The War on Drugs seems to be focused on a familiar target
As a journalist whose late father was an FBI agent, I’ve covered police and crime for years and understand the difficult circumstances officers face.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t criticized some who went overboard, such as the Los Angeles International Airport officer who strip-searched me in 1988 after wrongly suspecting I possessed drugs. That incident and others resulted in me joining the ACLU and becoming a board member of the Dallas chapter.
These days, we face renewed vigor in the War on Drugs, which started under the Nixon Administration in the early 1970s as a way to neutralize opponents such as African Americans and anti-Vietnam War activists. Nixon aide John Ehrlichman, who went to prison for his role in Watergate, not too long ago admitted that the phony war was a political one used against Nixon opponents.
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
By 2010, African Americans represented a whopping 62 percent of drug offenders sent to state prisons, while only being 12 percent of the U. S. population.
Donald Trump’s antagonism towards blacks — who voted against him by almost a 90 percent margin — is well apparent. You can also see in his comments against Hispanics and wasteful, racist campaign to build a wall that he doesn’t appreciate about two-thirds of Latinos voting against him.
Trump is not a seasoned politician who is used to the ebbs and flows of electoral politics. He takes everything personal. He still seethes about Obama and others joking about him way back in 2011 at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Trump had essentially led the birther campaign against Obama, who crowed that night, “No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. That’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing?”
So what better way to get back at minorities and others who supported Obama much stronger than Trump but to give the War on Drugs renewed vigor? That’s why you saw the Trump Administration rescinding an Obama-era policy allowing states to legalize marijuana. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed marijuana for violent crimes and gave federal prosecutors in states that have decriminalized and legalized the drug more discretion to go after those nasty pot smokers. Other Trump officials issued warnings about marijuana use in 2019.
State legislators have circumvented the feds to put the ordinances in place. Trump himself recently said he will allow states to make their own policies, though who knows what will happen after the 2020 election, assuming he is not impeached first.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington state became the first states to vote to legalize recreational-use marijuana. Other states have followed to put the total at ten as of 2019, with more states that have legalized medical marijuana and criminalized the substance. Most are blue states that voted against Trump.
Never mind that legalizing marijuana helps take the money out of the market and move it from cartels to legal businesses, though there are still ways for illegal sellers to profit. Never mind that more people abuse across-the-board legal drugs like alcohol and prescription medications. We must blame pot.
So where is this going? Hard to tell. Expect to see more minorities rounded up in relatively minor drug busts. And more states to see the economic and even medical benefits and legalize marijuana.