The "Drug War" is doing far more harm than marijuana itself ever will
You might remember Robert McNamara's stunning mea culpa, delivered a quarter century after his Vietnam War policies sent some 50,000 Americans (and even more horrendous numbers of Vietnamese) to their deaths in that disastrous war. In his 1995 memoir, the man who had been a cold, calculating secretary of defense for both Kennedy and Johnson belatedly confessed that he and other top officials had long known that the war was an unwinnable, ideologically driven mistake. "We were wrong," he wrote, almost tearfully begging in print for public forgiveness. "We were terribly wrong."
Yes, they were, and so are today's leaders (from the White House to nearly all local governments), who are keeping us mired in the longest, most costly, and most futile war in U.S. history: the drug war. As one adamant opponent of this ongoing madness put it, "I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the War on Drugs is a failure. Americans are paying too high a price in lives and liberty for a failing War on Drugs, about which our leaders have lost all sense of proportion."
That was no ex-hippie stoner expressing himself through a haze of herbal smoke. It was America's "Uncle Walter," the journalistic icon Walter Cronkite, calling earlier this year for a new truthfulness and sanity in American drug policy.
The drug war is rife with major failures and absurdities, including the rise of a vast, murderous narco-state within Mexico, caused by U.S. consumer demand for drugs outlawed by our government; Plan Colombia, a secretive, multibillion-dollar U.S. military operation started by Bill Clinton in 2000 to eradicate coca production in that country, which now produces 15% more coca than it did before the plan was launched; the racist and grossly unjust sentencing disparity, established by lawmakers in the 1980s, between crack-cocaine users (mostly black) and powder snorters (mostly white); and the ridiculous refusal by pious federal authorities to allow our farmers to grow hemp--a useful, profitable, sustainable, and historic crop (see Lowdown, May 1999).The rest of this article can be read only by paid Hightower Lowdown subscribers. Click here to subscribe! If you're already a subscriber, log in here.