$1 Trillion and 50 Years Later, Has the DEA’s War on Drugs Failed?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) turns 50 this week, marking five decades and more than $1 trillion in its failed effort to enforce the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), widely regarded as a failed war on drugs. is seen as.

Why fail?

The CSA, created in 1970 under the supervision of Richard Nixon, classifies drugs and sets criminal penalties for possession, use and distribution.

A 2016 Harper’s magazine cover story offered some key details about those early days of drug prohibition, how it became a national obsession and how the DEA, despite its annual budget of $25 billion, has never Couldn’t even get it right and probably never will.

War on Drugs: John Ehrlichman

Author Dan Baum it started Article, “Legalize Everything: How to Win the War on Drugs,” With quotes from a 1994 interview with Nixon’s top adviser, John Ehrlichman, in which he asked how the US got itself bogged down in a drug prohibition policy that caused “so much misery and so little good. “

Ehrlichman’s reaction: “The Nixon campaign in 1968 and the Nixon White House thereafter had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people,” said Ehrlichman, who died in 1999.

“We knew we couldn’t outlaw war or being anti-Black, but by associating the masses with hippies with marijuana and Blacks with heroin, and then heavily criminalizing both, we could disrupt those communities. We can arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and denounce them on the evening news night after night. Did we know we were lying about drugs? Of course, We did,” Erlichman said.

enter the dea

This policy put America on a punitive path led by the DEA, resulting in disproportionate drug arrests, mass incarceration, and the destruction of many communities across the country. It continues to target minority communities.

Black Americans are 3.8 times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than white Americans, even though they use drugs at similar rates, according to punishment projectWhich also indicates that 2023 is the 50th year since the unprecedented increase in the US prison population began.

The US now has the largest prison population per capita in the world.

thousands of pot prisoners

The Pew Research Center states that there are more than 2.2 million people incarcerated for drug offenses in the US, which is about 46% of the total prison population. Most are non-violent offenders and at least 40,000 of them are serving time for cannabis.

Now what, DEA?

With the spread of science confirming the benefits of cannabis and the fact that it is legal in some form in 40 states, it is the DEA’s duty to remove cannabis from the list. schedule I drugs on the CSA (which it shares with drugs such as heroin, LSD, meth, ecstasy, and peyote).

It would also help if President Biden did his job Instructions from last October That’s when he pardoned nearly 6,500 federal cannabis-possession inmates and famously said, “No one should be in prison just for using marijuana.”

DEA photo: Honduras Military Police handout

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