If you had bought a vehicle called the Chevy War On Drugs, you would long ago have been arrested for burning the GM assembly line to the ground in a rage over having been sold such a lemon.
Americans have spent a trillion dollars since 1972 persecuting, prosecuting, fighting, arresting and destroying their fellow Americans in the name of ‘ending the drug scourge.’ The justification is that drugs destroy people’s lives.
It is true that drugs have a dampening effect on the ambitions of some users. They may not do well in school. They may miss career opportunities, and end up working on the low end of the economic scale. They may miss days at work. They may have marital problems, and not manage money well.
The solution? Throw the drug user into prison.
The problem with this of course, is that prison tends to destroy people’s lives. It severs them from family and community. It tends to interrupt their education. Having a criminal record puts a damper on career prospects. Being raped and beaten and terrorized tends to breed lifelong mental trauma, often leading to more serious offenses and further prison time. And for all these glorious results, we get to pay upwards of $60,000 per prisoner per year.
Is this outcome really worth sending in the cops to keep someone from staring dazedly at a Jimmy Hendrix poster and working at Taco Bell?
You’ve likely been nodding ‘yes’ throughout this column. You already know these things. Everybody already knows these things – including the president. Which president? Pick any of the most recent three – all did drugs on the way to the most successful career in the world. Yet Vice President Joe Biden recently said flatly that there is “no possibility” of a policy change.
Why not? Because the prison industrial complex, and the law enforcement industry, is making a fortune from the war on drugs. They spend millions of this blood money bribing politicians like Joe Biden.
People sometimes say, “You’re good at complaining, but what is the solution?” Here’s one: Form the National Legalization Corps.
Marijuana is the lynchpin of the drug war – without it, there aren’t enough other drugs being consumed to justify the militarized-police apparatus. The key weapon of the police state is ‘probable cause’ – “we smelled marijuana,” or “we saw it in plain sight.”
But what if ‘probable cause’ went away? What if police couldn’t tell what is or isn’t pot by looking at it, smelling it, seeing someone smoking something, or spying a bag rolled up on someone’s dashboard?
There is a widely available herb called damiana. When smoked, the aroma is indistinguishable from marijuana. It can be rolled into joints, or smoked in a pipe, just like pot. There are lots and lots of other herbs that look just like marijuana when dried.
Activists of the National Legalization Corps could go to small towns and smoke damiana on street corners, in front of police. They could openly pass back and forth bags of the marijuana look-alikes. They could put 18 kilos of it in the back of pickup trucks on the American side of the southern border within plain sight of DEA agents. They could document that what they’re carrying is legal. Donations could provide the temporary bail for the falsely-arrested activists.
Police salaries, gasoline, jail maintenance, guards, administration, and testing of the substances all cost money. False arrest lawsuits cost money; running around arresting people who are smoking a harmless plant ties up cops who are then unavailable to fight real crime.
After a few months, and spending tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps the communities would decide that cops would be better focused on things other than chasing around innocent pot smokers. Perhaps the prison profiteers would give up battering down the door of American liberty and find another income stream.
How about arresting corrupt politicians?