War on drugs

The war on drugs is a campaign, led by the U.S. federal government, of drug prohibition, military aid, and military intervention, with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade in the United States.[6][7][8][9] The initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the UN have made illegal. The term was popularized by the media shortly after a press conference given on June 18, 1971, by President Richard Nixon—the day after publication of a special message from President Nixon to the Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control—during which he declared drug abuse "public enemy number one". That message to the Congress included text about devoting more federal resources to the "prevention of new addicts, and the rehabilitation of those who are addicted", but that part did not receive the same public attention as the term "war on drugs".[10][11][12] However, two years prior to this, Nixon had formally declared a "war on drugs" that would be directed toward eradication, interdiction, and incarceration.[13] Today, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for an end to the War on Drugs, estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives.[14]

On May 13, 2009, Gil Kerlikowske—the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)—signaled that the Obama administration did not plan to significantly alter drug enforcement policy, but also that the administration would not use the term "War on Drugs", because Kerlikowske considers the term to be "counter-productive".[15] ONDCP's view is that "drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated... making drugs more available will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe".[16]

In June 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report on the War on Drugs, declaring: "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government's war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed."[17] The report was criticized by organizations that oppose a general legalization of drugs.[16]

Colpolwpowell
As part of the War on Drugs, the U.S. spends approximately $500 million per year on aid for Colombia, largely used to combat guerrilla groups such as FARC that are involved in the illegal drug trade.[1][2][3][4][5]

History

19th century

Morphine was isolated in 1805. Hypodermic syringes were first constructed in 1851. During the Civil War, wounded soldiers were treated with morphine. As a result, after the war, there were many addicted veterans.[18]

Until 1912, there had been products sold over-the-counter, such as heroin cough syrup, and heroin cough syrup for children which was stronger. Doctors prescribed heroin for irritable babies, bronchitis, insomnia, "nervous conditions," hysteria, menstrual cramps, and "vapors." Millions of people became addicted. Laudanum, an opiod, was a common part of the home medicine cabinet.[19][20]

In fiction, Conan Doyle portrayed the hero, Sherlock Holmes, as a cocaine addict. He is rebuked by his physician.[21]

Citizens did not reach a consensus on dealing with the long-term affects of hard drug usage until towards the end of the 19th century.

20th century

The first U.S. law that restricted the distribution and use of certain drugs was the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The first local laws came as early as 1860.[22] In 1919, the United States passed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, with exceptions for religious and medical use. In 1920, the United States passed the National Prohibition Act (Volstead Act), enacted to carry out the provisions in law of the 18th Amendment.

During World War I many soldiers were treated with morphine and became addicts.[18]

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established in the United States Department of the Treasury by an act of June 14, 1930 (46 Stat. 585).[23] In 1933, the federal prohibition for alcohol was repealed by passage of the 21st Amendment. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt publicly supported the adoption of the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. The New York Times used the headline "Roosevelt Asks Narcotic War Aid".[24][25]

In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed. Several scholars have claimed that the goal was to destroy the hemp industry,[26][27][28] largely as an effort of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family.[26][28] These scholars argue that with the invention of the decorticator, hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry.[26][29] These scholars believe that Hearst felt that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. Mellon, United States Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America, had invested heavily in the DuPont's new synthetic fiber, nylon, and considered its success to depend on its replacement of the traditional resource, hemp.[26][30][31][32][33][34][35][36] However, there were circumstances that contradict these claims. One reason for doubts about those claims is that the new decorticators did not perform fully satisfactorily in commercial production.[37] To produce fiber from hemp was a labor-intensive process if you include harvest, transport and processing. Technological developments decreased the labor with hemp but not sufficient to eliminate this disadvantage.[38][39]

On October 27, 1970, Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which, among other things, categorized controlled substances based on their medicinal use and potential for addiction.[40] In 1971, two congressmen released a report on the growing heroin epidemic among U.S. servicemen in Vietnam; ten to fifteen percent of the servicemen were addicted to heroin, and President Nixon declared drug abuse to be "public enemy number one".[40][41]

Although Nixon declared "drug abuse" to be public enemy number one in 1971,[42] the policies that his administration implemented as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 were a continuation of drug prohibition policies in the U.S., which started in 1914.[40][43]

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

— John Ehrlichman, to Dan Baum[44][45][46] for Harper's Magazine[47] in 1994, about President Richard Nixon's war on drugs, declared in 1971.[48]

In 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration was created to replace the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.[40]

The Nixon Administration also repealed the federal 2–10-year mandatory minimum sentences for possession of marijuana and started federal demand reduction programs and drug-treatment programs. Robert DuPont, the "Drug czar" in the Nixon Administration, stated it would be more accurate to say that Nixon ended, rather than launched, the "war on drugs". DuPont also argued that it was the proponents of drug legalization that popularized the term "war on drugs".[16]

In 1982, Vice President George H. W. Bush and his aides began pushing for the involvement of the CIA and U.S. military in drug interdiction efforts.[49]

Fuerza del Estado Michoacán
Mexican troops during a gun battle in Michoacán, 2007. Mexico's drug war claims nearly 50,000 lives each year.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[50][51] which mandated a national anti-drug media campaign for youth, which would later become the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.[52] The director of ONDCP is commonly known as the Drug czar,[40] and it was first implemented in 1989 under President George H. W. Bush,[53] and raised to cabinet-level status by Bill Clinton in 1993.[54] These activities were subsequently funded by the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 1998.[55][56] The Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 codified the campaign at 21 U.S.C. § 1708.[57]

21st century

The Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report on June 2, 2011, alleging that "The War On Drugs Has Failed." The commissioned was made up of 22 self-appointed members including a number of prominent international politicians and writers. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin also released the first ever National Prevention Strategy.[58]

On May 21, 2012, the U.S. Government published an updated version of its Drug Policy.[59] The director of ONDCP stated simultaneously that this policy is something different from the "War on Drugs":

  • The U.S. Government sees the policy as a "third way" approach to drug control; an approach that is based on the results of a huge investment in research from some of the world's preeminent scholars on disease of substance abuse.
  • The policy does not see drug legalization as the "silver bullet" solution to drug control.
  • It is not a policy where success is measured by the number of arrests made or prisons built.[60]

At the same meeting was a declaration signed by the representatives of Italy, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States in line with this: "Our approach must be a balanced one, combining effective enforcement to restrict the supply of drugs, with efforts to reduce demand and build recovery; supporting people to live a life free of addiction."[61]

In March 2016 the International Narcotics Control Board stated that the International Drug Control treaties do not mandate a "war on drugs."[62]

United States domestic policy

Arrests and incarceration

US incarceration rate timeline
Graph demonstrating increases in United States incarceration rate

According to Human Rights Watch, the War on Drugs caused soaring arrest rates that disproportionately targeted African Americans due to various factors.[64] John Ehrlichman, an aide to Nixon, said that Nixon used the war on drugs to criminalize and disrupt black and hippie communities and their leaders.[65]

The present state of incarceration in the U.S. as a result of the war on drugs arrived in several stages. By 1971, different stops on drugs had been implemented for more than 50 years (since 1914, 1937 etc.) with only a very small increase of inmates per 100,000 citizens. During the first 9 years after Nixon coined the expression "War on Drugs", statistics showed only a minor increase in the total number of imprisoned.

After 1980, the situation began to change. In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%.[66] The result of increased demand was the development of privatization and the for-profit prison industry.[67] The US Department of Justice, reporting on the effects of state initiatives, has stated that, from 1990 through 2000, "the increasing number of drug offenses accounted for 27% of the total growth among black inmates, 7% of the total growth among Hispanic inmates, and 15% of the growth among white inmates." In addition to prison or jail, the United States provides for the deportation of many non-citizens convicted of drug offenses.[68]

In 1994, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the "War on Drugs" resulted in the incarceration of one million Americans each year.[69] In 2008, the Washington Post reported that of 1.5 million Americans arrested each year for drug offenses, half a million would be incarcerated.[70] In addition, one in five black Americans would spend time behind bars due to drug laws.[70]

Federal and state policies also impose collateral consequences on those convicted of drug offenses, such as denial of public benefits or licenses, that are not applicable to those convicted of other types of crime.[71] In particular, the passage of the 1990 Solomon–Lautenberg amendment led many states to impose mandatory driver's license suspensions (of at least 6 months) for persons committing a drug offense, regardless of whether any motor vehicle was involved.[72][73] Approximately 191,000 licenses were suspended in this manner in 2016, according to a Prison Policy Initiative report.[74]

Sentencing disparities

In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed laws that created a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for the trafficking or possession of crack when compared to penalties for trafficking of powder cocaine,[75][76][77][78] which had been widely criticized as discriminatory against minorities, mostly blacks, who were more likely to use crack than powder cocaine.[79] This 100:1 ratio had been required under federal law since 1986.[80] Persons convicted in federal court of possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine received a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years in federal prison. On the other hand, possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence.[76][77] In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act cut the sentencing disparity to 18:1.[79]

According to Human Rights Watch, crime statistics show that—in the United States in 1999—compared to non-minorities, African Americans were far more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and received much stiffer penalties and sentences.[81]

Statistics from 1998 show that there were wide racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions, sentencing and deaths. African-American drug users made up for 35% of drug arrests, 55% of convictions, and 74% of people sent to prison for drug possession crimes.[76] Nationwide African-Americans were sent to state prisons for drug offenses 13 times more often than other races,[82] even though they only supposedly comprised 13% of regular drug users.[76]

Marion Barry smoking crack
D.C. Mayor Marion Barry captured on a surveillance camera smoking crack cocaine during a sting operation by the FBI and D.C. Police.

Anti-drug legislation over time has also displayed an apparent racial bias. University of Minnesota Professor and social justice author Michael Tonry writes, "The War on Drugs foreseeably and unnecessarily blighted the lives of hundreds and thousands of young disadvantaged black Americans and undermined decades of effort to improve the life chances of members of the urban black underclass."[83]

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided that the government needed to make an effort to curtail the social unrest that blanketed the country at the time. He decided to focus his efforts on illegal drug use, an approach which was in line with expert opinion on the subject at the time. In the 1960s, it was believed that at least half of the crime in the U.S. was drug related, and this number grew as high as 90 percent in the next decade.[84] He created the Reorganization Plan of 1968 which merged the Bureau of Narcotics and the Bureau of Drug Abuse to form the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs within the Department of Justice.[85] The belief during this time about drug use was summarized by journalist Max Lerner in his work America as a Civilization (1957):

As a case in point we may take the known fact of the prevalence of reefer and dope addiction in Negro areas. This is essentially explained in terms of poverty, slum living, and broken families, yet it would be easy to show the lack of drug addiction among other ethnic groups where the same conditions apply.[86]

Richard Nixon became president in 1969, and did not back away from the anti-drug precedent set by Johnson. Nixon began orchestrating drug raids nationwide to improve his "watchdog" reputation. Lois B. Defleur, a social historian who studied drug arrests during this period in Chicago, stated that, "police administrators indicated they were making the kind of arrests the public wanted". Additionally, some of Nixon's newly created drug enforcement agencies would resort to illegal practices to make arrests as they tried to meet public demand for arrest numbers. From 1972 to 1973, the Office of Drug Abuse and Law Enforcement performed 6,000 drug arrests in 18 months, the majority of the arrested black.[87]

The next two presidents, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, responded with programs that were essentially a continuation of their predecessors. Shortly after Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, he delivered a speech on the topic. Reagan announced, "We're taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts; we're running up a battle flag."[88]

Then, driven by the 1986 cocaine overdose of black basketball star Len Bias, Reagan was able to pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act through Congress. This legislation appropriated an additional $1.7 billion to fund the War on Drugs. More importantly, it established 29 new, mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. In the entire history of the country up until that point, the legal system had only seen 55 minimum sentences in total.[89] A major stipulation of the new sentencing rules included different mandatory minimums for powder and crack cocaine. At the time of the bill, there was public debate as to the difference in potency and effect of powder cocaine, generally used by whites, and crack cocaine, generally used by blacks, with many believing that "crack" was substantially more powerful and addictive. Crack and powder cocaine are closely related chemicals, crack being a smokeable, freebase form of powdered cocaine hydrochloride which produces a shorter, more intense high while using less of the drug. This method is more cost effective, and therefore more prevalent on the inner-city streets, while powder cocaine remains more popular in white suburbia. The Reagan administration began shoring public opinion against "crack", encouraging DEA official Robert Putnam to play up the harmful effects of the drug. Stories of "crack whores" and "crack babies" became commonplace; by 1986, Time had declared "crack" the issue of the year.[90] Riding the wave of public fervor, Reagan established much harsher sentencing for crack cocaine, handing down stiffer felony penalties for much smaller amounts of the drug.[91]

Reagan protégé and former Vice-President George H. W. Bush was next to occupy the oval office, and the drug policy under his watch held true to his political background. Bush maintained the hard line drawn by his predecessor and former boss, increasing narcotics regulation when the First National Drug Control Strategy was issued by the Office of National Drug Control in 1989.[92]

The next three presidents – Clinton, Bush and Obama – continued this trend, maintaining the War on Drugs as they inherited it upon taking office.[93] During this time of passivity by the federal government, it was the states that initiated controversial legislation in the War on Drugs. Racial bias manifested itself in the states through such controversial policies as the "stop and frisk" police practices in New York city and the "three strikes" felony laws began in California in 1994.[94]

In August 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law that dramatically reduced the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine, which disproportionately affected minorities.[95]

Commonly used illegal drugs

Commonly used illegal drugs include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and, marijuana.

Heroin is an opiate that is highly addictive. If caught selling or possessing heroin, a perpetrator can be charged with a felony and face two–four years in prison and could be fined to a maximum of $20,000.[96]

Crystal meth is composed of methamphetamine hydrochloride. It is marketed as either a white powder or in a solid (rock) form. The possession of crystal meth can result in a punishment varying from a fine to a jail sentence. As with other drug crimes, sentencing length may increase depending on the amount of the drug found in the possession of the defendant.[97]

Cocaine possession is illegal across the U.S., with the cheaper crack cocaine incurring even greater penalties. Having possession is when the accused knowingly has it on their person, or in a backpack or purse. The possession of cocaine with no prior conviction, for the first offense, the person will be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison or fined $1,000, or both. If the person has a prior conviction, whether it is a narcotic or cocaine, they will be sentenced to two years in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both. With two or more convictions of possession prior to this present offense, they can be sentenced to 90 days in prison along with a $5,000 fine.[98]

Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug worldwide. The punishment for possession of it is less than for the possession of cocaine or heroin. In some U.S. states, the drug is legal. Over 80 million Americans have tried marijuana. The Criminal Defense Lawyer article claims that, depending on the age of person and how much the person has been caught for possession, they will be fined and could plea bargain into going to a treatment program versus going to prison. In each state the convictions differ along with how much marijuana they have on their person.[99]

United States foreign policy and covert military activities

Some scholars have claimed that the phrase "War on Drugs" is propaganda cloaking an extension of earlier military or paramilitary operations.[9] Others have argued that large amounts of "drug war" foreign aid money, training, and equipment actually goes to fighting leftist insurgencies and is often provided to groups who themselves are involved in large-scale narco-trafficking, such as corrupt members of the Colombian military.[8]

War in Vietnam

From 1963 to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, marijuana usage became common among U.S. soldiers in non-combat situations. Some servicemen also used heroin. Many of the servicemen ended the heroin use after returning to the United States but came home addicted. In 1971, the U.S. military conducted a study of drug use among American servicemen and women. It found that daily usage rates for drugs on a worldwide basis were as low as two percent.[100] However, in the spring of 1971, two congressmen released an alarming report alleging that 15% of the servicemen in Vietnam were addicted to heroin. Marijuana use was also common in Vietnam. Soldiers who used drugs had more disciplinary problems. The frequent drug use had become an issue for the commanders in Vietnam; in 1971 it was estimated that 30,000 servicemen were addicted to drugs, most of them to heroin.[11]

From 1971 on, therefore, returning servicemen were required to take a mandatory heroin test. Servicemen who tested positive upon returning from Vietnam were not allowed to return home until they had passed the test with a negative result. The program also offered a treatment for heroin addicts.[101]

Elliot Borin's article "The U.S. Military Needs its Speed"—published in Wired on February 10, 2003—reports:

But the Defense Department, which distributed millions of amphetamine tablets to troops during World War II, Vietnam and the Gulf War, soldiers on, insisting that they are not only harmless but beneficial.

In a news conference held in connection with Schmidt and Umbach's Article 32 hearing, Dr. Pete Demitry, an Air Force physician and a pilot, claimed that the "Air Force has used (Dexedrine) safely for 60 years" with "no known speed-related mishaps."

The need for speed, Demitry added "is a life-and-death issue for our military."[102]

Operation Intercept

One of the first anti-drug efforts in the realm of foreign policy was President Nixon's Operation Intercept, announced in September 1969, targeted at reducing the amount of cannabis entering the United States from Mexico. The effort began with an intense inspection crackdown that resulted in an almost shutdown of cross-border traffic.[103] Because the burden on border crossings was controversial in border states, the effort only lasted twenty days.[104]

Operation Just Cause

Panama clashes 1989.JPEG
The U.S. military invasion of Panama in 1989

On December 20, 1989, the United States invaded Panama as part of Operation Just Cause, which involved 25,000 American troops. Gen. Manuel Noriega, head of the government of Panama, had been giving military assistance to Contra groups in Nicaragua at the request of the U.S. which, in exchange, tolerated his drug trafficking activities, which they had known about since the 1960s.[105][106] When the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tried to indict Noriega in 1971, the CIA prevented them from doing so.[105] The CIA, which was then directed by future president George H. W. Bush, provided Noriega with hundreds of thousands of dollars per year as payment for his work in Latin America.[105] When CIA pilot Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua by the Sandinistas, documents aboard the plane revealed many of the CIA's activities in Latin America, and the CIA's connections with Noriega became a public relations "liability" for the U.S. government, which finally allowed the DEA to indict him for drug trafficking, after decades of tolerating his drug operations.[105] Operation Just Cause, whose purpose was to capture Noriega and overthrow his government; Noriega found temporary asylum in the Papal Nuncio, and surrendered to U.S. soldiers on January 3, 1990.[107] He was sentenced by a court in Miami to 45 years in prison.[105]

Plan Colombia

As part of its Plan Colombia program, the United States government currently provides hundreds of millions of dollars per year of military aid, training, and equipment to Colombia,[108] to fight left-wing guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), which has been accused of being involved in drug trafficking.[109]

Private U.S. corporations have signed contracts to carry out anti-drug activities as part of Plan Colombia. DynCorp, the largest private company involved, was among those contracted by the State Department, while others signed contracts with the Defense Department.[110]

Colombian military personnel have received extensive counterinsurgency training from U.S. military and law enforcement agencies, including the School of Americas (SOA). Author Grace Livingstone has stated that more Colombian SOA graduates have been implicated in human rights abuses than currently known SOA graduates from any other country. All of the commanders of the brigades highlighted in a 2001 Human Rights Watch report on Colombia were graduates of the SOA, including the III brigade in Valle del Cauca, where the 2001 Alto Naya Massacre occurred. US-trained officers have been accused of being directly or indirectly involved in many atrocities during the 1990s, including the Massacre of Trujillo and the 1997 Mapiripán Massacre.

In 2000, the Clinton administration initially waived all but one of the human rights conditions attached to Plan Colombia, considering such aid as crucial to national security at the time.[111]

The efforts of U.S. and Colombian governments have been criticized for focusing on fighting leftist guerrillas in southern regions without applying enough pressure on right-wing paramilitaries and continuing drug smuggling operations in the north of the country.[112][113] Human Rights Watch, congressional committees and other entities have documented the existence of connections between members of the Colombian military and the AUC, which the U.S. government has listed as a terrorist group, and that Colombian military personnel have committed human rights abuses which would make them ineligible for U.S. aid under current laws.

In 2010, the Washington Office on Latin America concluded that both Plan Colombia and the Colombian government's security strategy "came at a high cost in lives and resources, only did part of the job, are yielding diminishing returns and have left important institutions weaker."[114]

A 2014 report by the RAND Corporation, which was issued to analyze viable strategies for the Mexican drug war considering successes experienced in Columbia, noted:

Between 1999 and 2002, the United States gave Colombia $2.04 billion in aid, 81 percent of which was for military purposes, placing Colombia just below Israel and Egypt among the largest recipients of U.S. military assistance. Colombia increased its defense spending from 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000 to 4.19 percent in 2005. Overall, the results were extremely positive. Greater spending on infrastructure and social programs helped the Colombian government increase its political legitimacy, while improved security forces were better able to consolidate control over large swaths of the country previously overrun by insurgents and drug cartels.

It also notes that, "Plan Colombia has been widely hailed as a success, and some analysts believe that, by 2010, Colombian security forces had finally gained the upper hand once and for all."[115]

MilitaresMichoacán
Mexico is scheduled to receive US$1.6 billion in equipment and strategic support from the United States through the Mérida Initiative

Mérida Initiative

The Mérida Initiative is a security cooperation between the United States and the government of Mexico and the countries of Central America. It was approved on June 30, 2008, and its stated aim is combating the threats of drug trafficking and transnational crime. The Mérida Initiative appropriated $1.4 billion in a three-year commitment (2008–2010) to the Mexican government for military and law enforcement training and equipment, as well as technical advice and training to strengthen the national justice systems. The Mérida Initiative targeted many very important government officials, but it failed to address the thousands of Central Americans who had to flee their countries due to the danger they faced everyday because of the war on drugs. There is still not any type of plan that addresses these people. No weapons are included in the plan.[116][117]

Aerial herbicide application

The United States regularly sponsors the spraying of large amounts of herbicides such as glyphosate over the jungles of Central and South America as part of its drug eradication programs. Environmental consequences resulting from aerial fumigation have been criticized as detrimental to some of the world's most fragile ecosystems;[118] the same aerial fumigation practices are further credited with causing health problems in local populations.[119]

U.S. operations in Honduras

In 2012, the U.S. sent DEA agents to Honduras to assist security forces in counternarcotics operations. Honduras has been a major stop for drug traffickers, who use small planes and landing strips hidden throughout the country to transport drugs. The U.S. government made agreements with several Latin American countries to share intelligence and resources to counter the drug trade. DEA agents, working with other U.S. agencies such as the State Department, the CBP, and Joint Task Force-Bravo, assisted Honduras troops in conducting raids on traffickers' sites of operation.[120]

Public support and opposition in the United States and Mexico

ONDCP Pothead
An American domestic government propaganda poster circa 2000 concerning cannabis in the United States.

The War on Drugs has been a highly contentious issue since its inception. A poll on October 2, 2008, found that three in four Americans believed that the War On Drugs was failing.[121]

In 2014, a Pew Research Center poll found more than six in ten Americans state that state governments moving away from mandatory prison terms for drug law violations is a good thing. while three out of ten Americans say these policy changes are a bad thing. This a substantial shift from the same poll questions since 2001.[122] In 2014 a Pew Research Center poll found that 67 percent of Americans feel that a movement towards treatment for drugs like cocaine and heroin is better versus the 26 percent who feel that prosecution is the better route.[123]

In 2018, Rasmussen Report poll found that less than 10 percent of Americans think that the War on Drugs is being won and that 75 percent found that Americans believe that America is not winning the War on Drugs.[124]

Mexican citizens, unlike American citizens, support the current measures their government were taking against drug cartels in the War on Drugs. A Pew Research Center poll in 2010 found that 80 percent supported the current use of the army in the War on Drugs to combat drug traffickers with about 55 percent saying that they have been making progress in the war.[125] A year later in 2011 a Pew Research Center poll uncovered that 71 percent of Mexicans find that "illegal drugs are a very big problem in their country". 77 percent of Mexicans also found that drug cartels and the violence associated with them are as well a big challenge for Mexico. The poll also found that the percentages believing that that illegal drugs and violence related to the cartel where Higher in the North with 87 percent for illegal drug use and 94 percent cartel related violence being a problem. This compared to the other locations: South, Mexico City and the greater area of Mexico City, and Central Mexico which are all about 18 percent or lower than the North on Illegal drug use being a problem for the country. These perspective areas are also lower than the North by 19 percent or more on the issue of drug cartel related violence being an issue for the country.[126]

In 2013 a Pew Research Center poll found that 74 percent of Mexican citizens would support the training of their police and military, the poll also found that another 55 percent would support the supplying of weapons and financial aid. Though the poll indicates a support of U.S. aid, 59 percent were against troops on the ground by the U.S. military.[127] Also in 2013 Pew Research Center found in a poll that 56 percent of Mexican citizens believe that the United States and Mexico are both to blame for drug violence in Mexico. In that same poll 20 percent believe that the United States is solely to blame and 17 percent believe that Mexico is solely to blame.[128]

At a meeting in Guatemala in 2012, three former presidents from Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia said that the war on drugs had failed and that they would propose a discussion on alternatives, including decriminalization, at the Summit of the Americas in April of that year.[129] Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina said that the war on drugs was exacting too high a price on the lives of Central Americans and that it was time to "end the taboo on discussing decriminalization".[130] At the summit, the government of Colombia pushed for the most far-reaching change to drugs policy since the war on narcotics was declared by Nixon four decades prior, citing the catastrophic effects it had had in Colombia.[131]

Several critics have compared the wholesale incarceration of the dissenting minority of drug users to the wholesale incarceration of other minorities in history. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, for example, wrote in 1997 "Over the past thirty years, we have replaced the medical-political persecution of illegal sex users ('perverts' and 'psychopaths') with the even more ferocious medical-political persecution of illegal drug users."[132]

Socio-economic effects

Creation of a permanent underclass

Utah State Prison Wasatch Facility
Circa 1 million people are incarcerated every year in the United States for drug law violations.

Penalties for drug crimes among American youth almost always involve permanent or semi-permanent removal from opportunities for education, strip them of voting rights, and later involve creation of criminal records which make employment more difficult.[133] Thus, some authors maintain that the War on Drugs has resulted in the creation of a permanent underclass of people who have few educational or job opportunities, often as a result of being punished for drug offenses which in turn have resulted from attempts to earn a living in spite of having no education or job opportunities.[133]

Costs to taxpayers

According to a 2008 study published by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron, the annual savings on enforcement and incarceration costs from the legalization of drugs would amount to roughly $41.3 billion, with $25.7 billion being saved among the states and over $15.6 billion accrued for the federal government. Miron further estimated at least $46.7 billion in tax revenue based on rates comparable to those on tobacco and alcohol ($8.7 billion from marijuana, $32.6 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs).[134]

Low taxation in Central American countries has been credited with weakening the region's response in dealing with drug traffickers. Many cartels, especially Los Zetas have taken advantage of the limited resources of these nations. 2010 tax revenue in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, composed just 13.53% of GDP. As a comparison, in Chile and the U.S., taxes were 18.6% and 26.9% of GDP respectively. However, direct taxes on income are very hard to enforce and in some cases tax evasion is seen as a national pastime.[135]

Impact on growers

The status of coca and coca growers has become an intense political issue in several countries, including Colombia and particularly Bolivia, where the president, Evo Morales, a former coca growers' union leader, has promised to legalise the traditional cultivation and use of coca.[136] Indeed, legalization efforts have yielded some successes under the Morales administration when combined with aggressive and targeted eradication efforts. The country saw a 12–13% decline in coca cultivation[136] in 2011 under Morales, who has used coca growers' federations to ensure compliance with the law rather than providing a primary role for security forces.[136]

The coca eradication policy has been criticised for its negative impact on the livelihood of coca growers in South America. In many areas of South America the coca leaf has traditionally been chewed and used in tea and for religious, medicinal and nutritional purposes by locals.[137] For this reason many insist that the illegality of traditional coca cultivation is unjust. In many areas the U.S. government and military has forced the eradication of coca without providing for any meaningful alternative crop for farmers, and has additionally destroyed many of their food or market crops, leaving them starving and destitute.[137]

Allegations of U.S. government assistance in drug trafficking

The CIA, DEA, State Department, and several other U.S. government agencies have been alleged to have relations with various groups which are involved in drug trafficking.

CIA and Contra cocaine trafficking

Senator John Kerry's 1988 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on Contra drug links concludes that members of the U.S. State Department "who provided support for the Contras are involved in drug trafficking... and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly receive financial and material assistance from drug traffickers."[138] The report further states that "the Contra drug links include... payments to drug traffickers by the U.S. State Department of funds authorized by the Congress for humanitarian assistance to the Contras, in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies."

In 1996, journalist Gary Webb published reports in the San Jose Mercury News, and later in his book Dark Alliance, detailing how Contras, had been involved in distributing crack cocaine into Los Angeles whilst receiving money from the CIA. Contras used money from drug trafficking to buy weapons.

Webb's premise regarding the U.S. Government connection was initially attacked at the time by the media. It is now widely accepted that Webb's main assertion of government "knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers" was correct.[139] In 1998, CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz published a two-volume report[140] that while seemingly refuting Webb's claims of knowledge and collaboration in its conclusions did not deny them in its body. Hitz went on to admit CIA improprieties in the affair in testimony to a House congressional committee. There has been a reversal amongst mainstream media of its position on Webb's work, with acknowledgement made of his contribution to exposing a scandal it had ignored.

Heroin trafficking operations involving the CIA, U.S. Navy and Sicilian Mafia

According to Rodney Campbell, an editorial assistant to Nelson Rockefeller, during World War II, the United States Navy, concerned that strikes and labor disputes in U.S. eastern shipping ports would disrupt wartime logistics, released the mobster Lucky Luciano from prison, and collaborated with him to help the mafia take control of those ports. Labor union members were terrorized and murdered by mafia members as a means of preventing labor unrest and ensuring smooth shipping of supplies to Europe.[141]

According to Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, in order to prevent Communist party members from being elected in Italy following World War II, the CIA worked closely with the Sicilian Mafia, protecting them and assisting in their worldwide heroin smuggling operations. The mafia was in conflict with leftist groups and was involved in assassinating, torturing, and beating leftist political organizers.[142]

Efficacy of the United States war on drugs

Rentz vs Narcotics Smugglers
USS Rentz (FFG-46) attempts to put out a fire set by drug smugglers trying to escape and destroy evidence.
External video
A Conversation with President Obama and David Simon (The Wire creator), discussing The Wire and the War on Drugs, The White House[143]

In 1986, the US Defense Department funded a two-year study by the RAND Corporation, which found that the use of the armed forces to interdict drugs coming into the United States would have little or no effect on cocaine traffic and might, in fact, raise the profits of cocaine cartels and manufacturers. The 175-page study, "Sealing the Borders: The Effects of Increased Military Participation in Drug Interdiction", was prepared by seven researchers, mathematicians and economists at the National Defense Research Institute, a branch of the RAND, and was released in 1988. The study noted that seven prior studies in the past nine years, including one by the Center for Naval Research and the Office of Technology Assessment, had come to similar conclusions. Interdiction efforts, using current armed forces resources, would have almost no effect on cocaine importation into the United States, the report concluded.[144]

During the early-to-mid-1990s, the Clinton administration ordered and funded a major cocaine policy study, again by RAND. The Rand Drug Policy Research Center study concluded that $3 billion should be switched from federal and local law enforcement to treatment. The report said that treatment is the cheapest way to cut drug use, stating that drug treatment is twenty-three times more effective than the supply-side "war on drugs".[145]

The National Research Council Committee on Data and Research for Policy on Illegal Drugs published its findings in 2001 on the efficacy of the drug war. The NRC Committee found that existing studies on efforts to address drug usage and smuggling, from U.S. military operations to eradicate coca fields in Colombia, to domestic drug treatment centers, have all been inconclusive, if the programs have been evaluated at all: "The existing drug-use monitoring systems are strikingly inadequate to support the full range of policy decisions that the nation must make.... It is unconscionable for this country to continue to carry out a public policy of this magnitude and cost without any way of knowing whether and to what extent it is having the desired effect."[146] The study, though not ignored by the press, was ignored by top-level policymakers, leading Committee Chair Charles Manski to conclude, as one observer notes, that "the drug war has no interest in its own results".[147]

In mid-1995, the US government tried to reduce the supply of methamphetamine precursors to disrupt the market of this drug. According to a 2009 study, this effort was successful, but its effects were largely temporary.[148]

During alcohol prohibition, the period from 1920 to 1933, alcohol use initially fell but began to increase as early as 1922. It has been extrapolated that even if prohibition had not been repealed in 1933, alcohol consumption would have quickly surpassed pre-prohibition levels.[149] One argument against the War on Drugs is that it uses similar measures as Prohibition and is no more effective.

In the six years from 2000 to 2006, the U.S. spent $4.7 billion on Plan Colombia, an effort to eradicate coca production in Colombia. The main result of this effort was to shift coca production into more remote areas and force other forms of adaptation. The overall acreage cultivated for coca in Colombia at the end of the six years was found to be the same, after the U.S. Drug Czar's office announced a change in measuring methodology in 2005 and included new areas in its surveys.[150] Cultivation in the neighboring countries of Peru and Bolivia increased, some would describe this effect like squeezing a balloon.[151]

Richard Davenport-Hines, in his book The Pursuit of Oblivion,[152] criticized the efficacy of the War on Drugs by pointing out that

10–15% of illicit heroin and 30% of illicit cocaine is intercepted. Drug traffickers have gross profit margins of up to 300%. At least 75% of illicit drug shipments would have to be intercepted before the traffickers' profits were hurt.

Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru from 1990 to 2000, described U.S. foreign drug policy as "failed" on grounds that

for 10 years, there has been a considerable sum invested by the Peruvian government and another sum on the part of the American government, and this has not led to a reduction in the supply of coca leaf offered for sale. Rather, in the 10 years from 1980 to 1990, it grew 10-fold.[153]

At least 500 economists, including Nobel Laureates Milton Friedman,[154] George Akerlof and Vernon L. Smith, have noted that reducing the supply of marijuana without reducing the demand causes the price, and hence the profits of marijuana sellers, to go up, according to the laws of supply and demand.[155] The increased profits encourage the producers to produce more drugs despite the risks, providing a theoretical explanation for why attacks on drug supply have failed to have any lasting effect. The aforementioned economists published an open letter to President George W. Bush stating "We urge...the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition... At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition."

US timeline. Drugs involved in overdose deaths
US yearly overdose deaths, and the drugs involved. There were 72,000 drug overdose deaths overall in 2017 in the USA.

The declaration from the World Forum Against Drugs, 2008 state that a balanced policy of drug abuse prevention, education, treatment, law enforcement, research, and supply reduction provides the most effective platform to reduce drug abuse and its associated harms and call on governments to consider demand reduction as one of their first priorities in the fight against drug abuse.[156]

Despite over $7 billion spent annually towards arresting[157] and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people across the country for marijuana offenses in 2005 (FBI Uniform Crime Reports), the federally funded Monitoring the Future Survey reports about 85% of high school seniors find marijuana "easy to obtain". That figure has remained virtually unchanged since 1975, never dropping below 82.7% in three decades of national surveys.[158] The Drug Enforcement Administration states that the number of users of marijuana in the U.S. declined between 2000 and 2005 even with many states passing new medical marijuana laws making access easier,[159] though usage rates remain higher than they were in the 1990s according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.[160]

ONDCP stated in April 2011 that there has been a 46 percent drop in cocaine use among young adults over the past five years, and a 65 percent drop in the rate of people testing positive for cocaine in the workplace since 2006.[161] At the same time, a 2007 study found that up to 35% of college undergraduates used stimulants not prescribed to them.[162]

A 2013 study found that prices of heroin, cocaine and cannabis had decreased from 1990 to 2007, but the purity of these drugs had increased during the same time.[163]

The War on Drugs is often called a policy failure.[164][165][166][167][168]

Legality

The legality of the War on Drugs has been challenged on four main grounds in the U.S.

  1. It is argued that drug prohibition, as presently implemented, violates the substantive due process doctrine in that its benefits do not justify the encroachments on rights that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. On July 27, 2011, U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven ruled that Florida's legislation purporting to eliminate intent as an element of the crime of drug possession was unconstitutional. Commentators explained the ruling in terms of due process.
  2. Freedom of religious conscience legally allows some (for example, members of the Native American Church) to use peyote with definite spiritual or religious motives. The sacramental use of dimethyltryptamine in the form of ayahuasca is also allowed for members of União do Vegetal. The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment implies no requirement for someone to be affiliated to an official church – therefore leaving some ambiguity.
  3. It has been argued that the Commerce Clause means that the power to regulate drug use should be state law not federal law. However, Supreme Court rulings go against this argument because production and consumption in one locality will change the price in another locality because it affects the overall supply and demand for the product and interstate price in a globalized, market economy.
  4. The inequity of prosecuting the war on certain drugs but not alcohol or tobacco has also been called into question.

Alternatives

Several authors believe that the United States' federal and state governments have chosen wrong methods for combatting the distribution of illicit substances. Aggressive, heavy-handed enforcement funnels individuals through courts and prisons; instead of treating the cause of the addiction, the focus of government efforts has been on punishment. By making drugs illegal rather than regulating them, the War on Drugs creates a highly profitable black market. Jefferson Fish has edited scholarly collections of articles offering a wide variety of public health based and rights based alternative drug policies.[169][170][171]

In the year 2000, the United States drug-control budget reached 18.4 billion dollars,[172] nearly half of which was spent financing law enforcement while only one sixth was spent on treatment. In the year 2003, 53 percent of the requested drug control budget was for enforcement, 29 percent for treatment, and 18 percent for prevention.[173] The state of New York, in particular, designated 17 percent of its budget towards substance-abuse-related spending. Of that, a mere one percent was put towards prevention, treatment, and research.

In a survey taken by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it was found that substance abusers that remain in treatment longer are less likely to resume their former drug habits. Of the people that were studied, 66 percent were cocaine users. After experiencing long-term in-patient treatment, only 22 percent returned to the use of cocaine. Treatment had reduced the number of cocaine abusers by two-thirds.[172] By spending the majority of its money on law enforcement, the federal government had underestimated the true value of drug-treatment facilities and their benefit towards reducing the number of addicts in the U.S.

In 2004 the federal government issued the National Drug Control Strategy. It supported programs designed to expand treatment options, enhance treatment delivery, and improve treatment outcomes. For example, the Strategy provided SAMHSA with a $100.6 million grant to put towards their Access to Recovery (ATR) initiative. ATR is a program that provides vouchers to addicts to provide them with the means to acquire clinical treatment or recovery support. The project's goals are to expand capacity, support client choice, and increase the array of faith-based and community based providers for clinical treatment and recovery support services.[174] The ATR program will also provide a more flexible array of services based on the individual's treatment needs.

The 2004 Strategy additionally declared a significant 32 million dollar raise in the Drug Courts Program, which provides drug offenders with alternatives to incarceration. As a substitute for imprisonment, drug courts identify substance-abusing offenders and place them under strict court monitoring and community supervision, as well as provide them with long-term treatment services.[175] According to a report issued by the National Drug Court Institute, drug courts have a wide array of benefits, with only 16.4 percent of the nation's drug court graduates rearrested and charged with a felony within one year of completing the program (versus the 44.1% of released prisoners who end up back in prison within 1-year). Additionally, enrolling an addict in a drug court program costs much less than incarcerating one in prison.[176] According to the Bureau of Prisons, the fee to cover the average cost of incarceration for Federal inmates in 2006 was $24,440.[177] The annual cost of receiving treatment in a drug court program ranges from $900 to $3,500. Drug courts in New York State alone saved $2.54 million in incarceration costs.[176]

Describing the failure of the War on Drugs, New York Times columnist Eduardo Porter noted:

Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard who studies drug policy closely, has suggested that legalizing all illicit drugs would produce net benefits to the United States of some $65 billion a year, mostly by cutting public spending on enforcement as well as through reduced crime and corruption. A study by analysts at the RAND Corporation, a California research organization, suggested that if marijuana were legalized in California and the drug spilled from there to other states, Mexican drug cartels would lose about a fifth of their annual income of some $6.5 billion from illegal exports to the United States.[178]

Many believe that the War on Drugs has been costly and ineffective largely because inadequate emphasis is placed on treatment of addiction. The United States leads the world in both recreational drug usage and incarceration rates. 70% of men arrested in metropolitan areas test positive for an illicit substance,[179] and 54% of all men incarcerated will be repeat offenders.[180]

See also

Covert activities and foreign policy

Government agencies and laws

Organizations opposing prohibition

Organizations opposing drug legalization

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Further reading

  • Johann Hari (2015). Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. London, New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-620-408902.
  • Michael Blanchard; Gabriel J. Chin (1998). "Identifying the Enemy in the War on Drugs: A Critique of the Developing Rule Permitting Visual Identification of Indescript White Powders in Narcotics Prosecutions". American University Law Review (47): 557. SSRN 1128945.
  • Daniel Burton-Rose, The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry. Common Courage Press, 1998.
  • Stephanie R. Bush-Baskette, "The War on Drugs as a War on Black Women," in Meda Chesney-Lind and Lisa Pasko (eds.), Girls, Women, and Crime: Selected Readings. SAGE, 2004.
  • Gabriel Chin (2002). "Race, the War on Drugs and the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction". Gender, Race & Justice (6): 253. SSRN 390109.
  • Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press. New York: Verso, 1998.
  • Mitchell Earlywine, Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • Kathleen J. Frydl, The Drug Wars in America, 1940–1973. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • Kenneth B. Nunn (2002). "Race, Crime and the Pool of Surplus Criminality: Or Why the War on Drugs Was a War on Blacks". Gender, Race & Justice (6): 381.
  • Tony Payan, "A War that Can't Be Won." Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press, 2013.
  • Preston Peet, Under the Influence: The Disinformation Guide to Drugs. The Disinformation Company, 2004.
  • Thomas C. Rowe, Federal Narcotics Laws and the War on Drugs: Money Down a Rat Hole. Binghamton, NY: Haworn Press, 2006.
  • Eric Schneider, "The Drug War Revisited," Berfrois, November 2, 2011.
  • Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1911.
  • Dominic Streatfeild, Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography. Macmillan, 2003.
  • Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America's War on Drugs. New York: Verso, 2004.

Government and NGO reports

External links

Video

A Deeper Understanding

A Deeper Understanding is the fourth studio album by American indie rock band The War on Drugs. It was released on August 25, 2017, through Atlantic Records. The album was mixed by engineer Shawn Everett. The album won Best Rock Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

Adam Granduciel

Adam Granofsky (born February 15, 1979), better known under his stage name Adam Granduciel, is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter and record producer. He is the frontman and primary songwriter of the indie rock band The War on Drugs, with whom he has recorded four studio albums, and a former member of Kurt Vile's backing band The Violators.

Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is a New York City-based non-profit organization, led by executive director Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno and funded in part by George Soros, with the principal goal of ending the American "War on Drugs". The stated priorities of the organization are the decriminalization of responsible drug use, the promotion of harm reduction and treatment in response to drug misuse, and the facilitation of open dialog about drugs between youth, parents, and educators.

Drug liberalization

Drug liberalization is the process of eliminating or reducing drug prohibition laws. Variations of drug liberalization include: drug legalization, drug relegalization and drug decriminalization.

Johann Hari

Johann Eduard Hari (born 21 January 1979) is a Swiss-English writer and journalist. Hari has written for publications including The Independent and The Huffington Post, has written books on the topics of depression, the war on drugs, and the monarchy, and has given a TED talk on the topic of addiction.. Hari's Independent column and 2008 Orwell Prize for Journalism were revoked as the result of a plagiarism scandal in 2011.

Kurt Vile

Kurt Samuel Vile (born January 3, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He is known for his solo work and as the former lead guitarist of rock band The War on Drugs. Both in the studio and during live performances, Vile is accompanied by his backing band, The Violators, which currently includes Jesse Trbovich (bass, guitar, saxophone), Rob Laakso (guitar, bass) and Kyle Spence (drums).

Influenced by Pavement, Neil Young, Tom Petty, and John Fahey, Vile began his musical career creating lo-fi home recordings with frequent collaborator Adam Granduciel in Philadelphia, with whom he has participated in early work by The War on Drugs as well as various solo projects. Focusing on his solo career, Vile released two albums, Constant Hitmaker (2008) and God Is Saying This to You... (2009), compiling various home recordings dating back to 2003. Vile signed to Matador Records in 2009, and released his third album, Childish Prodigy, that same year. The album was his first recorded in a studio and with the full participation of The Violators.

In 2011, Vile released his fourth studio album, Smoke Ring for My Halo, which significantly increased his exposure. His fifth studio album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, was released in 2013, with Laakso replacing Granduciel in his backing band. In 2015, Vile released his sixth studio album, b'lieve I'm goin down.... The lead single from the album, "Pretty Pimpin", was Vile's best performing song to date, topping the Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart in March 2016. His 2017 release, Lotta Sea Lice, is a collaboration with Australian singer and guitarist Courtney Barnett. His latest album, Bottle It In, was released on October 12, 2018.

Law Enforcement Action Partnership

The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit group of current and former police, judges, prosecutors, and other criminal justice professionals who use their expertise to advance drug policy and criminal justice solutions that enhance public safety. The organization is modeled after Vietnam Veterans Against the War. As of April 2017, they have more than 180 representatives around the world who speak on behalf of over 5,000 law enforcement members and 100,000 supporters.The organization transitioned from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition into the Law Enforcement Action Partnership in January 2017. They previously focused on ending the War on Drugs and now discuss a broad range of issues relating to policing and criminal justice - from procedural justice practices to reducing recidivism. Their overarching message is about reducing crime and violence and improving public safety, while the issues they discuss fall into five key areas: improving police-community relations, reducing and finding alternatives to incarceration, improving access to harm reduction services, ending the War on Drugs, and global issues.

Lost in the Dream

Lost in the Dream is the third studio album by American indie rock band The War on Drugs, released on March 18, 2014 through Secretly Canadian. The recording session, which took place over a two-year period, was characterized by numerous rewrites. The album's lyrical themes were influenced by the loneliness and depression Granduciel faced after he finished touring. Musically, the record was inspired by 1980s rock, as well as Americana, with influences coming from Bruce Springsteen, Spacemen 3 and Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

The album debuted at number 26 on the Billboard 200 and received universal acclaim from critics upon its release, appearing on and topping numerous end-of-year lists of the best albums. Five promotional radio singles were released: "Red Eyes", "Under the Pressure", "Burning", "Eyes to the Wind", and "An Ocean in Between the Waves".

Mexican Drug War

The Mexican Drug War (also known as the Mexican War on Drugs; Spanish: guerra contra el narcotráfico en México) is an ongoing asymmetric low-intensity conflict between the Mexican government and various drug trafficking syndicates. In 2006 when the Mexican military began to intervene, the government's principal goal was to reduce drug-related violence. The Mexican government has asserted that their primary focus is on dismantling the powerful drug cartels, rather than on preventing drug trafficking and demand, which is left to U.S. functionaries.Although Mexican drug trafficking organizations have existed for several decades, their influence increased after the demise of the Colombian Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s. Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market and in 2007 controlled 90% of the cocaine entering the United States. Arrests of key cartel leaders, particularly in the Tijuana and Gulf cartels, have led to increasing drug violence as cartels fight for control of the trafficking routes into the United States.Federal law enforcement has been reorganized at least five times since 1982 in various attempts to control corruption and reduce cartel violence. During that same period there have been at least four elite special forces created as new corruption-free soldiers who could do battle with Mexico's endemic bribery system. Analysts estimate that wholesale earnings from illicit drug sales range from $13.6 to $49.4 billion annually.

The U.S. Congress passed legislation in late June 2008 to provide Mexico with US$1.6 billion for the Mérida Initiative to provide Mexico with law enforcement training and equipment, as well as technical advice to strengthen the national justice systems. By the end of Felipe Calderón's administration (December 1, 2006 – November 30, 2012), the official death toll of the Mexican Drug War was at least 60,000. Estimates set the death toll above 120,000 killed by 2013, not including 27,000 missing. Since taking office, Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared that the war was over; however, his comment was met with criticism as homicide rates continued in high numbers.

Philippine Drug War

The Philippine Drug War refers to the drug policy of the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte, who assumed office on June 30, 2016. According to former Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa, the policy is aimed at "the neutralization of illegal drug personalities nationwide." Duterte has urged members of the public to kill suspected criminals and drug addicts. Research by media organizations and human rights groups has shown that police routinely execute unarmed drug suspects and then plant guns and drugs as evidence. Philippine authorities have denied misconduct by police.The policy has been widely condemned locally and internationally for the number of deaths resulting from police operations and allegations of systematic extrajudicial executions. The policy is supported by the majority of the local population, as well as by leaders or representatives of certain countries such as China, Japan and the United States.Estimates of the death toll vary. Officially, 5,104 "drug personalities" have been killed as of January 2019. News organizations and human rights groups claim the death toll is over 12,000. The victims included 54 children in the first year. Opposition senators claimed in 2018 that over 20,000 have been killed.According to the official update "Real Numbers" released by the Philippine National Police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, from July 1, 2016 to January 31, 2019, there was a total of 5,176 drug personalities killed in anti-drug operations, as well as 170,689 arrests, which include 295 government employees, 263 elected officials, and 69 uniformed personnel. 301 drug dens and laboratories have also been reported to have been dismantled, and a total of 11,080 barangays have been declared "cleared" of illegal drugs. In the capital Manila, the street price of methamphetamine was reportedly lower in June 2017 than a year earlier, which has been interpreted as an indication of the policy's ineffectiveness.In February 2018, the International Criminal Court in The Hague announced a "preliminary examination" into killings linked to the Philippine Drug War since at least July 1, 2016.

Prison–industrial complex

The term "prison–industrial complex" (PIC), derived from the "military–industrial complex" of the 1950s, describes the attribution of the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies for profit. The most common agents of PIC are corporations that contract cheap prison labor, construction companies, surveillance technology vendors, companies that operate prison food services and medical facilities, prison guard unions, private probation companies, lawyers, and lobby groups that represent them.

The portrayal of prison-building/expansion as a means of creating employment opportunities and the utilization of inmate labor are particularly harmful elements of the prison-industrial complex as they boast clear economic benefits at the expense of the incarcerated populace. The term also refers to the network of participants who prioritize personal financial gain over rehabilitating criminals. Proponents of this view, including civil rights organizations such as the Rutherford Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), believe that the desire for monetary gain through prison privatization has led to the growth of the prison industry and contributed to the increase of incarcerated individuals. These advocacy groups assert that incentivizing the construction of more prisons for monetary gain will encourage incarceration, which would affect people of color at disproportionately high rates.

Prohibition of drugs

The prohibition of drugs through sumptuary legislation or religious law is a common means of attempting to prevent the recreational use of certain intoxicating substances.

While some drugs are illegal to possess, many governments regulate the manufacture, distribution, marketing, sale and use of certain drugs, for instance through a prescription system. For example, amphetamines may be legal to possess if a doctor has prescribed them; otherwise, possession or sale of the drug is typically a criminal offence. Only certain drugs are banned with a "blanket prohibition" against all possession or use (e.g., LSD, a psychedelic that was once used medicinally). The most widely banned substances include psychoactive drugs, although blanket prohibition also extends to some steroids and other drugs. Many governments do not criminalize the possession of a limited quantity of certain drugs for personal use, while still prohibiting their sale or manufacture, or possession in large quantities. Some laws set a specific volume of a particular drug, above which is considered ipso jure to be evidence of trafficking or sale of the drug.Drug prohibition is responsible for enriching "organised criminal networks", according to some critics, and the hypothesis that the prohibition of drugs generates violence is consistent with research done over long time-series and cross-country facts.Some Islamic countries prohibit the use of alcohol (see list of countries with alcohol prohibition). Many governments levy a sin tax on alcohol and tobacco products, and restrict alcohol and tobacco from being sold or gifted to a minor. Other common restrictions include bans on outdoor drinking and indoor smoking. In the early 20th century, many countries had alcohol prohibition. These include the United States (1920–1933), Finland (1919–1932), Norway (1916–1927), Canada (1901–1948), Iceland (1915–1922) and the Russian Empire/USSR (1914–1925).

Race and the War on Drugs

The War on Drugs is a term for the actions taken and legislation enacted by the United States government, intended to reduce or eliminate the production, distribution, and use of illicit drugs. The War on Drugs began during the Nixon Administration with the goal of reducing the supply of and demand for illegal drugs, though an ulterior, racial motivation has been proposed. The War on Drugs has led to controversial legislation and policies, including mandatory minimum penalties and stop-and-frisk searches, which have been suggested to be carried out disproportionately against minorities. The effects of the War on Drugs are contentious, with some suggesting that it has created racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions, imprisonment and rehabilitation. Others have criticized the methodology and conclusions of such studies. In addition to enforcement disparities, some claim that the collateral effects of the War on Drugs have established forms of structural violence, especially for minority communities.

Rodrigo Duterte

Rodrigo Roa Duterte, (; Tagalog: [roˈdɾigo ɾowa dʊˈtɛɾtɛ] (listen); born March 28, 1945), also known as Digong and Rody, is a Filipino politician who is the 16th and current President of the Philippines, and the first from Mindanao to hold the office. He is the chair of the ruling PDP–Laban party. Taking office at 71 years old in June 2016, Duterte is the oldest person to assume the Philippine presidency; the record was previously held by Sergio Osmeña at the age of 65.Duterte studied political science at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, graduating in 1968, before obtaining a law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972. He then worked as a lawyer and was a prosecutor for Davao City, before becoming vice mayor and, subsequently, mayor of the city in the wake of the Philippine Revolution of 1986. Duterte was among the longest-serving mayors in the Philippines, serving seven terms and totaling more than 22 years in office.

Frequently described as a populist and a nationalist, Duterte's political success has been aided by his vocal support for the extrajudicial killing of drug users and other criminals. Human rights groups have documented over 1,400 killings allegedly by death squads operating in Davao between 1998 and May 2016; the victims were mainly drug users, petty criminals and street children. A 2009 report by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights confirmed the "systematic practice of extrajudicial killings" by the Davao Death Squad. Duterte has alternately confirmed and denied his involvement. The Office of the Ombudsman closed an investigation in January 2016 stating that they found no evidence that the Davao Death Squad exists, and no evidence to connect the police or Duterte with the killings. The case has since been reopened. Duterte has repeatedly confirmed that he personally killed criminal suspects as mayor of Davao.On May 9, 2016, Duterte won the Philippine presidential election with 39.01% of the votes, defeating four other candidates, namely Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party (23.4%), Senator Grace Poe (21.6%), former vice president Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (12.9%), and the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago of the People's Reform Party (3%). During his campaign, he promised to kill tens of thousands of criminals and end crime within six months. His domestic policy has focused on combating the illegal drug trade by initiating the Philippine Drug War. According to the Philippine National Police the death total passed 7,000 in January 2017, after which the police stopped publishing data. Following criticism from United Nations human rights experts that extrajudicial killings had increased since his election, Duterte threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the UN and form a new organization with China and African nations. He has declared his intention to pursue an "independent foreign policy", and sought to distance the Philippines from the United States and European nations and pursue closer ties with China and Russia.

SWAT

In the United States, a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team is a law enforcement unit which uses specialized or military equipment and tactics. First created in the 1960s to handle riot control or violent confrontations with criminals, the number and usage of SWAT teams increased in the 1980s and 1990s during the War on Drugs and later in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. In the United States as of 2005, SWAT teams were deployed 50,000 times every year, almost 80% of the time to serve search warrants, most often for narcotics. SWAT teams are increasingly equipped with military-type hardware and trained to deploy against threats of terrorism, for crowd control, hostage taking, and in situations beyond the capabilities of ordinary law enforcement, sometimes deemed "high-risk". Other countries have developed their own paramilitary police units (PPUs) which are also described as or comparable to SWAT forces.

SWAT units are often equipped with specialized firearms including submachine guns, assault rifles, breaching shotguns, sniper rifles, riot control agents, and stun grenades. In addition, they may use specialized equipment including heavy body armor, ballistic shields, entry tools, armored vehicles, night vision devices, and motion detectors for covertly determining the positions of hostages or hostage takers, inside enclosed structures.

Secretly Canadian

Secretly Canadian is an American independent record label based in Bloomington, Indiana with offices in Brooklyn, London, Austin, Los Angeles and Paris. Run by Ben Swanson, Chris Swanson and Darius Van Arman, the roster includes The War On Drugs, Anohni, Antony and the Johnsons, Yoko Ono, Jason Molina, Tig Notaro, Damien Jurado, Here We Go Magic, and Whitney.

Supply reduction

Supply reduction is one approach to social problems such as drug addiction. Other approaches are demand reduction and harm reduction.In the case of illegal drugs, supply reduction efforts generally involves attempts to disrupt the manufacturing and distribution supply chains for these drugs, by both civilian law enforcement and sometimes military forces. This approach, sometimes characterized as the "War on Drugs", has been the dominant approach to drugs policy since the 1960s.There is little or no evidence showing that supply reduction methods can be successful as a means to reduce the supply of illicit drugs. For example, the retail price of cocaine in the US in 2007 was less than half the price in 1984, despite massive investments by the US government in supply reduction strategies. Some analysts have argued that the abject failure of supply reduction in the US actually contributed to a significant and lasting reduction in crime and violence beginning in the 1990s, when cocaine prices hit record lows. In contrast, a systematic review documents moderate and growing evidence that retail greater availability is associated with greater relapse to smoked tobacco.

The War on Drugs (band)

The War on Drugs is an American indie rock band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed in 2005. The band consists of Adam Granduciel (lyrics, lead vocals, guitar), David Hartley (bass guitar), Robbie Bennett (keyboards), Charlie Hall (drums), Jon Natchez (saxophone, keyboards) and Anthony LaMarca (guitar).

Founded by close collaborators Granduciel and Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs released their debut studio album, Wagonwheel Blues, in 2008. Vile departed shortly after its release to focus on his solo career. The band's second studio album Slave Ambient was released in 2011 to favorable reviews and a lengthy tour which proceeded.

The band's third album, Lost in the Dream, was released in 2014 following extensive touring and a period of loneliness and depression for primary songwriter Granduciel. The album was released to widespread critical acclaim and increased exposure. Previous collaborator Hall joined the band as its full-time drummer during the recording process, with saxophonist Natchez and additional guitarist LaMarca accompanying the band for its world tour. Signing to Atlantic Records, the six-piece band released their fourth album, A Deeper Understanding, in 2017, which won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

Transform Drug Policy Foundation

The Transform Drug Policy Foundation (Transform) is a registered non-profit charity based in the United Kingdom working in the field of drug policy and law reform.

Transform began as an independent campaign group called Transform Drugs Campaign Ltd, and was set up in 1996 by its current Head of External Affairs, Danny Kushlick. The organisation achieved charitable status in 2003 and was renamed 'Transform Drug Policy Foundation' in 2004. In 2007 Transform became the first UK based non-governmental organisation calling for drug law reform, including the legal regulation of drug production supply and use, to be granted special consultative status at the United Nations.

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