The Modern War On Drugs

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The Modern War on Drugs In the past forty years, the United States has spent over $2.5 trillion dollars funding enforcement and prevention in the fight against drug use in America (Suddath). Despite the efforts made towards cracking down on drug smugglers, growers, and suppliers, statistics show that addiction rates have remained unchanged and the number of people using illegal drugs is increasing daily (Sledge). Regardless of attempts to stem the supply of drugs, the measure and quality of drugs goes up while the price goes down (Koebler). Now with the world’s highest incarceration rates and greatest illegal drug consumption (Sledge), the United States proves that the “war on drugs” is a war that is not being won.
For most of our history, drug use has been legal for recreational, religious, and medicinal purposes. During the 19th century, opium, morphine, and cocaine could be purchased over-the-counter to treat medical conditions such as menstrual cramps, teething pain, coughs, depression, and even addiction (Hellerman). On December 17, 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act was introduced which heavily restricted the use of narcotics, and was based on racial fears and discrimination. The drafters of the bill stated that “negroes under the influence of drugs were murdering whites, degenerate Mexicans were smoking marijuana, and “chinamen” were seducing white women with drugs” (Huggins). Regardless of the restrictions placed on narcotics, the 20th century followed the
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