Everyone knows the War on Drugs failed. Let’s end it.

Even staunch conservatives running for president are saying it failed.


At the Voter’s First Presidential Forum on Monday, Chris Christie, the extremely conservative governor of New Jersey and doomed presidential candidate, said the War on Drugs has been a failure. He also said drug addiction is a disease, not a criminal issue, and that it should be treated that way. News flash: Almost everyone who knows what they’re talking about agrees on this now, and it’s time to end the war.

To be clear, this statement was coming from the man who said just days before that he will crack down on states where marijuana has been voted to be legal if he is elected president. If even the most staunch opponents of a drug as (mostly) harmless as marijuana agree that the War on Drugs has been one of the biggest policy disasters in American history, there is no path forward but to put the guns down and call it a day.

Our prison population has gone up 700 percent since the War of Drugs began around 1970. Our general population has only gone up somewhere around 60 percent. The War of Drugs isn’t the only thing to blame, but it’s definitely one of the biggest reasons so many people are behind bars.

And for what? Why are so many people in prison? Is it because they smoked a joint and watched Scooby-Doo? Is it because they did some heroin and passed out listening to Black Sabbath? Is it because they put a condom full of cocaine in their ass and crossed an imaginary border? Certainly drugs have hurt plenty of people over the past 45 years, in many diverse ways, but I’m sure families broken up by prison have also been hurt. I’m pretty sure people who had to spend their lives inside cement walls for a nonviolent offense have been hurt. The mentally ill who used drugs as ad-hoc treatment and have been abused by indefinite solitary confinement have been hurt. Violence and vicious persecution at the hands of the American government has hurt plenty of people.

So why don’t we end it? Is it because prison is a tool for controlling minorities and the poor? Is it because we have a burgeoning private prison system that’s just too enticing for us to give up? Is it because prison employees will lose their jobs if we cut down the prison population? What’s stopping us from going from rhetoric to action? I would be willing to bet it has something to do with greed and control, and you can choose which of the last few guesses is correct.

Now we come to the point. Barack Obama said the war on drugs has been an “utter failure” in 2004. President Barack Obama made similar statements just a few months ago. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate from Kentucky, has claimed the War on Drugs has created a “culture of violence.” Most lucid politicians who aren’t sponsored by the alcohol lobbies realize the War on Drugs has been a failure, and it’s time for them to do something about it, instead of just talking.