In 1997, Charles Manson, America's most notorious convicted mass murderer, was caught dealing drugs in California's Corcoran State Prison.
Locked in a steel cage, watched by armed guards, and subject to random drug testing and strip searches, Manson was still able to build a flourishing narcotics business.
It makes you wonder: If the government can't even keep drugs out of prison, how can it keep them out of an entire nation? The simple answer is: It can't.
Not for the lack of effort. In 2001, the federal government spent $18 billion fighting the War on Drugs. More than 19,000 state and local police officers work full-time on drug cases. Despite all of this money and firepower, 82% of high school seniors say that getting marijuana is "fairly" or "very" easy--a number that hasn't budged in 20 years.
But the War on Drugs isn't just a failure. It's also a threat to your safety. In 2000, for example, 734,497 Americans were arrested on marijuana-related charges. That same year, only 625,243 violent criminals were arrested for murder, rape, robbery, or aggravated assault (according to FBI figures). In other words, the War on Drugs is making your family less safe because police spend their time arresting marijuana smokers instead of apprehending brutal thugs.
Libertarians don't claim that ending the War on Drugs will solve every problem. Some people will always make bad choices about drugs, whether legal or illegal. But the War on Drugs isn't working. It's time for Americans to declare a "drug peace."
UPDATE: On January 22, 2003, four United States servicemen were killed flying in two separate helicopters. Their helicopters went down along the Texas-Mexico border during their support of a drug smuggling investigation. The cause of the crashes is yet unknown. These are just four more casualties in the "war on drugs." How many more lives will be lost?