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U.S. police arrest more people for possession of marijuana than for all violent crimes combined


War on drugs
(NaturalNews) The war on drugs has continued for nearly half a century in the United States, despite the indisputable fact that it has been a complete and utter failure.

A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch explored in depth the cost in human lives and wasted resources associated with U.S. drug policies and enforcement practices – and it's not a pretty picture.

At any given time, 137,000 men and women sit behind bars on charges of simple drug possession, most of them awaiting trial in jail because they can't afford bail.

From the report:

"Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime. More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year. And despite officials' claims that drug laws are meant to curb drug sales, four times as many people are arrested for possessing drugs as are arrested for selling them."

Many of those arrested were charged with possession of marijuana – a plant that continues to be classified as a Schedule I drug on a par with heroin and meth. Despite the fact that half of U.S. states now allow the use of medicinal marijuana, and that the vast majority of Americans favor legalization, the incarceration of marijuana users has not ceased.

The human cost of the war on drugs

In fact, there are more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined. This is costing taxpayers billions of dollars and creating a criminal class out of ordinary citizens.

Drug possession enforcement in general places an enormous burden on our society, trapping people in a legal system that doesn't solve anything, but instead destroys lives:

"Each day, tens of thousands more are convicted, cycle through jails and prisons, and spend extended periods on probation and parole, often burdened with crippling debt from court-imposed fines and fees. ...

"The cost to them and to their families and communities, as well as to the taxpayer, is devastating. Those impacted are disproportionately communities of color and the poor."

Although there has been a slow realization that the war on drugs has been ineffective and costly, the report concludes that merely changing some aspects of drug policy – such as decriminalizing marijuana or handing out shorter sentences for drug possession – is not enough.

Rather, there needs to be a complete shift away from criminalizing drug use and towards education and treatment.

Criminalization of drug use has not produced any benefits. Despite aggressive policing policies, the amount of drug use has remained more or less constant in the United States.

Since the drug war began, we have spent more than $1 trillion and have not only failed to curb drug use, but have destroyed countless lives in the process by jailing people and denying access to treatment.

Who profits from the failed war on drugs?

To put it bluntly, the war on drugs is a racket; the only people who profit from it are those who make a living arresting, prosecuting and jailing American citizens.

The DEA profits from the drug war. In 2014 alone, the agency seized more than 3.9 billion in civil asset forfeitures. Drug testing companies profit from it, private prisons profit from it and state and local law enforcement agencies profit from it.

And of course, Big Pharma profits from the drug war – in a big way. In fact, the biggest drug problem in America today is the opioid epidemic, which kills tens of thousands of Americans each year, and Big Pharma is almost single-handedly responsible for creating it.

Big Pharma is the biggest and most dangerous drug dealer in America – if anyone should be behind bars for drugs, it should be the CEOs of the major pharmaceutical companies.

Sources:

HRW.org

WeAreChange.org

WashingtonPost.com

ATTN.com

Reason.com
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