Op-Ed: How the government’s war on drugs is also war on young entrepreneurs.
Anyone with a hint of intelligence understands that the war on drugs is a complete failure. Millions of people are rotting behind bars for putting “illegal” drugs in their own bodies while “legal” drug dealers make billions pushing basically the same substances. Meanwhile, the war on drugs has done nothing to stem the use of harmful illegal substances, it has only criminalized recreational use and addiction. A little-known fact about this debate over legal and illegal drugs is that the legit ones kill more people per year than the ones you’ll go to prison for, but let’s not allow facts to get in the way of prison profits and the police state. Although a little Google search on incarceration disparity will show you how racist and regressive the drug war and “justice” system truly are, you can read this long-form piece on Anti-Media that will give you more than enough information to get you up to par on that. Various examples can be given that show drug decriminalization decreases addictions rates, not the other way around. What I want to talk about are two other little-known problems with the drug war. Urban brain drain and economics.
Urban Brain Drain.
“What do you mean, Nick?” You might be under the impression that the drug war is locking up criminals, but let me dispel this myth for you. Drug dealers are not criminals, they are entrepreneurs: they supply a product to people seeking to consume. These are products, that as I mentioned before, do not kill nearly as many people as their legal alternatives. These entrepreneurs are only criminalized by the government, not morality.
These street pharmacists are some of the smartest young people that typically don’t fit in at school because they’re unchallenged with boring and outdated material. With shitty school systems in poor urban areas — where selling drugs is one of the few ways to make money — some of these students go directly into business rather than sit through a boring class. These kids would rather learn on the streets than in a classroom; I was one of those kids.
Living in economic dead zones, families fall into a redundant cycle created by the unjust war on drugs. These families, already poor due to oppressive economic situations, are further destroyed when the heads-of-households are thrown in jail for victim-less crimes. The young people are then left the last line of defense for the family and embark on the responsibility to keep a roof over their heads, and sometimes they end up selling “illegal” drugs to do that. These individuals step outside the box, disobey unjust laws, and innovate to make a living. These are the entrepreneurs of the future who develop their businesses and help their families. Instead of holding them up as examples of urban success, our government is throwing them into jail en masse. Let the cycle repeat: the next young generation is up next.
This war on drugs is a war on the mind. The government doesn’t want people stepping out of their control. They don’t want the population committing “thought crimes.” Our Orwell-worshiping government is serious about keeping your thoughts confined within the small box created for you by the video screen hanging on the wall in your living room. They don’t want the smart ones evolving and succeeding without their consent. Their best plan of attack is to drain the urban population of their brains. They also know that those with brains can be off the radar and avoid the taxes they so desperately need. The government doesn’t want anyone to think they can operate a business without first getting their permission. “We can’t let these drug dealers operate outside the law, who will make them pay taxes? Who will regulate them? We can’t let poor people just make money like that, can we? Nope, that’s scary, throw them in jail. Fuck ‘em.” The government has no intention of improving urban areas, rather, they incriminate urban entrepreneurs. This bring us to problem number two.
Crime and drugs go hand in hand, but the economics can not be ignored. Since making a consumer demand illegal creates a higher demand, and in turn creates a black market, crime will also be created. Street dealers often use their relatively large profits from the sale of drugs to purchase food, cars, clothes, and in some cases, launder money into legitimate businesses which creates more business for the evolving economy. — Resistance Journals
The last thing the government wants is empowered poor people walking around with a wad of cash in their pockets supporting local economies. Maybe then, we wouldn’t need the government as much. Frightening! “Go to Wal-Mart, peasants, get a job there while you’re at it. Try anything else and go straight to jail.” This the message we are being sent.
The government, with its policies like the drug war, effectively act as a monopolizing agent for Big Pharma. Any corporatized business that knows what they are doing, uses the government to squash competition. The “illegal” drug trade is no small fish,
With estimates of $100 billion to $110 billion for heroin, $110 billion to $130 billion for cocaine, $75 billion for cannabis and $60 billion for synthetic drugs, the probable global figure for the total illicit drug industry would be approximately $360 billion. Given the conservative bias in some of the estimates for individual substances, a turnover of around $400 billion per annum is considered realistic.
As you will find out below, there are many culprits who pour a lot money every year into the government to lock you up for selling weed. Who pays to keep cannabis illegal? Well, it’s the groups that make the most money from imprisoning massive amounts of people. Here are the real criminals, compiled by Republic Report,
Pharmaceutical Corporations: Pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big Pharma” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”
Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.
Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.
Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbying disclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.
Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”
So you see, making drugs illegal has nothing to do with morality or doing what is right — not even for health reasons. It’s about keeping the urban youth down and sustaining the real criminals’ economy. The spots these victim-less youth hold behind bars should be instead assigned to those responsible for criminalizing their attempt to survive. If these young entrepreneurs have the ability to run unconventional businesses, why would ending this war on drugs not be beneficial in the efforts to end poverty?
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