From 1919 to 1933, we conducted a national experiment in drug prohibition. The drug of choice at that time (besides marijuana and opium) was alcohol. The 18th Amendment made it illegal and sparked off a bloody war that only the 21st Amendment could bring to an end.
That is important to note. The only constitutional amendment in the history of our country to be repealed was the one that outlawed personal behavior. Also, to outlaw personal behavior actually took an amendment to the Constitution, yet four years after the end of prohibition, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was passed.
More than 70 years after the marijuana witch hunt was started at the behest of Dupont and Hearst, our misguided and mismanaged “War on Drugs” continues to destroy hundreds of thousands of lives every year. We continue to lock up more people than any other country in the world, the vast majority of whom are non-violent drug offenders. We overload the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) to the point that white child molesters go free after only a short time in jail while a black teen can get decades behind bars for a little bit of weed.
All without a Constitutional amendment.
We seem to make it a habit these days to violate the Constitution whole cloth and then wonder why nothing works. We aren’t following the blue print. We weren’t supposed to spend a trillion dollars a year policing the world. We weren’t meant to spend 500 billion a year locking up people for using drugs. We weren’t given a blueprint to create a unitary executive controlling a huge federal government with little or no accountability to the legislative or judicial branches, let alone the 50 states.
We have become a police state at our own request. We begged them to save us by abrogating our rights under the Constitution. The marketed the fear of “criminals” and “terrorists” to the point that cops now look like they are in the military. I see some of them swaggering around with the automatic weapons and pants tucked into their “combat” boots. It takes two cars to conduct a routine traffic stop. They treat everyone like a criminal, even more so if you are not white. It’s actually kind of insulting to see them acting like being a cop is the same as being in the military. Like serving on American streets is somehow on par with Iraq or Lebonon. Many police do an admirable job each day, but the tone and tenor of some has become decidedly aggressive in recent years.
Most of this attitude is a result of the War on Drugs. When you have been convinced that this is a war, even though all evidence points to the exact opposite, then it becomes easier to justify unacceptable behavior. We need to practice broken window policing. New York City didn’t clean up its crime problem by turning out beat cops in SWAT uniforms. They did it by cleaning graphitti off the trains and policing the stations better.
We will never have a real solution though.
Between our corporate controlled media and a Prison Industrial Complex that is making some people very rich. Politicians of both parties pass laws to prove they are tough on crime when all they do is make our city streets more lawless and thus feeding the system more kids. It is pathetic and tragic and a huge waste of our country’s potential. This is a hemorrage in our body politic and unless we fix it, we will bleed to death at some point. This cannot be sustained anymore than our cancerous “growth” in the stock market can be sustained.
We’re in a lot of trouble.