The Drug Warriors And Their Prey

Fellow Americans,

Last week I saw an excellent documentary at the Ocean City Library called  “The House  I Live In”, about America’s drug war.  The film was devastating in its analysis of how this so-called war had done far more harm than good in our country. Attendance was good and the discussion that followed was informed and lively.  

During that discussion, we learned that next year’s Congressional candidates, our state senator and assemblymen, county officials, our mayor and city councilmen as well as most of the drug law enforcement in the county and city, had been extended personal invitations to attend and express their views. Not one showed up.  And only one, our mayor, even conveyed his regrets.

This told me two things.  First, at least in our area, no one involved in passing these laws or carrying them out seemed willing to defend them in public. This is not surprising since the “war on drugs” begun back in President Nixon’s era has been a total failure by any measure. Despite 40 years of escalation, drug use is up, drug prices are down, and we have more people in prison than any other nation on the planet.  Secondly, any effort to reverse these counterproductive laws must come from the bottom up.  It will never come from the top down. Too many vested interests are threatened .  As long as politicians can keep running and winning by being “tough on drugs”  private prisons can earn billions by fighting drug reform and  police can look productive by busting teenagers and having them inform on each other, it’s going to be hard to change things.

I’m sure many will think of recent heroin deaths reported on the South Jersey shore, and these are indisputedly tragic.  But isn’t this a strong argument to let the State provide a regulated and safe supply and eliminate the criminal source with all its associated violence?  It’s sad that we spend billions of dollars each year on this futile war because so many in government jobs fight to maintain the status quo.


 Mac McCarthy

Ocean City, NJ



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