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50 Years After the Start of the War on Drugs, Americans Have a Chance to Fix the Harm It Created

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/16/50-years-after-start-war-drugs-americans-have-chance-fix-harm-it-created

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The issue of privatized prisons for profit should be included in the analysis as should the issue of prison labor.


Kamala Harris’ proposed legislation regarding how the drug war has affected the marijuana community is a better proposal than what is in this article.
Not all “drug use” is “abuse.” Marijuana is a healing herb and should not be grouped with opiates, pharma drugs, and other drugs.
All people who have been arrested for marijuana crimes, which number in the the tens of millions, should immediately have their criminal records expunged on all databases.
They should be refunded any fines or civil asset forfeiture they paid related to marijuana crimes.
Workplace testing for marijuana should be eliminated, except in cases when cannabis use can be clearly shown to cause certain danger in specific high-risk jobs.
Landlords and others should be prohibited from discriminating against the marijuana community.
Marijuana use by itself should no longer be a factor in child custody disputes.
Anyone who has lost college funding, jobs, or other benefits due to marijuana “crimes” or has been otherwise injured because of a marijuana arrest, should be given reparations, especially if they have endured jail or prison for marijuana.
By the way, the best way to have marijuana is to grow your own, and there’s a magazine online called Growing Marijuana Perfectly that has helped a lot of people.


The war on drugs was far more then just a strategy to garner the white vote for Nixon. It was also intended to break up the peace movement by busting the heads of all of those hippies and protestors against war on College campuses. It was intended to head off movements towards social justice and those that questioned the nature of power in the USA and who held it.

If it was just about getting Whites to vote Republican , the Democrats would not have extended that war on drugs as occurred under Carter and Clinton and Obama with Biden playing a huge role in crime reform leading to millions of more blacks being imprisoned.

The War on drugs was by design intended to ensure the US war machine become even more entrenched and that WAR as part of foreign policy would never be challenged again.

The war on drugs was about the State exercising its power to protect the power of the 1 percent and the MIC. They will not so easily give that up.


The war on drugs should include reform of the pharmaceutical industry. If there is a criminal element to this, the wrong people are being held accountable. Not saying that people should not use personal restraint, they should be better informed about the chemicals they use.

This would include full knowledge about the Covid-19 vaccines.

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What a cost savings initiative that would be in saving lifes, eliminating destroying lifes being identifiied as a felon, and savings to our legal system courts and economy.

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Drug use is NOT a public health issue. When it becomes a health issue – and for most users it doesn’t – it’s an intensely private one. What drugs I put in my body for what reason is no more the public’s business than what I had for lunch today or who I slept with last night. Legalize them already. Enough of the “baby steps.” We’re not babies.

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Does that mean that the 70,000 thousand people that over-dosed and died last year was their private matter and we shouldn’t interfere

once you realize who the 70k were, a partial answer is yes.

Addicts rarely die from overdoses. They’re “professional” drug users. Most of that number are they typical rec users, suicides, and other types who use substances in contravention to their proper consumption, whether for medical reasons, recreation, or dependence.

Since nearly 83 percent of all overdose deaths are multitoxic, can we treat alcohol the same way many of you want to treat pharmaceutical pain medication? After all, that’s the one substance most prevalent in drug death (even more than the “base” drug, believe it or not).

The “public health” approach to drugs is no less a war than the carceral one. That’s the dirty secret in all of this death. And as bad as the Drug War is, it generally hasn’t led to a direct slaughter of human beings inside the US until the War on Pain Patients launched under Obama by the CDC, PROP, and the DEA. And these are the cats many of you would consider the “good guys”.

We estimate half of that 70k–a number that wasn’t reached until the wholesale withdrawal of pain medicine from long term pain patients was enacted nearly nationally–are patients trying to replace the once stable, safer drugs they used to get. All of those kills are “public health” kills.

This issue is far more complicated than most outsiders can begin to know.


To reinforce the authors point, and not mentioned, is Mississippi. As red a state as there ever was, where Trump received 58.2% of the vote, voted in a two step ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. 68.4% of the voters approved medical marijuana, and 73.3% of those voters approved it for more than 20 medical issues and allowing card holders to grow their own weed. The other option, for state supplied weed for only terminally ill cancer patients received only 26.3% of the votes.

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You raise some good issues here and addiction has a large demographic and treatment considerations are different. I’ve seen some seniors (one 93) that required methadone as part of a pain management protocol. I see public health as a diversion, that provides support for anyone that wants or needs it to change their behavior.

I totally agree it is a complicated issue but I think there has to be a lot of people that are touched by it, maybe not the same way as direct experience.

Cui bono? Who benefits? Follow the money? What would happen if there were NO laws against people taking drugs. Would more people take them? Would the market for drugs fall so flat that drug dealers would go into some other line of work? Would that be better for the rest of us? Would it be worse? What about free choice in a free country?
I think that virtually all overdose deaths result from badly made drugs. Is that correct? I think all laws should be removed and that pharmacists should be paid a small fee to inject any addict that wants it. that will take out the profit motive, will it not? Will that make drug use less common or more common? Why not try it and see? what we are doing now is not working. And for a start let out all the nonviolent prisoners in the prisons. who are imprisoned only for use and possession.

Unless you have a time machine, no, we will never be able to fix the harm done by the drug war. We can, however, stop any more from being done. But not with half measures, or baby steps; not with decriminalization, or mandatory treatment. Never was there a war that I’ve ever heard about that was ended by degrees, and this one won’t be either. It needs to end. Prohibition needs to end. Completely and decisively.

It isn’t complicated at all, really. Legalize the damn drugs and their production and distribution will fall under the same umbrella of rules and regulations that ensure the quality and purity of other commodities intended for human consumption. Legalization would also allow for ongoing, unbiased testing and honest education about the real-life benefits vs dangers of drug use, and allow people who choose to use to access medical care.

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It sounds like an improvement for conditions, I’m not so sure about individual outcomes. I trying to picture how that would affect people that I have known or know that are addicts. Early intervention sounds really important to me.

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“We” (and when I say we I mean our governments) are already interfering by making drugs more dangerous than they would be, refusing to allow honest education about the dangers of use and how to mitigate them, and then using fear of prosecution to discourage users from seeking medical attention. It’s the job of government to protect the public, not endanger them.

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We have a higher level of agreement on this point. I would say there is also a growing acceptance for alternatives. Honest education is crucial, but I don’t think it is just the government that contributes to this problem. A lot of routine medications have dependence potential. Very good points here.

YOU are right ,correct and on the spot. keep on talking . never stop.

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I probably have a different perspective than most people. I’ve been an addict. I’ve been raided, arrested, jailed, and “diverted” into treatment that largely consisted of spending two hours a week being yelled at by counselors whose only qualifications for the job were their own unhealthy relationships with alcohol. I can tell you that nothing about any of it is designed to address addiction. It’s designed to punish.

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I think there is quite a bit of punishment in general society, and in the treatment of addiction. I worked in a clinic that treated smoking as an addiction and used aversive conditioning. Meant to make a greater distinction between being a non-smoker and the aversive effects of smoking. The program its self was not necessarily aversive, but it was a longtime ago and things have changed considerably.

I think it is one of those things that can create vulnerability on some levels that is not recognized by many areas of society yet it touches a lot of people some at epidemic proportions.