Ineffectiveness of the "Drug War" Persuasive Essay by Ambrat

Ineffectiveness of the "Drug War"
Substantive argument against the U.S.' ineffective "drug war," pointing to the decline in illegal drug use and comparing this to the increasing popularity of legal alternatives offered by pharmaceutical companies.
# 119735 | 1,812 words | 6 sources | APA | 2008 | US

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This paper explores how the so-called "war on drugs," officially declared in the early 1980s, has been a primary contributor to the enormous growth of the prison system in the United States during the last quarter-century and has affected all aspects of the criminal justice system and, consequently, American society. The paper goes on to explain that, responding to a perceived problem of high rates of drug abuse in the late 1970s, the Reagan administration officially launched a "war on drugs" policy in 1982, resulting in substantially increased funding for drug law enforcement and political focus on the drug war. In conclusion, the paper suggests that perhaps the real questions we should ask ourselves are why drugs remain as a steadfast cornerstone in most societies and how can we learn to live with them while managing the potential consequences? The paper reasons that this concept defies everything our politicians and criminal justice professionals currently argue for, but is a more realistic goal than simply criminalizing certain substances while providing legal sanction for others proving to be just as lethal when misused. The paper includes statistical charts and tables.

From the Paper:

"Proponents for the "war on drugs" would argue that by criminalizing certain drugs, we're protecting America's youth. In truth, illicit drug use among young people has declined over the past 28 years. Those that admitted to ever using any illicit drugs are down from 69% (18-25 age group) in 1979 to 55.6% in 2001 (ONDCP, 2002). Even with illegal drug use declining, prescription drugs are gaining in popularity across all age groups and socio-economic classes.
"The real cost to us, as a society, is the ever-increasing corrections budget to house prisoners and build more prisons, resulting in fewer tax dollars available to be allocated to programs that may actually make a difference in how our citizens choose to live. The chart below, furnished by the Public Safety Performance Project (2007), illustrates the exorbitant amount that is spent on State Corrections each year, increasing drastically from 1986 to the present."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Kaiser Family Foundation. (May 2007). Prescription Drug Trends. Retrieved October 18, 2007 from
  • Mauer, M., & King, R. S. (September 2007). A 25-Year Quagmire: The "War on Drugs" and Its Impact on American Society. In The Sentencing Project. Retrieved October 18, 2007 from
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). (June 5, 2007). Drug Facts. Retrieved October 18, 2007 from
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). (October 2002). Drug Use Trends. Retrieved October 18, 2007 from
  • Office of Applied Studies - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (June 7, 2007). Reports and Data. Retrieved October 18, 2007 from

Cite this Persuasive Essay:

APA Format

Ineffectiveness of the "Drug War" (2010, May 23) Retrieved September 30, 2022, from

MLA Format

"Ineffectiveness of the "Drug War"" 23 May 2010. Web. 30 September. 2022. <>