As he vows to put an end to the opioid epidemic by boosting law enforcement and upping spending on border security, President Donald Trump has, once again, done nothing but mimic his predecessors when it comes to drug policy. Like Barack Obama or George W. Bush before him, he believes government has the answer to the drug problem despite evidence proving the exact opposite.
In August, the president, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, reaffirmed their commitment to a tough law-and-order approach to the drug problem the nation is facing.
Echoing comments made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump said “[s]trong law enforcement is absolutely vital to having a drug-free society.”
“I’m confident that by working with our health care and law enforcement experts we will fight this deadly epidemic, and the United States will win,” he concluded.
But what evidence do the president and his team have to claim that “strong law enforcement” of existing drug laws will promote a “drug-free” society?
Running On Empty: The War That Never Runs Out Of Steam
If you pay attention to politicians and government officials when they discuss drug epidemics and how to fight them, you’ll notice they never focus on solutions that have already proven to work. Instead, they seem to simply go back to their trusty old bag of tricks to pull out one of the “safe” tactics at their disposal.
Oftentimes, the tactic in question involves more government spending, more crackdowns, and more focus on going after low-level drug dealers so they may look back later and tell the public: ‘See how many criminal drug dealers we caught by simply being tough on crime? It works!’ In no time, however, the number of drug-related overdoses rises again, and yet again, the nation is faced with another new, dangerous, and “unprecedented” epidemic, one deemed a “new threat” despite having the same basic elements of previous drug epidemics.
To make a long story short, government officials love to show they are acting. The more they act, the logic goes, the more they “do,” and the more people think they are working to keep them safe. Thus, government can never be accused of sitting on their hands as people literally die in the streets.
It’s the very idea that government acts on our behalf that makes it a dangerous organization capable of inflicting great harm in the name of the common good.
It is largely because government officials, like the ones now working under Trump’s guidance, once said that marijuana was a danger to American society thanks to the wave of Mexican migrants in the south that the first anti-cannabis laws popped up in the 1910s and 20s.
Related Reading: Top Ten Marijuana Myths That No One Should Believe
And it’s reportedly because President Richard Nixon and his team were so afraid of the growing anti-war movement and rising African American leaders in the late 60s and 70s that the president declared a full war on drugs, targeting marijuana and heroin and boosting federal agencies, implementing mandatory sentencing, and embracing no-knock warrants.
With President Ronald Reagan, the focus was on crack. The drug epidemic of the 80s prompted yet another unprecedented increase in federal involvement, causing the incarceration rates tied to drug offenses to rise like never before.
With President Bill Clinton, things got only worse.
In his first months in the White House, Clinton did everything in his power to escalate the drug war and reject recommendations from the U.S. Sentencing Commission that asked for reduced sentences involving crack and powder cocaine.
But with Bush, the public was already aware that things were in the dumps.
Considering he was the first president who got to the White House when the public was realizing the drug war had been an immense failure, you would think he would have reconsidered the strategy. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as he, too, kept on pushing, allocating more taxpayer money to back up and boost the drug war. Under Obama — especially his first term — things weren’t very different, either.
Unfortunately, everyone’s favorite “Hope & Change” president did nothing but take the drug war to new heights, breaking Bush’s records on marijuana farm raids, which were in direct opposition to the growing nullification movement that began to sweep states, making marijuana legal in several parts of the country.
As you can see, Trump has nothing but a great deal of incentive to keep this theater going.
Though his history as a private individual showed he would be willing to put an end to — or at least scale back — the war on drugs, once he entered the White House, his tune changed. It doesn’t matter that evidence shows the drug war doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter that small police departments across the country are already approaching the drug issue differently, stepping away from prosecution, and it doesn’t matter that when push comes to shove, the drug war also fails taxpayers, who increasingly see nothing but a waste of their hard-earned money on policies that ultimately make them more vulnerable.
The Many Government-Backed Origins Of The Opioid Epidemic
As the war in Afghanistan turns 16, one would think the U.S. government would consider coming home promptly, especially after using billions of taxpayer dollars to help locals grow poppy, reviving the country’s opium industry.
After 16 years of U.S. occupation, opium production has only increased, and the country’s opium industry is now stronger than ever thanks to U.S. troops allegedly helping to keep an eye on these farms to fend off Taliban fighters. Though this is rarely discussed in mainstream reporting and conversations, photo evidence abounds. Though motives may not be clear from pictures alone, Ahmed Wali Karzai, Afghan President Hamid Karsai’s brother, has long been rumored to be on the CIA’s payroll and involved in the opium trade. Further, countless U.S. soldiers return from Afghanistan with heroin addiction problems. Unfortunately, there’s little to no record of these purported policies — for obvious reasons.
Over time, Afghanistan’s opium trade re-emerged with such power that it now produces 90 percent of the world’s opium, so it’s no wonder that the U.S. government would be so quick to put the blame on the current epidemic only on Mexican cartels or drug manufacturers pushing for synthetic opioids. Despite their rhetoric, it would be wise to note that as the supply of heroin rose in the past two decades thanks to ramped up production, drug cartels with access to America’s black markets have also benefitted greatly.
As more consumers have become hooked on opioids either by having direct access to heroin or because they were primarily addicted to painkillers, Central American drug cartels have found a way to capitalize on the heroin craze by providing cheaper and more deadly alternatives, such as fentanyl or carfentanil.
With both heroin and prescription painkiller markets booming thanks to U.S. foreign policy and U.S. domestic drug policy, which benefits a handful of drug companies and allows them to push their products and their methods down U.S. doctors’ throats without much competition, this epidemic was bound to be one of the most disastrous of all times.
If The President Wants To End The Drug Epidemic, He Must Pulverize The State
With this information at hand, Trump would be wise to understand that by both putting an end to the Afghanistan war and shrinking the Food and Drug Administration, the opioid epidemic wouldn’t be as deadly. But if he’s truly willing to help all Americans see an end to drug-related murder, crime, and yes, out-of-control addiction, he would be wise to reschedule all illicit drugs, defund the Drug Enforcement Administration, and finally put an end to the U.S. drug war as a whole, which has been a failure ever since its humble beginnings over 60 years ago.
Unfortunately, something tells us he isn’t serious about putting an end to this madness.