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June 17, 2021

Drug war ... huh ... after 50 years, what is it good for?

War-HUH-Good-god-y-alll-What-is-it-good-for-AbsoluIn July 1969, Prez Richard Nixon delivered a special message to Congress warning about the "serious national threat" of drugs, and he thereafter prodded Congress to pass in 1970 the federal Controlled Substance Act.  But on this day in 1971, Prez Nixon delivered an address in which he declared drug abuse "public enemy No. 1" and stated that "to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new all-out offensive." Consequently, many mark this day back in 1971 as the start of the "War on Drugs," which it turn means that today marks 50 years, a full half century, of the modern drug wars.

I consider it important to not lose sight of the fact that the US has had a very long history with criminal approaches to intoxicating substances. As this History.com page details, some states passed some drug bans in the 1800 and Congress in the early 1900s enacted the Smoking Opium Exclusion Act and the Harrison Act that functionally banned certain drugs in various ways. And, of course, alcohol prohibitions gained steam in the states in these eras and culminated in the ratification of the 18th Amendment, the only provision added to our Constitution (now repealed) expressly intended to reduce rather than expand the individual liberties of Americans. And a host of punitive and repressive (and racially motivated) drug laws were enacted in the US at the federal, state and local levels throughout the entire 20th Century.

But even though we have been waging so many drugs wars in the US for so many decades, I am still pleased to see others use today's Nixonian anniversary as an opportunity to reflect on what the last half-century of drug policy has meant and done in the United States. Here is an abridged list of some new commentary and news pieces on this always important beat:

From Al Jazeera, "As the drug war turns 50, the US is still public enemy number one"

From Filter, "Poll Shows Huge Public Opposition to 'War on Drugs,' After 50 Years"

From Marijuana Moment, "Most American Voters Support Decriminalizing All Drugs, Another New Poll Finds"

From NPR, "After 50 Years Of The War On Drugs, 'What Good Is It Doing For Us?'"

From Project Syndicate, "A Half-Century of Endless Drug War"

From the Washington Post, "Lost cause: 50 years of the war on drugs in Latin America"

From the Washington Post, "The War on Drugs turns 50 today. It’s time to make peace."

UPDATE: Here are a few more recent press pieces in this genre:

From CNBC, "America has spent over a trillion dollars fighting the war on drugs. 50 years later, drug use in the U.S. is climbing again."

From The Hill, "Fifty failed years later — it's time to end and dismantle the war on drugs"

From Marijuana Moment, "On 50th Anniversary Of Nixon’s Drug War Declaration, Congressional Lawmakers Demand Reform"

June 17, 2021 at 09:27 AM | Permalink


How do I find the right person, place, or help to get help for my cousin. He was with a group making meth. He was sent to prison for 2 life times plus 10 years. This is an extremely long sentence for non violent drug charge! It’s been going on 20 years that he has been in Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is in 60s and got Covid last year. He has never got one shot as to being bad for any reason since locked up.
Please point me in right direction for help for him!
Jim Keith Eis. 08544-030
PO Box 33
US Penitentiary
Terre Haute, Indiana. 47808
Thank you so much,
Cousin Joy

Posted by: Joy Firrell | Jun 21, 2021 8:13:24 PM

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