1/3/2018 by John F. O’Donnell
Most people know that America’s War on Drugs has been a disaster both at home and abroad. Decades have passed, countless people have been killed, mass incarceration is out of control, and it’s cost us trillions. That’s why what California is doing is a great step towards a revolutionary paradigm shift.
Now, let’s not forget that the origins of the “War on Drugs” were inherently pro-war and racist. According to President Richard Nixon’s domestic policy chief, John Ehrlichman, who was around when the War on Drugs was first declared –
”We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.“
Not only has California become the largest state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana, it’s also passed a number of laws that fight back hard against the failed Drug War. The state has instituted some of the most progressive criminal justice reforms on the books anywhere in the country. One example is Proposition 64, which among other things, allows for individuals with previous marijuana-related drug convictions to have those convictions retroactively reduced, reclassified as misdemeanors compared to felonies, or even dismissed completely. This is huge step forward that will undoubtedly improve hundreds of thousands of lives in California.
Yet significantly, possession of marijuana will still be prohibited at eight border patrol checkpoints in the state, which serves as a reminder that state and federal laws still collide when it comes to the War on Drugs.
It’s high time (pun intended) we ditch the “War on Drugs” altogether and end the mass incarceration destroying families nationwide.
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Since I live in Texas, I can look forward to this happening in about 50 years. But I’m happy for those of you who live in the civilized world.
The sad fact, though, is that as long as criminalization remains a billion dollar business for LEO agencies at all levels through asset forfeiture, the federal government will continue to keep cannabis on the schedule.
I love how the GOP rallies it’s troops with the ‘states’ rights’ cry on just about everything…. except stuff like cannabis decriminalization, or protecting the environment. But where California goes, the rest of US must follow. Conservatives like legalization because it reduces law enforcement costs and restores individual liberty, liberals like legalization because the war on drugs was a scam to keep prices high and minorities in jail, and boost big Pharma.
Now Idaho needs to got on board!!!
Indeed, Matt. Decriminalization above legalization?
As an advocate for the legalization of ALL drugs, I’m still concerned that with the new legalization of Marijuana, the increased revenue that will be seen, will still end up in the hands of the few and powerful. Thereby continuing to feed this Prison-Industrial-Complex that exists. As a buddy stated “dude, like with all taxes, we’ll never see that money!”
Which is a valid point. Our schools are under-funded, our roads and bridges are crumbling, our Law and Fire services are over-worked and under-staffed, public transportation is non-existent, there IS NO healthcare, and on and on and on….
We’ve literally got nothing to show for the taxes we pay. Meanwhile the rich corporations keep getting more rich and powerful.
I had considered putting together a fundraising campaign to buy billboard ads with some of Harry Anslinger’s most outrageous quotes along with the names of senators who continued to support the “war on drugs” and end with a simple question: do you share his views?
Nixon may have put fuel on the fire, but the racism behind it goes back even further. That bigotry was exploited as a tool by greedy corporate interests, namely Hearst and DuPont, to wage a war on industrial hemp.
I am glad that California has taken a huge leap forward. It shouldn’t have taken so long, but it’s a good turn indeed.