When you think of the longest wars in U.S. history, youd typically think of armed conflict.
Topping that list is the Afghanistan War and, by extension, the War on Terror. The almost 20-year war defined our entire generation. Most, technically all, of our age group has never known peace. We have never known a nation that is not at war with somebody, and why that is happening is another discussion for another day.
But when you look at passive wars, wars without guns, there is one that sticks out the most. At the time of this writing, the War on Drugs has lasted 49 years, nine months and 23 days. It is easily one of the longest wars in world history.
And despite lasting so incredibly long, its central purpose, goal and mission have not changed: target, engage and arrest minorities in the U.S., focusing on Black men.
Between the 1970s and 2016, U.S. prison rates increased by 500%, leading to the U.S. having the highest tracked imprisonment rates. In 2018, of all federal prisoners in the US, 33% were Black, 30% were white and 23% were Hispanic.
The numbers seem relatively close, right? When you consider only 12% of the US population was Black during the same study period, there are red flags. And its not just imprisonment rates that are incredibly racist.
A 2015 report by the US Department of Justice found that Black drivers in Missouri were over twice as likely to be searched during vehicle stops but were found in possession of contraband around 30% less often than white drivers.
A 1995 United States government study found that from 1991 to 1993, 16% of those who sold drugs were Black, but 49% of those arrested for doing so were Black. Despite all of this information, the government has not changed its stance despite all of these studies. And this is because the United States government is using this to oppress minorities in this continue.
But this isnt even speculation: John Ehrlichman, President Nixons aide on domestic affairs, was the man credited with pitching the plan to the President. In a 1996 interview, Ehrlichman explained what it was like in the room where it happened.
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and Black people. You understand what Im saying? Ehrlichman began.
We knew we couldnt 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, Ehrlichman explained in the interview.
The Nixon administration lied to the American public night after night about these drugs dangers and who was using them.
Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did, Ehrlichman further explained.
And it is not just Republican Administrations that are engaging in this. Take Bill Clintons Administration. The 1994 Crime Bill, which current president Joe Biden wrote, is known for targeting minorities, especially regarding crime.
Specifically, towards drug legislation, the bill introduced the Three Strikes Law. Which by its name seems harmless until you know whats going on. It required a mandatory life sentence for any felony violent crime conviction after two other prior convictions. Again, this seems straightforward, but it includes serious drug offenses per Section 3559 of Title 18 U.S. Code.
Not to mention there is a direct implication for college students. The law had a clause that removed the approval of Pell Grants for low-income inmates in federal prison.
So that means if you are an 18-year-old who got caught with weed by a federal agent, you now have a more challenging time paying for college. Keeping you stuck in the situations that likely brought you arrested in the first place.
Not to mention Bill Clinton cut many programs that help poor minority communities, such as public housing. Unfortunately, because many of our parents grew up being fed this false information, the lies persist in American society. And even then, it has focused on the same drugs from the 70s.
Marijuana, heroin and meth are still the central focus, yet there are far more dangerous and legal drugs.
Tobacco, alcohol and opioids are all very legal and very deadly. Opioids alone killed 81,230 people during the 2020 fiscal year. For comparison, thats more than how many people died in the Hiroshima atomic bombing, not including those who died of radiation poisoning.
The War on Drugs is functionally the U.S. governments biggest failure, spanning nearly five decades, all to put a group of peaceful Americans into prisons.
- It's time to end the war on drugs - Athens NEWS - July 14th, 2021
- Maine lawmakers had a chance to end the state's war on drugs. They failed. - Bangor Daily News - July 14th, 2021
- Legacies of the war on drugs: Next of kin of persons who died of opioid overdose and harm reduction interventions in Philadelphia - DocWire News - July 14th, 2021
- Afghanistan isn't the only war that should be coming to an end - The Nevada Independent - July 14th, 2021
- What do 'reparations' mean for you? Forum asks Mondays throughout summer; Join and be heard - Cambridge Day - July 14th, 2021
- The strange, failed fight to rein in civil forfeiture in Washington - Crosscut - July 14th, 2021
- Reversing the War on Drugs: A five-point plan - Brookings Institution - July 10th, 2021
- The War on Drugs Is 50 Years Old - The Nation - July 10th, 2021
- The Punitive War on Drugs Unnecessarily Harms Sha'Carri Richardson and Many Other Black Women - Essence - July 10th, 2021
- Psychonautical Journalist Michael Pollan Is Finally Ready To End the War on Drugs - Reason - July 10th, 2021
- The War On Drugs have reportedly been filming a new music video - NME - July 10th, 2021
- After 50 years, Colombia seems to have given up on drug war - Colombia Reports - July 10th, 2021
- ShaCarri Richardsons Olympics dream was crushed by the War on Drugs - TheGrio - July 10th, 2021
- Abuse in 'drug war' routinely covered up, advocates say - Philstar.com - July 10th, 2021
- PNP: No cover-up in 'drug war'; more than 5K cops dismissed for 'abuse' - Philstar.com - July 10th, 2021
- War on drugs is not working, it is time to talk about regulation, says Hanley - Galway Advertiser - July 10th, 2021
- The US military needs to burn down its zero-tolerance weed policy - Task & Purpose - July 10th, 2021
- A World Court May Investigate The Philippines' War On Drugs That's Killed Thousands - WMFE - July 2nd, 2021
- War on Drugs Comes to Vashon | Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber - Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber - July 2nd, 2021
- Faith in Action: July 4, 2021 End The War On Drugs - All Saints Church, Pasadena - - July 2nd, 2021
- Cannabis reform? It's the right time for full federal legalization to help economy and people - USA TODAY - July 2nd, 2021
- Here's how SF plans to tackle 'unacceptable' drug crisis in the Tenderloin - San Francisco Chronicle - July 2nd, 2021
- How the United States Fueled a Global Drug War, and Why It Must End - Open Society Foundations - June 30th, 2021
- Mother of 2 killed drug suspects urges ICC to pursue war on drugs probe - GMA News Online - June 30th, 2021
- 'Safety First' Drug Education Program Acknowledges the Failings of 'Just Say No' - The 74 - June 30th, 2021
- ICC probe into 'drug war' can proceed without government cooperation lawyer - Philstar.com - June 30th, 2021
- Maya Schenwar's Sister Died of an Overdose. She Says Defunding the Police Might Have Saved Her - Democracy Now! - June 30th, 2021
- The Graphic Truth: Did the war on drugs work? - GZERO Media - June 28th, 2021
- End the War on Drugs | News, Sports, Jobs - Marshalltown Times Republican - June 28th, 2021
- Has the war on drugs been won yet? - GZERO Media - June 28th, 2021
- ICC begins accepting information on Dutertes drug war - ABS-CBN News - June 28th, 2021
- Punjab Diary: DSP Raghbir Singh wages war on drugs - The Tribune - June 28th, 2021
- PNP reviews dismissed drug cases for better operations, accountability - Philstar.com - June 28th, 2021
- A rare investigation into a police killing in the Philippines - The Economist - June 28th, 2021
- A Bill to End the War on Drugs - Psychiatric Times - June 18th, 2021
- Vision for Justice Campaign Demands an End to the War on Drugs - Civilrights.org - June 18th, 2021
- Poll: Abandon The War On Drugs And Decriminalize - The Appeal - June 18th, 2021
- On anniversary of the war on drugs, CT sends recreational cannabis bill to Gov's desk - FOX 61 - June 18th, 2021
- 50 years later, end the war on drugs | Columns | stardem.com - The Star Democrat - June 18th, 2021
- Why Mexico Needs to Demilitarize the "War on Drugs" - The National Interest - June 18th, 2021
- Oregon's Pioneering Drug Decriminalization Experiment Is Now Facing The Hard Test - NPR - June 18th, 2021
- Congressman Cohen Questions Expert Witnesses at a Hearing on Sentencing Reform - Congressman Steve Cohen - June 18th, 2021
- 50 years in, the war on drugs is an unmitigated disaster - Politics.co.uk - June 4th, 2021
- Bidens proposed budget keeps a block on recreational weed sales in Washington, DC - The Verge - June 4th, 2021
- Industry VoicesVaccines are pivotal in the war on COVID-19, but better treatments for acute COVID patients are critical - FierceHealthcare - June 4th, 2021
- Missouri Feels the Pain of Drug Dependency and Overdose More than Most States - Flatland - June 4th, 2021
- Human Rights Watch Urges Congress to Support the MORE Act - Human Rights Watch - June 4th, 2021
- 'Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy' Exposes The Truth About The War On Drugs - KALW - May 22nd, 2021
- When the Black Panthers and Young Lords Teamed Up to Fight Addiction with Acupuncture - Hyperallergic - May 22nd, 2021
- Bill to Decriminalize Possession and Personal Use of Psychedelics Headed for Full Senate Vote - EastCountyToday - May 22nd, 2021
- Cookies and WebberWild Join Forces to Launch Cookies U - PRNewswire - May 22nd, 2021
- Herbarium Hosts The CBX Takeover for The Last Prisoner Project - PRNewswire - May 22nd, 2021
- Judge rejects plan to ban people with drug arrests from the Tenderloin | 48 hills - 48 Hills - May 20th, 2021
- Cannabis may be legalized, but criminal justice reform is still needed - The Commonwealth Times - May 9th, 2021
- How Washington Lost the Ultimate Drug War - LA Progressive - May 9th, 2021
- "Belly of the Beast" Excerpt: The War on Drugs and the War on Obesity - Wear Your Voice - May 4th, 2021
- In final case the court will hear this term, profound issues of race, incarceration and the war on drugs - SCOTUSblog - May 4th, 2021
- We Need To Recognize That The War In Afghanistan Is Not Our Longest War - The Fresh Toast - May 4th, 2021
- COVID has kept some struggling with drug addiction from getting help - WQAD.com - May 4th, 2021
- Weed Limit: Pot prohibitionists regurgitate tired tropes from the bygone days of the War on Drugs - Tucson Weekly - May 4th, 2021
- CHRONICLE: How the pandemic changed the war on drugs - KETV Omaha - April 25th, 2021
- Six Things Feminists Should Know About the War on Drugs - Ms. Magazine - April 25th, 2021
- War on drugs, and peace - The Riverdale Press - April 25th, 2021
- 10 Famous Entrepreneurs Who Are Against The War On Drugs - Benzinga - April 25th, 2021
- Washington AG urges legislators to 'move away from a war on drugs' - KUOW News and Information - April 25th, 2021
- These Beauty Brands Are Trying to Fix the Damage Caused by the War on Drugs - Allure - April 25th, 2021
- When Crack Kills: Media, Misinformation and the Truth About the War on Drugs - The Root - April 25th, 2021
- Drug Take Back Day providing a safe way to dispose of unused or expired medications in Toledo - WTOL - April 11th, 2021
- Opinion | After Blake, will Washington state repay victims of the war on drugs? - Crosscut - April 9th, 2021
- Baltimore ends war on drugs with plot line straight from The Wire - The Independent - April 9th, 2021
- Tusinski: Weed is winning the war on drugs. Good. The Rocky Mountain Collegian - Rocky Mountain Collegian - April 9th, 2021
- President Biden isn't 'too busy' to carry out the cruelties of the Drug War - Leafly - April 9th, 2021
- Drug war logs 186 killings in first quarter of the year amid surge in COVID-19 cases - Vera Files - Vera Files - April 9th, 2021
- States Keep Repeating the Same Mistake With Marijuana Legalization - Slate - April 9th, 2021
- A Murderous Plague in the Philippines - The Bullet - Socialist Project - April 9th, 2021
- Name Ministers, cops involved with drug dealers: Manipur Congress - The Hindu - April 9th, 2021
- 'Has Marijuana Changed or Have We?' - Syracuse University News - April 9th, 2021
- The US War on Drugs is Driving the Displacement Crisis - FPIF - Foreign Policy In Focus - April 4th, 2021
- Baltimore: How one of America's deadliest cities ended the war on drugs - with help from The Wire - Telegraph.co.uk - April 4th, 2021
- Greens pledge to end 'failed' war on drugs and tackle crisis with health policy - HeraldScotland - April 4th, 2021