In the years I spent counseling drug addicts and alcoholics I saw some terrible things. In fact, terrible is a weak, inadequate word. I saw human nightmares on a scale that would sicken most people.
There was a father (with his father’s help) who made him four year old daughter available to pedophiles for drug money. There was a young woman who burned her parent’s home to the ground in an attempt to cover her robbing them and selling their possessions. There were wives and husbands who sold their children and who became pimp and hooker teams in order to support drug habits.
There were all the brilliant minds gone to waste, careers down the drain, utterly destroyed families and fortunes squandered.
There was death. Lots of death. Parents burying children. Spouses burying spouses. The causes were varied. Suicide, murder, the death of innocents from chemically impaired drivers, heart attacks, strokes, esophageal varices, cirrhosis, overdose, hepatitis, HIV, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, aspirating vomitus and a staggering list of other deadly effects so long that it could fill the contents of this article entirely. All of them were the direct result of alcohol and drug abuse.
You would think, then, that as a person charged with trying to alter the course of so much devastation that I would want to grasp at anything possible to change it. In fact, that is exactly who I did become and who I still am.
It is also why I am vehemently, angrily opposed drug policy that criminalizes the problem, and for the same exact reasons. The so-called War on Drugs is, in fact, a war. Like any other war it leaves death, disfigurement, suffering and grief in its wake.
In Mexico alone, the drug war has already left over 60,000 people dead (just from 2006-2012) and another 27,000 missing. Some estimates put the death toll at over 120,000 by 2013, not counting the missing. USA Today puts the total estimate at 138,000.
Assumedly, at least some of the 27,000 missing can be found in the mass graves scattered throughout Mexico containing the bodies of would-be illegal aliens, those slaughtered by cartels for refusing to smuggle drugs into the United States. Naturally, the preponderance of the bodies are female.
Not a single one of those deaths would have happened if drugs were legal. Nor would drug cartels (outside the pharmaceutical industry) exist. Nor would our prisons be filled to the bursting point with nonviolent drug “offenders,” almost all of whom are women.
As the old saying goes, follow the money. Here is what the War on Drugs is costing, at a rate that increases $500.00 per second.
Let’s take at look at it in real time:
Those dollar amounts, in case you are confused, are billions, and most all of those bucks go to feeding massive bureaucracies employing tens of thousands whose livelihood depends on the illegal drug trade. Without the cartels and street gangs they won’t have jobs and they know it.
In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a cool million fighting against a measure that would have reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.
In fact, republicreport.com, a publication dedicated to exposing political corruption, reports that the top five lobby groups working to continue the cannabis prohibition are police unions, private prison corporations, alcohol and beer companies, pharmaceutical corporations and prison guard unions.
Follow the freaking money, indeed.
Notice that none of the lobby groups are medical or even psychiatric in nature. Those groups, along with assorted human rights organizations are the ones working more vigorously toward ending prohibition.
Alcoholic beverage companies are fine with you being thrown into a dirty cage so they don’t have a much less harmful product than theirs competing with them. Same thing with Big Pharm. Cannabis is being found to have substantial medical benefits for some people, despite the federal Schedule I classification of the drug making research funds nearly impossible to acquire. The drug companies don’t want you to have drugs available which might cut into the sales of their products, many of which are toxic and/or addictive.
Police and prisons? The handcuffs have to go on people and the steel gray doors have to slam for them to keep going. Who better than nonviolent pot smokers who present much less management problems during arrest and incarceration?
The rivers of blood created by the War on Drugs are also polluted with the most noxious forms of political slime.
Allow me to share a final note about drug abuse. Again, I say this as someone who is no stranger to its ill effects, professionally speaking. People are going to use recreational drugs. There is nothing you can do to stop it.
Well, there is something. Maoist China all but obliterated drug abuse by obliterating drug abusers via a bullet to the back of the head. With the open door policy of the 1980s, the drugs returned. China has gone back to waves of executions, but this time it is only the dealers. So, the drugs will remain.
Given that we are not yet a culture so fearful of recreational drug use that we are going into a mode of slaughtering (which would require us to execute the last four US presidents), drugs will be a permanent part of the social landscape.
The question isn’t whether we can end drug abuse. It is clear we can’t. The question is what is the best form of damage control? Tens of thousands of dead people, millions of women languishing in prisons and billions of wasted dollars, all of which have not slowed drug abuse in any measurable way, is the fool’s solution.
And it is the misogynist’s solution.
This is a war waged against women, primarily but not near exclusively minority women. It is a corrupt, destructive approach dependent on human ignorance and the false piety of sanctimonious, cocktail sipping a-holes who prefer dead bodies and destroyed civil rights to the idea of someone getting high on something other than their drug of choice.
In that spirit, it is an issue that will be addressed more frequently at A Voice for Women. In fact, I am somewhat embarrassed that we have neglected it for so long.
Better late than never, as they say.