We Deserve A Smarter War on Drugs

Did we learn nothing from the so-called crack cocaine plague of the 80’s and 90’s? For those with fuzzy memories, the media back then erroneously and breathlessly declared that crack use had reached epidemic proportions.

Newsweek declared crack was “the most addictive drug known to man!” The full truth would eventually come out. Crack was only half the problem.

Crack is created when powder cocaine is mixed with baking soda and water and cooked down into rock-like nuggets to be smoked in a pipe. It’s a relatively cheap high and favored by those in poorer neighborhoods. The more expensive powder cocaine was snorted primarily by higher income Caucasians. What was happening in the 80’s wasn’t just a crack epidemic – it was a cocaine epidemic – and poor and rich alike were addicted.

Thousands of mostly African American men were imprisoned for crack related offenses - royalty free photos from Pixfuel.com
America Imprisoned Countless Thousands for Crack Possession — Pixfuel.com

Congress bought the fake news that crack was the real problem and passed the ill-conceived Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 which set a mandatory sentence of five years in federal prison for anyone convicted of possessing five grams of crack (equal to a teaspoon), even if it was their first offense. Thousands of mostly poor, young African American men were imprisoned, their families torn apart. Powder cocaine users were only sentenced to that mandatory five years in prison if they possessed 500 grams (or over a pound) of the drug. The racial disparity was painfully obvious.

The overcrowding of our prison system began. More importantly, the crime and drug problems in America did not lessen with these tough-on-crime sentences. Things got worse over the years as addicts moved on to black tar heroin, meth, Ketamine, Ecstasy and more.

Today, the deadliest drug is reported to be fentanyl. Not the medically approved pharmaceutical fentanyl, an opioid that treats severe pain, but rather illegally produced fentanyl which is mostly smuggled into the U.S. via illicit laboratories in China and Mexico. Tens of thousands of Americans have died from fentanyl overdoses and other similar chemical compounds called analogues.

U.S. Capitol Building - West Side view. Photo from Wikipedia
Congress Has Passed Ill-Conceived Drug Laws in the Past – Set to do it Again? – Wikipedia

There are several bills pending in Congress now aimed at curbing distribution and use of fentanyl and its analogues. Some seek to label the addicting chemicals as highly regulated Schedule 1 dangerous opioids, which opponents say could adversely affect future scientific research. But guess what is also being considered as a solution to this deadly problem? You guessed it – mandatory prison sentences for drug addicts and street dealers in possession of drugs containing fentanyl and its close cousins.

Reality check: street-level sellers and buyers have no way of knowing if their drugs include fentanyl. Its added in by criminal “chemical cookers” at the source to give their drugs that extra punch that keeps customers coming back.

Attorney General William Barr hit the nail on the head at his confirmation hearing last year when he said, “The head of the snake is outside the country, and the place to fight this aggressively is at the source more than on the street corner.” Barr added. “We could stack up generation after generation of people in prison and it will still keep on coming.” Yet ironically, Barr has recently campaigned for passage of two bills that fail to focus on stopping fentanyl at the source.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr. Photo from Wikimedia
AG Barr Wants to Curb Fentanyl With New Laws, Not Funds for Source Control — Wikimedia

When will lawmakers understand that locking up addicts and low-level dealers doesn’t stop the problem? It just creates another fractured generation of ex-cons and ever mounting incarceration costs for us to pay. Going after the source of the product that poisons so many is a much smarter long-term tactic.

Spend more money interdicting shipments of fentanyl (and all illegal drugs!) coming into this country via the U.S. Postal Service. Outfit agencies like Customs and Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration with more personnel and technology to stop drug shipments headed this way, be they arriving via air, sea, land or through border tunnels. Make foreign aid dependent on whether the receiving country helps stop the flow of drugs into the U.S. And how about focusing on job-training for convicted dealers and truly meaningful treatment for addicts so that upon their release they become tax paying citizens with decent jobs.

We need a modern-day War on Drugs. One that is strong and focused on stopping both the source of the poison and on the demand of those victims the drugs create.



  1. Diane Dimond on February 13, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    Reader Vincent F. Amen@VincentFAmen writes:

    Good ideas. Well written. If Trump handles drugs as immigration. ie Putting pressure on Mexico to manage or consequences . Then this could be a good strategy for the US. However, can countries internally control their drug enforcement or is it corruption that impedes them.

  2. Diane Dimond on February 13, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Reader BUGLE@bcdrc62 writes:

    Stop it at the source

  3. Diane Dimond on February 13, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Reader evil midget@midgets_levil writes:

    All dealers are criminal.

    And rehab has little to no effect.
    Upon release from rehab, medics revived the same couple 3x in a 24hr period.

    All dealers from top to bottom need incarceration repeat addicts need a min 6months cold turkey & 1yr rehab after jail

  4. Diane Dimond on February 13, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Reader Dr. Ken Wonderly@kgwonderly writes:

    The problem isn’t the locking them up, it is where you are locking them up. Need drug rehabilitation minimum security prisons.

    • Diane Dimond on February 13, 2020 at 6:45 pm

      DD replies to Dr.

      I completely agree, Dr.!

  5. Diane Dimond on February 13, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Reader Pat76USA@Pat76U writes:

    How about death penalty for dealing?

  6. Diane Dimond on February 13, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Reader Karen the Determined Deplorable@KinGrandPrairie

    Illicit narcotics are the only product where the risk of overdose/death IS the selling point.

    I know it sounds cruel, but as long as we’re Narcanning the users, sales will continue, and no one will actively seek help (regardless of arrest).

  7. Diane Dimond on February 13, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Reader Harold “hazmat suit” Chang@HaroldChang19 writes:

    who even cares? junkies dying is a fuckin solution NOT a problem. grow up people

  8. Diane Dimond on February 17, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Reader Kathleen Hillock writes:

    I’m thinking this article is a reprint from 1900 about the evils of alcohol. Prohibition followed. The need to get drunk, or high and senseless, is a genetic disorder that should have been eradicated over 100 years ago. Same can be said for rampant pedophilia.

  9. Diane Dimond on February 17, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Reader washigi writes:

    Most drugs are man yo factoried and dropped off inner city style by…. ummm…. if’n yew don’t no, look er up. Who da biggest smug juggler in these parts? No need for more “laws”. You take it, you pay the consequences. Time for responsibility. Not more government!

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