Police and the War on Drugs

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Many currently illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroin have been used for many years. Some are mainly used for self-interest purposes. Then why are certain drugs legal to use in the community today while others are illegal? The harms of drugs on the user's health, as well as the health of the community are greatly impacted by the use of drugs. Family members are also affected even if they are not the ones who are using. Their loved one, as well as the person who is liked by the community as a whole, could be seriously injured and sick, or possibly even dead due to an overdose due to illegal drugs in the community. 

However, the harms and after-effects of these drugs are not the reason that they are illegal, but because of who those drugs are associated with. Chinese immigrants were targeted by anti-opium laws in the 1870s. The anti-marijuana laws, that targeted Mexican immigrants, came around in the early 1900s. Cocaine laws started in the early 1900s and targeted African Americans in the south. Even as of today, Mexican and African Americans are primarily targeted by police as the primary users and traffickers of drugs in the United States. The War on Drugs was started in 1971 when President Nixon declared war on drugs. Doing so, Nixon increased the amount of drug control groups and agencies across the United States. Nixon had to fight a battle against a commission to keep drugs illegal. However, In 1972, the commission unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations.

Between 1973 and 1977, however, eleven states decriminalized marijuana possession (A Brief History of the Drug War). Next, Jimmy Carter was elected president due to his promises to completely decriminalize marijuana use. Which, in turn led to the senate declaring that it was legal for a person to have up to one ounce of marijuana in their possession for personal use. However, after only a few years, this would soon be changing. Nobody wanted the decriminalization of marijuana. In fact, people actually wanted it to become a crime again because of the toll that the drug was taking on the youth. Parents were afraid that their kids were high all the time, and that their long-term health was diminishing. Because of the people now wanting the drugs to become more illegal again, presidential candidate Ronald Reagan was very appealing. As he was president, this started the increase of people that are incarcerated for drug use. Thanks to his unprecedented expansion of the drug war. The number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law offenses increased from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 by 1997 (A Brief History of the Drug War).

Even today, overcrowding is a serious problem in America. More than seven hundred thousand civilians are arrested each year for marijuana offenses. Almost five hundred thousand remain behind bars for stuff such as minor drug violations. The reason for hysteria to begin over the drugs was due to the media and news showing videos of people who were using and addicted to crack cocaine. Crack is the solid, smokable form of cocaine. Crack offers a shorter, but far more intense high than drugs such as marijuana. Cocaine comes from coca leaves. Cocaine started booming in the United States in the mid 1970s. Because it was so popular, everyone was trying to ship their supply in and sell it. Thus, creating a major price drop due to the surplus of cocaine available. In order for the dealers to turn more of a profit, the dealers started turning their cocaine into chunks that could be smoked. This allowed them to sell the cocaine in smaller amounts, to more people, which created more of a profit for them. The high demand of the new form of cocaine led to the spread of it all across large American cities. This caused the crack epidemic. In 1985, the number of people who admitted using cocaine on a routine basis increased from 4.2 million to 5.8 million (The Crack Epidemic).

By 1987, crack was available in every state except for four in the United States (The Crack Epidemic). Another major drug that the police are constantly fighting, especially in our part of the United States, is crystal methamphetamine. First, amphetamine was made in 1887 in Germany, but crystal methamphetamine came around in around 1919. Crystal methamphetamine is a white crystalline drug that people take by snorting, smoking, or straight injection with the use of a needle. The drug creates a sense of happiness and gives the user energy, which is what attracts them to it. Also, because this drug's effects can last a long time, it attracts users. Many names officers and people on the street use for this drug is meth, crank, chalk, or speed. This drug is typically used in more populated areas as a party drug. Meth is one of the most dangerous drugs, because of its chemical composition and effects it leaves on the user's body. The drug is highly addictive (What is Methamphetamine).

Another highly dangerous drug police are still fighting in the drug war today is heroin. Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine. Heroin mainly comes from Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. It can either be white or brown powder, or a black, sticky substance called black tar heroin. The way heroin is mainly used is by injection, but people can also take it by snorting or smoking. Heroin has many dangerous effects. It can cause insomnia, collapsed veins, heart infections, liver and kidney disease, and mental disorders (National Institute on Drug Abuse). When Geroge Bush came in office, he was very much for the taking away of drugs in America. He launched a major campaign about getting students required to take more drug tests. He also increased the number of raids. By the end of Bush's term, there were about 40,000 paramilitary-style SWAT raids on Americans every year, mostly for nonviolent drug law offenses, often misdemeanors (A Brief History of the Drug War). Today, use of marijuana is taking a turn to gaining legalization. It has been legalized in several states for the use of medicinal purposes and also completely legal in others. Legalization of marijuana in many states has taken a negative effect on how well street police officers can do their jobs. The police officers have been trained to fight the drug war. Legalizing marijuana goes against all the training they received, plus it goes against all the experience they have learned working the streets.

In certain situations, on the street, if a police officer finds someone with marijuana, it complexifies the situation because now the officer has to figure out how much marijuana the offender has, and if they have enough time to make an arrest for it when they first initiated the stop. If officers have specialized in certain areas such as marijuana busts, this essentially removes that officer from performing his job well until he learns about how to make arrests again. Although legalizing marijuana may help with overpopulation in jails and prisons, it increases the amount of crime that is taking place and also increases the number of overdoses on drugs. Overdoses have become a common thing in America. Hospitals are wasting valuable money and resources on the treatment of overdose cases and antidotes that they could be spending on more important matters such as emergency care of medical studies to find cures for diseases such as cancer.

Today, police, along with president Trump, are in a massive battle for trying to get the United States drug free. President Trump's method for keeping them out is building a wall on the southern border of the United States in order to keep illegal immigration, along with the trafficking of drugs, away from the United States. The war on drugs, along with president Trump's methods of keeping drugs out, has subsequently taken a negative toll on the importation of illegal drugs. Even though it is keeping some drugs out, it has made the drug traffickers more ruthless. They are finding new ways every day to smuggle the illegal drugs into the United States. It has also made them more highly dangerous. Increasing the penalty for being caught with drugs has made the traffickers more of a threat. Now, they are willing to do whatever it takes to avoid getting caught. If that means killing Americans, or even sacrificing some of their own to get the drugs in, they are willing to do it. As of today, officers fight the war on drugs every day. The numbers of drug cases a day are immaculate.

Valuable police work is being spent on drug crimes while it could be spent on murder crimes or robberies. Peoples' decisions to ruin their lives on drugs plays a major role in the community rather than just on themselves. Police work in communities are being wasted when trying to find the drugs and find the dealers. But the worst thing that is being wasted is police officers' lives. The number of police officers that are being murdered today is unspeakable. Police officers are here to protect and serve the community, and many lose their lives due to drug violence. Drugs are making people go crazy. They are also taking a huge toll on the communities as a whole. People who are drug users are typically of no use to a society because most cannot function properly on the job or as a member of society. Because they are on drugs, they are already committing an illegal act, and drug use typically leads to more crime being committed. Drug users are typically the offenders who commit most robberies because they are trying to get more money to buy even more drugs with. They are not in their right minds when they are high. This means they will do whatever it takes to stay high or to get high when it wears off.

The war on drugs has gone up and down throughout its history. Police officers risk their lives on a daily basis trying to fight the war and keep the community clean from drugs, and people just take that for granted. Arrests are being made, but police officers are also losing their lives when there is no good reasoning behind it other than people wasting their lives on a temporary high while they destroy themselves.

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Police And The War On Drugs. (2019, Nov 22). Retrieved June 18, 2024 , from

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