Since the 1960s, drug use has been one of the major problems recognized by the United States government. More than 23 million Americans report to using illicit drugs. The United States Government has put a tremendous amount of effort toward reducing drug abuse and seizing drugs from dealers. However, a growing population of people believe that the War on Drugs is more of a political scheme than an attempt to end drug use in the United States.
In the 1960’s, drugs became a symbol of youthful rebellion and part of social culture in America. In 1971, Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” and formed the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA played a huge part in the enforcement of drugs and specialized in a type of law enforcement that focused on incarcerating those who sell, distribute, or import drugs into the United States. “Nixon dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies, and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing. Nixon placed Marijuana in Schedule One, which was then classified as very destructive drug. In 1972, the commission commended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations. Even though Nixon made many policy changes to increase punishments for drug crimes, he also focused more on treatment centers and overall rehabilitation of addicts more than succeeding presidents.
Many political historians agree that after Nixon declared a “War on Drugs,” most succeeding presidential candidates have used political platforms that focus on restrictive drug laws in order to gain popularity. With a strong anti-drug campaign, Ronald Reagan was elected as president on January 20, 1981. He played a major role in the War on Drugs. His wife Nancy Reagan was also a prominent voice against drug use during his presidency. She started a movement called “Just say No.” She took more of a sensitive approach to the subject of drug abuse. She stated that, “ Drugs take away the dream from every child’s heart and replace it with a nightmare and its time we in America stand up and replace those dreams.” Nancy would go to schools and foster care houses to convince people to support her prohibition against drugs. For Ronald Reagan, it helped his whole prohibition against drugs, and helped get people in congress and other politicians to agree with his policies. After all of the drugs laws that were passed by the U.S in the 1970’s, the drug war started to get complicated.
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan declared that illicit drugs were a threat to national security in America. Like president Nixon, Reagan was very vocal about wanting to stop drug trade into America. With the increase prevalence of crack cocaine in the 80s, people were using drugs more than they had ever done in American history. Ronald Reagan was even more aggressively against drugs than Nixon. Many people believe that his aggressive actions pushed him to possibly engage in deals under the table which involved him using the CIA to his per advantage.
Between 1985 and 1987 President Reagan allegedly did secret deals which were unknown to congress and American citizens. This event was called the event Iran Contra. The Iran Contra affair involved President Reagan secretly using the CIA to sell guns to Iran. He did not pass this decision through congress. He sold Iran the guns and they supposedly gave him money personally. Journalists and writers are still searching for the truth about whether President Reagan used the money that he got from selling the guns from Iran to fund Contras in Nicaragua to support them trafficking drugs onto American soil. Many people believe Reagan lied when he said he was trying to end drug use in America. While the democratic congress investigated the affair, President Reagan stated that he did not know that they were doing this and that his National Security advisers were doing this and they let him serve the rest of his term as President.
Many Americans regard the Iran Contra as evidence that the War on Drugs is more of a scheme created by politicians than a method of drug control. Another widely accepted conspiracy that supports this argument is the story of Richard Wershe. Richard Wershe was just an average 14 year old freshman in high school when the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) approached him to become an undercover drug kingpin. In an interview Wershe stated that, “I was just a kid when the agents pulled me out of high school in the ninth grade and had me out till three in the morning every night. They gave me a fake ID when I was 15 that said I was 21 so I could travel to Vegas and to Miami to do drug deals.” One day while he was driving to make a drug deal he got pulled over and the police officer that pulled him over searched his vehicle and found 16 pounds of cocaine in his trunk. Even though Richard was a minor, he got 25 to life considering the minimum sentencing drug charges and the large quantity of cocaine in his possession. Although Richard was wrong for having drugs in his possession he was not introduced to the life of a drug dealer all by himself. The FBI was responsible for starting Wershe as a drug dealer, yet no one from the Bureau testified for him or gave him a chance to get less time. On January 15, 1988, Wershe was sentenced under Michigan’s 650-lifer law, that required that anyone caught with more than 650 grams of cocaine serve life without parole. Richard is in prison till this day at the age of 45.
In 2005, Methamphetamine (meth) took over the streets. The DEA did everything they could to stop the distribution of meth. The cost of meth use at the time was exceeding $23.4 billion dollars, according to the RAND Corporation. Meth was on the rise in many American communities and affected the conviction rates of poor whites especially. After all of the steps the government made in the 70s and 80s to end drug use in America, meth use in the 2000s reached the rate of crack use in the past. Because of this statistical proof that the War on Drugs has not controlled drug use in America, many Americans believe that The War on Drugs is more of a political phenomenon then an effective method of drug control.
According to an article published by Stanford University, the United States have been engaged in the war on illicit drugs for nearly 25 years. The U.S. spends over 50 billion dollars per year to fight against drugs. Out of all the drugs being imported or manufactured in America the DEA only seize 10% of all illicit drugs. In 1977 President Carter decriminalized the use of marijuana. American citizens and politicians did not acknowledge that he had done it but it did not fail. After the decriminalization of marijuana there was a rise in cocaine 1978-1984. Cocain was connected to marijuana which drove the United States from decriminalizing it. During President Reagan’s term funding for programs and foundations to end drug abuse went up from $437 million to $1.4 billion. Politicians sought out as many solutions to ending drug abuse and by the way President Reagan was approaching the matter so aggressively he won many peoples attention to drug abuse. President Clinton tried to continue what President Reagan and Nixon started in 1995. Clinton even embarked on $1 billion dollars for government drug policy. Him doing so grabbed the media’s attention and earned him more funding in rehabilitation. Almost all of the president’s spanning from Nixon to Reagan care about the end of drug abuse. They all have convinced the American public that the war on drugs is a war to be fought by everybody.
Richard Nixon was the 37th U.S. president and the only Commander-In-Chief to resign from his position, after the 1970s Watergate scandal. He believed that the war on drugs was America’s priority number one. He focused more on drug treatment than drug enforcement .
Ronald Reagan helped redefine the purpose of government and pressured the Soviet Union to end the Cold War. He solidified the conservative agenda for decades after his presidency. He enforced more policies against drugs like the Anti-Drug Abuse Act and was involved in the Iran Contra affair.
Nancy Reagan is a former first lady of the United States, the widow of Ronald Reagan, who founded the “Just Say No” drug awareness campaign.
Richard Wershe was an informant for the DEA. He was pulled out of high school at the age of 14 and was given a second identity to be an undercover drug dealer. He was caught and put in prison for possession of cocaine for life.
President Carter Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States (1977-81) and later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He decriminalized marijuana in America did and not get the acknowledgement for it. It did not last long and got thrown out after his presidential term was over.
President Barack Obama is the 44th and current president of the United States, and the first African American to serve as U.S. president. First elected to the presidency in 2008, he won a second term in 2012. He passed the Fair Sentencing law which changed how citizens were convicted of drug charges.
The Central Intelligence Agency was involved in the Iran Contra affair. In this event the United States supposedly sold guns to Iran and distributed the money to drug rings in Nicaragua.
The Drug Enforcement Agency handles any crimes that have to do with drugs.
I think that the War on Drugs is a never ending war and its a waste of money for America to be even involved in. The War on Drugs have been a two sided fight between the government and drug users. The government is passing laws and using law enforcement to keep poor people and communities under their control. The drug war is all about money in my eyes and has stopped being about people’s safety and treatment with drugs abuse.