Dear Donald Trump,
I read that while addressing the Major Cities Chiefs Association on Wednesday you vowed to be “ruthless” in fighting drug trafficking. Now, I understand that we’re facing an opioid epidemic, and I understand that you’re trying to be Reagan 2.0, but there is something you must understand: The War on Drugs has been a colossal failure. Ramping it up again would be one of the worst things you could possibly do to Americans across the nation.
Considering both your vice president and your recently confirmed attorney general have been absolutely terrible when it comes to drug policy, and the fact that you wrongly believe the opioid crisis was caused by a weak border, your recent comments are disturbing. Let me explain a few reasons the War on Drugs has been an unmitigated disaster.
To start, the War on Drugs has been to the black community what the opioid crisis has become for the white community. It has destroyed families, killed countless members of that community and caused a chain of incarceration so unhinged that it played a major role in making the United States number one in prison population worldwide. Because of this, we have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prison population. Knowing that, how can you refer to this country as the land of the free?
Racist policies and policing have caused black and brown citizens to be targeted by the War on Drugs, despite the fact those groups use drugs at nearly the same rate as white citizens. This racial element was not created accidentally. Richard Nixon largely started the War on Drugs, and his former domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman admitted years ago it was started partially to target black Americans, who they saw as their political enemy. Black citizens today are roughly six times more likely to be in prison over drug crimes than white citizens. Whites do the crime, blacks do the time.
Furthermore, if you think the War on Drugs has actually lessened drug use, you’re very far from the truth. While War on Drugs spending has vastly increased in the past few decades, billions wasted, drug use hasn’t changed much. With that, I implore you to legalize and regulate drugs, rather than trying to be the big, bad sheriff in the White House.
[Photo via Michael Vadon/Wikimedia]