America's longest war in history, the Drug War, has been going on since 1919. Its effects have been overwhelmingly negative, yet the fight persists. The government's regulation of drugs goes against human rights, costs citizens a substantial amount of money, and has little to no positive influence on public safety or drug use. Many studies have produced evidence that the War on Drugs is a waste.
The 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed in 1919, prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol. This groundbreaking legislation, although overturned in 1933, is credited with beginning the War on Drugs. A plethora of laws followed, including the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which successfully banned the plant until the Act was ruled unconstitutional in 1969. During this period, marijuana possession and use became criminal offenses. Many people were jailed. .
This led to the decision by Nixon's Shafer Commission in 1972 that marijuana should be decriminalized and, instead, controlled by a medical policy. Nixon promptly denounced the report. With even more support, the decriminalization movement made it to Congress under Jimmy Carter, who had voiced his opinion that possession up to an ounce of marijuana should not be a criminal offense. However, Carter moved to strengthen the War on Drugs rather than reevaluate it. .
Not surprisingly, the war rose ever higher in 1986, when Reagan's Anti-Drug Abuse Act added the forfeit of property to the growing list of consequences of drug use and possession. Since this Act, even higher punishment has been implemented. The government has demonstrated incredible hypocrisy on the issue; federally overruling State laws that allow medical use of marijuana. .
Today, sixty percent of federal prisoners are being held for drug offenses, and half of these are first-time offenders. It costs taxpayers $23,000 per year for each of the 55,624 prisoners, which comes out to $3.