By Ryan Lau | SOUTH CAROLINA
In June of 1971, former President Richard Nixon declared “drug abuse” to be public enemy number one, and allocated 100 million dollars to fight against abuse. This, of course, was the birth of what has been come to be known as the War on Drugs, and has since cost American taxpayers over a trillion dollars. Current rates of spending are at an alarming $500 every second, and have only steadily increased since Nixon’s verdict.
So, what exactly has been the result of the massive campaign? A Washington Post story dated March 17th details how South Carolina police officers fatally shot a man to pieces for possessing approximately $100 of marijuana. They then proceeded to lie about the event, claiming that the severely injured Julian Betton pointed and fired his own gun at the officers (he did neither). This has been the result of fifty years of tyranny, of authoritarianism, of infringements upon the liberty of free individuals. There is no end in sight to this war, no victor. The War on Drugs has absolutely no grounds to continue in a free society, and thus must be abandoned immediately.
First and foremost, prohibition of a substance does not in any way equate to its removal from the public scope. One must only look at the prohibition of alcohol during the 1920’s to see the adverse effects of such a doctrine. Despite an increase in funding for the Bureau of Prohibition ($4.4 million to $13.4 million) during the 1920’s, alcohol consumption only increased throughout the decade. The federal government, albeit unintentionally, thus gave immense business, and consequently, power, to gangsters who owned and ran illegal bars, colloquially known as “Speakeasies”. These institutions heavily promoted immoral action such as prostitution, heavy drinking, and gambling, and have no place in a civil society.
Though the policy had a good intention, advocating for an end to alcoholism, quite the opposite occurred. Similarly, though drug usage should not be advocated, its illegality will only lead to an increase in organized crime and promotion of immoral behavior.
However, when considering the absolute tragedies of the War on Drugs, one notices that its faults do not stem exclusively from unintended consequences. That is to say, even if the War on Drugs was entirely successful in eliminating addiction and the often consequent immoralities and degeneracies that result from drug abuse, it would still not be legitimate. As a free, independent being, each living human is endowed with Natural Rights to life, liberty, and property in the negative sphere. Though they may not force the acquisition of any of the above at the expense of any other innocent individual’s Rights, no individual or collective, voluntary or coercive, may deprive them of such Rights. The War on Drugs, of course, is an impediment to both liberty and property rights. It is within one’s individual liberty to use any drug that they so desire, provided that the action is entirely voluntary and does not directly jeopardize the equal Natural Rights of anyone else. Moreover, as the drugs, if voluntarily and contractually acquired, are an individual’s justly acquired property, thus also ineligible for regulation or prohibition by any uninvolved entity, regardless of their illegitimate claims to power.
The State, in regulating or prohibiting drugs, is in direct violation of the Natural Rights of the individuals who desire to use them. Though usage of narcotics of any kind, legal or illegal, should not be encouraged on a moral level, illegalization of such a practice is a massive restriction on the freedom of the individual. Hence, in order to reach a society that values individual liberty and does not violently attack those who practice it, the War on Drugs must immediately be discontinued.