Drugs/History Of The American Drug War- term paper 18104

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History of the American Drug War-

The first act of America's anti-drug laws was in 1875. It

outlawed the smoking of opium in opium dens. This was a San Francisco

ordinance. The basis on passing this law was that Chinese men had a

way of luring white women to their dens and causing their "ruin",

which was the association with Chinese men. Later, other Federal laws

such as trafficking in opium was illegal for anyone of Chinese origin.

The opium laws were directed at the smoking of opium. The law didn't

effect importation of the drug because opium was a common medical

drug. This law was specifically targeted at the Chinese, for the

smoking of opium was a Chinese custom.

Cocaine was outlawed for fears that black men would go on a

sexual rampage and rape white women. In the early 1900's, newspapers

referred to them as "Negro Cocaine Fiends" or "Cocainized Niggers".

There is little evidence that this actually happened.

The Harrison Act had started as a licensing law which required

sellers to obtain a license if they were going to handle opiates or

cocaine. The law contains a provision that nothing in the law would

prohibit doctors from prescribing these drugs in the legitimate

practice of medicine. The people who wrote the Harrison Act and

Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, agreed that a prohibition on what people

could put into their bodies was an unconstitutional infringement on

personal liberties.

Marijuana was outlawed in 1937. The reason for it being

outlawed was that the plant had a violent effect on the degenerate

races. The American Medical Association testified that they were

opposed to the law. The law would never have passed without the

endorsement from the AMA, but when the supporters of the law were

asked about the AMA's view on the floor of congress, they had stated

that the AMA was all for it. When the law had passed, the AMA

protested, but the law was never repealed.

It is difficult to determine how many people in the US use

drugs. The Federal Government's Household Survey on Drug Abuse, is the

most common set of statistics on the use of drugs. According to the

latest surveys, conducted by the DEA, there are about 12.7 million

people who have used an illegal drug in the past month, and about 30 -

40 million people who have used an illegal drug in the past year.

Among the 12.7 people who have used an illegal drug in the past month,

about 10 million are casual drug users and about 2.7 million are drug

addicts. The figures produced by the Household Survey on Drug Abuse

are obtained over the phone. Therefore, there was a problem reaching

those without phones, those who didn't answer their phones, and those

who answered the question honestly. Other surveys put the figures at

least twice as high.

Currently, there are about 1.5 million people in state and

Federal prisons and jails throughout the US At least 24 states are

under Federal court orders to relieve prison overcrowding. Prison

population had been relatively stable from about 1926 to about 1970.

From that point, Nixon's war against drugs, then the Reagan and Bush

war against drugs, caused a dramatic increase in the number of

prisoners. The estimated 30 - 40 million people who have used an

illegal drug in the past year, would fill a prison holding the

populations of California, Arizona and New Mexico altogether. The cost

of holding a single one of these persons would be about $450,000. The

cost for the arrest and the conviction is about $150,000. The cost for

an additional bed would be anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000,

depending upon the jurisdiction. It costs about $30,000 per year to

house a prisoner, with an average sentence of five years, adding up to

be $150,000. The estimated $450,000 (out of taxpayers money), can

provide treatment or education for about 200 people. Out of the

percentage of people in prison, 59.6% are in prison for a drug


The war on drugs could be won if we were successful in at

least one of three areas. If we could stop drug production in other

countries, if we could stop drugs at the border or if we could stop

the sale of drugs within the United States. Stopping drug production

in other countries has already proven to have failed. In 1993, ABC

television aired a major special report on the drug war in Bolivia,

which according to the Bush administration, is our "best hope" for

winning the drug war in South America. They concluded that there was

no hope, and that the war on drug production had already been lost.

According to the US Federal Government's estimates, the entire US

consumption of illegal drugs could be supplied by one percent of the

worldwide drug crop. The US Drug Enforcement Agents working together

with foreign governments seized about one percent of the worldwide

drug crop in their best year. Leaving 99% free to supply the US The US

Government also states that if drug production was stopped in South

America, several countries would suffer a major economic collapse.

The statistics regarding drug interdiction at the border have

proven stopping drugs at the border is an expensive failure. In 1988,

Sterling Johnson, Federal prosecutor for New York, under the

assumption that there was no increase in drug production, stated that

police would have to increase drug seizures by at least 1,400 percent

to have any impact on the drug market. In 1990, the General Accounting

office had completed a major study on border interdiction. They

concluded that border interdiction was a waste of money and that no

conceivable increase in funding or effort would make it better.

Johnson had made his statement before police had busted twenty tons of

cocaine in a single location. This caused the Federal Government to

increase all of their estimates of the cocaine market.

In most states, the law states that any distribution of

illegal drugs is considered a sale. Regardless of whether there is a

profit or monetary interest involved. Which, under the law, anyone who

has ever passed a joint to the next person at a concert, is a drug

dealer. Assuming these people are drug dealers, There are between 12

and 40 million drug dealers in the US Considering most of the prisons

in the US are already far in excess of their planned capacity, there

is no more room and no more tax dollars to house these "drug dealers".

Stopping the sale of drugs in the US would be kind of hard without

putting all these "drug dealers" into prison.

The use of drugs among teens has risen under the Clinton

administration. Clinton states that not only he, but everyone shares

the responsibility for the increase in drug use. "This issue has been

debated literally going back to the Johnson administration." states

Clinton in attempt to deflect criticism from Republicans that claim he

has not done enough to fight drugs. At the start of his presidency,

Clinton had reduced the office of the drug policy director as a part

of his effort to reduce government spending. Three years later,

Clinton restored funds for the office and announced Barry McCaffrey,

an army general, to lead it. "I appointed a four-star general, who led

our efforts south of the border to keep drugs from coming into our

country, as our nation's drug czar, the most heavily directed -

decorated soldier in uniform when he retired. We submitted the biggest

drug budget ever, we have dramatically increased control and

enforcement at the border. We supported a crime bill that had 60 death

penalties, including the penalty for drug kingpins, and I supported a

big expansion of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program to support

things like the DARE program because I thought all those things were

very important....I have consistently opposed the legalization of

drugs all my public life and worked hard against them."

Bob Dole claims that under a Dole administration, the National

Guard would be trained to stop drugs at the border. "I want to stop it

from coming across the border, and in my administration we're going to

train the National Guard to stop it from coming across the border."

Bob Dole continuously blames Clinton for the rise in teen drug use,

and how drug abuse doubled when he was governor of Arkansas. Senator

Dole had voted against the crime bill that had the death penalty for

drug kingpins in it and voted to cut services to 23 million

schoolchildren under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act. National

opinion polls show Bill Clinton leads Bob Dole by 10-20 percentage



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