1. 4th Amendment Abrogation. 25 years of Conservative jurisprudence which focuses on “the reasonable needs of law enforcement” has essentially destroyed the 4th Amendment’s requirements and protections. More often than not, the violations which these “reasonable needs” are often responsible for have to do with evidence and suspicion of drug-related activity.
2. Abrogation of Posse Comitatus. the Posse Comitatus Act was passed in 1878 to forbid the use of Military forces for domestic law enforcement and policing. A decade after Nixon declared the War on Drugs, Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act, which essentially invalidates the Posse Comitatus Act in spirit and letter.
3. Disparate Racial Impact. The War on Drugs has had destructive effects on minority communities by disproportionately increasing incarceration rates among urban poor. Throwing people in jail under mandatory minimum sentencing laws also exposes them to violent criminal elements that may only serve to make violent criminals out of non-violent offenders when they are released from incarceration, thus increasing the harm done to minority communities through the genesis of violent, criminal behavior in minority offenders. Drug Profiles used by law enforcement often have racial elements, thus making minorities more likely to be victims of law enforcement scrutiny. Having drug convictions on record also makes it even less likely that a member of a disfavored racial group will be able to pull themselves out of poverty.
4. Empowerment of Drug Cartels In Mexico. The War on Drugs has empowered Mexican drug cartels by driving up the price of illegal drugs; this price is inherent in the risk involved in getting these drugs across the American border, which allows Drug Cartels to justify higher prices. This has various deleterious effects, such as an increase in violence among the Mexican population, additional pressure on border security and immigration officials, as well as increasing the amount of money which addicts must spend in order to secure drugs, indirectly increasing their poverty and making them more likely to result to secondary criminal behavior, such as larceny or fraud, in order to secure funds to supply their drug habit. This in turn increases the victimization of innocent 3rd parties, most importantly the friends and family of people with drug addictions.
5. Federalism Crisis. Disparities between state and federal drug laws have caused a crisis of Federalism, most potently in the State of California, which has the most permissive medical Marijuana rules in the country. By enforcing federal drug laws against States which have conditionally legalized marijuana, the Federal government has created a Constitutional crisis that undermines the Rule of Law by demonstrating that State criminal statutes will not be respected where they differ from Federal statutes, encouraging people to lobby for Federal pre-emption where a State law conflicts with their personal interests.
6. Demonization/Victimization of Terminally Or Chronically Ill Medical Marijuana Users. People who feel the legitimate need to resort to using marijuana to alleviate the symptoms of chronic or terminal illness are subject to criminal sanction, making criminals out of our most vulnerable citizens.
7. Increased Risk Of Injury And Death To Citizens. The militarization of law enforcement combines with the imperatives of the Drug War to introduce violence into non-violent situations, creating risk of death to unsuspecting citizens who may mistake law enforcement executing a Drug Warrant for a violent intruder.
8. Increased Risk Of Injury And Death To Police. Law enforcement officials are more likely to enter violent situations (or create them) as a result of the militarization mentioned above, and thus expose themselves to risk of injury and death from “friendly” police fire and home-owners reasonably defending their homes from a perceived invasion.
9. Cost to Governments. Exploding prison populations have placed unsustainable burdens on state and federal governments and court systems, as evidenced by the recent Supreme Court-mandated release of thousands of prisoners from custody in California’s prison systems. The cost of hiring additional law enforcement to deal with drug interdiction only adds to the cost of enforcing Drug laws.
10. Abrogation of Inmate’s Rights. The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 was passed by proponents such as Bob Dole, who argued that eliminating “frivolous” inmate lawsuits for abuse and constitutional violations would free up resources for crime prevention, policing, and the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs then has served as one among many justifications to limit the ability of inmates to seek justice for perceived abuses and violations of civil rights.
This is hardly an exhaustive list, but I intend to demonstrate as conclusively as possible that the law enforcement culture created by the War on Drugs has resulted in more harm, both to citizens and law enforcement officials, than would have happened in its absence. I look forwarded to sharing the finished product with you all once it’s done, probably sometime in the Spring.