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10 Shocking Reasons to End the Drug War (And Consider Legalization and Regulation)

This is not your ordinary Top 10 Buzzfeed list. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs, created this list to show why the War on Drugs has been one of the most disastrous policies in American history. From mass incarceration and tremendous loss of life to billions of dollars seized from citizens every year, drug prohibition is a colossal failure. We need you to share this list to help get the word out. Help grow the number of people in this country and around the globe demanding legalization, regulation and control.

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1. Mass Incarceration

The U.S. currently has less than 5% of the world’s population, but nearly 25% of its incarcerated population. We imprison more people than any other nation in the world. Our high levels of imprisonment are largely due to current drug policies – drug arrests account for more than 50% of people in federal prison, and more than 16% of people in state prison. Nowadays, about 500,000 Americans are behind bars on any given night for a drug law violation, 10 times the amount in 1980.
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer

The U.S. currently has less than 5% of the world’s population, but nearly 25% of its incarcerated population. We imprison more people than any other nation in the world. Our high levels of imprisonment are largely due to current drug policies – drug arrests account for more than 50% of people in federal prison, and more than 16% of people in state prison. Nowadays, about 500,000 Americans are behind bars on any given night for a drug law violation, 10 times the amount in 1980.

2. Racial Bias In Arrests

According to Human Rights Watch, as of 2009, black people were arrested on drug charges at more than three times the rates of whites and sent to state prisons with drug convictions at ten times the rate of whites. All this despite the fact, the Washington Post informs us, that whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rates and white people are more likely to sell drugs.
ACLU / Via aclu-de.org

According to Human Rights Watch, as of 2009, black people were arrested on drug charges at more than three times the rates of whites and sent to state prisons with drug convictions at ten times the rate of whites. All this despite the fact, the Washington Post informs us, that whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rates and white people are more likely to sell drugs.

3. Asset Forfeiture

Several U.S. laws passed in the 1970s and 1980s have enabled the government to seize and forfeit private property even if no one is ever charged with a crime. In seizures, 81% of folks are never indicted. Police departments generally get to keep much of the profit from what they take, creating an incentive for police to support the drug war. In 2012, the Justice Department took in nearly $4.2 billion in forfeitures.

4. America's Heroin Epidemic

From 2006 to 2010, heroin overdose deaths in the U.S. increased by 45%, and the numbers continue to climb. As the nation has cracked down on prescription opioid abuse, people suffering from addiction have turned to heroin, a cheaper, easily accessible option. As it is unregulated and attached to great social stigma, people use heroin in shame, not knowing what they are consuming and often afraid to ask for help in case of overdose or addiction. And our friends, family members, and neighbors are dying from it more than ever – four decades into the so-called war on drugs.
Transcend Recovery Community / Via transcendrecoverycommunity.com

From 2006 to 2010, heroin overdose deaths in the U.S. increased by 45%, and the numbers continue to climb. As the nation has cracked down on prescription opioid abuse, people suffering from addiction have turned to heroin, a cheaper, easily accessible option. As it is unregulated and attached to great social stigma, people use heroin in shame, not knowing what they are consuming and often afraid to ask for help in case of overdose or addiction. And our friends, family members, and neighbors are dying from it more than ever – four decades into the so-called war on drugs.

5. The Breakdown Between Police and the Community

Police officers are supposed to protect and serve communities. However, since the drug war has ramped up in this country over the last forty years, the relationship between police and community has soured. Police officers come into communities – many times, low income communities or communities of color – and meet its members with aggression. Practices such as stop and frisk and the increasing militarization of police officers have deteriorated trust in police forces, which compromises the opportunity for cooperation and justice when violent crimes are committed.
Eric Allie / Via cagle.com

Police officers are supposed to protect and serve communities. However, since the drug war has ramped up in this country over the last forty years, the relationship between police and community has soured. Police officers come into communities – many times, low income communities or communities of color – and meet its members with aggression. Practices such as stop and frisk and the increasing militarization of police officers have deteriorated trust in police forces, which compromises the opportunity for cooperation and justice when violent crimes are committed.

6. Mexican Drug Cartel Violence

The Mexican government has escalated its war with drug cartels and traffickers since late 2006. Since that time, more than 60,000 people have been killed. On top of the human suffering and loss, it is estimated that Mexican drug cartels take in between $19 -$20 billion annually from U.S. drug sales.
The Independent / Via independent.co.uk

The Mexican government has escalated its war with drug cartels and traffickers since late 2006. Since that time, more than 60,000 people have been killed. On top of the human suffering and loss, it is estimated that Mexican drug cartels take in between $19 -$20 billion annually from U.S. drug sales.

7. The War on Women

Women are the fastest-growing population within the prison industrial complex. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of women in prison increased by 646%. Roughly 85% of women in prison now are serving time for nonviolent offenses. The war on drugs is the primary reason behind these statistics. Here are two breathtaking cases of women affected by the war on drugs: the Kemba Smith story and Amy Povah story.
Statista / Via Twitter

Women are the fastest-growing population within the prison industrial complex. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of women in prison increased by 646%. Roughly 85% of women in prison now are serving time for nonviolent offenses. The war on drugs is the primary reason behind these statistics. Here are two breathtaking cases of women affected by the war on drugs: the Kemba Smith story and Amy Povah story.

8. The Entrapment of Minors

Unfortunately, there are law enforcers around the country who choose to prey on vulnerable minors to get their arrest numbers up so that their departments can earn coveted federal grant dollars. In the case of Jesse Snodgrass (an autistic teen also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome who struggles socially), a police officer posed as a high school student, pretended to be Jesse’s friend, and harassed him until he sold him marijuana. Entrapment of minors is a pathetic excuse for police work and a waste of our tax dollars.

Unfortunately, there are law enforcers around the country who choose to prey on vulnerable minors to get their arrest numbers up so that their departments can earn coveted federal grant dollars. In the case of Jesse Snodgrass (an autistic teen also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome who struggles socially), a police officer posed as a high school student, pretended to be Jesse’s friend, and harassed him until he sold him marijuana. Entrapment of minors is a pathetic excuse for police work and a waste of our tax dollars.

9. SWAT Raids Kill People and Family Pets

It happens all around the country. A SWAT team bursts into the wrong home, shoots an unarmed innocent victim, the family dog, and traumatizes the rest of the family members. It happened to these people, all of whom lost their lives in one type of botched drug enforcement operation or another. And it happened in epic fashion in July 2008, when a SWAT team stormed the home of the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, PA, shot and killed his two dogs, and held him at gunpoint.
PolitickerMD / Via stopthedrugwar.org

It happens all around the country. A SWAT team bursts into the wrong home, shoots an unarmed innocent victim, the family dog, and traumatizes the rest of the family members. It happened to these people, all of whom lost their lives in one type of botched drug enforcement operation or another. And it happened in epic fashion in July 2008, when a SWAT team stormed the home of the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, PA, shot and killed his two dogs, and held him at gunpoint.

10. The Drug War Spends Tax Dollars

In addition to the increase in crime, corruption, and the restricting of civil rights that has resulted in drug prohibition, legalizing and regulating drugs would create an estimated $88 billion per year in tax dollar savings and new tax revenue for U.S. federal and state governments. Despite this potentially massive economic boost, there has been little productive dialogue on the subject of legalization and regulation from policymakers.
Via createdebate.com

In addition to the increase in crime, corruption, and the restricting of civil rights that has resulted in drug prohibition, legalizing and regulating drugs would create an estimated $88 billion per year in tax dollar savings and new tax revenue for U.S. federal and state governments. Despite this potentially massive economic boost, there has been little productive dialogue on the subject of legalization and regulation from policymakers.