War on Drugs – Wikipedia

“The War on Drugs” is an American term[6][7] usually applied to the United States government’s campaign of prohibition of drugs, military aid, and military intervention, with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade.[8][9] This initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the UN have made illegal. The term was popularized by the media shortly after a press conference given on June 18, 1971, by United States President Richard Nixonthe day after publication of a special message from President Nixon to the Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Controlduring which he declared drug abuse “public enemy number one”. That message to the Congress included text about devoting more federal resources to the “prevention of new addicts, and the rehabilitation of those who are addicted”, but that part did not receive the same public attention as the term “war on drugs”.[10][11][12] However, two years prior to this, Nixon had formally declared a “war on drugs” that would be directed toward eradication, interdiction, and incarceration.[13] Today, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for an end to the War on Drugs, estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives.[14]

On May 13, 2009, Gil Kerlikowskethe Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)signaled that the Obama administration did not plan to significantly alter drug enforcement policy, but also that the administration would not use the term “War on Drugs”, because Kerlikowske considers the term to be “counter-productive”.[15] ONDCP’s view is that “drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated… making drugs more available will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe”.[16] One of the alternatives that Kerlikowske has showcased is the drug policy of Sweden, which seeks to balance public health concerns with opposition to drug legalization. The prevalence rates for cocaine use in Sweden are barely one-fifth of those in Spain, the biggest consumer of the drug.[17]

In June 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report on the War on Drugs, declaring: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”[18] The report was criticized by organizations that oppose a general legalization of drugs.[16]

The first U.S. law that restricted the distribution and use of certain drugs was the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The first local laws came as early as 1860.[19] In 1919, the United States passed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, with exceptions for religious and medical use. In 1920, the United States passed the National Prohibition Act (Volstead Act), enacted to carry out the provisions in law of the 18th Amendment.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established in the United States Department of the Treasury by an act of June 14, 1930 (46 Stat. 585).[20] In 1933, the federal prohibition for alcohol was repealed by passage of the 21st Amendment. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt publicly supported the adoption of the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. The New York Times used the headline “Roosevelt Asks Narcotic War Aid”.[21][22]

In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed. Several scholars have claimed that the goal was to destroy the hemp industry,[23][24][25] largely as an effort of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family.[23][25] These scholars argue that with the invention of the decorticator, hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry.[23][26] These scholars believe that Hearst felt[dubious discuss] that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. Mellon, United States Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America, had invested heavily in the DuPont’s new synthetic fiber, nylon, and considered[dubious discuss] its success to depend on its replacement of the traditional resource, hemp.[23][27][28][29][30][31][32][33] However, there were circumstances that contradict these claims. One reason for doubts about those claims is that the new decorticators did not perform fully satisfactorily in commercial production.[34] To produce fiber from hemp was a labor-intensive process if you include harvest, transport and processing. Technological developments decreased the labor with hemp but not sufficient to eliminate this disadvantage.[35][36]

On October 27, 1970, Congress passes the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which, among other things, categorizes controlled substances based on their medicinal use and potential for addiction.[37] In 1971, two congressmen released an explosive report on the growing heroin epidemic among U.S. servicemen in Vietnam; ten to fifteen percent of the servicemen were addicted to heroin, and President Nixon declared drug abuse to be “public enemy number one”.[37][38]

Although Nixon declared “drug abuse” to be public enemy number one in 1971,[39] the policies that his administration implemented as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 were a continuation of drug prohibition policies in the U.S., which started in 1914.[37][40]

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? 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.” – John Ehrlichman, to Dan Baum[41][42][43] for Harper’s Magazine[44] in 1994, about President Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, declared in 1971.[45][46]

In 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration was created to replace the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.[37]

The Nixon Administration also repealed the federal 210-year mandatory minimum sentences for possession of marijuana and started federal demand reduction programs and drug-treatment programs. Robert DuPont, the “Drug czar” in the Nixon Administration, stated it would be more accurate to say that Nixon ended, rather than launched, the “war on drugs”. DuPont also argued that it was the proponents of drug legalization that popularized the term “war on drugs”.[16][unreliable source?]

In 1982, Vice President George H. W. Bush and his aides began pushing for the involvement of the CIA and U.S. military in drug interdiction efforts.[47]

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[48][49] which mandated a national anti-drug media campaign for youth, which would later become the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.[50] The director of ONDCP is commonly known as the Drug czar,[37] and it was first implemented in 1989 under President George H. W. Bush,[51] and raised to cabinet-level status by Bill Clinton in 1993.[52] These activities were subsequently funded by the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 1998.[53][54] The Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 codified the campaign at 21 U.S.C.1708.[55]

The Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report on June 2, 2011 alleging that “The War On Drugs Has Failed.” The commissioned was made up of 22 self-appointed members including a number of prominent international politicians and writers. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin also released the first ever National Prevention Strategy.[56]

On May 21, 2012, the U.S. Government published an updated version of its Drug Policy.[57] The director of ONDCP stated simultaneously that this policy is something different from the “War on Drugs”:

At the same meeting was a declaration signed by the representatives of Italy, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States in line with this: “Our approach must be a balanced one, combining effective enforcement to restrict the supply of drugs, with efforts to reduce demand and build recovery; supporting people to live a life free of addiction.”[59]

In March 2016 the International Narcotics Control Board stated that the International Drug Control treaties do not mandate a “war on drugs.”[60]

According to Human Rights Watch, the War on Drugs caused soaring arrest rates that disproportionately targeted African Americans due to various factors.[62]John Ehrlichman, an aide to Nixon, said that Nixon used the war on drugs to criminalize and disrupt black and hippie communities and their leaders.[63]

The present state of incarceration in the U.S. as a result of the war on drugs arrived in several stages. By 1971, different stops on drugs had been implemented for more than 50 years (for e.g. since 1914, 1937 etc.) with only a very small increase of inmates per 100,000 citizens. During the first 9 years after Nixon coined the expression “War on Drugs”, statistics showed only a minor increase in the total number of imprisoned.

After 1980, the situation began to change. In the 1980s, while the number of arrests for all crimes had risen by 28%, the number of arrests for drug offenses rose 126%.[64] The result of increased demand was the development of privatization and the for-profit prison industry.[65] The US Department of Justice, reporting on the effects of state initiatives, has stated that, from 1990 through 2000, “the increasing number of drug offenses accounted for 27% of the total growth among black inmates, 7% of the total growth among Hispanic inmates, and 15% of the growth among white inmates.” In addition to prison or jail, the United States provides for the deportation of many non-citizens convicted of drug offenses.[66]

In 1994, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the “War on Drugs” resulted in the incarceration of one million Americans each year.[67]

In 2008, the Washington Post reported that of 1.5 million Americans arrested each year for drug offenses, half a million would be incarcerated. In addition, one in five black Americans would spend time behind bars due to drug laws.[68]

Federal and state policies also impose collateral consequences on those convicted of drug offenses, such as denial of public benefits or licenses, that are not applicable to those convicted of other types of crime.[69]

In 1986, the U.S. Congress passed laws that created a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for the trafficking or possession of crack when compared to penalties for trafficking of powder cocaine,[70][71][72][73] which had been widely criticized as discriminatory against minorities, mostly blacks, who were more likely to use crack than powder cocaine.[74] This 100:1 ratio had been required under federal law since 1986.[75] Persons convicted in federal court of possession of 5grams of crack cocaine received a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years in federal prison. On the other hand, possession of 500grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence.[71][72] In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act cut the sentencing disparity to 18:1.[74]

According to Human Rights Watch, crime statistics show thatin the United States in 1999compared to non-minorities, African Americans were far more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and received much stiffer penalties and sentences.[76]

Statistics from 1998 show that there were wide racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions, sentencing and deaths. African-American drug users made up for 35% of drug arrests, 55% of convictions, and 74% of people sent to prison for drug possession crimes.[71] Nationwide African-Americans were sent to state prisons for drug offenses 13 times more often than other races,[77] even though they only supposedly comprised 13% of regular drug users.[71]

Anti-drug legislation over time has also displayed an apparent racial bias. University of Minnesota Professor and social justice author Michael Tonry writes, “The War on Drugs foreseeably and unnecessarily blighted the lives of hundreds and thousands of young disadvantaged black Americans and undermined decades of effort to improve the life chances of members of the urban black underclass.”[78]

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided that the government needed to make an effort to curtail the social unrest that blanketed the country at the time. He decided to focus his efforts on illegal drug use, an approach which was in line with expert opinion on the subject at the time. In the 1960s, it was believed that at least half of the crime in the U.S. was drug related, and this number grew as high as 90 percent in the next decade.[79] He created the Reorganization Plan of 1968 which merged the Bureau of Narcotics and the Bureau of Drug Abuse to form the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs within the Department of Justice.[80] The belief during this time about drug use was summarized by journalist Max Lerner in his celebrated[citation needed] work America as a Civilization (1957):

As a case in point we may take the known fact of the prevalence of reefer and dope addiction in Negro areas. This is essentially explained in terms of poverty, slum living, and broken families, yet it would be easy to show the lack of drug addiction among other ethnic groups where the same conditions apply.[81]

Richard Nixon became president in 1969, and did not back away from the anti-drug precedent set by Johnson. Nixon began orchestrating drug raids nationwide to improve his “watchdog” reputation. Lois B. Defleur, a social historian who studied drug arrests during this period in Chicago, stated that, “police administrators indicated they were making the kind of arrests the public wanted”. Additionally, some of Nixon’s newly created drug enforcement agencies would resort to illegal practices to make arrests as they tried to meet public demand for arrest numbers. From 1972 to 1973, the Office of Drug Abuse and Law Enforcement performed 6,000 drug arrests in 18 months, the majority of the arrested black.[82]

The next two Presidents, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, responded with programs that were essentially a continuation of their predecessors. Shortly after Ronald Reagan became President in 1981 he delivered a speech on the topic. Reagan announced, “We’re taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts; we’re running up a battle flag.”[83] For his first five years in office, Reagan slowly strengthened drug enforcement by creating mandatory minimum sentencing and forfeiture of cash and real estate for drug offenses, policies far more detrimental to poor blacks than any other sector affected by the new laws.[citation needed]

Then, driven by the 1986 cocaine overdose of black basketball star Len Bias,[dubious discuss] Reagan was able to pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act through Congress. This legislation appropriated an additional $1.7 billion to fund the War on Drugs. More importantly, it established 29 new, mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses. In the entire history of the country up until that point, the legal system had only seen 55 minimum sentences in total.[84] A major stipulation of the new sentencing rules included different mandatory minimums for powder and crack cocaine. At the time of the bill, there was public debate as to the difference in potency and effect of powder cocaine, generally used by whites, and crack cocaine, generally used by blacks, with many believing that “crack” was substantially more powerful and addictive. Crack and powder cocaine are closely related chemicals, crack being a smokeable, freebase form of powdered cocaine hydrochloride which produces a shorter, more intense high while using less of the drug. This method is more cost effective, and therefore more prevalent on the inner-city streets, while powder cocaine remains more popular in white suburbia. The Reagan administration began shoring public opinion against “crack”, encouraging DEA official Robert Putnam to play up the harmful effects of the drug. Stories of “crack whores” and “crack babies” became commonplace; by 1986, Time had declared “crack” the issue of the year.[85] Riding the wave of public fervor, Reagan established much harsher sentencing for crack cocaine, handing down stiffer felony penalties for much smaller amounts of the drug.[86]

Reagan protg and former Vice-President George H. W. Bush was next to occupy the oval office, and the drug policy under his watch held true to his political background. Bush maintained the hard line drawn by his predecessor and former boss, increasing narcotics regulation when the First National Drug Control Strategy was issued by the Office of National Drug Control in 1989.[87]

The next three presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama continued this trend, maintaining the War on Drugs as they inherited it upon taking office.[88] During this time of passivity by the federal government, it was the states that initiated controversial legislation in the War on Drugs. Racial bias manifested itself in the states through such controversial policies as the “stop and frisk” police practices in New York city and the “three strikes” felony laws began in California in 1994.[89]

In August 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law that dramatically reduced the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine, which disproportionately affected minorities.[90]

Commonly illegal drugs include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and, marijuana.

Heroin is an opiate that is highly addictive. If caught selling or possessing heroin, a perpetrator can be charged with a felony and face twofour years in prison and could be fined to a maximum of $20,000.[91]

Crystal meth is composed of methamphetamine hydrochloride. It is marketed as either a white powder or in a solid (rock) form. The possession of crystal meth can result in a punishment varying from a fine to a jail sentence. When the convict possessed a lot[clarification needed] of meth on their person, the sentence will be longer.[92]

Cocaine possession is illegal across the U.S., with the cheaper crack cocaine incurring even greater penalties. Having possession is when the accused knowingly has it on their person, or in a backpack or purse. The possession of cocaine with no prior conviction, for the first offense, the person will be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison or fined $1,000, or both. If the person has a prior conviction, whether it is a narcotic or cocaine, they will be sentenced to two years in “prison”, $2,500 fine. or both. With two or more convictions of possession prior to this present offense, they can be sentenced to 90 days in “prison” along with a $5,000 fine.[93]

Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug worldwide. The punishment for possession of it is less than for the possession of cocaine or heroin. In some states in the US the drug is legal. Over 80 million of Americans have tried this type of drug. The Criminal Defense Lawyer article claims that, depending on the age of person and how much the person has been caught for possession, they will be fined and could plea bargain into going to a treatment program versus going to “prison”. In each state the convictions differ along with how much of the “marijuana” they have on their person.[94]

Some scholars have claimed that the phrase “War on Drugs” is propaganda cloaking an extension of earlier military or paramilitary operations.[9] Others have argued that large amounts of “drug war” foreign aid money, training, and equipment actually goes to fighting leftist insurgencies and is often provided to groups who themselves are involved in large-scale narco-trafficking, such as corrupt members of the Colombian military.[8]

From 1963 to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, marijuana usage became common among U.S. soldiers in non-combat situations. Some servicemen also used heroin. Many of the servicemen ended the heroin use after returning to the United States but came home addicted. In 1971, the U.S. military conducted a study of drug use among American servicemen and women. It found that daily usage rates for drugs on a worldwide basis were as low as two percent.[95] However, in the spring of 1971, two congressmen released an alarming report alleging that 15% of the servicemen in Vietnam were addicted to heroin. Marijuana use was also common in Vietnam. Soldiers who used drugs had more disciplinary problems. The frequent drug use had become an issue for the commanders in Vietnam; in 1971 it was estimated that 30,000 servicemen were addicted to drugs, most of them to heroin.[11]

From 1971 on, therefore, returning servicemen were required to take a mandatory heroin test. Servicemen who tested positive upon returning from Vietnam were not allowed to return home until they had passed the test with a negative result. The program also offered a treatment for heroin addicts.[96]

Elliot Borin’s article “The U.S. Military Needs its Speed”published in Wired on February 10, 2003reports:

But the Defense Department, which distributed millions of amphetamine tablets to troops during World War II, Vietnam and the Gulf War, soldiers on, insisting that they are not only harmless but beneficial.

In a news conference held in connection with Schmidt and Umbach’s Article 32 hearing, Dr. Pete Demitry, an Air Force physician and a pilot, claimed that the “Air Force has used (Dexedrine) safely for 60 years” with “no known speed-related mishaps.”

The need for speed, Demitry added “is a life-and-death issue for our military.”[97]

One of the first anti-drug efforts in the realm of foreign policy was President Nixon’s Operation Intercept, announced in September 1969, targeted at reducing the amount of cannabis entering the United States from Mexico. The effort began with an intense inspection crackdown that resulted in an almost shutdown of cross-border traffic.[98] Because the burden on border crossings was controversial in border states, the effort only lasted twenty days.[99]

On December 20, 1989, the United States invaded Panama as part of Operation Just Cause, which involved 25,000 American troops. Gen. Manuel Noriega, head of the government of Panama, had been giving military assistance to Contra groups in Nicaragua at the request of the U.S. which, in exchange, tolerated his drug trafficking activities, which they had known about since the 1960s.[100][101] When the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tried to indict Noriega in 1971, the CIA prevented them from doing so.[100] The CIA, which was then directed by future president George H. W. Bush, provided Noriega with hundreds of thousands of dollars per year as payment for his work in Latin America.[100] When CIA pilot Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua by the Sandinistas, documents aboard the plane revealed many of the CIA’s activities in Latin America, and the CIA’s connections with Noriega became a public relations “liability” for the U.S. government, which finally allowed the DEA to indict him for drug trafficking, after decades of tolerating his drug operations.[100] Operation Just Cause, whose purpose was to capture Noriega and overthrow his government; Noriega found temporary asylum in the Papal Nuncio, and surrendered to U.S. soldiers on January 3, 1990.[102] He was sentenced by a court in Miami to 45 years in prison.[100]

As part of its Plan Colombia program, the United States government currently provides hundreds of millions of dollars per year of military aid, training, and equipment to Colombia,[103] to fight left-wing guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP), which has been accused of being involved in drug trafficking.[104]

Private U.S. corporations have signed contracts to carry out anti-drug activities as part of Plan Colombia. DynCorp, the largest private company involved, was among those contracted by the State Department, while others signed contracts with the Defense Department.[105]

Colombian military personnel have received extensive counterinsurgency training from U.S. military and law enforcement agencies, including the School of Americas (SOA). Author Grace Livingstone has stated that more Colombian SOA graduates have been implicated in human rights abuses than currently known SOA graduates from any other country. All of the commanders of the brigades highlighted in a 2001 Human Rights Watch report on Colombia were graduates of the SOA, including the III brigade in Valle del Cauca, where the 2001 Alto Naya Massacre occurred. US-trained officers have been accused of being directly or indirectly involved in many atrocities during the 1990s, including the Massacre of Trujillo and the 1997 Mapiripn Massacre.

In 2000, the Clinton administration initially waived all but one of the human rights conditions attached to Plan Colombia, considering such aid as crucial to national security at the time.[106]

The efforts of U.S. and Colombian governments have been criticized for focusing on fighting leftist guerrillas in southern regions without applying enough pressure on right-wing paramilitaries and continuing drug smuggling operations in the north of the country.[107][108] Human Rights Watch, congressional committees and other entities have documented the existence of connections between members of the Colombian military and the AUC, which the U.S. government has listed as a terrorist group, and that Colombian military personnel have committed human rights abuses which would make them ineligible for U.S. aid under current laws.[citation needed]

In 2010, the Washington Office on Latin America concluded that both Plan Colombia and the Colombian government’s security strategy “came at a high cost in lives and resources, only did part of the job, are yielding diminishing returns and have left important institutions weaker.”[109]

A 2014 report by the RAND Corporation, which was issued to analyze viable strategies for the Mexican drug war considering successes experienced in Columbia, noted:

Between 1999 and 2002, the United States gave Colombia $2.04 billion in aid, 81 percent of which was for military purposes, placing Colombia just below Israel and Egypt among the largest recipients of U.S. military assistance. Colombia increased its defense spending from 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000 to 4.19 percent in 2005. Overall, the results were extremely positive. Greater spending on infrastructure and social programs helped the Colombian government increase its political legitimacy, while improved security forces were better able to consolidate control over large swaths of the country previously overrun by insurgents and drug cartels.

It also notes that, “Plan Colombia has been widely hailed as a success, and some analysts believe that, by 2010, Colombian security forces had finally gained the upper hand once and for all.”[110]

The Mrida Initiative is a security cooperation between the United States and the government of Mexico and the countries of Central America. It was approved on June 30, 2008, and its stated aim is combating the threats of drug trafficking and transnational crime. The Mrida Initiative appropriated $1.4 billion in a three-year commitment (20082010) to the Mexican government for military and law enforcement training and equipment, as well as technical advice and training to strengthen the national justice systems. The Mrida Initiative targeted many very important government officials, but it failed to address the thousands of Central Americans who had to flee their countries due to the danger they faced everyday because of the war on drugs. There is still not any type of plan that addresses these people. No weapons are included in the plan.[111][112]

The United States regularly sponsors the spraying of large amounts of herbicides such as glyphosate over the jungles of Central and South America as part of its drug eradication programs. Environmental consequences resulting from aerial fumigation have been criticized as detrimental to some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems;[113] the same aerial fumigation practices are further credited with causing health problems in local populations.[114]

In 2012, the U.S. sent DEA agents to Honduras to assist security forces in counternarcotics operations. Honduras has been a major stop for drug traffickers, who use small planes and landing strips hidden throughout the country to transport drugs. The U.S. government made agreements with several Latin American countries to share intelligence and resources to counter the drug trade. DEA agents, working with other U.S. agencies such as the State Department, the CBP, and Joint Task Force-Bravo, assisted Honduras troops in conducting raids on traffickers’ sites of operation.[115]

The War on Drugs has been a highly contentious issue since its inception. A poll on October 2, 2008, found that three in four Americans believed that the War On Drugs was failing.[116]

At a meeting in Guatemala in 2012, three former presidents from Guatemala, Mexico and Colombia said that the war on drugs had failed and that they would propose a discussion on alternatives, including decriminalization, at the Summit of the Americas in April of that year.[117] Guatemalan President Otto Prez Molina said that the war on drugs was exacting too high a price on the lives of Central Americans and that it was time to “end the taboo on discussing decriminalization”.[118] At the summit, the government of Colombia pushed for the most far-reaching change to drugs policy since the war on narcotics was declared by Nixon four decades prior, citing the catastrophic effects it had had in Colombia.[119]

Several critics have compared the wholesale incarceration of the dissenting minority of drug users to the wholesale incarceration of other minorities in history. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, for example, writes in 1997 “Over the past thirty years, we have replaced the medical-political persecution of illegal sex users (‘perverts’ and ‘psychopaths’) with the even more ferocious medical-political persecution of illegal drug users.”[120]

Penalties for drug crimes among American youth almost always involve permanent or semi-permanent removal from opportunities for education, strip them of voting rights, and later involve creation of criminal records which make employment more difficult.[121] Thus, some authors maintain that the War on Drugs has resulted in the creation of a permanent underclass of people who have few educational or job opportunities, often as a result of being punished for drug offenses which in turn have resulted from attempts to earn a living in spite of having no education or job opportunities.[121]

According to a 2008 study published by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron, the annual savings on enforcement and incarceration costs from the legalization of drugs would amount to roughly $41.3 billion, with $25.7 billion being saved among the states and over $15.6 billion accrued for the federal government. Miron further estimated at least $46.7 billion in tax revenue based on rates comparable to those on tobacco and alcohol ($8.7 billion from marijuana, $32.6 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs).[122]

Low taxation in Central American countries has been credited with weakening the region’s response in dealing with drug traffickers. Many cartels, especially Los Zetas have taken advantage of the limited resources of these nations. 2010 tax revenue in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, composed just 13.53% of GDP. As a comparison, in Chile and the U.S., taxes were 18.6% and 26.9% of GDP respectively. However, direct taxes on income are very hard to enforce and in some cases tax evasion is seen as a national pastime.[123]

The status of coca and coca growers has become an intense political issue in several countries, including Colombia and particularly Bolivia, where the president, Evo Morales, a former coca growers’ union leader, has promised to legalise the traditional cultivation and use of coca.[124] Indeed, legalization efforts have yielded some successes under the Morales administration when combined with aggressive and targeted eradication efforts. The country saw a 12-13% decline in coca cultivation[124] in 2011 under Morales, who has used coca growers’ federations to ensure compliance with the law rather than providing a primary role for security forces.[124]

The coca eradication policy has been criticised for its negative impact on the livelihood of coca growers in South America. In many areas of South America the coca leaf has traditionally been chewed and used in tea and for religious, medicinal and nutritional purposes by locals.[125] For this reason many insist that the illegality of traditional coca cultivation is unjust. In many areas the US government and military has forced the eradication of coca without providing for any meaningful alternative crop for farmers, and has additionally destroyed many of their food or market crops, leaving them starving and destitute.[125]

The CIA, DEA, State Department, and several other U.S. government agencies have been alleged to have relations with various groups which are involved in drug trafficking.

Senator John Kerry’s 1988 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on Contra drug links concludes that members of the U.S. State Department “who provided support for the Contras are involved in drug trafficking… and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly receive financial and material assistance from drug traffickers.”[126] The report further states that “the Contra drug links include… payments to drug traffickers by the U.S. State Department of funds authorized by the Congress for humanitarian assistance to the Contras, in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies.”

In 1996, journalist Gary Webb published reports in the San Jose Mercury News, and later in his book Dark Alliance, detailing how Contras, had been involved in distributing crack cocaine into Los Angeles whilst receiving money from the CIA.[citation needed] Contras used money from drug trafficking to buy weapons.[citation needed]

Webb’s premise regarding the U.S. Government connection was initially attacked at the time by the media. It is now widely accepted that Webb’s main assertion of government “knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers” was correct.[127][not in citation given] In 1998, CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz published a two-volume report[128] that while seemingly refuting Webb’s claims of knowledge and collaboration in its conclusions did not deny them in its body.[citation needed] Hitz went on to admit CIA improprieties in the affair in testimony to a House congressional committee. There has been a reversal amongst mainstream media of its position on Webb’s work, with acknowledgement made of his contribution to exposing a scandal it had ignored.

According to Rodney Campbell, an editorial assistant to Nelson Rockefeller, during World War II, the United States Navy, concerned that strikes and labor disputes in U.S. eastern shipping ports would disrupt wartime logistics, released the mobster Lucky Luciano from prison, and collaborated with him to help the mafia take control of those ports. Labor union members were terrorized and murdered by mafia members as a means of preventing labor unrest and ensuring smooth shipping of supplies to Europe.[129]

According to Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, in order to prevent Communist party members from being elected in Italy following World War II, the CIA worked closely with the Sicilian Mafia, protecting them and assisting in their worldwide heroin smuggling operations. The mafia was in conflict with leftist groups and was involved in assassinating, torturing, and beating leftist political organizers.[130]

In 1986, the US Defense Department funded a two-year study by the RAND Corporation, which found that the use of the armed forces to interdict drugs coming into the United States would have little or no effect on cocaine traffic and might, in fact, raise the profits of cocaine cartels and manufacturers. The 175-page study, “Sealing the Borders: The Effects of Increased Military Participation in Drug Interdiction”, was prepared by seven researchers, mathematicians and economists at the National Defense Research Institute, a branch of the RAND, and was released in 1988. The study noted that seven prior studies in the past nine years, including one by the Center for Naval Research and the Office of Technology Assessment, had come to similar conclusions. Interdiction efforts, using current armed forces resources, would have almost no effect on cocaine importation into the United States, the report concluded.[132]

During the early-to-mid-1990s, the Clinton administration ordered and funded a major cocaine policy study, again by RAND. The Rand Drug Policy Research Center study concluded that $3 billion should be switched from federal and local law enforcement to treatment. The report said that treatment is the cheapest way to cut drug use, stating that drug treatment is twenty-three times more effective than the supply-side “war on drugs”.[133]

The National Research Council Committee on Data and Research for Policy on Illegal Drugs published its findings in 2001 on the efficacy of the drug war. The NRC Committee found that existing studies on efforts to address drug usage and smuggling, from U.S. military operations to eradicate coca fields in Colombia, to domestic drug treatment centers, have all been inconclusive, if the programs have been evaluated at all: “The existing drug-use monitoring systems are strikingly inadequate to support the full range of policy decisions that the nation must make…. It is unconscionable for this country to continue to carry out a public policy of this magnitude and cost without any way of knowing whether and to what extent it is having the desired effect.”[134] The study, though not ignored by the press, was ignored by top-level policymakers, leading Committee Chair Charles Manski to conclude, as one observer notes, that “the drug war has no interest in its own results”.[135]

In mid-1995, the US government tried to reduce the supply of methamphetamine precursors to disrupt the market of this drug. According to a 2009 study, this effort was successful, but its effects were largely temporary.[136]

During alcohol prohibition, the period from 1920 to 1933, alcohol use initially fell but began to increase as early as 1922. It has been extrapolated that even if prohibition had not been repealed in 1933, alcohol consumption would have quickly surpassed pre-prohibition levels.[137] One argument against the War on Drugs is that it uses similar measures as Prohibition and is no more effective.

In the six years from 2000 to 2006, the U.S. spent $4.7 billion on Plan Colombia, an effort to eradicate coca production in Colombia. The main result of this effort was to shift coca production into more remote areas and force other forms of adaptation. The overall acreage cultivated for coca in Colombia at the end of the six years was found to be the same, after the U.S. Drug Czar’s office announced a change in measuring methodology in 2005 and included new areas in its surveys.[138] Cultivation in the neighboring countries of Peru and Bolivia increased, some would describe this effect like squeezing a balloon.[139]

Richard Davenport-Hines, in his book The Pursuit of Oblivion,[140] criticized the efficacy of the War on Drugs by pointing out that

1015% of illicit heroin and 30% of illicit cocaine is intercepted. Drug traffickers have gross profit margins of up to 300%. At least 75% of illicit drug shipments would have to be intercepted before the traffickers’ profits were hurt.

Alberto Fujimori, president of Peru from 1990 to 2000, described U.S. foreign drug policy as “failed” on grounds that “for 10 years, there has been a considerable sum invested by the Peruvian government and another sum on the part of the American government, and this has not led to a reduction in the supply of coca leaf offered for sale. Rather, in the 10 years from 1980 to 1990, it grew 10-fold.”[141]

At least 500 economists, including Nobel Laureates Milton Friedman,[142]George Akerlof and Vernon L. Smith, have noted that reducing the supply of marijuana without reducing the demand causes the price, and hence the profits of marijuana sellers, to go up, according to the laws of supply and demand.[143] The increased profits encourage the producers to produce more drugs despite the risks, providing a theoretical explanation for why attacks on drug supply have failed to have any lasting effect. The aforementioned economists published an open letter to President George W. Bush stating “We urge…the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition… At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition.”

The declaration from the World Forum Against Drugs, 2008 state that a balanced policy of drug abuse prevention, education, treatment, law enforcement, research, and supply reduction provides the most effective platform to reduce drug abuse and its associated harms and call on governments to consider demand reduction as one of their first priorities in the fight against drug abuse.[144]

Despite over $7 billion spent annually towards arresting[145] and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people across the country for marijuana offenses in 2005[citation needed] (FBI Uniform Crime Reports), the federally funded Monitoring the Future Survey reports about 85% of high school seniors find marijuana “easy to obtain”. That figure has remained virtually unchanged since 1975, never dropping below 82.7% in three decades of national surveys.[146] The Drug Enforcement Administration states that the number of users of marijuana in the U.S. declined between 2000 and 2005 even with many states passing new medical marijuana laws making access easier,[147] though usage rates remain higher than they were in the 1990s according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.[148]

ONDCP stated in April 2011 that there has been a 46 percent drop in cocaine use among young adults over the past five years, and a 65 percent drop in the rate of people testing positive for cocaine in the workplace since 2006.[149] At the same time, a 2007 study found that up to 35% of college undergraduates used stimulants not prescribed to them.[150]

A 2013 study found that prices of heroin, cocaine and cannabis had decreased from 1990 to 2007, but the purity of these drugs had increased during the same time.[151]

The War on Drugs is often called a policy failure.[152][153][154][155][156]

The legality of the War on Drugs has been challenged on four main grounds in the US.

Several authors believe that the United States’ federal and state governments have chosen wrong methods for combatting the distribution of illicit substances. Aggressive, heavy-handed enforcement funnels individuals through courts and prisons; instead of treating the cause of the addiction, the focus of government efforts has been on punishment. By making drugs illegal rather than regulating them, the War on Drugs creates a highly profitable black market. Jefferson Fish has edited scholarly collections of articles offering a wide variety of public health based and rights based alternative drug policies.[157][158][159]

In the year 2000, the United States drug-control budget reached 18.4 billion dollars,[160] nearly half of which was spent financing law enforcement while only one sixth was spent on treatment. In the year 2003, 53 percent of the requested drug control budget was for enforcement, 29 percent for treatment, and 18 percent for prevention.[161] The state of New York, in particular, designated 17 percent of its budget towards substance-abuse-related spending. Of that, a mere one percent was put towards prevention, treatment, and research.

In a survey taken by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it was found that substance abusers that remain in treatment longer are less likely to resume their former drug habits. Of the people that were studied, 66 percent were cocaine users. After experiencing long-term in-patient treatment, only 22 percent returned to the use of cocaine. Treatment had reduced the number of cocaine abusers by two-thirds.[160] By spending the majority of its money on law enforcement, the federal government had underestimated the true value of drug-treatment facilities and their benefit towards reducing the number of addicts in the U.S.

In 2004 the federal government issued the National Drug Control Strategy. It supported programs designed to expand treatment options, enhance treatment delivery, and improve treatment outcomes. For example, the Strategy provided SAMHSA with a $100.6 million grant to put towards their Access to Recovery (ATR) initiative. ATR is a program that provides vouchers to addicts to provide them with the means to acquire clinical treatment or recovery support. The project’s goals are to expand capacity, support client choice, and increase the array of faith-based and community based providers for clinical treatment and recovery support services.[162] The ATR program will also provide a more flexible array of services based on the individual’s treatment needs.

The 2004 Strategy additionally declared a significant 32 million dollar raise in the Drug Courts Program, which provides drug offenders with alternatives to incarceration. As a substitute for imprisonment, drug courts identify substance-abusing offenders and place them under strict court monitoring and community supervision, as well as provide them with long-term treatment services.[163] According to a report issued by the National Drug Court Institute, drug courts have a wide array of benefits, with only 16.4 percent of the nation’s drug court graduates rearrested and charged with a felony within one year of completing the program (versus the 44.1% of released prisoners who end up back in prison within 1-year). Additionally, enrolling an addict in a drug court program costs much less than incarcerating one in prison.[164] According to the Bureau of Prisons, the fee to cover the average cost of incarceration for Federal inmates in 2006 was $24,440.[165] The annual cost of receiving treatment in a drug court program ranges from $900 to $3,500. Drug courts in New York State alone saved $2.54 million in incarceration costs.[164]

Describing the failure of the War on Drugs, New York Times columnist Eduardo Porter noted:

Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard who studies drug policy closely, has suggested that legalizing all illicit drugs would produce net benefits to the United States of some $65 billion a year, mostly by cutting public spending on enforcement as well as through reduced crime and corruption. A study by analysts at the RAND Corporation, a California research organization, suggested that if marijuana were legalized in California and the drug spilled from there to other states, Mexican drug cartels would lose about a fifth of their annual income of some $6.5 billion from illegal exports to the United States.[166]

Many believe that the War on Drugs has been costly and ineffective largely because inadequate emphasis is placed on treatment of addiction. The United States leads the world in both recreational drug usage and incarceration rates. 70% of men arrested in metropolitan areas test positive for an illicit substance,[167] and 54% of all men incarcerated will be repeat offenders.[168]

There are also programs in the United States to combat public health risks of injecting drug users such as the Needle exchange programme. The “needle exchange programme” is intended to provide injecting drug users with new needles in exchange for used needles to prevent needle sharing.

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War on Drugs – Wikipedia

America’s War on Drugs Full Episodes, Video & More | HISTORY

Americas War on Drugs is an immersive trip through the last five decades, uncovering how the CIA, obsessed with keeping America safe in the fight against communism, allied itself with the mafia and foreign drug traffickers. In exchange for support against foreign enemies, the groups were allowed to grow their drug trade in the United States. The series explores the unintended consequences of when gangsters, war lords, spies, outlaw entrepreneurs, street gangs and politicians vie for power and control of the global black market for narcotics all told through the firsthand accounts of former CIA and DEA officers, major drug traffickers, gang members, noted experts and insiders.

Night one of Americas War on Drugs divulges covert Cold War operations that empowered a generation of drug traffickers and reveals the peculiar details of secret CIA LSD experiments which helped fuel the counter-culture movement, leading to President Nixons crackdown and declaration of a war on drugs. The documentary series then delves into the rise of the cocaine cowboys, a secret island cocaine base, the CIAs connection to the crack epidemic, the history of the cartels and their murderous tactics, the era of Just Say No, the negative effect of NAFTA, and the unlikely career of an almost famous Midwest meth queen.

The final chapter of the series examines how the attacks on September 11th intertwined the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, transforming Afghanistan into a narco-state teeming with corruption. It also explores how American intervention in Mexico helped give rise to El Chapo and the Super Cartels, bringing unprecedented levels of violence and sending even more drugs across Americas borders. Five decades into the War on Drugs, a move to legalize marijuana gains momentum, mega-corporations have become richer and more powerful than any nations drug cartel, and continuing to rise is the demand for heroin and other illegal drugs.

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America’s War on Drugs Full Episodes, Video & More | HISTORY

The War on Drugs’s ‘A Deeper Understanding’ Review: Classic … – The Atlantic

The War on Drugs has one of those band names that isnt supposed to mean anything. But listen to the Philadelphia bands wonderful fourth album, A Deeper Understanding, and, you may, in fact, think about drugsand more specifically, clichs surrounding drugs and rock-and-roll history.

Bandleader Adam Granduciel is a student of that history, and his music often poses questions few rock fans may have thought to ask. Like, What if Don Henleys The Boys of Summer was 10 minutes long? or Why cant we live inside the fourth minute of Bruce Springsteens Jungleland forever? But he taps the past with a sensibility thats new. The sounds of 60s psychedelia are here, yet not the questing, form-free sensibility associated with psychedelics. Signifiers of 70s and 80s excess also abound, but the twitchy bravado or desperate intensity that critics might have described as coked out doesnt. Rather, these songs pulse steadily and patiently, doling out climaxes of euphoria at carefully considered intervals. With apologies for using one of the iffiest tropes of record reviewing: This is classic rock on MDMA.

Grizzly Bear Capture the Beauty of Connection

Granduciel and a shifting cast of band members have been recording under the War on Drugs name since 2005, with their greatest commercial and critical breakthrough arriving via 2014s Lost in the Dream. That albums standouts Red Eyes and Under the Pressure perfected a formula for immersing listeners: Over a chugging and unfailing rhythm, the band tunefully layered guitar heroics, vintage keyboards, and Dylanesque vocalsall cloaked in dreamy reverb. The songs infiltrated streaming-service playlists, publications year-end lists, and the consciousness of the rock mogul Jimmy Iovine, who proclaimed the bands impending hugeness. Granduciel signed to a major label, Atlantic Records, and has now delivered an album of spectacular scale and ambition.

Its the rhythm that first defines most of the songs on A Deeper Understanding, with drum and bass interlocking for, say, a Creedence Clearwater Revival shamble, or a Tom Petty toe-tap. Once established, the groove is almost never interruptedeven as the song mutates for five, six, or 12 minutes. This is a technique most reminiscent of 70s German rockers like Neu!, but also, structurally, of techno and house music. For Granduciel, its a way to achieve something novel and, perhaps counterintuitively, unpredictable. He told Vice, I dont like drums dictating the song; like when you hear a fill and then you know the chorus is coming up.

The reliable hum lends itself to easy listeningand easy criticism. You can clean your house or host a dinner party to A Deeper Understanding, absolutely, and as it filters in you might find yourself thinking, I like this song, the one with the pretty piano part, or this one, which reminds me of Free Bird, only to eventually realize there are a number of tracks that fit those descriptions. Drive-by absorption might also make certain listeners write off the band as it transgresses common ideas of coolness and taste. The singer Mark Kozelek, for example, infamously once heard The War on Drugs playing on a distant festival stage and sneered at their beer commercial lead-guitar shit. That wasnt an inaccurate description, to be fairbut it sold short the full scope of the music.

Its the close listen that reveals Granduciels real talent. In interviews, hes talked about obsessively fussing over every sound in the mix, and the payoff from that attention is serious: Each instrumental element is crisp and fully rendered, familiar yet fresh. Synthetic strings, for example, may not have been this capable of producing actual emotion, since, well, the early-80s that Granduciel so often references. Some of the albums most powerful guitar-shredding passages, played full blast, will make it seem as if an amp is plugged in in your living room.

But the point is not only the feel of these sounds. Granduciel writes generous, poppy hooks and deploys them at the moment of maximum possible impact. The guitar line that defines Strangest Thingone of the best songs of the yeardoesnt arrive until 2 minutes and 40 seconds in, transforming what had been a wistful comedown tune into something massive, like Purple Rain played on cathedral bells. On that song and elsewhere, it becomes clear Granduciels arrangements arent nearly as repetitive as they may initially seem. Melodies emerge, move among instruments, and then seem to die. Rebirth, minutes later, is always possible.

In the rare occasions that Granduciel varies the rhythm of a song, the effect on the listener is like that of a seismic event. I jumped a few times listening to the awesome new-age-y workout of In Chains: first when a drum fill did, for once, announce a chorus, and later when the songs heartbeat hiccuped into the classic Be My Baby pattern. Contrastingly, the 11-minute single Thinking of a Place unwinds into a lush, long portion without drums. When the songs main groove snaps back in, its like a magician pulling off a revealscarily sudden, but also smooth. Such moments show that through the ever-pretty, ever-nostalgic haze of his arrangements, Granduciel wants to keep the senses and the mind awake.

Does music this visceral need to mean anything? Granduciel sings in a pleasing but unvarying rasp, and he likes obvious rhymes: All my waiting was in vain / I walked alone in pain / Through an early morning rain, etc. Generally the songs tell of striving, endlessly, for blissin another person, in a place, or in ones self. So if it seems on-the-nose for him to sing of a sky painted in a wash of indigo or of somewhere they can make it rain diamonds, its worth remembering that music, across eras, has often been about envisioning paradise through sound. Hes executing that mission with extreme care, finesse, andmost remarkablyconsistency. The best passages of A Deeper Understanding are shot through with sadness simply because they eventually have to end, but with this high, you can expect another wave soon.

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The War on Drugs’s ‘A Deeper Understanding’ Review: Classic … – The Atlantic

Church Leaders In Philippines Condemn Bloody War On Drugs – NPR

Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle arrives at the Synod Hall on Oct. 8, 2014, in Vatican City, Vatican. Tagle has called for an end to the bloody war on drugs in the Philippines. Franco Origlia/Getty Images hide caption

Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle arrives at the Synod Hall on Oct. 8, 2014, in Vatican City, Vatican. Tagle has called for an end to the bloody war on drugs in the Philippines.

The head of the Catholic Church in the Philippines has harshly criticized a government campaign of alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects that has claimed thousands of lives, calling it a “humanitarian concern” that cannot be ignored.

Police have killed an estimated 3,200 people in the past 14 months in encounters they claim involved suspects who put up armed resistance. Another 2,000 have died in drug-related killings in many cases carried out by motorcycle-riding masked gunmen who human rights groups say are either police in disguise or their hired hit men. In a single day last week, police in the Philippines killed a record 32 people in drug raids, according to Reuters.

“We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces, to stop wasting human lives,” Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle said. “The illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us.”

Tagle was supported by Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who said Sunday that church bells would ring every night for the next three months to spark greater awareness of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown.

“The sounding of the bells is a call to stop approval of the killings,” Villegas said in a statement read Sunday in churches in his district in Pangasinan province, according to The Associated Press. “The country is in chaos. The officer who kills is rewarded and the slain get the blame. The corpses could no longer defend themselves from accusations that they ‘fought back.'”

The Church was initially silent about the anti-drug campaign, but has in recent months stepped up calls for its end.

Duterte’s campaign, which has drawn international criticism, has gotten high marks from President Trump, who in a leaked transcript of a phone call praised the Philippine leader for an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

Duterte has compared his crackdown in the Philippines to the Holocaust, saying he’d like to deal with drug addicts the way that Nazi Germany dealt with the Jews.

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Church Leaders In Philippines Condemn Bloody War On Drugs – NPR

How Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump have restarted the war on drugs – The Guardian

Shauna Barry-Scott remembers the moment she felt the American fever for mass incarceration break. It was an August morning in 2013, and she was in a federal prison in the mountains of West Virginia. She remembers crowding into the TV room with the other women in their khaki uniforms. Everyone who could get out of their work shifts was there, waiting. Good news was on the way, advocates had told them. Watch for it.

Some of her fellow inmates were cynical: it seemed like millions of rumors of reform had swept through the federal prison system to only then dissolve. Barry-Scott did not blame them, but she was more hopeful.

At age 41, she had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for possession with the intent to distribute 4.5 ounces of crack cocaine. Think of a 12oz can of Coke, cut that in a third, she explains. And thats what I got 20 years for. The sentence made no sense to her. Barry-Scotts son had been murdered in 1998, and the men charged with shooting him to death had to serve less time than she did six and seven years each, she says.

But the amount of drugs in her possession had triggered a mandatory minimum sentence, part of a now-infamous law passed in 1986 to impose punitive sentences for certain offenses amid a rising panic over drug abuse. In 1980, some 25,000 people were incarcerated in federal prisons. By 2013 after four decades of Americas war on drugs, there were 219,000. Yet this population was just a small fraction of the estimated 2.3 million Americans locked up not only in federal prisons, but also in state facilities and local jails.

Her story is one of many that show how mandatory minimums unleash draconian sentences on people caught selling small amounts of drugs.

For those with prior convictions, even relatively minor ones, mandatory minimum sentences can be doubled, adding decades of additional punishment. Third offenses for drug crimes can result in a mandatory minimum penalty of life imprisonment.

Barry-Scott had a prior conviction that had carried a penalty of only one years probation, she says. As a result, what would have been a 10-year sentence was automatically doubled to 20.

As she watched CNN that summer day, Barry-Scott scribbled down notes. Barack Obamas attorney general, Eric Holder, was pushing through a set of smart on crime reforms that included directing federal prosecutors to avoid triggering mandatory minimum sentences when dealing with lower-level, nonviolent drug offenders.

For many years research and advocacy groups had opposed mandatory minimum sentences as cripplingly expensive, marked by racial disparities and of dubious value for crime prevention. But the laws were still on the books and the federal prison population continued to grow.

Holder was announcing that federal prosecutors were being instructed to use minimum sentences in fewer, and more serious, cases. Central to this push for change, said Americas first black attorney general, was the evidence that Americas harsh drug enforcement had fallen more heavily on African Americans.

Watching the announcement of Holders reforms back then, Barry-Scott says, she could feel a palpable change in the energy around her.

Everything he said made sense, she says. She and the other women would spend hours discussing what they had heard. By the time we went to bed that night, everyone went to bed pretty happy.

Over the next three years, Americas federal prison population would shrink, representing the first downward trend in 33 years. Today, Barry-Scott herself is free, part of a group of more than 1,900 inmates granted clemency by Barack Obama in the largest application of presidential mercy in half a century.

But she is no longer so hopeful. Less than two years after her family drove into the West Virginia mountains and brought her home, Barry-Scott watched with anger and disbelief as Donald Trumps new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, tried to bring back the tough policies in effect during Americas war on drugs.

In May, Sessions reversed his predecessors initiative, claiming, without evidence, that Holders sentencing changes had led to Americas sudden 10.8% increase in murders in 2015.

Sessions, a former senator from Alabama known for his hardline views on crime and legal immigration, had been denied a federal judgeship in 1986 over alleged racist comments and attacks on the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union (he first admitted, and then disputed, calling these organizations un-American). Martin Luther Kings widow had written a letter opposing Sessions appointment, saying he had used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens through politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions.

Appointing Sessions as attorney general was like hosting a Confederate flag above the Department of Justice, says Eugene Jarecki, a filmmaker who directed The House I Live In, an award-winning 2012 documentary about mass incarceration.

What is so striking about the move by Sessions and the Trump administration is that it is at odds with much thinking across the globe about the war on drugs, including among leaders in Latin America. Ever since 2011 when Juan Manuel Santos, as the president of Colombia, declared that the war on drugs had failed, a growing international consensus has been forming on the need for a new conversation to discuss the violence, bloodshed and ruined lives that followed in the wake of the war on drugs whether in Colombia, Mexico or America.

The change in direction in the US has come at a time when America has been also seeing an increasing number of states liberalizing laws on the consumption and sale of marijuana. Into this evolving international and national context has stepped Sessions, with a very different approach.

The new attorney general and his initiatives represent a huge setback for advocates who have worked for decades to build bipartisan agreement that Americas war on drugs had been a failure and it was time to reverse the damage.

To see Sessions now, under President Trump, try to reverse the major progress that Eric Holder and President Obama had made, it is just sickening, Barry-Scott says. Everything in us is screaming, please dont do this.

When Richard Nixon declared a national war on drugs in 1971, he announced, Americas public enemy No 1 in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy it is necessary to wage a new all-out offensive. This will be a worldwide offensive, he promised. If were going to have a successful offensive, he added, we need more money.

By 1986, the year Ronald Reagan warned against the new epidemic of smokable cocaine, otherwise known as crack, Len Bias, a young black basketball star who had just been picked to join the NBA ranks, died of an overdose. That year Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which established mandatory minimum sentences for crimes involving specific amounts of drugs. The law created a remarkable 100 to 1 disparity in the length of sentences for possession of of crack cocaine (then associated with low-income, often African American drug users) compared with those for possession of the same amount of powder cocaine, the choice of wealthier white drug users.

Before 1986, the average federal drug sentence for a black American was 11% longer than one for a white American. After 1986, the disparity spiked: the average length of a federal drug sentence for a black American became 49% higher than one for a white person.

The war on drugs has never been about the war on drugs; its always been about controlling and prosecuting and persecuting certain communities, says Michael Collins, the deputy director for national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington. This is not a scientific judgment on drugs or what drugs do to you. This is about people governed by zealotry, he adds. The very foundation of the war on drugs is racism and xenophobia.

Americas drug war seems increasingly intended as a war on the poor, Baltimore journalist David Simon told the Guardian in 2013. It may have begun a long time ago as a war on dangerous drugs, but at some point it morphed, to the point where it was really about social control, added Simon, who is also known as the creator of The Wire.

As the US murder and violent crime rate spiked during the crack epidemic in the late 1980s, and political and media coverage about violence reached a high pitch, drug abuse briefly became Americas No 1 issue: the New York Times reported in 1989 that 64% of Americans named drugs as most important issue in the country, one of the highest single-issue priorities recorded in any national poll.

For decades, reciting law and order slogans has been the path of least resistance for politicians and the policymakers who sign such harsh legislation have not been held responsible for its consequences.

I am unaware of any legislator who has gotten into political trouble for codifying a simple-minded slogan or soundbite that pushes up the incarceration rate with no effect on crime, says Bobby Scott, an African American Democratic congressman from Virginia who has been fighting for a better approach to criminal justice since he was first elected in 1993. I am aware of many politicians who voted for intelligent, research-based initiatives that reduce crime and save money, and because theyre labeled soft on crime they get in political trouble.

In recent years, driven by the enormous price tag of mass incarceration for taxpayers, reforming Americas criminal justice system has become a bipartisan effort, with the Republican mega-donor Koch brothers and the advocacy group Right on Crime supporting the cause, and conservative states like Texas leading the way on reducing their prison populations.

Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who now serves as Trumps energy secretary, was one of the many Republicans who signed on to these reforms. After 40 years of the war on drugs, I cant change what happened in the past, he said at the World Economic Forum in 2014. What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keeps people from going to prison and destroying their lives, and thats what weve done.

In 2010, Congress acknowledged the troubling racial biases and revised the law, reducing the disparity in sentencing for crack offenses compared with those for powder cocaine from 100 to 1 to merely 18 to 1. Then-senator Sessions signed on to support the Fair Sentencing Act and had backed reducing this disparity for years. He conceded in 2009, I definitely believe that the current system is not fair and that we are not able to defend the sentences that are required to be imposed under the law today. But a former Obama staffer wrote that even as Sessions supported the law, he was holding back reform: while other Republicans supported reducing the disparity to 10 to 1, Sessions insisted on reducing it to 18 to 1.

He is an outlier in terms of how he thinks about drug policy even with the Republican party, Collins says. He was an outlier and a loner when it came to policy-making in the Senate. The problem we now face is this outlier is the most powerful law enforcement officer in the country.

You are never going to win the war on drugs. Drugs won, Koch Industries executive Mark Holden told reporters in Colorado in June, expressing frustration at Sessions return to war on drugs policies and rhetoric.

Illegal drug usage is at the same or higher levels now than it was when we started the war on drugs, Holden, who leads the Koch criminal justice reform efforts, told the Guardian. We need to go to a different approach.

Sessions rollback of Holders sentencing reforms has been hailed by some law enforcement groups, and the Justice Department has also defended Sessions changes by pointing to his backing from people actually on the front lines dealing with violent criminals on a daily basis.

Among Sessions supporters in law enforcement are the Fraternal Order of Police (the nations most prominent police union), the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and the National Association of Assistant US Attorneys, which represents the frontline federal prosecutors whom Holder had tried to rein in.

Larry Leiser, the national associations president, says that many federal prosecutors believe that tough mandatory minimum sentences are a crucial tool in convincing lower-level drug defendants to cooperate with the government when its prosecuting the higher-ups involved with the criminal activity.

The tools we have [to tackle drugs and violence] are the tools that Congress has created for us, Leiser says. Were just trying to hold on to the ones weve got.

Some organizations and people like to make these drug traffickers the victims. What about the people whose lives they kill and the lives they destroy? Leiser asks. Weve lost our way on this issue; weve failed to focus on the victims.

One of Sessions suggestions, which he has made multiple times, is that the Obama administrations modest changes in federal sentencing policy were responsible for the nearly 11% increase in total murders the country saw in 2015.

Leiser and Patrick OCarroll, the executive director of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, both say they believe the Obama administrations modest criminal justice reforms are connected to 2015s increase in murders.

If you have less drugs in the marketplace, there are less people dying and fighting over the drugs, and youre going to have less murders, Leiser says.

Richard Rosenfeld, a leading criminologist who authored a Justice Department-funded study on the 2015 murder increase, says he knows of no research or data to support a link between federal sentencing changes and the uptick in murders. Because 2015s murder increase does not represent a clear-cut nationwide trend some big cities saw sharp spikes in the number of murders that year, others saw little or no change it seems unlikely that a federal policy change could explain it, he says.

The idea that resuming longer sentences would reduce violence is also not supported by evidence, Rosenfeld says: Returning to a period of lengthy mandatory sentences for drug offenders is not likely in my view to have much of an effect on street violence.

In fact, one of the most comprehensive surveys of research examining the effects of tough drug law enforcement found that the tactic sometimes backfired and led to more violence, rather than less.

By removing key players from the lucrative illegal drug market, drug law enforcement has the perverse effect of creating new financial opportunities for other individuals to fill this vacuum, the researchers wrote, and this competition to fill the openings in the drug market sometimes fuels drug-related violence, rather than making streets safer.

Exactly what effect Sessions reversals will have on Americas prison population remains to be seen. But data released last month by the US Sentencing Commission suggested that Holders smart on crime policies were having a real, if modest, impact.

The percentage of inmates subject to mandatory minimum sentences had decreased by five points since 2010. Most strikingly, gaps between black offenders and white offenders had narrowed. While black offenders were still the least likely to get relief from a mandatory minimum sentence, now only three points existed between the percentages of white and black offenders receiving relief. In 2010, the gap had been almost 12 percentage points.

Even after Holders changes, the number of prisoners serving mandatory minimum sentences still made up more than half of the total prison population.

But by the time the research was published suggesting that the smart on crime approach was working, Holders policy changes had already been revoked.

Since Trumps appointment of a new chief of staff, the presidents public feud with his attorney general has cooled off. Yet even if the president eventually fires Sessions, it seems most likely that his sharp changes in sentencing and criminal justice policy will survive without him, says Vanita Gupta, who led the Justice Departments civil rights division under Obama.

Hes already, in very short order, reversed all of those things, Gupta says. It would require somebody coming in to actively and affirmatively undo those policies, and they have a lot of support in the president and his administration, she adds. Its not that easy. I think its hard to bank on that.

The Trump administrations war on drugs, Jarecki says, is like its approach to so many issues: It is both destructive and vapid.

Were living in a time where speaking less bluntly about these monstrous public antagonists would be immoral, he says.

Whenever anyone says that theyre going to turn the clock back on the war on drugs, they are willingly putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, of innocent people, at risk, Jarecki says. The morality of it is all we should care about. Will the country actually unlearn the lessons that mass incarceration is hurtful?

Sessions endorsement of failed 1980s crime policy has not gone unopposed. Police chiefs in some of Americas biggest cities have publicly pushed back against the attorney generals claims about immigration, drugs and violence. Prominent conservatives in the Senate have publicly disagreed with his sentencing rollback and other criminal justice reversals.

The public and media response to the opioid and heroin epidemics, which are now devastating white communities, are very different from the reactions to the crack epidemic of the 1980s.

You notice nobodys talking about mandatory minimums, Scott, the Virginia congressman, says, because the mandatory minimums were so draconian that no one who represented an area where people were actually getting these kinds of sentences could possibly withstand the public revolt if they tried to respond to the opioid crisis with five-year mandatory minimums with possession of a weekends worth of pills.

For some black Americans, that change is both a sign of progress and another troubling mark of how deeply racism warps US politics.

It is hard to describe the bittersweet sting that many African-Americans feel witnessing this national embrace of addicts, law professor Ekow N Yankah wrote in an op-ed last year. It is heartening to see the eclipse of the generations-long failed war on drugs. But black Americans are also knowingly weary and embittered by the absence of such enlightened thinking when those in our own families were similarly wounded.

In Youngstown, Ohio, Barry-Scott, who has just turned 55, is applying for grants to support renewed after-school and summer programs in the same community center she attended as a child. She is on track to complete an expedited program that will allow her to finish her 10 years of supervised release early, and she continues working as a criminal justice reform advocate.

Whats most devastating about the renewed push for more incarceration, she says, is how much damage the war on drugs has already caused. Even with the blessing of the clemency she received and with her tremendous fortune to be returning home her family is still processing the toll of her sentence.

Barry-Scott left behind five of her children when she went to prison for a decade. My oldest daughter was left with the task of trying to raise the youngest ones, she says. Without her around, her husband had to work twice as hard to support the family. We are still feeling the impact of what that did to my kids, psychologically and emotionally, she adds. Its something we work on daily.

For some of the women in prison with her in West Virginia, the damage done by their being away from their families was even greater. Barry-Scott remembers one young woman who was up every morning, weeping on the phone. Then she learned that the young woman was a mother, and her daughter was describing being sexually abused in her moms absence. The child had been young, only about six years old. Youre telling me you couldnt let her do community service, pay a fine, do something other than take her away from her child? asks Barry-Scott.

How do you heal from that? Barry-Scott asks. Countless children were killed, harmed, lost to the system. How do we count that toll? Will we ever really know?

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How Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump have restarted the war on drugs – The Guardian

Duterte’s war on drugs could put Philippines youths in harm’s way, critics say – Fox News

High school students in the Philippines will be subject to random drug tests starting in September, raising safety concerns as President Rodrigo Duterte intensifies his war on drugs.

Drug tests will be randomly administered at secondary schools, both private and public, with the aim of preventing drug use and rehabilitating those already consuming them, Department of Education guidelines say.

“Random drug testing for students is considered by the government as entirely a ‘health’ issue and aims to provide appropriate interventions to those who will be tested positive for dangerous drug use, which will help the student stop further use and/or abuse of the substance,” a government statement said.

Any student testing positive for drug use will be sent for counseling and intervention by social workers, the guidelines state.

The move to test younger school students follows a previous government order for mandatory drug testing among students at universities and colleges.

But the plans have drawn sharp criticism from multiple human rights groups, which claim the government cannot be trusted to ensure that students who test positive for drug use wont become targets in Duterte’s war on drugs, which has led to some 12,500 killings since the president took office in June 2016.

Human Rights Watch Asia Director Phelim Kine slammed the policy, saying the government is putting the students in harms way.

Imposing mandatory drug testing of students when Philippine police are committing rampant summary killings of alleged drug users puts countless children in danger for failing a drug test, he said.

“Imposing mandatory drug testing of students when Philippine police are committing rampant summary killings of alleged drug users puts countless children in danger for failing a drug test.

Education officials should be protecting students, not putting them in harms way through mandatory drug tests.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones assured the critics that positive test results will not be used against students. She added that test results cannot be grounds for expulsion or disciplinary action, PTV reported.

The timing of the policy remains unfortunate as the country is in nationwide condemnation of Dutertes bloody war, following the slaying of a 17-year-old schoolboy, the Telegraph reported.

Kian Delos Santos was reportedly shot by undercover police officers after they dragged him to a dirty alleyway and asked him to run with a gun only to shoot when he did.

The police claim the teenager shot first and was a drug runner but witnesses and video footage have contradicted the allegation.

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Duterte’s war on drugs could put Philippines youths in harm’s way, critics say – Fox News

The War on Drugs’ Adam Granduciel on new album, creative control … – The Independent

Though the designation would probably make him uncomfortable, Adam Granduciel is on paper, at least what passes these days for a rock star.

As the lead singer and songwriter for the War on Drugs, one of the least likely breakout acts of this decade, Granduciel has taken an old-fashioned concept the rangy, six-string-centric American band, steeped in reverence and grandiosity and made it newly relevant, with more guitar solos than narrative or musical gimmicks.

On the strength of the War on Drugs sweeping 2014 album, Lost in the Dream, Granduciel, an unassuming frontman with a tangle of shoulder-length curls, went from toiling on the local indie circuit to headlining international music festivals and even signing a major-label record deal, a rarity for a 38-year-old traditionalist heading into his fourth LP.

Maybe there was a void for a split second and then we were there, Granduciel says, declining to muse much on the state of modern rock n roll, which has all but disappeared from the Billboard charts. I dont think about it too much, he insists.

The War on Drugs, from left: Dave Hartley, Charlie Hall, Robbie Bennett,Granduciel, John Natchez and Anthony LaMarca(Shawn Brackbill)

But while Granduciel may be a reluctant savior of rock culture, commercialism and bombast personally, he has remained largely anonymous, even while, in another throwback move, dating a famous actress, Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad,Jessica Jones) he is a careful steward of the sound, an obsessive studio rat in constant search of the authenticity he sees in titans like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Neil Young.

Adam knows his record collection, says Steve Ralbovsky, a veteran music executive who courted the War on Drugs for Atlantic Records, which will release the bands new album, A Deeper Understanding, on 25 August. The people that hes plugged into, hes plugged into deeply.

As another exercise in that devotion, A Deeper Understandingis free of any compromises that might be expected to come with new corporate backing. The initial offering from the album, an 11-minute, multi-movement epic called Thinking of a Place, was representative in its ambition and sure-footedness: Most of the records ten tracks clock in over six minutes.

Loose but not noodly, the reverb-heavy songs luxuriate in space yet find a centre in Granduciels plaintive, placeless drawl and facility with layering rich textures that manage not to clutter. (On one track, Granduciel, who wrote, produced and recorded the album, is credited with playing ten instruments on top of singing.)

Such a vintage, singular vision may not sound like a Spotify blockbuster, but neither is it as niche as remaining rock purists might fear. Powered by relentless touring and critical adoration, Lost in the Dream the most acclaimed album on year-end lists in 2014, as tallied by Metacritic has sold more than 255,000 copies (including streaming equivalents), according to Nielsen; some 114,000 of those sales were physical, defying overall trends but in line with a vinyl boom among certain indie-rock types.

Their new album ‘A Deeper Understanding’ will be a first on Atlantic Records

Bruce Warren, the program director for Philadelphias alternative FM public radio station WXPN (tagline: Vinyl at Heart), recalled the word-of-mouth growth the band experienced across age groups. The millennials and the boomers were all coming together over classic rock, he said. These guys are playing tomorrows classic rock today. (Jimmy Iovine, the Apple executive and former label boss who also worked as an engineer on Mr. Springsteens Born to Run, has said that the War on Drugs should be gigantic.)

Granduciel, a careful talker who often self-censors rather than finish a sentence, does not shy from such lofty associations, freely referring to Bruce when nerding out over studio lore. Still, he retains a believable working-class humility and dedication to craft and leadership, even or especially as his bands impact and resources have increased.

I think of it as a small business, he says in the gear-strewn rehearsal space where the band recently settled in South Philadelphia. I have employees, overhead. While the groups lineup has varied since it started in 2005 as a partnership between Granduciel and the singer-songwriter Kurt Vile, who left after the bands 2008 debut, Wagonwheel Blues, the War on Drugs currently includes the musicians Dave Hartley, Robbie Bennett, Charlie Hall, Jon Natchez and Anthony LaMarca.

Though Granduciel fears a reputation for micromanaging, especially given his creative dominance Hartley plainly calls the band a totalitarian regime he involves himself in all War on Drugs matters, from label business to hiring road crew to travel accommodations for band members during recording.

Ten years ago, I believed if you thought about that other stuff it meant you werent a serious artist, Granduciel says. Ive just grown up. Respecting yourself and your art means taking an interest in the other responsibilities.

Granducielsays he got an indie-rock deal with Atlantic Records with full creative control (Dustin Condren)

At the same time, he enjoys being held accountable. I like to work hard and I like to work for somebody, says Granduciel, who was raised in suburban Massachusetts and had jobs in a bookstore and at a Friendlys restaurant. I like to stay late and clean up the back and show the boss in the morning.

In Atlantic, and especially Ralbovsky, he found such an authority. After three albums on the independent label Secretly Canadian, the War on Drugs became free agents just as its stock was highest, near the end of 2014. I didnt want to start aiming for fame, Granduciel says, but it would be silly to not have entertained offers.

His nonnegotiable demand? Complete freedom.

Its like an indie-rock deal with a major, Granduciel says. All the things were lining up to this one moment, so Im just going to [expletive] do it, he recalled thinking. Its two records for Atlantic, full creative control. What more do you want?

He was also drawn to the pedigree of Ralbovsky, who had worked with Tom Verlaine (of Television) and the B-52s in addition to signing crossover rock acts like the Strokes, Kings of Leon and My Morning Jacket.

Granduciel(left) has remained pretty anonymous despite dating actress, Krysten Ritter(right) ‘of Breaking Bad’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ fame (Getty Images for The Weinstein C)

For the most part, Ive signed bands at the very beginning of their career, Ralbovsky says. But even without youthful sex appeal or a hit single, he was intrigued by the War on Drugs, a great band at the peak of their powers that had just made a landmark record.

Following that up was another matter, especially for Granduciel, whom Ralbovsky called a real perfectionist, a real sculptor. He added, Anybody that tells you they didnt feel pressure after signing a new deal with a big company, theyre not telling you the truth.

For the War on Drugs, those expectations were compounded by memories of making Lost in the Dream. Saddled with anxiety and prone to panic attacks on top of his obsessive attention to sonic detail, Granduciel nearly destroyed himself on the way to his musical breakthrough.

Theres an alternate universe in which that record never gets finished, says Hartley, the bands bassist, who met Granduciel more than a decade ago, when the singer was fairly broke and sort of a mess, but in an inspiring way.

However, during the pretty tortured recording process for Lost in the Dream, Hartley recalled Granduciel as a self-lacerating defeatist: There was not a single time wed listen and be stoked. It was always him being upset.

Hartley adds that Granduciel has to self-immolate a little bit to feel like hes created something true to himself. Im not going to lie to you, its a little bit tough to be involved with as a bandmate.

Granduciel credits touring, cognitive behavior therapy and a change of lifestyle with his ability to make another album and keep the group together.

I think he came out of it a better person, Hartley says. He used to be a partyer, a heavy drinker and pretty freewheeling socially. He completely became an ascetic no coffee, no booze, no drugs, limited types of food. Hes just a bit more well-adjusted.

The content of A Deeper Understanding with songs titled Up All Night, Pain, Holding On, Knocked Down, In Chains and Clean Living indicates a continued reckoning; Granduciel calls it the tying up of a lot of loose ends.

But he found purpose and structure in more than a year of writing and recording those songs, and he committed himself to involving his bandmates more in this albums creation for a sound closer to the groups live show. (The recording engineer Shawn Everett, known for his work with Alabama Shakes, said he aimed to to keep the psychedelic fog of Lost in the Dreambut maybe press the gas on the ambition a little bit for A Deeper Understanding.)

Granduciel, who spent time between tours in New York and Los Angeles with his girlfriend, Ritter, also vowed to make Philadelphia, where the War on Drugs formed, its home base. Having a moderately successful indie-rock record and living in L.A. full-time, he said, was the antithesis of what I wanted to be.

He pointed to a band like Wilco, the experimental indie stalwarts from Chicago, as a model for the War on Drugs future: self-sustaining, self-governing, great fan base, tight connection to their roots thats what were trying to build over here, Granduciel says.

I just need to work, he adds. Theres no other thing with me.

The War on Drugs’ ‘A Deeper Understanding’ is out 25 August

New York Times

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The War on Drugs’ Adam Granduciel on new album, creative control … – The Independent

Human-rights lawyers urge President to stop brutal war on drugs – Inquirer.net

CEBU CITYA group of human-rights lawyers in Central Visayas has joined calls for President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the governments bloody war on drugs and to create an independent commission to look into the spate of drug-related killings in the country.

In a resolution, the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) denounced the summary executions which the lawyers described as barbaric, unconstitutional, and very un-Christian.

Our country today has become one huge national slaughterhouse where suspected drug users and pushers have been gunned down with impunity by vigilantes and police officers, said FLAG-7 led by its chairman Democrito Barcenas.

Copies of the FLAG-7 resolution will be sent to the Office of the President and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III for their information and guidance.

FLAG-7 said the killings, a number of which are perpetrated by police officers, have continued since President Duterte launched an intensified campaign against illegal drugs in July 2016.

The human rights group said an independent commission composed of retired Supreme Court justices with proven integrity, probity, and independence must be created to conduct an impartial investigation on the uncontrolled series of killings.

The planned Senate investigation is merely a damage control and cannot ferret out the truth because it is dominated by President Dutertes spineless apologists, FLAG-7 said.

FLAG-7 is the first and largest group of human rights lawyers established in the nation. The group, which aims to protect and promote of human rights and civil liberties, was founded in 1974 by former Senators Jose Diokno, Lorenzo Taada and Joker Arroyo during the Martial Law Era under President Ferdinand Marcos.

Based on the records of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), 205 drug suspects were killed in alleged shootouts with policemen in the region while 213 others were killed from unidentified gunmen from July 1, 2016 to August 15.

Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, director of PRO-7, maintained that drug suspects who were killed in legitimate police operations placed the lives of the operatives in danger.

At least 11,122 drug suspects were arrested in Central Visayas from July 1, 2016 to August 15 while 109,301 drug users and pushers surrendered at the onset of Oplan TokHang or Toktok Hangyo, a police door-to-door anti-drug campaign where drug suspects were asked to surrender and sign documents renouncing their drug-induced life.

Since the war on drugs started last year, the PRO-7 has seized a total of 40,042 grams of shabu (methamphetamine) worth P472.5 million. JPV

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Originally posted here:

Human-rights lawyers urge President to stop brutal war on drugs – Inquirer.net

See the War on Drugs Perform on Philly River in ‘Pain’ Video … – RollingStone.com

The War on Drugs salute working class America with their black-and-white “Pain” video. Director Emmett Malloy filmed the psychedelic rock sextet as they float down the Schuyikill River in their native Philadelphia on a cargo ship emblazoned with their band name.

The clip, which Malloy shot on cinematic 16 millimeter film, alternates between close-ups and overhead shots of the wind-blown group with glimpses of everyday Philadelphia natives working and riding bicycles.

“Pain” is the second single from the War on Drugs’ fourth LP, A Deeper Understanding, out August 25th. Last week, the band issued the sprawling “Up All Night,” which follows previously released album cuts “Holding On,””Thinking of a Place” and “Strangest Thing.”

The War on Drugs will kick off a North American fall tour September 18th in Portland, Maine. After concluding that run of dates in the U.S. and Canada, the band will head to Europe in November.

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See the War on Drugs Perform on Philly River in ‘Pain’ Video … – RollingStone.com

How America Lost the War on Drugs – Rolling Stone

1. After Pablo

On the day of his death, December 2nd, 1993, the Colombian billionaire drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was on the run and living in a small, tiled-roof house in a middle-class neighborhood of Medelln, close to the soccer stadium. He died, theatrically, ridiculously, gunned down by a Colombian police manhunt squad while he tried to flee across the barrio’s rooftops, a fat, bearded man who had kicked off his flip-flops to try to outrun the bullets. The first thing the American drug agents who arrived on the scene wanted to do was to make sure that the corpse was actually Escobar’s. The second thing was to check his house.

The last time Escobar had hastily fled one of his residences la Catedral, the luxurious private prison he built for himself to avoid extradition to the United States he had left behind bizarre, enchanting detritus, the raw stuff of what would become his own myth: the photos of himself dressed up as a Capone-era gangster with a Tommy gun, the odd collection of novels ranging from Graham Greene to the Austrian modernist Stefan Zweig. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, arriving after the kingpin had fled, found neat shelves lined with loose-leaf binders, carefully organized by content. They were, says John Coleman, then the DEA’s assistant administrator for operations, “filled with DEA reports” internal documents that laid out, in extraordinary detail, the agency’s repeated attempts to capture Escobar.

This article appeared in the December 13, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

“He had shelves and shelves and shelves of these things,” Coleman tells me. “It was stunning. A lot of the informants we had, he’d figured out who they were. All the agents we had chasing him who we trusted in the Colombian police it was right there. He knew so much more about what we were doing than we knew about what he was doing.”

Coleman and other agents began to work deductively, backward. “We had always wondered why his guys, when we caught them, would always go to trial and risk lots of jail time, even when they would have saved themselves a lot of time if they’d just plead guilty,” he says. “What we realized when we saw those binders was that they were doing a job. Their job was to stay on trial and have their lawyers use discovery to get all the information on DEA operations they could. Then they’d send copies back to Medelln, and Escobar would put it all together and figure out who we had tracking him.”

Inside the War on Drugs: Interview With Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Ben Wallace-Wells

The loose-leaf binders crammed in Escobar’s office on the ground floor gave Coleman and his agents a sense of triumph: The whole mysterious drug trade had an organization, a structure and a brain, and they’d just removed it. In the thrill of the moment, clinking champagne glasses with officials from the Colombian police and taking congratulatory calls from Washington, the agents in Medelln believed the War on Drugs could finally be won. “We had an endgame,” Coleman says. “We were literally making the greatest plans.”

At the headquarters of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, staffers tacked up a poster with photographs of sixteen of its most wanted men, cartel leaders from across the Andes. Solemnly, ceremoniously, a staffer took a red magic marker and drew an X over Escobar’s portrait. “We felt like it was one down, fifteen to go,” recalls John Carnevale, the longtime budget director of the drug-control office. “There was this feeling that if we got all sixteen, it’s not like the whole thing would be over, but that was a big part of how we would go about winning the War on Drugs.”

MarijuanAmerica: Inside America’s Last Growth Industry

Man by man, sixteen red X’s eventually went up over the faces of the cartel leaders: killed. extradited. killed. Jos Santacruz Londoo, a leading drug trafficker, was gunned down by Colombian police in a shootout. The Rodrguez Orejuela brothers, the heads of the Cali cartel, were extradited after they got greedy and tried to keep running their organization from prison. Some U.S. drug warriors believed that the busts were largely public-relations events, a showy way for the Colombian government to look tough on the drug trade, but most were less cynical. The crack epidemic was over. Drug-related murders were in decline. Winning the War on Drugs didn’t seem such a quixotic and open-ended mission, like the War on Poverty, but rather something tangible, a fat guy with a big organization and binders full of internal DEA reports, sixteen faces on a poster, a piata you could reach out and smack. Richard Caas, a veteran DEA official who headed counternarcotics efforts on the National Security Council under both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, can still recall the euphoria of those days. “We were moving,” he says, “from success to success.”

This is the story of how that momentary success turned into one of the most sustained and costly defeats the United States has ever suffered. It is the story of how the most powerful country on Earth, sensing a piata, swung to hit it and missed.

The Stoner Arms Dealers

2. The Making of a Tragedy

For Caas and other drug warriors, the death of Escobar had the feel of a real pivot, the end of one kind of battle against drugs and the beginning of another. The war itself had begun during the Nixon administration, when the White House began to get reports that a generation of soldiers was about to come back from Vietnam stoned, with habits weaned on the cheap marijuana and heroin of Southeast Asia and hothoused in the twitchy-fingered freakout of a jungle guerrilla war. For those in Washington, the problem of drugs was still so strange and new in the early Seventies that Nixon officials grappled with ideas that, by the standards of the later debate among politicians, were unthinkably radical: They appointed a panel that recommended the decriminalization of casual marijuana use and even considered buying up the world’s entire supply of opium to prevent it from being converted into heroin. But Nixon was a law-and-order politician, an operator who understood very well the panic many Americans felt about the cities, the hippies and crime. Calling narcotics “public enemy number one in the United States,” he used the issue to escalate the culture war that pitted Middle Americans against the radicals and the hippies, strengthening penalties for drug dealers and devoting federal funds to bolster prosecutions. In 1973, Nixon gave the job of policing these get-tough laws to the newly formed Drug Enforcement Administration.

By the mid-1980s, as crack leeched out from New York, Miami and Los Angeles into the American interior, the devastations inflicted by the drug were becoming more vivid and frightening. The Reagan White House seemed to capture the current of the moment: Nancy Reagan’s plaintive urging to “just say no,” and her husband’s decision to hand police and prosecutors even greater powers to lock up street dealers, and to devote more resources to stop cocaine’s production at the source, in the Andes. In 1986, trying to cope with crack’s corrosive effects, Congress adopted mandatory-minimum laws, which hit inner-city crack users with penalties as severe as those levied on Wall Street brokers possessing 100 times more powder cocaine. Over the next two decades, hundreds of thousands of Americans would be locked up for drug offenses.

The War on Drugs became an actual war during the first Bush administration, when the bombastic conservative intellectual Bill Bennett was appointed drug czar. “Two words sum up my entire approach,” Bennett declared, “consequences and confrontation.” Bush and Bennett doubled annual spending on the drug war to $12 billion, devoting much of the money to expensive weaponry: fighter jets to take on the Colombian trafficking cartels, Navy submarines to chase cocaine-smuggling boats in the Caribbean. If narcotics were the enemy, America would vanquish its foe with torpedoes and F-16s and throw an entire generation of drug users in jail.

Though many on the left suspected that things had gone seriously awry, drug policy under Reagan and Bush was largely conducted in a fog of ignorance. The kinds of long-term studies that policy-makers needed those that would show what measures would actually reduce drug use and dampen its consequences did not yet exist. When it came to research, there was “absolutely nothing” that examined “how each program was or wasn’t working,” says Peter Reuter, a drug scholar who founded the Drug Policy Research Center at the RAND Corp.

But after Escobar was killed in 1993 and after U.S. drug agents began systematically busting up the Colombian cartels doubt was replaced with hard data. Thanks to new research, U.S. policy-makers knew with increasing certainty what would work and what wouldn’t. The tragedy of the War on Drugs is that this knowledge hasn’t been heeded. We continue to treat marijuana as a major threat to public health, even though we know it isn’t. We continue to lock up generations of teenage drug dealers, even though we know imprisonment does little to reduce the amount of drugs sold on the street. And we continue to spend billions to fight drugs abroad, even though we know that military efforts are an ineffective way to cut the supply of narcotics in America or raise the price.

All told, the United States has spent an estimated $500 billion to fight drugs with very little to show for it. Cocaine is now as cheap as it was when Escobar died and more heavily used. Methamphetamine, barely a presence in 1993, is now used by 1.5 million Americans and may be more addictive than crack. We have nearly 500,000 people behind bars for drug crimes a twelvefold increase since 1980 with no discernible effect on the drug traffic. Virtually the only success the government can claim is the decline in the number of Americans who smoke marijuana and even on that count, it is not clear that federal prevention programs are responsible. In the course of fighting this war, we have allowed our military to become pawns in a civil war in Colombia and our drug agents to be used by the cartels for their own ends. Those we are paying to wage the drug war have been accused of human-rights abuses in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. In Mexico, we are now repeating many of the same mistakes we have made in the Andes.

“What we learned was that in drug work, nothing ever stands still,” says Coleman, the former DEA official and current president of Drug Watch International, a law-and-order advocacy group. For every move the drug warriors made, the traffickers adapted. “The other guys were learning just as we were learning,” Coleman says. “We had this hubris.”

3. Brainiacs & Cold Warriors

“At the beginning of the Clinton administration,” Caas tells me, “the War on Drugs was like the War on Terror is now.” It was, he means, an orienting fight, the next in a sequence of abstract, generational struggles that the country launched itself into after finding no one willing to actually square up and face it on a battlefield. After the Cold War, in the flush and optimism of victory, it felt to drug warriors and the American public that abstractions could be beaten. “It was really a pivot point,” recalls Rand Beers, who served on the National Security Council for four different presidents. “We started to look carefully at our drug policies and ask if everything we were doing really made sense.” The man Clinton appointed to manage this new era was Lee Brown.

Brown had been a cop for almost thirty years when Clinton tapped him to be the nation’s drug czar in 1993. He had started out working narcotics in San Jose, California, just as the Sixties began to swell, and ended up leading the New York Police Department when the city was the symbolic center of the crack epidemic, with kids being killed by stray bullets that barreled through locked doors. A big, shy man in his fifties, Brown had made his reputation with a simple insight: Cops can’t do much without the trust of people in their communities, who are needed to turn in offenders and serve as witnesses at trial. Being a good cop meant understanding the everyday act of police work not as chasing crooks but as meeting people and making allies.

“When I worked as an undercover narcotics officer, I was living the life of an addict so I could make buys and make busts of the dealers,” Brown tells me. “When you’re in that position, you see very quickly that you can’t arrest your way out of this. You see the cycle over and over again of people using drugs, getting into trouble, going to prison, getting out and getting into drugs again. At some point I stepped back and asked myself, ‘What impact is all of this having on the drug problem? There has to be a better way.'”

In the aftermath of the Rodney King beating, this philosophy known as community policing had made Brown a national phenomenon. The Clinton administration asked him to take the drug-czar post, and though Brown was skeptical, he agreed on the condition that the White House make it a Cabinet-level position. Brown stacked his small office with liberals who had spent the long Democratic exile doing drug-policy work for Congress and swearing they would improve things when they retook power. “There were basic assumptions that Republicans had been making for fifteen years that had never been challenged,” says Carol Bergman, a congressional staffer who became Brown’s legislative liaison. “The way Lee Brown looked at it, the drug war was focused on locking kids up for increasing amounts of time, and there wasn’t enough emphasis on treatment. He really wanted to take a different tactic.”

Brown’s staff became intrigued by a new study on drug policy from the RAND Corp., the Strangelove-esque think tank that during the Cold War had employed mathematicians to crank out analyses for the Pentagon. Like Lockheed Martin, the jet manufacturer that had turned to managing welfare reform after the Cold War ended, RAND was scouting for other government projects that might need its brains. It found the drug war. The think tank assigned Susan Everingham, a young expert in mathematical modeling, to help run the group’s signature project: dividing up the federal government’s annual drug budget of $13 billion into its component parts and deciding what worked and what didn’t when it came to fighting cocaine.

Everingham and her team sorted the drug war into two categories. There were supply-side programs, like the radar and ships in the Caribbean and the efforts to arrest traffickers in Colombia and Mexico, which were designed to make it more expensive for traffickers to bring their product to market. There were also demand-side programs, like drug treatment, which were designed to reduce the market for drugs in the United States. To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of each approach, the mathematicians set up a series of formulas to calculate precisely how much additional money would have to be spent on supply programs and demand programs to reduce cocaine consumption by one percent nationwide.

“If you had asked me at the outset,” Everingham says, “my guess would have been that the best use of taxpayer money was in the source countries in South America” that it would be possible to stop cocaine before it reached the U.S. But what the study found surprised her. Overseas military efforts were the least effective way to decrease drug use, and imprisoning addicts was prohibitively expensive. The only cost-effective way to put a dent in the market, it turned out, was drug treatment. “It’s not a magic bullet,” says Reuter, the RAND scholar who helped supervise the study, “but it works.” The study ultimately ushered RAND, this vaguely creepy Cold War relic, into a position as the permanent, pragmatic left wing of American drug policy, the most consistent force for innovating and reinventing our national conception of the War on Drugs.

When Everingham’s team looked more closely at drug treatment, they found that thirteen percent of hardcore cocaine users who receive help substantially reduced their use or kicked the habit completely. They also found that a larger and larger portion of illegal drugs in the U.S. were being used by a comparatively small group of hardcore addicts. There was, the study concluded, a fundamental imbalance: The crack epidemic was basically a domestic problem, but we had been fighting it more aggressively overseas. “What we began to realize,” says Jonathan Caulkins, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who studied drug policy for RAND, “was that even if you only get a percentage of this small group of heavy drug users to abstain forever, it’s still a really great deal.”

Thirteen years later, the study remains the gold standard on drug policy. “It’s still the consensus recommendation supplied by the scholarship,” says Reuter. “Yet as well as it’s stood up, it’s never really been tried.”

To Brown, RAND’s conclusions seemed exactly right. “I saw how little we were doing to help addicts, and I thought, ‘This is crazy,'” he recalls. “‘This is how we should be breaking the cycle of addiction and crime, and we’re just doing nothing.'”

The federal budget that Brown’s office submitted in 1994 remains a kind of fetish object for certain liberals in the field, the moment when their own ideas came close to making it into law. The budget sought to cut overseas interdiction, beef up community policing, funnel low-level drug criminals into treatment programs instead of prison, and devote $355 million to treating hardcore addicts, the drug users responsible for much of the illegal-drug market and most of the crime associated with it. White House political handlers, wary of appearing soft on crime, were skeptical of even this limited commitment, but Brown persuaded the president to offer his support, and the plan stayed.

Still, the politics of the issue were difficult. Convincing Congress to dramatically alter the direction of America’s drug war required a brilliant sales job. “And Lee Brown,” says Bergman, his former legislative liaison, “was not an effective salesman.” With a kind of loving earnestness, the drug czar arranged tours of treatment centers for congressmen to show them the kinds of programs whose funding his bill would increase. Few legislators came. Most politicians were skeptical about such a radical departure from the mainstream consensus on crime. Congress rewrote the budget, slashing the $355 million for treatment programs by more than eighty percent. “There were too many of us who had a strong law-and-order focus,” says Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican who opposed the reform bill and serves as co-chair of the Senate’s drug-policy caucus.

For some veteran drug warriors, Brown’s tenure as drug czar still lingers as the last moment when federal drug policy really made sense. “Lee Brown came the closest of anyone to really getting it,” says Carnevale, the longtime budget director of the drug-control office. “But the bottom line was, the drug issue and Lee Brown were largely ignored by the Clinton administration.” When Brown tried to repeat his treatment-centered initiative in 1995, it was poorly timed: Newt Gingrich and the Republicans had seized control of the House after portraying Clinton as soft on crime. The authority to oversee the War on Drugs passed from Rep. John Conyers, the Detroit liberal, to a retired wrestling coach from Illinois who was tired of drugs in the schools a rising Republican star named Dennis Hastert. Reeling from the defeat at the polls, Clinton decided to give up on drug reform and get tough on crime. “The feeling was that the drug czar’s office was one of the weak areas when it came to the administration’s efforts to confront crime,” recalls Leon Panetta, then Clinton’s chief of staff.

4. The Young Guns

The administration was not doing much better in its efforts to stop the flow of drugs at the source. Before Clinton had even taken office, Caas who headed drug policy at the National Security Council had been summoned to brief the new president’s choice for national security adviser, Anthony Lake, on the nation’s narcotics policy in Latin America. “I figured, what the hell, I’m going back to DEA anyway, I’ll tell him what I really think,” Caas recalls.

The Bush administration, he told Lake, had been sending the military after the wrong target. In the 1970s, drugs were run up to the United States through the Caribbean by a bunch of “swashbuckling entrepreneurs” with small planes “guys who wouldn’t have looked out of place at a Jimmy Buffett concert.” In 1989, in the nationwide panic over crack, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney had managed to secure a budget of $450 million to chase these Caribbean smugglers. (Years later, when a longtime drug official asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld why Cheney had pushed the program, Rumsfeld grinned and said, “Cheney thought he was running for president.”) The U.S. military loved the new mission, because it gave them a reason to ask for more equipment in the wake of the Cold War. And the Bush White House loved the idea of sending the military after the drug traffickers for its symbolism and swagger and the way it proved that the administration was taking drugs seriously.

The problem, Caas told Lake, was that the cocaine traffic had professionalized and was now moving its product through Mexico. With Caribbean smugglers out of the game, the military program no longer made sense. The new national security adviser grinned at Caas, pleased. “That’s what we think as well,” Lake said. “How would you like to stay on and help make that happen?”

Taking a new approach, the Clinton administration shifted most military assets out of the Caribbean and into the Andes, where the coca leaf was being grown and processed. “Our idea was, Stop messing around in the transit countries and go to the source,” Caas tells me. The administration spent millions of extra dollars to equip police in Bolivia and Colombia to bust the crop’s growers and processors. The cops were not polite Human Rights Watch condemned the murders of Bolivian farmers, blaming “the heavy hand of U.S. drug enforcement” but they were effective, and by 1996, coca production in Bolivia had begun a dramatic decline.

After Escobar fell, the American drug agents who had been chasing him did not expect the cocaine industry to dry up overnight they had girded for the fallout from the drug lord’s death. What they had not expected was the ways in which the unintended consequences of his downfall would permanently change the drug traffic. “What ended up happening and maybe we should have predicted this would happen was that the whole structure shattered into these smaller groups,” says Coleman, the veteran DEA agent. “You suddenly had all these new guys controlling a small aspect of the traffic.”

Among them was a hired gun known as Don Berna, who had served as a bodyguard for Escobar. Double-crossed by his boss, Berna broke with the Medelln cartel and struck out on his own. For him, the disruption caused by the new front in America’s drug war presented a business opportunity. But with the DEA’s shift from the Caribbean into Bolivia and Colombia, Berna and other new traffickers had a production problem. So some of the “microcartels,” as they became known, decided to move their operations someplace where they could control it: They opened negotiations with the FARC, a down-at-the-heels rebel army based in the jungles of Colombia. In return for cash, the FARC agreed to put coca production under its protection and keep the Colombian army away from the coca crop.

Berna and the younger kingpins also had a transportation problem: Mexican traffickers, who had been paid a set fee by the cartels to smuggle product across the U.S. border, wanted a larger piece of the business. The Mexican upstarts had a certain economic logic on their side. A kilo of cocaine produced in Colombia is worth about $2,500. In Mexico, a kilo gets $5,000. But smuggle that kilo across the border and the price goes up to $17,500. “What the Mexican groups started saying was, ‘Why are we working for these guys? Why don’t we just buy it from the Colombians directly and keep the profits ourselves?'” says Tony Ayala, a retired DEA agent and former Mexico country attache.

The remaining leaders of the weakened Cali cartel, DEA agents say, traveled up to Guadalajara for a series of meetings with Mexican traffickers. By 1996, the Colombians had decided to hand over more control of the cocaine trade to the Mexicans. The Cali cartel would now ship cocaine to Guadalajara, sell the drugs to the Mexican groups and then be done with it. “This wasn’t just happenstance,” says Jerome McArdle, then a DEA assistant agent for special operations. “This was the Colombians saying they were willing to reduce their profits in exchange for reducing their risk and exposure, and handing it over to the Mexicans. The whole nature of the supply chain changed.”

Around the same time, DEA agents found themselves picking up Mexican distributors, rather than Colombians, on the streets of New York. Immigration and customs officials on the border were meanwhile overwhelmed by the sheer number of tractor-trailers many of them loaded with drugs suddenly pouring across the Mexican border as a consequence of NAFTA, which had been enacted in 1994. “A thousand trucks coming across in a four-hour period,” says Steve Robertson, a DEA special agent assigned to southern Texas at the time. “There’s no way we’re going to catch everything.”

Power followed the money, and Mexican traffickers soon had a style, and reach, that had previously belonged only to the Colombians. In the border town of Ciudad Jurez, the cocaine trafficker Amado Carrillo Fuentes developed a new kind of smuggling operation. “He brought in middle-class people for the first time lawyers, accountants and he developed a transportation division, an acquisitions division, even a human-resources operation, just like a modern corporation,” says Tony Payan, a political scientist at the University of Texas-El Paso who has studied the drug trade on the border. Before long, Carrillo Fuentes had a fleet of Boeing 727s, which he used to fly cocaine, up to fifteen tons at a time, up from Colombia to Mexico. The newspapers called him El Seor de los Cielos, the Lord of the Skies.

The Mexican cartels were also getting more imaginative. “Think of it like a business, which is how these guys thought of it,” says Guy Hargreaves, a top DEA agent during the 1990s. “Why pay for the widgets when you can make the widgets yourselves?” Since the climate and geography of Mexico aren’t right for making cocaine, the cartels did the logical thing: They introduced a new product. As Hargreaves recalls, the Mexicans slipped the new drug into their cocaine shipments in Southern California and told coke dealers, “Here, try some of this stuff it’s a similar effect.”

The product the Mexican cartels came up with, the new widget they could make themselves, was methamphetamine. The man who mastered the market was a midlevel cocaine trafficker, then in his late twenties, named Jess Amezcua. In 1994, when U.S. Customs officials at the Dallas airport seized an airplane filled with barrels of ephedrine, a chemical precursor for meth, and traced it back to Amezcua, the startling new shift in the drug traffic became clear to a handful of insiders. “Cartels were no longer production organizations, whose business is wrapped up in a single drug,” says Tony Ayala, the senior DEA agent in Mexico at the time. “They became trafficking organizations and they will smuggle whatever they can make the most profit from.”

5. The Lobbyists & the Mad Professor

It is only in retrospect that these moments the barrels of ephedrine seized in Dallas, the quiet suggestion that meth had worked its way into the cocaine supply chain take on a looming character, the historic weight of a change made manifest. Up until methamphetamine, the War on Drugs had targeted three enemies. First there were the hippie drugs marijuana, LSD that posed little threat to the general public. Then there was heroin, a horrible drug but one that was largely concentrated in New York City. And, finally, there was crack. What meth proved was that even if the DEA could wipe out every last millionaire cocaine goon in Colombia, burn every coca field in Bolivia and Peru, and build an impenetrable wall along the entire length of the Mexican border even then, we wouldn’t have won the War on Drugs, because there would still be methamphetamine, and after that, something else.

Gene Haislip, who served for years as one of the DEA’s top-ranking administrators, believes there was a moment when meth could have been shut down, long before it spiraled into a nationwide epidemic. Haislip, who spent nearly two decades leading a small group at the agency dedicated to chemical control, is his own kind of legend; he is still known around the DEA as the man who beat quaaludes, perhaps the only drug that the U.S. has ever been able to declare total victory over. He did it with gumshoe methodicalness: by identifying every country in the world that produced the drug’s active ingredient, a prescription medication called methaqualone, and convincing them to tighten regulations. Haislip believes he was present the moment when the United States lost the war on methamphetamine, way back in 1986, when meth was still a crude biker drug confined to a few valleys in Northern California a decade before the Mexican drug lords turned it into the most problematic drug in America. “The thing is, methamphetamine should never have gotten to that point,” Haislip says. And it never would have, he believes, if it hadn’t been for the lobbyists.

Haislip was known around the DEA as precise-minded and verbal. His impulse, in combatting meth, was the same one that had pushed the drug warriors after Escobar: the quixotic faith that if you could just stop the stuff at the source, you could get rid of all the social problems at once. Assembling a coalition of legislators, Haislip convinced them that the small, growing population of speed freaks in Northern California was enough of a concern that Congress should pass a law to regulate the drug’s precursor chemicals, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, legal drugs that were used in cold medicine and produced in fewer than a dozen factories in the world. “We were starting to get reports of hijacking of ephedrine, armed robbery of ephedrine, things that had never happened before,” Haislip tells me. “You could see we were on the verge of something if we didn’t get a handle on it.”

All that was left was to convince the Reagan administration. One day in late 1986, Haislip went to meet with top officials in the Indian Treaty Room, a vast, imposing space in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building: arches, tiled floors, the kind of room designed to house history being made. Haislip noticed several men in suits sitting quietly in the back of the room. They were lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry, but Haislip didn’t pay them much attention. “I wasn’t concerned with them,” he recalls.

When Haislip launched into his presentation, an official from the Commerce Department cut him off. “Look, you’re way ahead of us,” the official said. “We don’t have anything to suggest or add.” Haislip left the meeting thinking he had won: The bill he proposed was submitted to Congress, requiring companies to keep records on the import and sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

But what Haislip didn’t know was that the men in suits had already gone to work to rig the bill in their favor. “Quite frankly,” Allan Rexinger, one of the lobbyists present at the meeting later told reporters, “we appealed to a higher authority.” The pharmaceutical industry needed pseudoephedrine to make profitable cold medications. The result, to Haislip’s dismay, was a new law that monitored sales of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in bulk powder but created an exemption for selling the chemicals in tablet form a loophole that protected the pharmaceutical industry’s profits.

The law, drug agents say, sparked two changes in the market for illegal meth. First, the supply of ephedrine simply moved overseas: The Mexican cartels, quick to recognize an emerging market, evaded the restrictions by importing powder from China, India and Europe and then smuggling it across the border to the biker groups that had traditionally distributed the drug. “We actually had meetings where we planned for a turf war between the Mexicans and the Hells Angels over methamphetamine,” says retired DEA agent Mike Heald, who headed the San Francisco meth task force, “but it turned out they realized they’d make more money by working together.” Second, responding to a dramatic uptick in demand from the illegal market, chemical-supply companies began moving huge amounts of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine out to the West Coast in the form of pills, which were then converted into meth. Rather than stemming the tide of meth before it started, the Reagan administration had unwittingly helped accelerate a new epidemic: Between 1992 and 1994, the number of meth addicts entering rehab facilities doubled, and the drug’s purity on the street rose by twenty-seven percent.

Haislip resolved to have another go at Congress, but the issue ended up in a dispiriting cycle. The resistance, he says bitterly, “was always coming from the same lobbying group.” In 1993, when he persuaded lawmakers to regulate the sale of ephedrine in tablet form, the pharmaceutical industry won an exception for pseudoephedrine. Drug agents began to intercept shipments of pseudoephedrine pills in barrels. Three years later, when lawmakers finally regulated tablets of pseudoephedrine, they created an exception for pills sold in blister packs. “Congress thought there was no way that meth freaks would buy this stuff and pop the pills out of blister packs, one by one,” says Heald. “But we’re not dealing with normal people we’re dealing with meth freaks. They’ll stay up all night picking their toes.”

By the time Haislip retired, in 1997, the methamphetamine problem was really two problems. There were the mom-and-pop cooks, who were punching pills out of blister packs and making small batches of drugs for themselves. Then there were the industrial-scale Mexican cartels, which were responsible for eighty percent of the meth in the United States. It took until 2005 for Congress to finally regulate over-the-counter blister packs, which caused the number of labs to plummet. But once again, the Mexican groups were a step ahead of the law. In October 2006, police in Guadalajara arrested an American chemist named Frederick Wells, who had moved to Mexico after losing his job at Idaho State University. An academic troublemaker who drove around campus with signs on the back of his pickup truck raging at the college administration, Wells had allegedly used his university lab to investigate new ways that Mexican traffickers could use completely legal reagents to engineer meth precursors from scratch. “Very complicated numerical modeling,” says his academic colleague Jeff Rosentreter. By the time Wells was arrested, the State Department had only just succeeded at pressuring Mexico to restrict the flow of pseudoephedrine, even though Wells had apparently been hard at work for years creating alternatives to that chemical. The lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry, Haislip says, “cost us eight or nine years.”

For some in the drug war, it was a lesson that even the most promising efforts to restrict the supply of drugs at the source those that rely on legal methods to regulate legally produced drugs remained nearly impossible, outflanked by both drug traffickers and industry lobbyists. The tragedy of the fight against methamphetamine is that it repeated the ways in which the government tried to fight the cocaine problem, and failed racing from source to source, trying to eliminate a coca field or an ephedrine manufacturer and then racing to the next one. “We used to call it the Pillsbury Doughboy stick your finger in one part of the problem, and the Doughboy’s stomach just pops out somewhere else,” says Rand Beers. “The lesson of U.S. drug policy is that this world runs on unintended consequences. No matter how noble your intentions, there’s a good chance that in solving one problem, you’ll screw something else up.”

6. The General & the Adman

Within the Clinton White House, the reform effort spearheaded by Lee Brown had created a political dilemma. Republicans, having taken control of Congress in 1994, were attacking the administration for being soft on drugs, and the White House decided that it was time to look tougher. “A lot of people didn’t think Brown was a strong leader,” Panetta tells me. As senior figures within the administration cast about for a replacement, they started by thinking about who would be the opposite of Brown. “We wanted to get someone who was much stronger, much tougher, and could come across that way symbolically,” Panetta says.

During the planning for a possible invasion of Haiti, Panetta and others had discovered a rising star at the Pentagon, a charismatic, bullying four-star general named Barry McCaffrey, who had annoyed many in the Pentagon’s establishment. In 1996, halfway into his State of the Union address, Clinton looked up at McCaffrey, a lean, stern-seeming military man in the balcony, and informed the nation that the general would be his next drug czar. “To succeed, he needs a force far larger than he has ever commanded before,” Clinton said. “He needs all of us. Every one of us has a role to play on this team.” McCaffrey, the bars on his epaulets shimmering, saluted. It was one of the president’s biggest applause lines of the night.

For the drug warriors in McCaffrey’s office, “the General” was everything the languid, considered, academic Lee Brown had not been. “It was clear from the outset that here was a guy who would take advantage of the bully pulpit and who, unlike Brown, would probably be able to get things done,” says Bergman, Brown’s former liaison. “One thing that surprised us all was how thoughtful he was he wasn’t a knee-jerk, law-enforcement guy. He understood there needed to be money for treatment. He prided himself on being very sensitive to the racial issues, and he was sensitive to the impact of sentencing laws on African-American men.” McCaffrey imported his own staff from the Southern Command mostly men, all military. They lent the White House’s drug operation previously a slow place the kinetic energy of a forward operating base. “We went to a twenty-four-hour clock, so we’d schedule meetings for 1500,” one longtime staffer recalls. “His people sat down with senior staff and told us what size paper the General wanted his memos on, this kind of report would have green tabs, this would have blue tabs.”

The General’s genius was for publicity. “He was great at getting visibility,” Carnevale says. McCaffrey held grandstanding events everywhere from Mexico to Maine, telling reporters that the decades-long narrative of impending doom around the drug war was out of date and that if Congress would really dedicate itself to the mission, the country had a winnable fight on its hands. Drug-use numbers were edging downward; even cocaine seemed to be declining in popularity. “We are in an optimistic situation,” McCaffrey declared.

For the first time ever, McCaffrey had the drug czar’s office develop a strategy for an endgame to the drug war, a plan for finishing the whole thing. The federal government needed to reduce the amount of money it was spending on law enforcement and interdiction. But McCaffrey believed this was only possible once it could guarantee that drug use would continue to decline. “The data suggested very strongly that those who never tried any drugs before they were eighteen were very likely to remain abstinent for their whole lives, but that those who even smoked marijuana when they were teenagers had much worse outcomes,” says McCaffrey’s deputy Don Vereen. So the General decided to focus the government’s attention on keeping kids from trying pot.

The “gateway theory,” as it became known, had a natural appeal. Because most people who used hard drugs had also smoked marijuana, and because kids often tried marijuana several years before they started trying harder drugs, it seemed that keeping them off pot might prevent them from ever getting to cocaine and heroin. The only trouble is, the theory is wrong. When McCaffrey’s office commissioned the Institute of Medicine to study the idea, researchers concluded that marijuana “does not appear to be a gateway drug.” RAND, after examining a decade of data, also found that the gateway theory is “not the best explanation” of the link between marijuana use and hard drugs. But McCaffrey continued to devote more and more of the government’s resources to going after kids. “We have already clearly committed ourselves,” he declared, “to a number-one focus on youth.”

“That decision,” Bergman says, “was where you could see McCaffrey begin to lose credibility.”

In 1996, less than a year into his term, the new drug czar met Jim Burke, a smooth-talking, silver-haired executive who chaired the Partnership for a Drug-Free America the advertising organization best known for the slogan “This is your brain on drugs.” “Burke personally was very hard to resist,” one of his former colleagues tells me. “I’ve seen him sell many conservative members of Congress and also liberals like Mario Cuomo.”

Burke told McCaffrey a simple story. In the late 1980s, he said, the major television networks had voluntarily given airtime to the Partnership to run anti-drug ads aimed at teenagers. The number of teenagers who used drugs especially marijuana declined during that period. But in the early 1990s, Burke said, the rise of cable TV cut into the profits of the networks, which became stingier with the time they dedicated to anti-drug advertising. The result, the adman told the General, was that the number of teenagers who used drugs was climbing sharply to the outrage of Dennis Hastert and other conservative members of Congress. As a clincher, Burke handed McCaffrey a graph that showed the declining amount of airtime dedicated to anti-drug advertising on one axis and the declining perception among teenagers of the risks associated with drugs on the other. “I’m ninety-nine percent sure,” one staffer at the Partnership tells me, “that it was that conversation that sold McCaffrey.”

The General mobilized his office, lobbying Congress to allocate enough money to put anti-drug advertising on the air whenever teenagers watched television. His staff was skeptical. For all of McCaffrey’s conviction and charisma, he didn’t have much in the way of facts. “That was all we had no data, just this one chart and we had to go and sell Congress,” Carnevale recalls. But Congress proved to be a pushover. Conservatives, who held a majority, were thrilled that soft-on-pot liberals in the Clinton administration finally wanted to do something about the drug problem. “At some point, you have to draw a line and say that some things are right and some things are wrong,” says Sen. Grassley, explaining his support of the measure. “And using any drugs is just flat-out wrong.” To the Partnership’s delight, Congress allocated $1 billion to buy network time for anti-drug spots aimed at teenagers.

The General was also starting to make friends beyond the Clinton administration. The drug czar had found a natural ally in Hastert, who had become the GOP’s de facto leader on drug policy. The former wrestling coach struck few as charismatic his joyless and drudging style, his form like settled gelatin but his experiences in high schools had left him with the feeling that the drug issue, in the words of his longtime aide Bobby Charles, “had become extremely poignant.” Hastert wasn’t quite Lee Brown; he believed that the prime focus of the drug war should be to increase funding for military operations in Colombia. But he and his staff had grown frustrated with the exclusively punitive character of drug policy and wanted the Republicans to take a more compassionate stance. His staff had studied the RAND reports and largely agreed with their conclusions. “We felt if you didn’t get at the nub of the problem, which was prevention and treatment, you weren’t going to do any good,” says John Bridgeland, a congressional aide who helped coordinate Republican drug policy. Hastert eventually won $450 million to be used, in part, to expand a faith-based program discovered by Bridgeland: Developed by a former evangelical minister, it brought together preachers, parents and drug counselors to fight the problem of “apathy” through “parent training” and “messages from the pulpit.”

But with McCaffrey’s emphasis on kids came another, almost fanatical focus: going after citizens who used pot for medical purposes. If he was fighting marijuana, the General was going to fight it everywhere, in all its forms. He threatened to have doctors who prescribed pot brought up on federal charges, and dismissed the science behind medical marijuana as a “Cheech and Chong show.” In 1997, voters in Oregon introduced an initiative to legalize medical marijuana in the state. “I’ll never forget the senior-staff meeting the morning after the Oregon initiative was announced,” Bergman says. “McCaffrey was furious. It was like this personal affront to him. He couldn’t believe they’d gotten away with it. He wanted to have this research done on the groups behind it and completely trash them in the press.” As the General traveled to the initiative states, stumping against medical marijuana, his aides sneered that the initiatives were “all being mostly bankrolled by one man, George Soros,” the billionaire investor who favored decriminalizing drugs.

Even for those who shared McCaffrey’s philosophy, the theatrics seemed strange: There he was, on evening newscasts, effectively insisting that grandmothers dying of cancer were corrupting America’s youth. His office pushed arguments that, at best, stretched the available research: Marijuana is a gateway drug that leads inexorably to the abuse of harder drugs; marijuana is thirty times more potent now than it was a generation ago. “It didn’t track with the conclusions our researchers came to,” says Bergman. “It felt like he was trying to manipulate the data.”

McCaffrey had taken the drug war in a new direction, one that had little obvious connection with preventing drug abuse. For the first time, the full force of the federal government was being brought to bear on patients dying from terminal diseases. Even the General’s allies in Congress were appalled. “I can’t tell you how many times I went to the Hill with him and sat in on closed-doors meetings,” Bergman recalls. “Members said to him, ‘What in the world are you doing? We have real drug problems in the country with meth and cocaine. What the hell are you doing with medical marijuana? We get no calls from our constituents about that. Nobody cares about that.’ McCaffrey was just mystified by their response, because he truly believed marijuana was a gateway drug. He truly believed in what he was doing.”

7. The Harvard Man

For the cops on the front lines of the War on Drugs, the federal government’s fixation with marijuana was deeply perplexing. As they saw it, the problem wasn’t pot but the drug-related violence that accompanied cocaine and other hard drugs. After the crack epidemic in the late 1980s, police commissioners around the country, like Lee Brown in Houston, began adding more officers and developing computer mapping to target neighborhoods where crime was on the rise. The crime rate dropped. But by the mid-1990s, police in some cities were beginning to realize there was a certain level that they couldn’t get crime below. Mass jailings weren’t doing the trick: Only fifteen percent of those convicted of federal drug crimes were actual traffickers; the rest were nothing but street-level dealers and mules, who could always be replaced.

Police in Boston, concerned about violence between youth drug gangs, turned for assistance to a group of academics. Among them was a Harvard criminologist named David Kennedy. Working together, the academics and members of the department’s anti-gang unit came up with what Kennedy calls a “quirky” strategy and convinced senior police commanders to give it a try. The result, which began in 1995, was the Boston Gun Project, a collaborative effort among ministers and community leaders and the police to try to break the link between the drug trade and violent crime. First, the project tracked a particular drug-dealing gang, mapping out its membership and operations in detail. Then, in an effort called Operation Ceasefire, the dealers were called into a meeting with preachers and parents and social-service providers, and offered a deal: Stop the violence, or the police will crack down with a vengeance. “We know the seventeen guys you run with,” the gangbangers were told. “If anyone in your group shoots somebody, we’ll arrest every last one of you.” The project also extended drug treatment and other assistance to anyone who wanted it.

The effort worked: The rates of homicide and violence among young men in Boston dropped by two-thirds. Drug dealing didn’t stop “people continued what they were doing,” Kennedy concedes, “but they put their guns down.” As Kennedy reflected on the success of the Boston project, which ran for five years, he wondered if he had discovered a deeper truth about drug-related violence. If the murders weren’t a necessary component of the drug trade if it was possible to separate the two perhaps cities could find a way to reduce the violence, even if they could do nothing about the drugs.

In 2001, Kennedy got a call from the mayor of San Francisco that gave him a chance to examine his theories in a new setting. The city had experienced a recent spike in its murder rate, much of it caused by an ongoing feud between two drug-dealing gangs Big Block and West Mob that had resulted in dozens of murders over the years. Could Kennedy, the mayor asked, help police figure out how to stop the killings?

Kennedy flew out to San Francisco and met with police. But as he researched the history of the violence, it seemed to confirm his findings in Boston. Though both Big Block and West Mob were involved in dealing drugs, the shootings were not really drug-related the two groups occupied different territories and were not battling over turf. “The feud had started over who would perform next at a neighborhood rap event,” says Kennedy, now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “They had been killing each other ever since.”

Such evidence suggested that drug enforcement needed to focus more narrowly on those responsible for the violence. “Seventy percent of the violence in these hot neighborhoods comes back to drugs,” Kennedy says. “But one of the profound myths is that these homicides are about the drug trade. The violence is driven by these crews but they’re not killing each other over business.” The real spark igniting the murders, he realized, was peer pressure, a kind of primordial male goad that drove young gang members to kill each other even in instances when they weren’t sure they wanted to.

Given that police departments had already locked up every drug dealer in sight and were still having problems with violence, Kennedy thought a new approach was worth a try. “There’s a difference between saying, ‘I’m watching this, and you should stop,’ and putting someone in federal lockup,” he says. “The violence is not about the drug business but that’s a very hard thing for people to understand.”

But in the early days of the Bush administration, police departments were in no hurry to experiment with an approach that focused on drug-related murders and mostly ignored users who weren’t committing violence. Kennedy’s efforts proved to be yet another missed opportunity in the War on Drugs an experience that made clear how difficult it is for science to influence the nation’s drug policy.

“If ten years ago the medical community had figured out a way to reduce the deaths from breast cancer by two-thirds, every cancer clinic in the country would have been using those techniques a year later,” Kennedy says. “But when it comes to drugs and violence, there’s been nothing like that.”

8. Helicopters & Coca

Instead of pursuing the Boston Gun Project and other innovative approaches to fighting drug violence, the federal government decided to escalate its military response in Colombia. For the past decade and a half, cooperation from officials in Bogot had been halfhearted, sporadic and deeply corrupt. But by 1999, the country, it seemed, was on the verge of collapsing into civil war. The drug money that had flowed into Colombia had found its way into the hands of the rebel militia the FARC which had been laying siege to the Colombian government. The Clinton foreign-policy team, having spent the previous few years dealing with the consequences of failed states in Somalia and the Balkans, was deeply concerned about the possibility of a failed narcostate in America’s own back yard.

One afternoon in June 1999, a dozen senior Clinton officials filed into the National Security Council’s situation room, summoned by Sandy Berger, the president’s national security adviser. Even though Bogot had ceded control of vast swaths of the country to the left-wing rebels, they were told, recent peace talks had collapsed. “The FARC had basically always been jungle campesinos they were a pretty austere bunch,” says Brian Sheridan, who was in charge of the Pentagon’s counternarcotics effort at the time and attended the meeting. “All of a sudden, they were leveling these attacks that had gotten more and more audacious.” When FARC rebels had emerged from the jungle for a round of peace talks the previous fall, they had brandished brand-new AK-47s and Dragunovs, as if on military parade. One U.S. official observed at the time that the weaponry was “far beyond” what the Colombian army had in a pitched battle, the Clinton administration worried, the Colombian government could plausibly collapse.

The White House advisers weren’t the only officials in Washington concerned about Colombia. Earlier that day, two men who attended the briefing Rand Beers of the State Department and Charlie Wilhelm of the Defense Department had gotten a call from the Republican caucus on the Hill. Dennis Hastert, who had been elevated to Speaker of the House six months earlier, wanted to see them right away. “It was kind of unusual,” Beers recalls but when Hastert called, you came.

When Beers and Wilhelm arrived, Rep. Porter Goss, then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, handed them a piece of paper. It was a copy of a supplemental spending authorization that the Republicans planned to offer immediately. Crafted by Bobby Charles, Hastert’s longtime aide, the bill would have more than doubled military aid to Colombia to take on the rebels and narcotraffickers to a staggering $1.2 billion a year. But it was the politics of the situation that worried Beers as much as the money. “It occurred to me that if the administration was going to do anything on Colombia, it better do it soon,” he says now, “or the Republicans would once again outflank what they perceived as the I-never-inhaled Clinton administration.” Beers told the Republicans he would take a look, and then hurried to Berger’s meeting.

Throughout much of the Clinton administration, the hope had been that the United States would be able to reduce its military aid to the Andes as the cocaine epidemic waned. Now, as Berger’s group heard from intelligence agents, that hope seemed to be fading. Narcotraffickers were paying off the FARC so they could grow coca in the jungles of Colombia. The FARC were then turning around and using the money to buy weapons to stage attacks on the Colombian government.

Berger decided to act. Rather than oppose the Republican plan, he agreed to negotiate on an assistance package to bail out the Colombian government. The result was Plan Colombia nearly $1.6 billion to escalate the War on Drugs in the Andes. The new program would arm the military and police in their fight against the FARC, launch an ambitious effort to spray herbicide on coca crops from the air and provide economic assistance to poor farmers in rural villages. The initial aid, officials decided, would be heavily concentrated in Putumayo, a rebel-run province in the jungle.

No one is sure what convinced President Clinton to approve such an ambitious escalation in the War on Drugs. But some observers at the time speculated that the critical factor was a conversation with Sen. Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat, whose state is home to the helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft. In early 2000, Clinton unveiled Plan Colombia and Sikorksy promptly received an order for eighteen of its Blackhawk helicopters at a cost of $15 million each. “Much has been made of the notion that this was Dodd looking to sell Blackhawks to Colombia,” Beers tells me. He pauses before adding, “I am not in a position to tell you it didn’t happen.”

Plan Colombia would be the Clinton administration’s primary and most costly contribution to the War on Drugs, the major counternarcotics program it bequeathed to the Bush administration. But as with so many other aspects of American drug policy, the plan had an unintended consequence: As it evolved, the emphasis on supplying arms to the Colombian government ended up having less to do with drugs and more to do with helping Bogot fight its enemies. Colombia used the military aid to target the left-wing FARC even though many believed that right-wing paramilitaries, who were allies of the government, were more directly involved in narcotrafficking. “It wasn’t really first and foremost a counternarcotics program at all,” says a senior Pentagon official involved in the creation of Plan Colombia. “It was mostly a political stabilization program.”

9. The Temple of Hope


How America Lost the War on Drugs – Rolling Stone

A Small-Town Police Officer’s War on Drugs – New York Times

Those years spent guarding prisoners, and later kicking down doors, changed Adamss thinking. So many of the drug users he saw had made one bad decision and then became chained to it, Adams realized. Or they had begun on a valid prescription for pain medication, after an injury, and then grew addicted. When refills grew scarce, they turned to alternatives. Many were no longer even using to get high, only to avoid the agony of withdrawal. They were teenaged, middle-aged and elderly; they were students, bankers and grocery clerks. They were businesswomen with six-figure salaries and homeless men with shopping carts. Arresting a person like this did no good, because there was always another to replace him or her and regardless, any jail sentence had limits. Afterward, Adams saw, everyone landed right back where they started.

Were not getting anywhere, he told his chief, Christopher Adams (the two men are not related), and his lieutenant. It turned out that they had already reached a similar conclusion. Until recently, Christopher Adams told me, he couldnt recall ever hearing of a heroin case. Now its every day, he said. Its a majority. Not just in Laconia. Its all over. He and his lieutenant sat down to consider what their department might do. It seemed that there were three conceivable approaches to a drug problem: prevention, enforcement and treatment. To accomplish all three would mean regarding drug users, and misusers, as not only criminals. They were also customers who were being targeted and sold to; they were also victims who needed medical treatment. To coordinate all those approaches would require a particular sort of officer.

In September 2014, Eric Adams became the first person in New England to his knowledge, the only person in the country whose job title is prevention, enforcement and treatment coordinator. I never thought Id be doing something like this, he told me. I learned fast. The department printed him new business cards: The Laconia Police Department recognizes that substance misuse is a disease, they read. We understand you cant fight this alone. On the reverse, Adamss cellphone number and email address were listed. He distributed these to every officer on patrol and answered his phone any time it rang, seven days a week. Strangers called him at 3 a.m., and Adams spoke with them for hours.

The department assigned him an unmarked Crown Victoria, and in it he followed the blips and squawks of a police scanner, driving to the scene of any overdose it reported and introducing himself to the victim, as well as any friends or family he could locate. Residents like these often shrank from the police or stiffened defensively. But when Adams told them that they werent under arrest, that he had only come to help, they seemed to sag in relief.

People who work with addicts generally agree that this moment, immediately after an overdose, offers the greatest chance to sway an addict, when he or she feels most vulnerable. Youre at a crossroads right then and there, a local paramedic told me. If an addict agreed to Adamss help, Adams drove him to a treatment facility, sat beside him in waiting rooms, ferried his parents or siblings to visit him there or at the jail or hospital. He added the names of everyone he encountered to a spreadsheet, and he kept in touch even with those who relapsed. Were they feeling safe? Attending support meetings? Did they have a job? A place to sleep?

In the nearly three years since, as overdose rates have climbed across New Hampshire, those in Laconia have fallen. In 2014, the year Adams began, the town had 10 opioid fatalities. In 2016, the number was five. Fifty-one of its residents volunteered for treatment last year, up from 46 a year before and 14 a year before that. The county as a whole, Belknap, had fewer opioid-related emergency-room visits than any other New Hampshire county but one. Of the 204 addicts Adams has crossed paths with, 123 of them, or 60 percent, have agreed to keep in touch with him. Adams calls them at least weekly. Ninety-two have entered clinical treatment. Eighty-four, or just over 40 percent of all those he has met, are in recovery, having kept sober for two months or longer. Zero have died.

On most mornings, Adams arrives at his office well before 9 to answer email. By then, his phone is already chiming. I thought when I got this position: Monday through Friday, day shifts, weekends off. Im going to see my kids and wife more, Adams said, laughing. Thats not the case. Pinned to the walls of his office, a windowless room on the second floor of the department, are pamphlets and resource guides for homelessness, peer-support groups and addiction hotlines, as well as a dry-erase board listing drug-treatment centers statewide. In December, when I visited one morning, the floor was cluttered with toys for local families in preparation for Christmas: doll sets, wireless headphones, a pillow the color of sorbet.

As soon as he began the job, Adams researched what social-service organizations the region had to offer and drove to their offices to introduce himself. A few employees at places like these knew one another from previous referrals, but many didnt, so Adams went about acquainting them. At health conferences, he arrived to the quizzical frowns of social workers and realized that, of some 200 attendees, he was the only police officer. A network gradually sprouted around him. One morning in December, his first call was from Daisy Pierce, the director of a nonprofit organization whose doors opened two weeks earlier; Adams is its chairman. Might Adams help her get a teenager into the Farnum Center, a treatment facility in Manchester, an hour south? Adams dialed a pastor he knew, who phoned a recovery coach. For the first year and a half, I was the only transportation around here, he told me when he hung up. I would drive people down to Farnum all the time.

Next, Adams turned to a matter unresolved from the day before: a woman the county prosecutor had phoned about, asking if Adams could find her housing. Until recently, the woman had been staying at a homeless shelter, but that stay had ended and, because she was on probation, with nowhere else to sleep, Adamss fellow officers had taken her to jail, though they could hold her for only one night. She would be released that day, still with nowhere else to stay. The next 48 hours would be critical, Adams felt. Here was a person who wanted to get sober but for whom the local authorities had little to offer.

From his desk, he dialed a treatment center, then various landlords and nonprofit directors he knew. Hi, this is Eric Adams over at the Laconia Police Department. Im calling to see if you have anything. … Then he tried calling back the county prosecutor, tapping his fingers impatiently as the phone rang. When no one answered, he pulled a cellphone from his pocket and looked through it for numbers to dial on his office phone, while scribbling notes on two different legal pads. A cup from Dunkin Donuts sat on his desk, but he hadnt had time to sip from it. After a half-dozen calls, he hung up the phone and sighed. This is the biggest problem in the area, he said. Its housing. There are only a handful of landlords that own so many properties. Adams tried to be up front with landlords, and he didnt blame them for sometimes rebuffing him, because they had to look out for their other tenants. But it meant limited options for a woman like the one he was trying to help.

He swiveled toward his computer and began scrolling through notes. Finding nothing, he rubbed his eyes with frustration, propped his elbows onto his desk and rested his chin on his hands to think. Oh! Let me try I havent talked with her in a while. He dialed another number. Hi, this is Eric Adams over at the Laconia Police Department. … A moment later, he hung up. All right, this is the last one I can think of. He dialed again. I was wondering if you had any rentals available for a female. Oh, really? Thatd be great. He recited his email address. Thank you!

Good news?

Adams shook his head. Not for a couple weeks. He stood, pushing back his chair, and cursed. Out of the office he strode to make a lap around the building to clear his head, then returned and looked at the clock 9:40 a.m. He had a meeting at 10 at the local branch of the Bank of New Hampshire to help Pierce, the nonprofit director, apply for a new line of credit for their organization. Halfway to the door, he backtracked to pluck the Dunkin Donuts cup from his desk and sipped. My coffees cold.

On a glass table in the bank lobby lay that mornings copy of The Laconia Daily Sun. Drug Sweep in Laconia Results in 17 Arrests, its front page read. Headlines like that had become increasingly common, especially as the drugs themselves changed first to opiates, then to opioids. They werent the same thing, Adams had learned. Opiates are derived from nature, and there are only so many, drugs like morphine, heroin and codeine. By contrast, opioids though the word is now often used as an umbrella term for all these substances technically means synthetic drugs like Vicodin, Percocet, fentanyl and OxyContin, all of which were invented in a laboratory. This is why detectives sometimes encountered new opioids that were 20, 50, 100 times as potent as heroin. In a lab, you can do nearly anything. A dealer, even if he or she knows the difference, rarely bothers labeling, so a dose of so-called heroin might include fractions of nearly anything meaning, of course, that the potency might be nearly anything. Overdoses happen not just when a person knowingly ingests a large dose but also when he or she ingests a dose of unknown composition.

After the meeting at the bank, Adamss phone rang, and he vanished briefly. The call was from a woman whose son was arrested on charges of dealing meth. She wanted an intervention and hoped Adams might help. Steering toward the Belknap County jail, past homes spangled with Christmas lights, Adams admitted that he felt wary. He had already met this young man, who wanted nothing to do with him. Still, Adams would try. He never knew when an addict might begin saying yes to him. Sometimes this happened quickly: Adamss phone would ring, and it was someone he met the previous day. Im exhausted, the person would confess. Others waited a year or longer. All that time, they had hung onto his card. I think Im ready now, they said. Occasionally an addict used similar words even in rebuffing him I dont think Im ready yet a phrase that implicitly acknowledged a problem even as he or she denied one. It was the kind of sign Adams kept on the lookout for. Possibly this moment had come for the young man in jail.

When we arrived, Adams hustled through the drably carpeted lobby, hardly slowing before a receptionist and a guard waved him inside. A half-hour later, he returned, his face tight with frustration, and strode past me to the car without speaking. He doesnt have a problem, he told me. Thats what he said. He doesnt have a problem.

Inside, he told me, guards had brought the young man from his cell into a windowed conference room, where he recognized Adams, as Adams predicted. You know why Im here, Adams began gently.

Youre trying to be nosy, the man replied.

If you want to think of it that way, thats fine. Adams glanced at the young mans file and explained that the mans mother had called. So I wanted to talk to you a little bit. This is an opportunity for you to get some help. The young man went silent. I mean, you got arrested, Adams added, gesturing toward the file.

The man told him that he didnt do the stuff, just sold it. He didnt need help.

O.K., Adams told him, crossing his arms and leaning forward. Was the young man on any weight-loss program, then? Because when I saw you before, to now, youve lost a lot of weight. He nodded toward the young man, who was twitching uncomfortably in his chair. And youre all over the place, just sitting there.

When the man told Adams he was innocent, Adams reminded him that he was always available and slid him another one of his cards. Adams wished him well, then he asked guards to briefly fetch the woman they were holding overnight the one for whom Adams was searching for housing to check in and promise that he was trying.

Even as Adams nosed the Crown Vic out of the parking lot, he couldnt get the episode out of his head. Why wont you just say, I need this? he asked aloud, thinking of the young man. Your life is going this way. Youve been arrested. Youre homeless. Its all drug-related. He sighed. The thing I had the hardest time learning was youre not going to save everyone. That was very hard for me to accept. A common sentiment among the police was that officers interacted with just 5 percent or so of the residents they served. In certain communities, that fraction was smaller. Laconia wasnt a large town. You think, mathematically, Adams began, before pausing, why cant I? Why cant I fix this?

For several miles he steered quietly, past muddied snowbanks. It bothers me, but Ive done what I can do right now. I cant force him to want help. He turned into the lot of the department and slowed into a parking spot.

Is there such a thing as an addict you have no sympathy for? I wondered.

Adams considered this, letting the engine idle, and dropped his hands into his lap. Eleven seconds passed in silence. I dont think so, he said finally. There are reasons they are the way they are.

Adams could list, from memory, addicts who had opened their lives to him, had volunteered for treatment, had wept in relief and gratitude. Already I had met two young adults who were newly in recovery and partly credited Adams for the lives they had regained. But those werent the names that tormented him.

Inside his office, he noticed two new voice-mail messages. The first was from a woman who read of Adams in the newspaper. If you could tell me what to do? Im more than willing to do whatever I need. Adams scribbled something on a legal pad, then played the second voice mail. The same voice filled the room again, but now it broke into tears. Could Adams please tell her what to do?

Adams jotted another note, then checked his watch. Just past noon. Because he knew the work schedule of the mother of the young man he visited in jail, he knew she would be off soon and expecting his call. Shes not going to be happy, he said, mostly to himself. Rubbing his forehead, he sat down and dialed.

In so many towns all across the country, it is difficult to talk about an issue like heroin, not only because there is a stigma or because people worry about sounding impolite, but because everyone calibrates differently, based on neighbors and co-workers they see all day, how much of a problem it is or whether it is a problem at all. There were towns near Laconia diplomatically, Adams declined to name them that denied they had any drug crisis, even as the numbers they had showed otherwise. When presented with those numbers, some officials found alternative explanations. Those were residents from other towns who just happened to cross the border, they argued. This reasoning just contributed to the problem, Adams said. Between 2004 and 2013, the number of New Hampshire residents receiving state-funded treatment for heroin addiction climbed by 90 percent. The number receiving treatment for prescription-opiate abuse climbed by 500 percent. But in terms of availability of beds, New Hampshire ranks second to last in New England in access to drug-treatment programs, ahead of only Vermont. The number who still need treatment is probably much higher. In October 2014, New Hampshire became the second-to-last state in the country to begin a prescription-drug-monitoring program, leaving only Missouri without one.

Not everyone saw things Adamss way. In his office in City Hall, I met Laconias mayor, Edward Engler. Engler, who was cautious and businesslike, with slicked hair and a graying goatee, had been mayor for three years, though he had lived in Laconia for almost 17 and owned The Laconia Daily Sun. Over his dress shirt he wore a fleece vest embroidered with the papers logo. Engler referred to what was happening in Laconia as this so-called heroin epidemic, his tone melodramatic, raising his hands defensively above his head. Were the county seat, Engler told me. Were also the home of the regional hospital. Towns in New Hampshire are extremely close together. I think we tend to get credit for more things than are directly attributable to our residents. Though he thought highly of Eric Adams, he also felt skeptical that heroin deserved to be considered an epidemic, regardless of the statistics. When I go to a Rotary Club meeting, I dont hear people sitting around talking about, Woe is us, everybodys dying of heroin.

Might that be because, in a setting like the Rotary Club, heroin was not a topic of polite conversation?

There could be something to that, Engler admitted. Still, an overdose death was an overdose death it would appear in the news that way, and Engler would have heard of it. I dont believe there has been a huge, communitywide reaction to this. Theres not 100 people showing up at City Council meetings saying: You have to do something about this. This is terrible. The papers arent full of letters to the editor. Not at all. And I think theres a reason for that. The reason for that is Engler paused and crossed his arms since we have been in the so-called heroin epidemic in New Hampshire, I dont believe there has been an instance in the Lakes Region, in Belknap County, where we have had a tragic story involving the son or daughter of someone from a prominent family. All it takes is one, usually. Somebody in Londonderry, some girl who was valedictorian of her class, her dad was a doctor or a lawyer or something like that, overdoses and dies, and suddenly its a crisis to everyone in town.

That very week, I told Engler, while tagging along with Adams for a meeting at the high school, Id heard teachers mention a current student, a well-liked senior athlete, a team captain, whose sister had struggled with addiction and who had been open about the experience. Another member of the same graduating class, a girl whose grades ranked her in the top 10, had been walking with a friend in 2012 when a local mother, high while driving to pick up her own child from the middle school, swerved and struck them on the sidewalk. The girl survived. Her friend was killed.

The mayor was unmoved. That was oxycodone, Engler said dismissively. Here, locally, the heroin epidemic, whatever you want to call it, has not crossed over in any obvious way from the underclass to the middle, middle-upper class.

Later that week, another prospective client phoned Adams. Im at wits end, the man said. For the woman who needed housing, Adams helped track down a relative, at whose home she could stay until an apartment opened. On Friday evening, two more residents overdosed. Adams intended to visit them. Whether either one would accept Adamss card, would call him, would enter treatment, would achieve recovery, would some day relapse, Adams couldnt predict. There were no guarantees in this sort of work.

Early in his tenure, Adams made a presentation to some prominent people in the community he didnt want to name anyone and afterward, as much of the room applauded, a man approached to shake Adamss hand. As he reached out, the man said: Its a really good job youre doing. I think its great. But my opinion is, if they stick a needle in their arm, they should die.

Im sorry you feel that way, Adams said, startled. Id hope you would feel differently if it was your own family member.

But the man shook his head. That will never happen.

This sort of thing happened all the time when Adams began. Today it happened far less frequently. So many others had grown into Adamss approach: fellow officers, downtown business owners, the captain at the Belknap County jail. Police officers from around New England and even farther away had phoned or traveled to Laconia to learn what Adams was doing, and whether the model could be replicated. Other towns, independently, had been pressed by the crisis to conceive approaches of their own. Manchester had turned its firehouses into safe stations. Gloucester, across the border in Massachusetts, had a network of community volunteers. A city as large as Philadelphia or Boston could sensibly implement a PET approach too, Adamss supervisors argued; a community like that would simply need more than one officer, with each assigned to a geographical area. But the shift this required would be profound, asking departments that for so long had thought mainly of enforcement to think differently. In Adamss daily work, it was unavoidable that certain values competed. A client might divulge a crime to him, and he would be forced to interrupt her to give a Miranda warning. If there is a crime, that individual needs to be held accountable, he said. But this is where our prosecutor, our judges, come into play. Some attorneys had expressed discomfort with him and had insisted on being present when he met their clients. Im totally fine with that, he said, because its an opportunity for me to educate the attorney, to let them know what I do, how I do it, what the processes are. In a role so complicated, with so much at stake, clearly it was vital that the right officer held the job.

In an empty conference room on the first floor of the department, I met a young man named Chadwick Boucher, an early client of Adamss. The two men hugged when they saw each other, and then Adams disappeared upstairs to make calls while Boucher and I spoke. He was 27, though he had the calm demeanor of someone two or three times as old. As early as middle school, Boucher began sneaking his parents liquor, partly to fit in with older boys he admired, he told me. Soon he added marijuana. He played hockey then, and played well invitations came from showcases in Boston and scouts from Division I colleges, including the University of New Hampshire, a national power. Instead, Boucher quit. It was too much pressure. He finished high school and moved in with a friend, who introduced him to OxyContin.

What followed was difficult to align into a neat chronology. He bounced from one friends apartment to another, from Oxy to Percocet and finally, when pills grew scarce, to heroin. There was a criminal distribution charge, probation, two treatment programs that he abandoned, feeling as though he didnt belong. There were short-term jobs tending bar or waiting tables, collecting paychecks before inevitably being fired. Suddenly he was high behind the wheel of his fathers Cutlass not in the road, but in a driveway startling awake to the police rapping on his window. Then he was at the Laconia police station, in a room with a plainclothes officer named Eric Adams.

He opened his arms to me, Boucher recalled. It had felt bizarre, sharing the truth with a cop. But things had changed so quickly. Most of his family had stopped returning his calls, and all his friends had vanished. The only people around him now were strangers who shared his addiction, and he didnt like or trust them. The difference in meeting someone like Adams was obvious. He cares about my well-being, Boucher said. I needed that.

Adams wanted him to call every day, so Boucher called every day. Then every week. He entered another treatment program, and this time he graduated. He was now nearing a year sober. He owned a business and was caught up on his bills. He lived up the road in an apartment and had friends again, some of whom were in recovery, too. They made a point to talk openly about it, to keep an eye out for one another. Some he referred to Adams. He knew that recovery demanded his full attention, that it probably always would. If he lost anything else in his life an apartment, a business he lost that one thing only and could do without it. If he lost his recovery, he would lose everything, all at once.

I asked Boucher how he preferred to be named in this article by only Chad? Or would he prefer anonymity? But he shook his head. It was important to him to be honest about who he was. He hoped this would send a message to other addicts and to those who encountered them. Its important that people know theres a way out. Recovery from addiction was an achievable thing and, having discovered this fact, having discovered Eric Adams, Boucher intended to share it. The news might save lives. He knew it was possible that a business client might discover his unflattering past, that he might lose an account or two. Ive come way too far for that, he said.

Benjamin Rachlin is the author of the forthcoming nonfiction book Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption. This is his first article for the magazine.

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A version of this article appears in print on July 16, 2017, on Page MM22 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: You Know Why Im Here.

See the original post:

A Small-Town Police Officer’s War on Drugs – New York Times

Malaysia, Thailand vow closer cooperation in war on drugs – The Sun Daily

CHIANG RAI: Malaysia has expressed its appreciation for Thailand’s prompt action in arresting Malaysians suspected of being involved with drug syndicates, as the two neighbouring countries vowed closer cooperation in their war on drugs.

Bukit Aman Narcotics CID director, Datuk Seri Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said Malaysia too had managed to derail attempts to smuggle 55 tonnes of kratom or ketum (recreational drug derived from the Mitragyna speciosa Korth tree) and 22 kg of cocaine into Thailand in recent years.

“Drugs is a global problem and to wage successful war on drugs, we need to have cooperation and exchange of intelligence information,” he told the media after attending the 38th Malaysia-Thailand Meeting on Narcotics Law Enforcement Cooperation, here, today.

The Thai delegation to the meeting was led by the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) secretary-general, Sirinya Sitdichai.

Mokhtar who is due to retire soon, said the arrest of suspected Malaysian drug traffickers by Thai authorities showed the efficiency, transparency and sincerity of its enforcement agencies.

He said the Malaysian authorities, meanwhile, would not let the country be turned into a place to import, export or produce drugs.

The Thai authorities made two significant arrests last April when it nabbed two Malaysians suspected to be responsible for several successful attempts to bring hundreds of kilogrammes of drugs into Malaysia.

The two men, Johor-born “Mr T” or “Malaysian Iceman” as the Malaysian media referred him and “Mr G” from Penang were arrested at Hatyai Airport and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport after extensive surveillance by the Thai authorities.

Meanwhile, Sirinya thanked the Malaysian authorities for their effort in foiling attempts to smuggle 55 tonnes of kratom and 22 kg of cocaine into Thailand.

Thailand, according to him, had requested assistance from Malaysia on the latter’s expertise in fighting kratom, as it had more experience in dealing with the problem.

He said both countries faced problems related to drug smuggling and needed closer cooperation to ensure the success of their drug-fighting efforts.

This year’s meeting was purposely held in Chiang Rai, situated in northern Thailand and which sits on the edge of the “Golden Triangle”, a famous drug-producing region. Bernama

Go here to read the rest:

Malaysia, Thailand vow closer cooperation in war on drugs – The Sun Daily

Reviving war on drugs could carry big costs in Michigan – Petoskey News-Review

In an era when it seems Democrats and Republicans can agree on hardly anything, many agree on the need for corrections reform. Its expensive to keep people in prison, and prison itself can have corrosive, lasting effects that are disproportionate to a productive post-prison life, the thinking goes.

So for a while now, at the local, state and national levels, policy makers have taken tentative steps toward imprisoning nonviolent and other low-risk offenders for shorter terms in hopes of lowering costs and improving outcomes without compromising public safety. Michigans state population peaked at over 51,000 in 2007; the following year, a report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan noted that spending on corrections took 20 percent of the states general fund and employed nearly a third of its workforce, and that the inmate population grew through a period when the crime rate fell by more than 42 percent.

Today, the state prison population is around 43,000, and while the debate on how to control corrections spending continues, bipartisan discussion continues to seek consensus on how these expensive institutions can be safely downsized.

That trend is now being challenged, at least in the federal system, by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In a directive to U.S. attorneys in May, Sessions reversed a course laid in 2013 by his predecessor Eric Holder, which directed U.S. attorneys to refine their charging practices, so as not to trigger mandatory minimum sentences for low-level, nonviolent federal drug offenders.

Sessions move restored the previous policy, which required federal prosecutors to charge the most serious, readily provable offense, many of which trigger long sentences.

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that roughly half of all federal prisoners are drug offenders, and Sessions move to reverse the Obama-era policy was widely seen as restarting the governments so-called war on drugs. Sessions, in announcing the change, said drugs and crime go hand-in-hand and drug trafficking is an inherently violent business, where debts are collected by the barrel of a gun. The reversion to previous policy was a key part of President Trumps promise to keep America safe.

In his statement, Sessions told U.S. attorneys they deserve to be unhandcuffed and not micro-managed from Washington. …It is simply the right and moral thing to do.

A return to the war on drugs, if mimicked here in Michigan, could have wide-reaching impact on the state prison system, and on the taxpayers who pay for it.

Roughly 2.3 million people are behind bars in the U.S., spread among local jails, juvenile and immigration detention, and military, state or federal prisons, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, which advocates against mass incarceration.

In Michigan, the most recent available data, from 2015, reports that about one-third of the states 40,000 prison inmates are incarcerated on drug charges. At a per-capita cost of $35,000, that works out to $116 million per year (though its worth noting that most imprisoned on drug charges have at least another conviction, anything from violent assault to a less-serious property crime).

So what is likely to happen as a result of this new wind blowing through Washington? Whats the result if its duplicated in Michigan?

Maybe not much

Think of the war on drugs as a long train speeding down the track. Holders directive had the effect of pulling back on the throttle, but a train takes a long time to slow down, let alone stop, and the new policy was in place for only about three years.

The language he is using was the language that was in place for all U.S. attorneys offices prior to the Holder policy, said Blanche Cook, a Wayne State University Law School professor and former U.S. Attorney. It not as if this is new. Its not a radical notion.

The most serious, readily provable offense is language that U.S. Attorneys have been following for decades, and federal mandatory minimum sentences go with that, Cook said.

Theyre called mandatory for a reason.

However, she said, federal prosecutors have discretion in how they craft and pursue cases. But they also all know they serve at the pleasure of the president, and no one wants to lose a job because they werent carrying out the chief executives judicial policy to the presidents liking.

You have a lot of latitude, but you dont want to get on the presidents radar for the wrong reason, Cook said.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice in Washington declined comment for this story.

A setback for reformers

Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a national advocacy group, said he was disappointed with the Sessions reversal. He said its clear tough sentencing doesnt reduce crime.

The group was part of the effort to repeal Michigans 650-lifer law, which Ring called one of the worst in the country. The statute, passed in 1973, imposed a mandatory life sentence on individuals arrested with 650 grams or more roughly 1.5 pounds of heroin or cocaine. By the time it was repealed 25 years later, it had snared such high-profile defendants as White Boy Rick Wershe, the focus of clemency efforts for years, and Tim Allen, the actor who today is the voice of the Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign. (Both men cooperated with law enforcement, but Wershe remains behind bars, while Allen served two years in federal prison before being paroled.)

Charging decisions that trigger mandatory minimums are counterproductive to their stated aim, Ring said.

They were (supposed to) reduce crime and drug use. But no study shows it reduces crime; its swiftness and surety of prosecution, not sentences, that does that, Ring said. Michigan and other states, including New York and Rhode Island, have reformed these policies, and crime rates continued to fall.

That question is that rare issue where many on both the left and right are in agreement. None other than the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council has come out against mandatory minimums, along with more traditionally liberal groups like the ACLU.

Which brings up the question of how states are handling the same problem.

Tough on crime, and (probably) running for governor

In Michigan, as divided along partisan lines as any state, corrections reform is a bipartisan issue, or was. In 2015, a bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Kurt Heise of Plymouth sought to institute presumptive parole, where low-risk inmates in the state prison system would be paroled at their first available date.

Groups from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (on the right) and the ACLU (on the left) agreed it was a sensible reform that would ease the burden on corrections by releasing inmates at an earlier date than they might be under the old system.

It died in the Senate, after being opposed by Michigan prosecutors and state Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has made a tough-on-crime stance part of his growing public profile. Lately, Schuette has also focused on opioid-related criminal activity, announcing the formation of a new Opioid Trafficking and Interdiction unit that will focus on illegal traffic in legal opioid painkillers, as well as heroin.

And while affairs at the state level are not connected with Sessions reversal, Heise, now supervisor of Plymouth Township, said they are the same problem in a different place.

Whats happening at the federal level is the disconnect we have in Michigan: A tough-on-crime attorney general against a legislature trying to pay the bills, and finding out that increased incarceration doesnt pay off, Heise told Bridge.

Look at the cost of corrections, (and ask) what are we really getting out of increased incarceration? The feds will come to the same conclusion we came to in Michigan, Heise said. Within the party, we will see the same debate and discussion in the Trump Administration.

A Michigan House Fiscal Agency analysis of the bill stated it would save the state money, eventually, by slowing prison population growth over a number of years, roughly 1,300 prison beds, a savings of roughly $30 million annually.

Legalized pot up in smoke?

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Under the Obama administration, a 2009 guidance memo allowed states where voters or legislators chose to legalize it to do so without federal interference. That was one factor enabling marijuana laws to spread to 29 states, either as medicine or a strictly recreational drug.

Sessions memo said nothing about marijuana, but hes said plenty about it in other settings, most notably that good people dont smoke marijuana, and that allowing people to use it in a medical context in lieu of opiates, for example, amounts to trading one life-wrecking dependency for another.

And a letter released in mid-June reveals Sessions is gunning for weed, too, asking Congress to overturn the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, a 2014 law that officially keeps the federal government out of state affairs on this issue.

Sessions argues that the Justice Department needs the authority to combat an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.

In Michigan, a drive to fully legalize recreational marijuana is in its early stages, aiming for a ballot initiative in November 2018. (An earlier effort failed to reach the ballot due to a dispute over the age of some signatures on petitions.)

Josh Hovey, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, formed to help pass the Michigan ballot measure, said he isnt worried.

The bottom line is, were paying close attention (to the issue), and think theres strong momentum across the country for more responsible marijuana laws, Hovey said. Were hopeful the momentum will carry through to the Administration, and they will think twice before they overturn (state laws).

Polling suggest strong support for fully taxed, legal marijuana in the state, with 58 percent of likely voters saying theyd approve it in one recent poll.

Fuller prisons

Todd Perkins is a criminal defense attorney in Detroit who has seen many clients go through the federal courts both under the old system and after the Holder memo. He sees the change by Sessions as hostile to people of color.

The war on drugs has not been successful, Perkins said. It was predicated on race, and has punished, unfairly, various sectors of society, predominantly African Americans and other minorities.

Besides studies showing sharp racial disparities in drug prosecution, and differences in sentences (since mitigated) for those possessing or selling crack or powder cocaine, Perkins contention is backed up by at least one key admission.

John Ehrlichman was President Nixons domestic policy adviser and a key player in launching the presidents war on drugs, declared in 1971 when Nixon called drug abuse Americas public enemy number one.

In an interview given in the early 90s, but not published until 2016, 17 years after his death, Ehrlichman is quoted as saying the war on drugs was intended to demonize the antiwar left and black people.

After the Holder-led policy change in 2013, Perkins said, his clients in the federal courts who were lower-level, nonviolent offenders still got prison time, but less of it, he said.

Some punishment has to occur, Perkins said. But at the end of the day, we dont need to lock people up for long stretches if they dont deserve it.

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Reviving war on drugs could carry big costs in Michigan – Petoskey News-Review

Opioid Crisis vs. the War on Drugs: A Double Standard? – WDET

Left: Keith Humphreys, Right:EkowYankah

Opioid addiction and related deaths disproportionately affect both poor, rural white communities and middle class, suburban white communities. Also, many addicts are introduced to opioids through prescription drugs, which seem to be more socially acceptable than say, crack cocain. Despite the similarities between the spread of opioid addiction and that of crack in the 80s and early 90s, public opinion and public policy in response to the two have been profoundlydifferent.

Todays mostly white opioid addicts are considered part of a public health crisis, and maybe rightly so. But black cocaine addicts in urban ghettos were met with an all out War on Drugs, which is still being waged today with huge social consequences. What is at the root of this double standard, and how does it color our own perceptions ofaddiction?

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson talks with Keith Humphreys, psychiatry professor at Stanford University and former policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also speaks withEkow Yankah, law professor at the Cardozo School of Lawat Yeshiva University, who says that how we respond to addiction is based on our perceptions of theaddict.

Our intuitions and our empathy in the drug wars is too often tied up with who we imagine the addicted are and what race we imagine them to be, says Yankah. Time will tell if this kind of rhetoric is combined with more humane and more thoughtful drug policy or if we just tie our drug policy ever finer to punishing those we always want to punishanyway.

By those Yankah means marginalized populations who are often associated with drug crimes and abuse. Humphreys echos thissentiment.

If you look at American history, he says, weve had repeated examples where some group that is the target of prejudice has substance use problems and society really cracks down The cultural narrative when its in those groups is that they deserve these problems because theyre immoral, theyre weak, theyre pleasure seeking, and therefore the response of government should be punitive. And we havent seen that with this much more white epidemicWe wouldve repudiated all of them if they were minorities, but because theyre not, people arecompassionate.

To listen to the full show, click the audio player above.

The rest is here:

Opioid Crisis vs. the War on Drugs: A Double Standard? – WDET

Saturday’s best TV: Museum of the Year; Secret War on Drugs – The Guardian

Worthy winner? the National Horseracing Museum. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Marc Atkins / Art Fund 2017

Earlier this year, Tristram Hunt swapped life as an MP for the cushier gig of director of the V&A. Wed speculate that hes rarely regretted his choice; tonight he presents coverage of the 2017 museum of the year ceremony. The finalists are Londons Tate Modern and Sir John Soanes Museum, the Newmarket Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art, Birminghams Lapworth Museum of Geology and the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. Phil Harrison

While Only Connect fans might turn up their noses at it, this revived gameshow is shamelessly traditional and infectiously watchable. Stephen Mulhern hosts as ever, bidding three contestants to guess the familiar phrases concealed in brightly animated clues. The fun is in the sheer frenzy the players work themselves into as the answers dance on the tips of their tongues and 50,000 is up for grabs in the Super Catchphrase round. David Stubbs

What a world it is when pop goddess Kelis and over-enthusiastic music teacher type Gareth Malone coexist on a Saturday night TV show, critiquing the vocal tones of various bouncy choirs. Its like Glee has graduated, found its questionable aunties stash of speed and necked the lot. Now its the fourth heat, where choirs including the Bristol Suspensions, Over the Water and the Savannahs riff for their lives. Guest Seal joins the judges. Hannah Verdier

The blind audition rounds may now be a distant memory, but the under-15s fight for a 30,000 musical bursary (plus a trip to Disneyland Paris) intensifies as the remaining competitors approach a harmonic Hunger Games in the first battle round. The contenders are split into groups of three, each facing further forays on to the stage. Only one singer from each trio can triumph; which young Voicettes will break first? The round concludes on Sunday. Mark Gibbings-Jones

Like live-action Tinder, but with the added humiliation of doing it all in front of a baying studio audience, Paul OGrady invites a new crop of singletons on to the telly for some public matchmaking. Looking for some conscious coupling this week are Manchester-based recruitment consultant Antoni, and Alice, who is seeking a girlfriend who might be willing to look past her obsessive Cline Dion super-fandom in the pursuit of potential romance. Its a big ask, love. Ben Arnold

Hes the Palme dOr winner whos been banned from Cannes; a cackling, self-mythologising put-on merchant, whose divisive films have been accused of misogyny or perhaps should be regarded more, as Nymphomaniac actor Stacy Martin breezily says in this mini-profile, as a premise to conversation. However, collaborator Jean-Marc Barr sums the trickster-provocateur up best when he describes Von Trier as simply a showman. Ali Catterall

Debut of a new series chronicling arguably the most counter-productive conflict of all time the war on drugs, which has cost billions, immiserated millions, and does not appear to have stopped anybody taking drugs. This episode reflects on various shabby attempts by the US government to co-opt the drugs trade for its own purposes. Interesting enough, but the usual US documentary caveats, about annoying soundtrack and pompous voiceover, apply. Andrew Mueller

West (Christian Schwochow, 2014), Saturday, 1.30am, BBC2 This subtly gripping, atmospheric cold war drama about refugees from East Germany has a very contemporary resonance. Based on Julia Francks novel Lagerfeuer, its the story of young mother Nelli (Jrdis Triebel) who, after a humiliating interrogation, is allowed to leave with her son for West Berlin. They are detained in a holding camp, where Nelli finds herself dealing with suspicious officials not so different from the Stasi she left behind. Its an engrossing tale, reminiscent of Florian Henckel von Donnersmarcks more celebrated The Lives of Others. Paul Howlett

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, (Chris Columbus, 2002), 10.20am, ITV

The second entry in the Potter archive is like the first, but darker, with Daniel Radcliffe and pals encountering massive spiders, a flying Ford Anglia, a little comic hero in Dobby the house elf and Kenneth Branagh as dark arts master Gilderoy Lockhart. Plus theres the poignant farewell of Richard Harris as Dumbledore. Paul Howlett

Mea Culpa, (Fred Cavay, 2014), 9pm, BBC4 A fast and furious French policier with stubbly cops in leather jackets, from the director of Point Blank. The stars of those two films are reunited here: when ex-detective Vincent Lindons son is menaced by a gang of violent Serbian drug dealers, he teams up with old partner Gilles Lellouche to deal with them like in the old days. Traditional mayhem ensues on the atmospherically lit streets of Toulon. Paul Howlett

2001: A Space Odyssey, (Stanley Kubrick, 1968), 11.15pm, BBC2 Kubricks coruscating space saga boosted science fiction into a new orbit, the special effects setting the standard for the Star Wars generation. The enigmatic story has an alien monolith overseeing humanitys evolution from ape to star-child, with Keir Dullea the astronaut taking another great leap for mankind. Hal the calculating computer gives the most memorable performance, with menace in its smooth, ever-so-reasonable voice. Paul Howlett

Rugby Union: New Zealand v British & Irish Lions The third and final game from Auckland, with the three-match series tied at one-all. 7.30am, Sky Sports 1

Test Cricket: England v South Africa Day three of the opening game of the series from Lords. 10am, Sky Sports 2

Tennis: Wimbledon The latest mens and womens singles third-round matches. 2017 11am, BBC2

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Saturday’s best TV: Museum of the Year; Secret War on Drugs – The Guardian

Philando Castile, the War on Drugs and the Lynching of Black Humanity – The Root

Philando Castile (Facebook)

Before Malcolm Shabazz, 28, the grandson of El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X), was assassinated in 2013 in Mexico City, he, like his entire familyand like too many black people in the United States of Americahad been hunted and harassed by law-enforcement officials.

It had gotten so bad that Shabazz spoke about the recipe for public assassinations two months before his death:

The formula for a public assassination is: the character assassination before the physical assassination; so one has to be made killable before the eyes of the public in order for their eventual murder to then be deemed justifiable. And when the time arrives for these hits to be carried out youre not going to see a C.I.A. agent with a suit and tie, and a badge that says C.I.A. walk up to someone, and pull the trigger. What they will do is to out-source to local police departments in the region of their target, and to employ those that look like the target of interest to infiltrate the workings in order to set up the environment for the eventual assassination (character, physical/incarceration, exile) to take place.

I immediately thought of young Malcolms words when, on July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was killed in broad daylight by St. Anthony, Minn., Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. I thought of his words not because I believe that Castile was specifically the target of a CIA plot, but because the public assassination of black humanityand the character of black peoplehas been an ongoing project in this white-settler colonial project that flag wavers call the greatest country on earth.

The way we look, the way we talk, the way we attempt to live free in a country founded on our violent oppression, have all been reasons successfully used to render us killable in the eyes of society and to justify our state-sanctioned lynchings.

Black people are born into this world with targets on our backs and often leave this world the same way. Castile had already been pulled over an estimated 46 times before Yanez claimed that the 32-year-old mans wide-set nose made him look like a criminal suspect. Further, he was a legal gun owner in a nation that weaponizes blackness and steals black lives but loves steel weapons.

In Toni Morrisons 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Beloved, the character Baby Suggs has

When Castile calmly and respectfully explained that he had a gun in the car, the trigger-happy Yanez feared for his life because a black man with a gun has always been viewed as a clear and present danger. This nation assigns us to that category so that state-sanctioned executions will be deemed necessary. And for those scarce times when blackness alone does not give officers a license to kill, marijuana smoke conjures up the rest.

The Washington Post reports:

I thought, I was gonna die, Officer Jeronimo Yanez told investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension fifteen hours after the shooting. And I thought if hes, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five year old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing then what, what care does he give about me. And, I let off the rounds and then after the rounds were off, the little girl was screaming.

A wide-nosed black man in a car that allegedly smelled of marijuana had the audacity to carry a legal gun; that made him an enemy of the state.


The war on drugs has been used to escalate a general sense that black people are beasts and that our communities are urban jungles, asha bandele, senior director of Drug Policy Alliance, told The Root.

Throughout so many of these horrific police shootings, drugs have been used to justify the slaughter of innocents, bandele continued. We saw it with Michael Brown, we saw it with Trayvon Martin, we saw it with shootings throughout the country, including that of Philando Castile. All you have to do is raise the specter of drugs, and supposedly no other question is supposed to be asked.

Sometimes when drugs are not the issue itself, the criminalization, the use of drugs, drug selling and drug usea criminalized feature in our nationis used to justify killing, bandele continued.


Bandele points out that the war on drugs is a living, breathing manifestation of the hatred this country holds for black people, and a cover for police hypermilitization and the occupation of black and brown communities.

Once you declare something a war, you got to declare someone an enemy, bandele told The Root. The drug war has been used as a justification for police killings of 92-year-old grandmothers in their homes, where all they had to say was, Oops, wrong house. Its been used to justify the killings of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

This declaration of war and the continuous war crimes that shape this war directly led to the lynching of Philando Castile, bandele said.

Bandele, like Malcolm Shabazz, was also clear that sometimes skinfolk are used to weed out members of the black community that some people find disposable.

We need to understand how we contribute to deaths like Philando Castiles when we contribute to stigmatizing people, or determining whos a decent black person and whos not a decent black person, bandele said. We may have, in progressive communities, a broader idea of who matters and who doesnt, but until we accept that every life has value and we see that in our communities, then were almost participating in who they say they can kill, and who they cant.


This is why, bandele says, ending the war on drugs, dismantling white supremacy brick by brick and eradicating stigma is the necessary foundational work we need to engage in if we are ever to be free.

If we want to begin to roll back police militarization significantly, we have to work to end the drug war, bandele said. If we want to disrupt a major tool that they can wield against us, in not only killing us, but them not being held accountable for killing us, we have to end the drug war. If we want to begin to disrupt extraordinary levels of black poverty, then we have to begin to end the drug war.

In doing that, bandele continued, we will say, Were not going to spend money on over-incarceration or over-surveillance, or any of the other facets that make up mass criminalization. Were not going to have one more Philando Castile. Not on our watch.

Bandele gets to the root of the matter.

Black people have been shamed for financial poverty in a nation that is morally bankrupt; still, reparations for theft of our land, our labor and our lives is considered too much to ask for.

We are told that our lives come with white supremacist conditions. Young black men, women and gender-nonconforming people are corralled into deep pockets of destitution, then shot to death for trying to hustle their way out to some semblance of security and safety.

The so-called gentler war on drugsa necessary shift from draconian drug policies to something focused on health and humanityis not for us.

We are still under fire from heavy enemy artillary. We are still living in occupied territory. We are still considered warm bodies to fill cold prisons and balance bloated budgets. We are still lynched in broad daylight in front of our children, and the allegation of marijuana smoke is more than enough for killers with badges to walk free.

Because in the United States of America, to lynch a black person, state-sanctioned killers dont need a reason; all they need is an excuse.

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Philando Castile, the War on Drugs and the Lynching of Black Humanity – The Root

MILF formally joins war on drugs | Inquirer News – Inquirer.net

Taking part in President Dutertes war on drugs will be the new role for members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), like this rebel in an MILF camp in Maguindanao. JEOFFREY MAITEM

DAVAO CITY Members of a Moro rebel group covered by a truce with the government had approved a set of procedures that formalized their role in the Duterte administrations war on drugs, signing an agreement to arrest drug suspects in rebel camps and turn them over to government law enforcers.

Isidro Lapea, chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), said representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Friday signed a protocol of cooperation on antidrug operations that Lapea said was a fulfillment of the MILFs offer to help in the war on drugs.

There was an offer by the MILF to help so we have to involve them, Lapea said.

The signing by MILF and government representatives of the protocol came a year after President Duterte launched his bloody war on drugs.

The protocol, Lapea said, would allow shortcuts to be taken in procedures governing law enforcement cooperation stipulated by the Ad hoc Joint Action Group (Ahjag).

Ahjag is a body that monitors law enforcement operations in rebel areas or involving rebels with the main objective of preventing unnecessary clashes between rebels and soldiers.

The protocol would allow antidrug operations in areas controlled by MILF to proceed more expeditiously, Lapea said.

Whats important here is the cooperation, Lapea said.

Rules stipulated by Ahjag would be used in antidrug operations with MILF help to avoid lapses that could lead to clashes between rebels and soldiers.

Acting Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy said the protocol was the result of a series of meetings between the MILF and the government, and considered necessary because MILF-held areas were also reeling from the drug menace.

In 2015, according to Cuy, the MILF already declared drugs haram or forbidden.

The partnership aims to produce optimum results in the war on drugs, said Cuy, a retired police general.

The protocol followed the signing in July 2016 of a pact on cooperation and coordination on antidrug operations by MILF and government representatives, Cuy said.

The protocol clearly defined the MILF role, he said.

The support of the MILF just shows that we could be one in our common goal, he said.

The protocol would allow the MILF to conduct citizens arrest of drug suspects in rebel territory, according to Lapea. These arrested suspects, he said, would have to be turned over to government authorities.

Lawyer Abdul Dataya, Ahjag representative for MILF, said the rebel role was limited to coordinating with government forces and furnishing lists of drug personalities in rebel areas.

Whether rebels would play a direct role in antidrug operations in MILF areas would be up to the government, Dataya said.

The protocol is key to preventing misencounters, he said.

Retired Brig. Gen. Pierre Bucsit, Ahjag representative for the government, said the protocol would lay out standard operating procedures in antidrug operations in MILF areas.

The MILF maintains camps in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Central Mindanao, Western Mindanao and parts of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces.

In Maguindanao, Lapea said drugs are rampant in 366 of 509 villages, or about 72 percent. In Lanao del Sur, including Marawi City, at least 313 of 1,059 villages are drug-influenced, he said. The two provinces are part of ARMM. Frinston Lim

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MILF formally joins war on drugs | Inquirer News – Inquirer.net

What We Can Expect from America’s War on Drugs – TVOvermind – TVOvermind

Given its name, it should come as no surprise to learn that Americas War on Drugs is a History Channel mini-series about said event with a particular focus on what has happened as well as how it has shaped the lives of people living throughout the United States. In total, the mini-series consists of eight hours, meaning that it is perfect for people who are interested in a substantial introduction to a serious issue that has persisted to the present.

Here are some of the things that we can expect from Americas War on Drugs:


The material presented in Americas War on Drugs is neither new nor novel, but when presented in one place in such short succession, it possesses a punch. For example, it is not exactly uncommon knowledge that some US politicians have used drug policies as a means of advancing their own agendas, as shown by those who run tough on crime campaigns based on harsher penalties with no thought for whether that is actually an effective solution to such problems in the long run.

However, it is nonetheless chilling to see the Chief Domestic Advisor of President Nixon, John Ehrlichman, admit on camera that the War on Drugs was used by the Nixon administration as a weapon against its domestic opponents, Black people and the anti-war segments of the Left by associating them with heroin and marijuana so as to make the US population more receptive to harsher measures meant to disrupt their communities. This is no more than the surface of what is covered by Americas War on Drugs, which often makes for unpleasant viewing, but if things are to change for the better, people should watch it to become better-informed about what has been happening.


Reality can be much stranger than fiction. After all, much of fiction is under an onerous obligation to seem plausible, whereas reality has no such constraint placed upon its behavior. As a result, people who prefer to mix their viewing of substantial material with stories of the sheer weirdness that can happen in the proximity of something as broad-ranging and far-reaching as the War on Drugs can expect their fill from Americas War on Drugs.

Examples range from the time when the Bloods and the Crips struck a truce in a failed effort to leave the drug trade to the time when the United States recruited a Nazi war criminal called the Butcher of Lyon for its anti-communist efforts, which saw said individual become a drug trafficker in addition to all of the other crimes committed over the course of decades during which he was free.


On a final note, it should be mentioned that the War on Drugs is not over, meaning that the mini-series is a useful introduction for people who want to become informed so that they can support the right policies and politicians. After all, there are still numerous people suffering as a result of the War on Drugs, which has enormous consequences for not just themselves but also all of those around them. Furthermore, Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems determined to pursue the same policies that led to those results, which is all the more problematic when the 2010s has added another drug crisis in the form of the opioid epidemic that is having a particular effect on the rural parts of the United States.

Excerpt from:

What We Can Expect from America’s War on Drugs – TVOvermind – TVOvermind

Letters: Ease war on drugs – Dorset Echo

IT APPEARS then, that if the glaring front page headline in todays Echo (June 23) is true that 75 per cent of crimes reported in a year in county remain…unsolved, no wonder crime rates continue to soar.

After all, why wouldnt they, when the odds of getting nabbed by the long arm of the law is diminishing at such an alarming rate. Commit a crime and you have a 75 per cent chance of not being caught and brought to book.

It almost becomes a tantalising idea if of course, you happen to be of the persuasion that robbing and maybe causing some other miscellaneous criminal mayhem is what you do, then why not up your game.

Why even think of changing your lifestyle?

The police are as near as damn it, emasculated.

Now, Im not in possession of all the facts relating to what the police authority prioritise in this area.

Just what sort of crimes are more important etc.

Whether burglary for example, is not a crime that the police take seriously?

Superintendent Caroline Naughton explains that the force had been proactive in tackling drug offences and ran a number of drug related operations across the county. So perhaps this is one of the reasons why other crimes receive far less attention?

And why police numbers are stretched to breaking point?

Far too much police resources are being diverted to tackling and catching those people involved with selling and using illegal drugs.

Just an observation.

Here is another observation.

Would it not be better to decriminalise drugs?

And in doing so, free up countless millions of pounds to spend on recruiting more police officers that would then be available to bring down unsolved crime rates.

Besides, the tax-payer, via the police and other law enforcement agencies worldwide, have been waging a war on drugs for decades without any success.

Billions of pounds have been expended to no meaningful result.

The current war on drugs is unwinnable.

Lastly, is it really appropriate to lock up people (thereby criminalising them) who sometimes through no fault of their own, find it necessary to buy illegal drugs just to survive?

Andrew Martin

Kitchener Road, Weymouth

Continued here:

Letters: Ease war on drugs – Dorset Echo