October 14th, 1082. On On this day in 1982, President Ronald Reagan declared illicit drugs to be a threat to U.S. national security.
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The now popularized term war on drugs was first introduced by President Nixon in 1971 but can be traced all the way to 1914. A battle not as the citizens had been used to. Not against country. Not against a group. But against ideology. An interior problem that was slowing destroying the past American society, and leaving traces of blockages to break the future American society. How do we stop a problem like that? We can’t bomb nor send armed forces to the houses and homes of fellow Americans. We can’t throw people in jail nor can we murder of the problem. Or can we? The war on drugs, or as some call it, the war on Americans.
Drugs have always been a part of the American history. Yet started being more prominent in the 1800’s as Opium became very popular after the American Civil War. Cocaine followed in the 1880’s. Coca was popularly used in health drinks and remedies. Morphine was discovered in 1906 and used for medicinal purposes. Heroin was used to treat respiratory illness, cocaine was used in Coca-Cola, and morphine was regularly prescribed by doctors as a pain reliever. according to the Stanford Papers article for the War on Drugs. The change in the viewing of drugs was that psychotropic drugs have a great potential for causing addiction. No longer were these drugs used for medical problems yet abused. Local governments began prohibiting opium dens and opium importation and began to require all doctors and physicians to label and make sure their medicines followed the new legislation of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
The War on Drugs is a phrase used to refer to a government-led initiative which has the goal of placing a complete end illegal drug use, distribution, and trade by increasing and enforcing penalties for offenders on smaller or larger scales. Which placed into effect, the Drug Enforcement Agency of 1973. This initiated Operation Intercept, which pressured Mexico to regulate its marijuana growers and eventually placed the trade between Mexico and America at a standstill as Nixon placed more money into strengthening the Mexican borders. Later when Reagan was President he went on to focus many programs on the idea of cracking down of punishments and crimes that were non-violent drug crimes. This program became known as the zero tolerance program, where immediate and strict measures against users were emphasized. The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse gave the drug user full recognition and punishment for the crime.
Drug users were to be prosecuted for possession and punished accordingly, to their breaking of the law. Although some block grants were given for drug treatment, the rehabilitative efforts to focus on helping the addicts instead, of punishing them, they were nothing compared to the drug problem that was an epidemic. The 1995 budget included $13.2 billion for drug policy; $7.8 billion was spent on supply sided efforts, while only $5.4 billion was spent on education, prevention, and rehabilitation. Although President Clinton didn’t change the direction of U S drug policy he presented some possible aids. Clinton encouraged Community Action Programs organizations to participate in the demand side of the drug war. However; of the $1 billion given to the Community Empowerment Program only $50 million was allocated to drug education, prevention, and treatment, so the potential of the programs was never realized. Going on to the debate as if this war is truly a war on drugs or if it is a war on race. I personally do believe that this is a useless war and needs to be quickly ended for it has been another unconscious way to promote discrimination and racial ideals.
John Ehrlich-man who was a counsel to President Nixon and Assistant for Domestic Affairs, revealed in 1994, the real public enemy in 1971 wasn’t really drugs or drug abuse. Rather the real enemies of the Nixon administration were the anti-war left and blacks, and the War on Drugs was designed as an evil, deceptive and sinister policy to wage a war on those two groups. This statement was not emptily spoken for the statistics prove it to be true. During the nearly 50-year period between 1925 and the early 1970’s, the male incarceration rate was remarkably stable at about 200 men per 100,000 population, or 1 US male per 500, according to data from Bureau of Justice Statistics. But there was a certain shift with these number not even 20 years later in 1986, the male incarceration rate doubled to 400 per 100,000 population. Then as the years went on, the male incarceration rate doubled again to more than 800 by 1996 before reaching a historic peak of 956 in 2008, about one in 100. That was almost five times higher than the stable rate before the War on Drugs.
The arrest and incarceration data show that the War on Drugs had a significantly much greater negative effect on blacks and Hispanics than whites, making the Drug War even more shameful for its devastating and disproportionate adverse effects on America’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. Since the 2008 peak, the male incarceration rate has been gradually declining in each of the last seven years of available data through 2016, possibly because of three trends which could be the decriminalization of marijuana and other drugs at the city and state level. Also the legalization of a variety of medical drugs at the state level, and lastly legalization of recreational marijuana at the city and state levels. While there could have been other factors that contributed to the nearly five-fold increase in the male incarceration rate between the early 1970’s and the peak in 2008. Research shows that the War on Drugs, along with mandatory minimum sentencing in the 1980’s, and the treatment of powdered cocaine and crack cocaine (powdered cocaine processed with baking soda into smokeless rocks) were all significant contributing factors to the unprecedented rate of incarcerating Americans.
As powdered cocaine is more commonly prominent in Caucasian areas while crack cocaine is more with African American communities. Which connects to the statistics that have shown that crack cocaine has had more severe sentences, which many people claim is ridiculous for the simple fact that it is the same drug and addiction that rises from this drug abuse. Not only affecting the people who are placed into jail but also those families. It was surveyed that around 750,000 African American families in 2011 had at least one family member in jail as a result of the cracking down on non-violent drug policies. There is a trickled down result of children growing up without a positive role model in their lives of which almost always results in them going down the same road. Leading to the filling of jail and prisons of the youth that is supposed to be our America of tomorrow. How can we say that this is a war on drugs if it is primarily focused on low-income neighborhoods that are primarily African American families of which have at least one family member in jail? Is it alright to not education or providing the proper aid to help these families become a positive impact of our society, we just throw them in jail in accordance to policies that only see statistics and not people. This war is not a war on drugs but it is a war on low-income minority filled America.
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