The Drug War negatively impacts all of us, even if you have never used drugs. Even if you only utilize cannabis in a legal state and think that the War on Drugs is over for you, the failed policy is still costing you as your medical, employment, and parental rights can still be dictated by a failed, outdated policy. Half of all states require that doctors report suspected drug use by parents to child welfare authorities, even if there isn’t any harm to the child. Many people are forced to forego medical cannabis by some doctors and people can lose their housing and employment opportunities, pushing people into poverty and potentially a life of crime to survive.
When entire communities are decimated, we all suffer. If you care about the overexpansion of the government’s power over our lives or wasteful spending, the Drug War aint’ for you. When the government wages a war on nonviolent citizens, the powers gained infiltrate other areas of our lives and the money set on fire trying to make America “drug free” is money that we’ll never get back. Resources that could be allocated to save lives and lift people out of poverty are instead used to build prisons and lock generations in a vicious cycle. The prison industrial complex only grows stronger with incentives to lobby for more draconian laws that are ineffective and harmful.
The Drug Policy Alliance is on the forefront of ending the Drug War. They helped form the foundation for both the Measure 91 cannabis legalization and Measure 110 drug decriminalization campaigns in Oregon. Today, they launched a new project, “Uprooting the Drug War” detailing just how pervasive the War on Drugs is in our lives:
The war on drugs has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. Our government criminalizes people who use drugs instead of providing education and addiction health services, including treatment. Rather than invest in communities, public officials invest in surveillance, policing, and punishment tactics that disproportionately target and impact people of color, low-income people, and non-citizens. Though these tactics have fueled mass incarceration, that is not their only impact.
There are serious consequences for drug use in nearly every sector of civil life — education, employment, housing, child welfare, immigration, and public benefits. Punishment is not limited to the criminal legal system. Instead, it is the default reaction to drug use wherever it shows up, impacting our lives in profound but largely unrecognized ways. We must shine a spotlight on the insidious ways the drug war has spread into all our systems.
Uprooting the Drug War details how housing, public benefits, child welfare, immigration, education, and employment are all impacted by a failed and harmful policy with racist and classist consequences. The issues go above and beyond just mass incarceration, which would be bad enough. The New Jim Crow targets people of color and anyone without the means to adequately defend themselves. While the wealthy can often escape serious consequences, the working class and those suffering through poverty aren’t that fortunate. Check out Uprooting the Drug War and spread the word. Step by step, state by state, let’s end this failed and harmful policy.