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The Drug War


The first act of America's anti-drug laws was in 1875. It
outlawed the smoking of opium in opium dens. This was a San
Francisco ordinance. The basis on passing this law was that
Chinese men had a way of luring white women to their dens
and causing their "ruin", which was the association with
Chinese men. Later, other Federal laws such as trafficking
in opium was illegal for anyone of Chinese origin. The
opium laws were directed at the smoking of opium. The law
didn't effect importation of the drug because opium was a
common medical drug. This law was specifically targeted at
the Chinese, for the smoking of opium was a Chinese custom.
Cocaine was outlawed for fears that black men would go on a
sexual rampage and rape white women. In the early 1900's,
newspapers referred to them as "Negro Cocaine Fiends" or
"Cocainized Niggers". There is little evidence that this
actually happened. 

The Harrison Act had started as a licensing law which
required sellers to obtain a license if they were going to
handle opiates or cocaine. The law contains a provision
that nothing in the law would prohibit doctors from
prescribing these drugs in the legitimate practice of
medicine. The people who wrote the Harrison Act and
Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, agreed that a prohibition on
what people could put into their bodies was an
unconstitutional infringement on personal liberties.
Marijuana was outlawed in 1937. The reason for it being
outlawed was that the plant had a violent effect on the
degenerate races. The American Medical Association
testified that they were opposed to the law. The law would
never have passed without the endorsement from the AMA, but
when the supporters of the law were asked about the AMA's
view on the floor of congress, they had stated that the AMA
was all for it. When the law had passed, the AMA protested,
but the law was never repealed. 
It is difficult to determine how many people in the US use
drugs. The Federal Government's Household Survey on Drug
Abuse, is the most common set of statistics on the use of
drugs. According to the latest surveys, conducted by the
DEA, there are about 12.7 million people who have used an
illegal drug in the past month, and about 30 - 40 million
people who have used an illegal drug in the past year.
Among the 12.7 people who have used an illegal drug in the
past month, about 10 million are casual drug users and
about 2.7 million are drug addicts. The figures produced by
the Household Survey on Drug Abuse are obtained over the
phone. Therefore, there was a problem reaching those
without phones, those who didn't answer their phones, and
those who answered the question honestly. Other surveys put
the figures at least twice as high.
Currently, there are about 1.5 million people in state and
Federal prisons and jails throughout the US At least 24
states are under Federal court orders to relieve prison
overcrowding. Prison population had been relatively stable
from about 1926 to about 1970. From that point, Nixon's war
against drugs, then the Reagan and Bush war against drugs,
caused a dramatic increase in the number of prisoners. The
estimated 30 - 40 million people who have used an illegal
drug in the past year, would fill a prison holding the
populations of California, Arizona and New Mexico
altogether. The cost of holding a single one of these
persons would be about $450,000. The cost for the arrest
and the conviction is about $150,000. The cost for an
additional bed would be anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000,
depending upon the jurisdiction. It costs about $30,000 per
year to house a prisoner, with an average sentence of five
years, adding up to be $150,000. The estimated $450,000
(out of taxpayers money), can provide treatment or
education for about 200 people. Out of the percentage of
people in prison, 59.6% are in prison for a drug offenses. 
The war on drugs could be won if we were successful in at
least one of three areas. If we could stop drug production
in other countries, if we could stop drugs at the border or
if we could stop the sale of drugs within the United
States. Stopping drug production in other countries has
already proven to have failed. In 1993, ABC television
aired a major special report on the drug war in Bolivia,
which according to the Bush administration , is our "best
hope" for winning the drug war in South America. They
concluded that there was no hope, and that the war on drug
production had already been lost. According to the US
Federal Government's estimates, the entire US consumption
of illegal drugs could be supplied by one percent of the
worldwide drug crop. The US Drug Enforcement Agents working
together with foreign governments seized about one percent
of the worldwide drug crop in their best year. Leaving 99%
free to supply the US The US Government also states that if
drug production was stopped in South America, several
countries would suffer a major economic collapse.
The statistics regarding drug interdiction at the border
have proven stopping drugs at the border is an expensive
failure. In 1988, Sterling Johnson, Federal prosecutor for
New York, under the assumption that there was no increase
in drug production, stated that police would have to
increase drug seizures by at least 1,400 percent to have
any impact on the drug market. In 1990, the General
Accounting office had completed a major study on border
interdiction. They concluded that border interdiction was a
waste of money and that no conceivable increase in funding
or effort would make it better. Johnson had made his
statement before police had busted twenty tons of cocaine
in a single location. This caused the Federal Government to
increase all of their estimates of the cocaine market.
In most states, the law states that any distribution of
illegal drugs is considered a sale. Regardless of whether
there is a profit or monetary interest involved. Which,
under the law, anyone who has ever passed a joint to the
next person at a concert, is a drug dealer. Assuming these
people are drug dealers, There are between 12 and 40
million drug dealers in the US Considering most of the
prisons in the US are already far in excess of their
planned capacity, there is no more room and no more tax
dollars to house these "drug dealers". Stopping the sale of
drugs in the US would be kind of hard without putting all
these "drug dealers" into prison.
The use of drugs among teens has risen under the Clinton
administration. Clinton states that not only he, but
everyone shares the responsibility for the increase in drug
use. "This issue has been debated literally going back to
the Johnson administration." states Clinton in attempt to
deflect criticism from Republicans that claim he has not
done enough to fight drugs. At the start of his presidency,
Clinton had reduced the office of the drug policy director
as a part of his effort to reduce government spending.
Three years later, Clinton restored funds for the office
and announced Barry McCaffrey, an army general, to lead it.
"I appointed a four-star general, who led our efforts south
of the border to keep drugs from coming into our country,
as our nation's drug czar, the most heavily directed -
decorated soldier in uniform when he retired. We submitted
the biggest drug budget ever, we have dramatically
increased control and enforcement at the border. We
supported a crime bill that had 60 death penalties,
including the penalty for drug kingpins, and I supported a
big expansion of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program to
support things like the DARE program because I thought all
those things were very important....I have consistently
opposed the legalization of drugs all my public life and
worked hard against them."
Bob Dole claims that under a Dole administration, the
National Guard would be trained to stop drugs at the
border. "I want to stop it from coming across the border,
and in my administration we're going to train the National
Guard to stop it from coming across the border." Bob Dole
continuously blames Clinton for the rise in teen drug use,
and how drug abuse doubled when he was governor of
Arkansas. Senator Dole had voted against the crime bill
that had the death penalty for drug kingpins in it and
voted to cut services to 23 million schoolchildren under
the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act.
National opinion polls show Bill Clinton leads Bob Dole by
10-20 percentage points.


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