The war on drugs has been a hopeless boondoggle since its inception in the mid-seventies. It has syphoned off billions of dollars over the past 40 years that could have gone to much more useful endeavors such as renovating America’s crumbling infrastructure or funding clean energy sources.
And who has benefited from this unwinnable and costly war? As the chart above clearly shows, a major benefactor has been the nation’s prison system, and in recent years, a growing number of privately run prisons around the country. This is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. Local law enforcement organizations have hauled in tens of millions of dollars by seizing property and cash from both guilty and innocent suspects. A huge government bureaucracy was built that employs thousands of people who have a stake in keeping the drug war going. And the war has given rise to numerous vicious drug cartels that spread chaos and violence as they fight for their piece of the illegal drug trade.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that people of color are the primary victims of our drug war. Millions of young black and brown men sit in prison cells learning how to be better criminals instead of gaining job skills and contributing to their communities.
There is some hope. The movement to end the war on drugs is coming from the bottom up as more and more states move to decriminalize pot, a substance that is still considered as dangerous as heroin by the federal government. We now need a President who will end this fruitless and wasteful effort and channel that money into projects that benefit all Americans.