Here's the deal: if you sell cocaine and you are caught dealing the stuff, the sentence you get will depend on whether you are selling in a black area or white area. If you sell in a black area, the cocaine of choice is crack-cocaine (Known as the poor man's drug) because it is cheaper than the powdered version which whites are better able to afford. And if you deal in crack-cocaine the sentence you obtain will be quite draconian compared with a white drug dealer. In fact, it takes only 100 grams of crack compared to a kilo of cocaine powder to be labeled a major drug offender.Let's dispense with all the legalese: if you are black and deal you will be treated 10 times worse than if you are white and deal drugs. That's the bottom line.
Some states like Ohio think they are fixing the problem by making white dealers get the same sentences as black dealers. So if the sentences for blacks are draconian let's make the sentences for whites draconian too? This approach is misguided. We have more people in jail than ever before and rising. If we were doing something right we would be emptying the jails. The War on Drugs is directly responsible for making drug dealing a very profitable business. Despite the fact that we have put millions of cocaine dealers and users in jail, cocaine is the most popularly used drug in America. What have we done?
In Holland drugs are legal and the social impact of drug use is minimal. With drugs legal, there is not enough profit to make drug dealing a career. Without drug dealers, there are fewer people pushing drugs and making it available to the larger population. Without drug dealers there is no role model for inner-city youth to emulate and aspire to. Without drug dealers the price of drugs would be as affordable as cigarettes. Without the high prices there would be less need for crime to pay for those drugs. With less crime why would we need a war on drugs?
It is time we get off our moral high horse and start treating drug users as patients instead of criminals. With treatment instead of jail. It is sad to note than none of the current crop of candidates other than Ron Paul has the testicles to declare that we have long ago lost the War on Drugs (although most are in favor of reducing the disparity in sentencing guidelines). It is interesting to note that Democrats have no problem declaring that we lost the War in Iraq when in fact the opposite is true. And the War on Drugs costs hundreds more lives lost than the War in Iraq. See the graph below:
Please note that right after we stopped our War on Alcohol murder rates dropped in half and doubled again when we started the War on Drugs. For those who do the math, that's at least 300,000 more murders since 1974 than we would have had without this idiotic approach to drugs in America. That's 100 times more than we have lost in Iraq. Puts it in perspective for you?
Many Americans are not even aware that it was once perfectly legal to sell cocaine in drugstores and yet we had no drug problem or large-scale abuse. When it's legal no one is promoting and pushing its use and kids are less likely to want it.
The Supreme Court, astonishingly, actually moved in the right direction this week:
10 Dec 2007,
Justices: Judges can slash crack sentences
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that federal judges have the discretion to give "reasonably" shorter prison terms for crack-cocaine crimes to reduce the disparity with crimes involving cocaine powder.
The case is Kimbrough v. United States [pdf]. Unfortunately this merely gives a judge the opportunity to lower a crack cocaine sentence but does not mandate him to do so. So blacks will in many cases continue to be treated more unfairly than whites. That Democrats, who supposedly are the party of the black man, do not rise up and change the law in this regard says much of their true feelings about blacks. But I suppose that keeping blacks in poverty and despair keeps them ignorant enough to continue voting for Democrats. Such is life.
11 Apr 2006,
On Rummy, Meaningful Hallucinogenic Experiences, and Ending the Drug War
While blacks make up 13 percent of drug users, they account for 35 percent of those arrested for drug possession, 55 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. And the average prison term for black drug offenders is 69% longer [pdf] than for whites.
Jail is a failure while treatment works and saves money:
10 Apr 2006,
A Victory for California
A new study by researchers at the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at the University of California, Los Angeles, shows that nonviolent offenders who complete drug treatment actually save the state money, even though the programs are costly. According to the study, Californians save $4 for every $1 they invest in drug treatment for people who actually complete the treatment regimen. The researchers estimate that the treatment option has saved California a huge sum — about $800 million — over the last five years.
Disclaimer: Except for his stance on the War on Drugs, I find Ron Paul's positions on the War on Terror to be dangerous to the security of this country.