July 23, 2014 — The Declaration of Independence—America’s founding document that was celebrated just a couple weeks ago—acknowledges that the rights of human beings preexist any government and include the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, over the course of the past four decades, with varying motivations from busybody authoritarianism to special interest protectionism, the government at all levels in the U.S. has waged an increasingly violent war against the American people because of their personal habits.
The majority of people do not use illicit drugs, so it might be easy for some to dismiss the many victims of the war on drugs as people who have it coming due to their law-breaking behavior. But let’s try to imagine if police, armed to the teeth and in full riot gear, broke down the front door of 100 homes per day based on a tip that wine was being consumed. Next, suppose that in the process they killed or severely injured numerous innocent people—including sleeping babies—with grenades, guns and other weapons of war. Then imagine if half of the U.S. prison population – which is the largest prison population in the world – was filled with people who had been caught possessing wine or selling it to willing customers.
Such a situation would probably be unimaginable to many in the “Land of the Free,” yet this is precisely the reality in the U.S. today in regards to drugs not currently approved by the government. There is no moral authority for any government to assume control over the bodies of its people and prosecute them for victimless activities that politicians have decided should be criminal. The lives of individuals are ruined, families are broken apart, minorities suffer disproportionately, and all of society must pay a crushing price to incarcerate people who have harmed no one but perhaps themselves. And this is to say nothing of the violent chaos and economic devastation that the drug war causes in the countries where the drugs come from, which has been in the news recently as tens of thousands of children have been fleeing their homes in Central America and crossing the U.S. border.
The economic problems of the war on drugs are nearly identical to those of the prohibition era of the 1920s. The result is a totally predictable black market. It is simply impossible for governments, no matter how rich or powerful, to eliminate a substance from society that people demand. Just as with alcohol prohibition, all that the government can do is drive the industry underground and empower violent gangs and cartels in the process. How many gang members are on inner city street corners peddling cases of Bud Light? We would have to assume the number is zero, and this is because a consumer can legally and safely purchase beer practically anywhere.
Finally, the war on drugs is preposterously impractical. More than $51 billion is spent and 1.5 million people are arrested for non-violent drug charges every year, yet drug use has not been reduced. In order to fight this war, police have become more armed and powerful than ever before, as well as more corrupt with perverse incentives to shake down otherwise law-abiding people and legally steal their property. In our current circumstances, where even small local police departments are equipped with hand-me-down weapons from the federal government’s foreign wars, the supposed Public Enemy #1 of drugs turns out to be less dangerous to Americans than the government violence employed to combat it.
The government claims the authority to lock millions of human beings in cages because of the substance that they have chosen to put into their own bodies. To this end, it will even bust down the doors of peaceful homes in the middle of the night if necessary, stomping on any life and liberty that is unfortunate enough to be in its path. And it will do this 100 times today, and every day after that, too. Such a society cannot possibly be considered free. It is time to end this war on the American people. Completely and immediately.