Two New Reports Tackle Drug Policy During 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s Declaration of ‘War on Drugs’

This week’s 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s 1971 declaration of the “war on drugs” finds two new contrasting reports addressing the nation’s drug policy.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has issued a new report questioning the cost, ethics, and effectiveness of arresting and incarcerating Americans for possession of drugs. The group favors regulating sales of all illicit drugs, including marijuana, heroin and cocaine, the Seattle Times reports. According to LEAP, legalizing all drugs would lead to the end of violent drug cartels, avoid needless imprisonment and increase available money for drug prevention and treatment. The group says that since President Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” millions of Americans have been arrested and incarcerated on drug-related offenses, yet the prevalence of drug use has not changed much.

In contrast, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) latest report highlights the connection between drug use and crimes other than, or in addition to, drug possession or trafficking. It finds that more than half of adult males arrested for crimes that range from misdemeanors to felonies in 10 cities tested positive for at least one drug.

The ONCDP’s 2010 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Report found that positive drug test results for male arrestees ranged from 52 percent in Washington, DC, to 83 percent in Chicago. The report also found that nine of 10 cities in the report saw a significant drop in adult male arrestees who tested positive for cocaine since 2007.

The number of arrestees who tested positive for marijuana rose in New York City, Sacramento and Charlotte in 2010 compared with the prior year. Four cities—Charlotte, Indianapolis, Portland and Sacramento—saw a significant increase in the percentage of males arrested who tested positive for opiates during the same period.

“These findings illustrate why we must approach our nation’s drug problem as a public health and safety problem,” Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement. “Drug addiction is too often the root of crime in our communities. Supporting innovative initiatives that divert non-violent offenders into treatment, instead of jail, and expand treatment access for incarcerated individuals can help break the vicious cycle of drug use and crime, reduce recidivism and make our communities healthier and safer.”

7 Responses to Two New Reports Tackle Drug Policy During 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s Declaration of ‘War on Drugs’

  1. Jason Blanchette, MPH | June 15, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I believe the Supreme Court ruled (44 Liquor Mart vs. Rhode Island) that speech about a legal substance is protected under the constitution. Legalization of all drugs would transfer the drug pushing from criminals to legitimate corporations and concentrate the wealth into the hands of a few who would then invest millions to further increase drug use, which would include sophisticated efforts to convince the youth culture that drugs are necessary for developing a desirable self image and would include intimidating and manipulating politicians. Here in Massachusetts, beer is taxed at a rate less than books, helmets, walking canes, baby lotions and powders, condoms, and appliances. And the alcohol industry advertises on government property despite coalition efforts to put a stop to it.

  2. Janet | June 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    It hasn’t worked yet with Alcohol. The WHO says it’s more dangerous to more people than any other drug and it’s legal. And now we have alcopops sold right under our noses to kids and they have 24 Proof Alcohol or more. Not a good thing.

  3. maxwood | June 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Unfortunately, reading through the LEAP paper, I failed to find any reference to these points: (a) Drug enforcement as we have known it makes promotion or popularization of Harm-Reduction equipment difficult, for example it is riskier to own a single-toke utensil or a vaporizer than hot burning overdose rolling papers which are easy to hide from the frantic parent or cop; this leads to increased cigarette addiction (check the statistics on cigarettes in the prison population). (b) Legalizing just cannabis– not “drugs”– might cause a drastic drop in use of cocaine, heroin and– yes, folks, tobacco! And wouldn’t you know, the tobacco industry gives much more campaign money to the relatively anti-cannabis Republican Party than to Democrats.

  4. perryrants | June 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    as an addiction counselor it matters not whether drugs are legal. i will still hav eplenty of clients.

    as to the fallacy that legalizing drugs will make money freely available for rehab, ARE YOU KIDDING?

  5. Jerry Epstein | June 16, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Impressive arguments for the return of alcohol Prohibition; maybe we could have 5 or 10 times as many in prison as a jobs program for prison guards and police – bring back Al Capone?

    I wonder why we’re not all addicted to alcohol — is it that we can’t afford it or do we just not know how to get it?

    how on earth did we cut the use of our biggest killer and most addictive drug in half in my lifetime with no arrests and no police to stop supply ?

    are we selling alcohol to teens in our schools? over
    a million teens do sell the prohibited drugs,

    I’m not happy to hear so many of you think a drug dealer will do a better job of keeping your patients from abusing drugs than a health care professional in a regulated system

  6. Jim Sharp | June 16, 2011 at 8:02 am

    The LEAP position is consistent with the report issued last week by the Global Commission on Drug Policy which was signed off by GEORGE P. SHULTZ and PAUL A. VOLCKER stating “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”
    This report argues for decriminalization of drug use.

  7. Robert Hall | June 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    “The group says that since President Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” millions of Americans have been arrested and incarcerated on drug-related offenses, yet the prevalence of drug use has not changed much.”
    First off, this statement has so much spin on it, it’s breaking way out of the strike zone. Yes, people are arrested on drug charges. NO, NO, NO, they are not incarcerated for marijuana use; let’s be honest, LEAP wants pot leagalized. Anyone who goes to prison for marijuana possession is a drug dealer, and had violent crime/weapons charges dismissed as part of a plea bargain.
    Secondly, legalization of drugs will not put cartels out of business. You have to be stoned or stupid or a drug dealer to believe that. “Hey, we’re removing the impediments to your illegal trade, you’ll now be legal and be able to expand your business exponentially!” “Oh, then I quit!” Does that make ANY sense? Of course not. And before you cite the Global Commission on Drug Policy, please at least read an article about it, rather than pulling a random line out of context. Try the New York Times, for starters: “Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.” DUH! That is the practice in the United States, and has been for years. Low-level, non-violent drug offenders are NOT imprisoned in the U.S. Don’t take my word for it. Read the RAND Corporation’s “Just Cause or Just Because.”

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