt to get the problem under control. It has been over forty years since President Nixon declared a war on drugs. Did America win the war on drugs? Is it time to legalize illicit drugs in this country? What are other countries doing in reference to drugs? The author will examine the history of the war on drugs in this country, how other countries deal with drugs, list the positive and negative aspect of legalizing illicit drugs, and offer his opinion as to whether drugs should be decriminalized or not.
The recognition that there was a drug problem in the United States goes back to the 1800’s when the first anti-drug laws were established. These drug laws were established in part because of the specific ethnic groups that were associated with particular drugs, the Chinese opium, the Blacks cocaine, and the Mexicans marijuana. “The first anti-opium laws in the1870s were directed at Chinese immigrants. The first anti-cocaine laws, in the south in the 1900s, were directed at black men. The anti-marijuana laws, in the Midwest and the southwest in the 1910s and 20s, were directed at Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans” (www.drugpolicy.org).
The so called “war on drugs” was declared in 1971 by President Richard Nixon. President Nixon significantly increased the manpower of several federal drug control agencies, as well as their presence on the front line. President Nixon used tactics such as mandatory sentencing for drug offenders, and no-knock warrants in an attempt to get the drug problem under control. President Nixon even placed marijuana on the list of schedule one drugs, which are the most restrictive category of drugs until it was reviewed by a commission that he had appointed. The commission, which was led by Pennsylvania’s Governor Raymond Shafer, submitted their report to President Nixon and unanimously recommended the decriminalization of the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use; however, Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations (www.drugpolicy.org)
The incarceration rates for illicit drug possession and distribution climb sharply during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. “The number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law offenses increased from 50,000 in 1980 to 400,000 by 1997” (www.drugpolicy.org) As the smokeable form of cocaine, better known as crack, hit America streets in the 1980s the first lady Nancy Reagan coined the slogan and began the anti-drug campaign “Just Say No”.
The Risk of Legalizing Illicit Drugs
The author acknowledges that any and all usage of drugs can be detrimental to an individual’s health. For the purpose of this specific assignment the author will focus his attention on...