The War on Drugs Has Become the War on the American People
by John W. Whitehead
“On July 29, 2008, my family and I were terrorized by an errant Prince George’s County SWAT team. This unit forced entry into my home without a proper warrant, executed our beloved black Labradors, Payton and Chase, and bound and interrogated my mother-in-law and me for hours as they ransacked our belongings… As I was forced to kneel, bound at gun point on my living room floor, I recall thinking that there had been a terrible mistake. However, as I have learned more, I have to understand that what my family and I experience is part of a growing and troubling trend where law enforcement is relying on SWAT teams to perform duties once handled by ordinary police officers.”
~ Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo in testimony before the Maryland Senate
Insisting that the “damage done by drugs is felt far beyond the millions of Americans with diagnosable substance abuse or dependence problems,” President Obama has declared October 2011 to be National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. However, while drug abuse and drug-related crimes have unquestionably taken a toll on American families and communities, the government’s own War on Drugs has left indelible scars on the population.
Indeed, although the Obama administration has shied away from using the phrase “War on Drugs,” its efforts to crack down on illicit drug use – especially marijuana use – have not abated. Just consider – every 19 seconds, someone in the U.S. is arrested for violating a drug law. Every 30 seconds, someone in the U.S. is arrested for violating a marijuana law, making it the fourth most common cause of arrest in the United States.