4/20: Reflect on drug policy

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4/20: Reflect on drug policy

WC Editorial Board

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Americans should use “4/20” to recognize the costly War on Drugs, specifically on marijuana.

For those unfamiliar with 4/20, it is a counterculture holiday where people celebrate the use of cannabis. And recently, it has been used to promote the legalization of marijuana — and rightly so.

America’s War on Drugs may be traced back to 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one.” Of course, the War on Drugs escalated to new heights in 1984 when First Lady Nancy Reagan launched her “Just Say No” campaign.

Currently, President Barack Obama has maintained strong support for America’s policy against drugs.

The president has been quoted recently saying, “I personally, and my administration’s position, is that legalization is not the answer.”

Additionally, the San Francisco Chronicle has noted that the Department of Justice has been trying to prevent states that have legalized medical marijuana from self-regulating the use of cannabis.

This occurs despite the fact America’s War on Drugs continues to fail.

The U.S. government even provides strong evidence to support this claim. According to the “Survey on Drug Use and Health,” more than 22 million Americans used illegal drugs in 2010, which was 8 percent increase from 2008.

Furthermore, the International Business Times noted that nearly 2 million more Americans have been incarcerated from 1980 to 2009. And currently, 50.8 percent of those incarcerated in 2011 were for drug offenses.

In short, more people are going to jail for drugs and more people are abusing drugs in the United States. It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out there is something horribly flawed with America’s ongoing War on Drugs.

This failed effort costs billions of dollars for American taxpayers.

America needs to lighten this taxpayer burden by legalizing marijuana. Targeting marijuana is a complete waste of money, time and effort.

Marijuana shouldn’t be targeted because it is actually safer than alcohol. People can’t overdose on marijuana. Alcohol, on the other hand, can lead to death due to over intoxication. So, why bother wasting this time and effort on something that isn’t dangerous?

Additionally, this war isn’t just a national issue. America’s war has had a major effect on Mexico.

America’s demand for illegal drugs and the profits it produces has led to an incredibly violent cartel war to the border nation.

Reuters has estimated that 50,000 Mexicans have been killed in the cartel war that has intensified in the past five years.

Thus, America should rethink its War on Drugs because it has not resolved anything, only leading to more prisoners, higher costs for taxpayers and more violence to the south. In rethinking its policy, the U.S. should tone down its hard line against marijuana and let it be because it would allow law enforcers to focus more attention on more dangerous drugs, ease the wallets of taxpayers and allow those caught with cannabis to be back with their families and celebrate 4/20.