President Obama’s Colombian trip is causing quite a stir. Probably not as his spin doctors would have it. I won’t even comment on the prostitution scandal.
No, what’s interesting to me is that the Latin and Central American countries are united in telling the US that the drug policies have to change.
Barack Obama the candidate certainly acknowledged that our 40 year War on Drugs needed overhaul, at the minimum.
As we are all painfully aware, the candidate is much, much different than the President.
Conspiracy theories aside, what could cause this shift? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind because it’s money that matters.
All the billions of dollars thrown at the drug war has not reduced drug consumption in the US one little bit. If that is not how you spell f-a-i-l-u-r-e, then we don’t speak the same language.
What has grown, however, is the prison population, which exceeds the prison population of every other country in the world. Last I checked, we had 2.3 million people serving time in prisons.
At the same time the most draconian drug laws were being passed (and thank you, Joe Biden), at that very same time, prisons were being privatized. Two major corporations have 6% of the state prisons, 16% of the federal prisons, and almost half of the detention centers we run for all of those immigrants. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut are making billions of dollars on high incarceration rates. Wackenhut has had an exceedingly sleezy past, so nothing should be a surprise there.
I love these little coincidences, don’t you?
How much do you think these two corporations donate to various SuperPacs?
Then you get to the liquor industry. They spent thousands to defeat California’s Prop 19, along with (and this should make you smile) the California Narcotic’s Officers Association and the California Police Chiefs Association.
Pharmaceutical companies don’t want to see marijuana legalized, either. For all the big talk about a free market, isn’t it interesting how no one likes competition?
And let’s not forget the $5.9 billion drug testing industry. Some 67% of American companies drug test their applicants, even if they have absolutely no idea if it has any affect on their bottom line. They even have their very own association, that “represents your interests on Capital Hill and with key agency officials” and offer special liability insurance to their members.
The whole drug war rests on marijuana staying illegal. That’s the drug that 50% of Americans want to see legalized. That’s the drug that puts over 800,000 Americans into the legal and penal system every year. It’s the big domino in the domino theory of logic.
So, you hear Biden, Napolitano and Obama saying that legalization won’t solve the problem. Okay, maybe it won’t. What is the solution? Because after 40 years, we certainly know what doesn’t work and I haven’t heard a single idea from Obama’s administration that is an alternative to our current programs. Not one. And I watch this issue pretty closely.
Barack Obama is the epitome of a politician. Campaign donations are more important than good public policy. We all know this, but we somehow expected Obama to be different. His race, his upbringing, his education, his political background; it all suggested that he’d be the exception. The Obama presidency feels like a personal betrayal. Of course he’s had two years of a no-nothing Congress. That does not explain raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in California (after he explicitly said he wouldn’t) because Congress had nothing to do with that. It’s about donations.
That it is business as usual fills me with both sadness and anger.