War on Drugs Policy

War on Drugs Policy

A significant policy that has failed to meet the needs of society in a daily capacity is the War on Drugs policy. The war on drugs is a policy put in place by the government stop illegal drugs from being bought and sold in the U.S. It was implemented by president Nixon in 1971 when he referred the illegal drugs and substances as the “public enemy number one” (Werb, 2018). Nixon set in motion a policy agenda that was tough on crime. At all levels of the government, policymakers increase enforcement actions and passed harsher sentencing laws most specifically for low-level drug offenses. The initiatives of this policy incorporate a set of that are meant to discourage the distribution, production, and consumption of psychoactive drugs.

Over the years the public opinion of the drug problem has vacillated but the government attitude has remained constant. To fight the problem of drugs in the country, I think the war on drugs policy should have paid more attention to the treatment of drug offenders, and rolling back harsh mandatory sentences. The policy should consider drugs as an ecological issue (look at the collateral damage), rather than a strictly pure libertarian one (Alexandris Polomarkakis, 2017). The war on drugs is inevitable because people still need enforcement in a world that has legalization to ensure that the government can sell its regulated version. Each drug should also be considered separately. The government can better job of dealing with the problem and its underlying causes.

The war on drugs policy has significantly failed to prevent drug use. Currently, the U.S. is the number one nation on earth in terms of drug use. Illegal drugs can easily be acquired in federal prison– to say they are easy to acquire elsewhere in the country is an understatement. The war on drugs had led to the largest prison population in the world. Over 50% of all federal prisoners serving sentences greater than 1 year are serving for drug offenses (Werb, 2018). It has also funneled an estimated $100b in annual revenue into black-market enterprises that otherwise could have been taxed and regulated as legitimate businesses. The amount of violence and additional crime stemming from those illegal enterprises, both in the country and abroad, is astounding. It has cost over $1 trillion. This includes enforcement, imprisonment, and lost productivity from creating millions of criminals and damning them to be largely unemployable upon release.

Neither has drug use been curtailed nor have the underlying causes of drug use been addressed. The war on drugs has filled the prisons, disrupted families, created unemployment, and divided the nation (Alexandris Polomarkakis, 2017). It is massively expensive and socially disruptive and has fueled the rise of violent drug cartels and gangs at home and abroad. As an admission of failure, marijuana is now becoming legalized in some states and countries. The prohibition of alcohol in the ’20s also did not work since it merely gave rise to crime families. The use of drugs, like the use of alcohol, are social and medical problems that cannot be solved at the point of a gun. Repression can accomplish nothing.











Alexandris Polomarkakis, K. (2017). Drug law enforcement revisited: The “war” against the war on drugs. Journal of Drug Issues47(3), 396-404.

Werb, D. (2018). Post-war prevention: Emerging frameworks to prevent drug use after the War on Drugs. International Journal of Drug Policy51(1), 160-164.

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