Hawks Lost the War on Drugs — Get Over It

While the news is focusing on the newly-elected Republican Congress wrangling with whether or not to overturn Washington, D.C.’s decriminalization of marijuana, the “War on Drugs” continues to be lost on all fronts.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports heroin use is on a dramatic rise since 2007,  with numbers reaching all-time highs. The cause of the problem: cheap street heroin due to a large market supply.

The sad reality, though, is that our War on Terror in Afghanistan is the sole cause of this glut of heroin.

For all the Taliban’s faults, to their credit, they had almost completely eradicated the production of opium (the source of heroin) in Afghanistan prior to the American invasion. With NATO forces continuing to leave, opium production is at all-time highs with Afghanistan producing over 80 percent of the world’s opium supply.

When we invaded Afghanistan in 2001, only 50,000 acres (78 sq. miles) of opium were grown in the entire country. In 2014, after 13 years of U.S. and NATO control, there are 22.5 million acres (35,156 sq. miles) of opium production — almost 15 percent of the total landmass of Afghanistan!

What’s worse, this is the number of acres cultivated AFTER the U.S. spent $7 billion trying to eradicate production.

How can they be doing this badly? It’s not like they are hunting for a stray patch here and there; we’re talking about 1 out of every 7 acres in the entire country under opium cultivation.

What is this money being spent on? If so much of the drug remains in production, how much did U.S. forces actually destroy? Something smells fishy.

If the full weight of our military in a country roughly the size of Texas can’t stop 15 percent of the total land area from being used to cultivate opium, what makes us think that we can ever win the war on drugs at home?

It’s time for everyone to accept that the war on drugs is a lost cause.

I personally don’t get it — the Republicans are wholly against the “nanny state” except when they have to protect people from themselves by outlawing street drugs. Especially when studies have shown that most drug users are happy, successful people, and not poor criminals abusing the welfare system.

In general, every single state that has implemented drug testing for welfare recipients has experienced the same phenomenon — they aren’t finding very many drug addicts using welfare and it is costing the state more to test than it’s worth.

It’s time we change our attitudes on drugs. Winners will be winners, losers will be losers, regardless of their drugs of choice: alcohol, marijuana, and/or prescription or street drugs.

Photo Credit: vetkit / shutterstock.com