Trump’s ruthless war on drugs

April 18, 2017

Allan Cooper

OPINION by ALLAN COOPER

Drug use, particularly opioid use, has gone on unabated (in fact increased) in this country in spite of draconian laws criminalizing its possession or use. More than 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States and half are there for so-called drug “crimes.”

Particularly deplorable is the fact that enforcement of these laws is far from color blind. Whites are the nation’s biggest drug users yet African Americans are the largest group being targeted.

Now Trump has declared a new, more “ruthless” war on drugs and his sidekick Jeff Sessions (who reputedly has racist tendencies) will be the new “enforcer.” So, in addition to current pressures to crack down on undocumented workers, systemic racism is being resuscitated through the reinstitution of ineffective and costly drug laws targeting minorities.

Drug use must be treated as a health problem. It should not be treated as a problem for the police and the courts to handle because, as we all know, our justice system has been shown to administer laws unfairly when people of color are involved.







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52 Comments

  1. JimF says:

    Call me a cynic, but when the govt “declares war” on something I don’t get the impression they ever intend on actually winning that war. Rather they want to sustain the ‘fight” for as long as possible on behalf of the myriad of special interests that pop up to address the symptoms of the problem.

    Respectfully, as to some of the points I’ve read on this board:
    We already tried mass incarceration and it failed miserably. You seldom if ever get the head honchos, which is required to actually stem supply. Throwing low-level dealers and addicts into prison costs $50,000-$100,000 per inmate per year, has no effect on total supply, and rips apart families and communities — undermining economic potential and furthering the vicious cycle of poverty, addiction, and “thuggish culture.”

    Why don’t we just shoot all addicts and dealers? – that has actually been the approach in China, Russia, Japan, and throughout the global south for some time (though China, Russia, and Japan have largely pulled away from these tactics over the last 10-20 years). It didn’t suppress supply, and the gangs became utterly ruthless (so much so that cops had to live on bases with their families, they couldn’t do their jobs without wearing masks for fear they and their families would be hunted, or there had to be a constant heavily militarized police presence in the street at all times. Either way, it proved to be really expensive, it didn’t solve the problem, and you just had a lot more dead people – including good guys.

    A lot of research has been done on addiction treatment/rehab, and we know how to help a majority of people get their problems in check – but we are the only developed country to not have ANY sort of national rehab effort. We are happy to spend 10s of thousands of dollars per person per year to lock people up, but we don’t want to spend significantly less to actually solve the problem in a majority of cases.

    We can put most of the international cartels out of business via “supervised safe sites.” I know it sounds counter-intuitive to give junkies drugs, but they steal less and it really hurts the dealers’ bottom line.

    We could win the war on drugs – the powers that be just don’t want to.

    (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
    • RonHolt says:

      Well said. But to be fair, not all those supporting the war on drugs do so from corrupt motives. Some of them are just ignorant or incapable of looking at the situation in an objective manner.

      (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
  2. azuresees says:

    Wow. This fella is all over the place and unfocused with his socialist drivel. OK, so addicts aren’t criminals? How do you suppose they get the cash to by opioids? They steal, first by asking friends and family for “a couple of bucks” that they never pay back. Then it graduates to pawning family stuff. Then they shoplift, burglarize and sometime rob others for the drug cash they need to sustain their addiction. To marginalize an addict as a non-criminal is a farce.

    Secondly, the pushers, dealers are profiting from the sales of addictive drugs. It’s an endless supply of greedy cash. These people are purveyors of death. Wholly, all of the crimes committed by the addicts can be pinned on he dealers because they propagate the addiction and make money from it.

    If Monsanto, Archer-Daniels Midland, and other companies were poisoning our field workers and other citizenry, the socialists would (and do) want their heads on a stick. Where in the HBO are you guys when a cartel systematically distributes poisons to the masses?

    Why aren’t you screaming when a meth lab destroys a wetland (Turri Rd. Los Osos 2001 among many) with its toxic sludge?

    Lastly, like rukidding mentioned, you failed to point out the per-capita ratio on the race card that you flicked onto the table…

    (11) 25 Total Votes - 18 up - 7 down
    • RonHolt says:

      Legalization and treatment would solve most of the problems you rightly address in your first two points. They would reduce the costs of buying drugs enough to minimize (not eliminate) the theft problem resulting from financial desperation. They almost eliminate the profit motive for those criminals currently providing drugs.

      There won’t be a perfect solution because of human nature. But the War on Drugs has been a VERY expensive failure and we need to try to find something at least more effective if not cheaper as well.

      I doubt that there are more than a tiny number of “socialists” (or liberals or lefties or whatever) that think the drug cartels are OK or that toxic dumps from meth labs are acceptable. This smells like a “strawman” argument to me. I wonder where you got those ideas from.

      (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
      • azuresees says:

        Oh, I agree that very few liberal lefties think that cartels and environmental destruction are OK. My point was to highlight their silence on the mass pollution of people and the environment. I don’t believe I’ve ever, ever seen a protest wanting drug dealers out of a neighborhood, or them going to their homes to “shame” them.

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  3. standup says:

    Well Cooper, Nixon started the war on drugs so don’t blame it on Trump. And, would you please replace the tools your needle freaks stole from my truck.

    (17) 19 Total Votes - 18 up - 1 down
  4. sweethome says:

    And while illegal drug use is a significant problem, the “War on Drugs” has been a miserable failure. Ronald Reagan’s version of McCarthyism has been much worse the than the drug problem in many ways. Financially and legally it’s been a disaster. It would be much cheaper to try to treat people and/or legalize drugs. It would be cheaper and safer to house them in a shelter (dry or wet just as alcohol). How many tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs because of drug testing companies making mistakes? Many thousands of people in the military has received a dishonorable discharge due to false positives. And thousands of people have gone to or return to jail because of it. And the drug testing companies have zero regulations. The results are their word only. Random drug testing assumes that people are guilty until they’re proven innocent. And don’t forget the most destructive drug in our society is alcohol. We would be much better off legalizing marijuana and outlawing alcohol. Prohibition worked great didn’t it!

    (-1) 25 Total Votes - 12 up - 13 down
  5. Borderline says:

    So glad that Sessions is ramping up the war on drugs, especially heroin.

    The open borders crowd has blood on their hands, the blood of American kids of all colors.

    (14) 24 Total Votes - 19 up - 5 down
    • kettle says:

      This is not the EU, we don’t have open borders.

      Your opinion is not a fact.

      (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
      • Borderline says:

        Yep, that border is shut tight as a drum *snort*.

        That is why we have at least 3 million illegals in this state, plus California DEA most wanted lists comprised of a majority of non US citizens.

        I sure hope your house isn’t as “secure” as our border with Mexico.

        (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  6. Citizen says:

    A simple minded argument to show that drugs are no problem and fighting the drug problem in the US is racist. I guess you’ve missed the cheap Mexican heroin problem in San Luis Obispo County and the increasing drug overdoses among young people. Yes, and I guess that you didn’t read about the attempted MS-13 drug sale related take over in Santa Maria resulting in a year of gang warfare. I guess you don’t know that all drugs are not created equal, and that we have no affordable residential drug rehab centers in SLO County. I guess you don’t understand that the problem with more Blacks incarcerated has more to do with lousy public defenders (a problem with all poor people). I could go on, but obviously you have lived in your little cocoon of SLO too long. Jeff Sessions is not a racist, but you are whiter than a sheet and a bit naive. Do your research.

    (22) 48 Total Votes - 35 up - 13 down
    • acooper says:

      After imploring me to “do my research”…which I’ve done…“Citizen” makes an interesting point that sounds good but is easily refuted. He says: “I guess you don’t understand that the problem with more Blacks incarcerated has more to do with lousy public defenders (a problem with all poor people).” What “Citizen” does not know is that there are twice the number in America of whites living at the poverty level (17.8 million) to African Americans (9.0 million). Not only that but, in sheer numbers, there are over 5 times more whites than African Americans in this country. Yet an equal number of African Americans (68,000) as whites (67,800) are incarcerated in State prisons for drug offenses. The facts are that white people do more drugs, while African Americans serve more time for drug use. You can review these statistics by linking onto the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

      (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
    • RonHolt says:

      Thanks for that link. A lot of people — including many on this site — don’t realize how much the drug epidemic is hitting white areas — particularly those with economic depression. It is no longer primarily a “black ghetto” problem.

      I suspect we may disagree on some of the solutions but I am glad to see that others are beginning to look at the roots of the problem.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  7. sweethome says:

    Okay Jorge. That means all policemen (especially SLOPD since they are drug addicts) and everyone who gets Social Security. And firefighters. And everyone in the White House. And the Senate and the Congress. All of the so-called “defense” contractors because they get big time $ from the government. And doctors. And all religious people who get tax deductions.

    (9) 15 Total Votes - 12 up - 3 down
    • Jorge Estrada says:

      Yes, you do understand my point and yes this is needed. My opinion is that druggies should not be making choices that affect the lives of others.

      (12) 18 Total Votes - 15 up - 3 down
      • RonHolt says:

        Well at least you are even-minded about applying it. I think you over-estimate the dangers though and under-estimate the costs of fighting it.

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down

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