The War on Drugs Costs Too Much
Article by Kevin Wilson
The failed War on Drugs destroys our liberty, wastes our money, and perpetuates injustice right here in Rochester. What can we do to stop it?
Just like the War on Terror, the war on drugs generates fear that robs us of our rights and squanders our tax dollars; it has destroyed millions of lives, cost us billions of dollars, has consistently failed to curb drug use, fills our prisons, perpetuates gang violence, violates our civil liberties, and has consistently failed to curb the market for drugs.
Americans are fed up with the government controlling what should be an individual choice: According to a new Pew Research Center poll, 52% of Americans now support marijuana legalization. That includes 65% of Millennials and 50% of Baby Boomers.
Many of us recognize drug abuse as a serious problem but understand that over-criminalization and high incarceration rates for non-violent users is hardly a just solution in a free society. Our drug policy creates far more problems than it solves. The human and financial costs are too staggering to allow the failed war on drugs to continue.
The Greater Rochester Libertarian Party recognizes the cost of the War on Drugs in Rochester
Chris Edes and Drew Beeman at the rally to support Benny Warr
Benny Warr was waiting for the bus on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Bartlett Street in Rochester, NY when police asked him to clear the area. He told the police officers that he was waiting for the bus and did not want to move. Apparently Mr. Warr was less than polite about it, but that’s not a crime. When he refused to comply with police authority, the police officers knocked Mr. Warr out of his wheelchair, beat him, and charged him with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Why were the police so insistent on removing Mr. Warr from this corner? Not because he was committing a crime, not because there was an ongoing incident that could jeopardize his safety, but because there had been drug activity in the area and they wanted all citizens off the public streets. Mr. Warr, a wheelchair bound African American man, may be one of many victims of racist policing and systematic oppression that the war on drugs enables.
Recognizing one of the root causes of this incident, GRLP Chair Drew Beeman spoke at the rally supporting Benny Warr. See him speak at about 26:10. Drew pointed out that while the infamous stop and frisk policy of the New York Police Department lead to a disproportionate 52% of non-violent marijuana arrests being African American, Black Rochestarians make up over 80% of non-violent drug arrests locally. With agreement from the crowd, Drew asserted that incidents like these are not indicative of a marijuana problem, but rather a racist policing problem. By decriminalizing marijuana and other drugs, we take this tool away from the police.
After decades of militarization from the war on drugs and now the war on terror, many police forces are overgrown, aggressive, and unaccountable. The new warrior cop class is destructive to all of us but hits low income minority communities the hardest. The War on Drugs is a major source of contention that pits peace officers against communities they are sworn to protect. So please, join the Libertarian Party in calling for the decriminalization of private behavior. It’s time to restore liberty and peace by ending the war on drugs.
Support GRLP efforts to scale back the war on drugs:
Elect local libertarian candidates that would pull resources away from drug enforcement and focus on real crime
Encourage state and local officials to reform drug forfeiture procedures so governments cannot profit from drug arrests
Call your New York State Senators and tell them to support bills like A6716-A that make marijuana possession a violation punishable by a summons and fine, not arrest and jail.
Encourage your member of Congress to end unconstitutional drug policy by cutting off funding for drug enforcement and giving control back to the states where it belongs
For the especially bold, you could always try jury nullification
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