This is the first of a three part series on illegal drugs and their impact on our society with a special emphasize on the US-Mexico border region, exploring how we got here, what are the economic and social impacts of our policies, and exploring alternatives to our current policies going forward.
“The farther you can look backward, the farther you can see forward”…Winston Churchill
It’s said that the best definition of insanity is to repeat something over and over and expect a different result. The war on drugs and our policies and laws regarding illegal drugs is a good example of this adage. Since the passage of the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act in 1932 more than eight decades ago, through the administrations of thirteen different Presidents, and the enactment of hundreds of new drug laws and regulations, we appear no closer to resolving the long standing problems of drug abuse, addiction, related illegal criminal activities and staggering economic costs to our society. Such criminal activities, often violent and leading to thousands of deaths annually not only here but abroad, have only continued to rise. The drug organizations/cartels behind them have grown stronger and more vicious even to the point today of threatening nation states (Columbia and Mexico) and, potentially, the national security of the United States itself. Drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines are readily available and prevalent in our high schools and even elementary and junior high schools. This has occurred despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually, passage of ever more onerous drug laws (e.g., “Three Strikes and You’re Out”), and adding thousands to an ever growing army of law enforcement, border security and drug agents. In order to understand a path forward to resolving this national and international scourge on our society, we need to look at how we got to where we are and what we might do differently than simply repeating the same thing over and over. Continue reading