In the early 1900’s Americans realized that alcohol and other types of drugs popular at the time were being abused and thought it may be a good idea to criminalize their use to stop the problems that their use and abuses caused. Legislation was introduced and made into laws, outlawing alcoholic beverages on January 29th, 1920, Marijuana in 1937, cocaine, and other mind altering drugs. It took our government 13 years to admit that these laws were a total failure and reversed most of them. I think it is time to change the remaining failing prohibition laws and let the tax payers decide for themselves what to consume. I believe in the theory of legalizing freedom. I don’t believe in the government protecting me from myself.
For some unknown reason they decided to keep nicotine legal in the forms of cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, and snuff tobacco. Our government decided that they could create new taxes on these drugs since they may not have been aware of their dangers and habit forming tendencies. These new taxes could help pay for all the new federal government jobs that were created. Caffeine the active drug found in coffee and soft drinks was also ignored. Our government opened new federal branches of governments called The Federal Prohibition Agents and later the ATF, the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bureau.
Supply and demand have always controlled these drugs. Demand was high and the tax paying citizens were furious that a few decided for the rest that they could no longer have the freedom to consume these mind altering drugs. Alcohol was already being produced in stills in back yards around the country and occasionally someone got sick or even died from bad alcohol. Marijuana and cocaine were mostly used by either the rich or the minorities whereas alcohol was by far the drug of choice at the time.
It didn’t take long before gangsters moved in selling alcohol at high prices, paid off law enforcement units, politicians, killed their competitors in the streets and in the speak easies (illegal bars). Smugglers brought alcohol in from Canada and Mexico and by ships from around the world. Mafias were created as tax payers became criminals. The profits were high as was the greed of the gangsters who risked going to jail or death to supply the country with the drugs that the people demanded.
It is estimated that Al Capone earned sixty million dollars in one year. He was one of many who made huge profits after the changes in the laws and the increase in demand after the alcohol had been outlawed.
Our government could not stop the demand or the supply and the war got ugly very fast. Many people died, many went to prison, and many just enjoyed having a drink(s) after work as they used to. The consumer now was also a criminal as it was illegal to purchase or possess these drugs.
There was not much opposition at the time about the Marijuana, cocaine and other drug laws as these were not as popular. The gangsters set up shop selling these other drugs and to this day the demand has never been higher the availability so great. Consumption is at an all time high, children can buy illegal drugs easier than alcohol. They start using these drugs at much earlier ages.
The evils we originally worried about are here now and worse than ever, we have a higher percentage of prisoners in jails and prisons than any other civilized country in the world. Greed still has a lot to do with the trade. These illegal drugs are the reason that most of our tax paying citizens go to jail today.
Some can’t quit with or without help. Not much help is available to the poor. Health insurance has skyrocketed as the United States of America decided that Alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases and that health care providers have to pay thousands per patient to try to rehabilitate the person with these diseases. Many countries don’t agree with our theory that Alcoholism or drug addiction is a disease. Many of our doctors also ask “How many other diseases can you cure by abstaining from a drug that you consume voluntarily.”
Approximately one third of Americans can’t afford health care insurance. Since our government views this social problem as a disease the health care insurance companies are forced to pay for treatment that causes the rates to escalate to the point where more citizens can’t afford insurance.
We could put the gangsters out of business and make the streets safer again as we did when we relegalized alcohol. Marijuana has been outlawed in The United States since 1937. More people use it now than ever. Almost never a day goes by where you don’t read in the newspaper about someone killing or injuring someone while under the influence of alcohol a much stronger and more dangerous legal drug. Would fewer youngsters drink alcohol, get in fights and crash their cars if they had a legal option to smoke some marijuana?
In The Netherlands the Dutch government decriminalized marijuana in 1976, and their children who can legally buy pot and hashish at the coffee shops choose at a smaller percentage than Americans to consume these drugs. The majority of their customers come from countries that still criminalize the use of these drugs. Other countries are trying similar laws while trying to educate their children not to start, rather than glamorizing the illegality and profits that prohibition ignited.
When will America wake up and admit that we lost the war on drugs and it is time to try
Something more practical? In the year 2001 in California after voters had already changed their state laws to decriminalize marijuana our federal government chose to raid and arrest on federal charges AIDS patients who were dying in clinics for possession of medicinal marijuana. Several other states have voted into laws decriminalizing marijuana and the federal government threatens to take money from them if they don’t conform to national laws.
Why haven’t we as a nation learned from our past mistakes about prohibition to face the issue at hand and try to move forward in an educational and realistic approach? Why don’t we as a nation realize that the war on drugs is really a war on American tax payers? Our laws and our demand are ruining other countries as well as the poor farmers are trying to take the only crops worth any money to the market and every day risk being killed by American soldiers in helicopters and airplanes in the so called war on drugs.