Hornberger: The Evil Of The Drug War

Authored by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

With the exception of the U.S. national-security state and its foreign policy of empire and intervention and its torture, state-sponsored assassinations, coups, alliances with dictatorial regimes, invasions, occupations, wars of aggression, illegal and unconstitutional wars, mass secret surveillance, indefinite detention, secret prison camps, drug experimentation on unsuspecting people, denial of due process, denial of trial by jury, kangaroo military tribunals, and other dark-side practices, it would be difficult to find a better example of an evil and immoral program than the war on drugs.


1. Everyone, including the most ardent drug-war proponent, agrees that this decades-long program has failed to achieve its goal, which is a drug-free society.

2. If failure was the only consequence of this program, that would be one thing. But it’s not. Drug laws have brought Into existence drug gangs, drug cartels, gang wars, drug assassinations, drug kidnappings, burglaries, robberies, murders, muggings, and official corruption.

3. The drug war is also the most racially bigoted government program since segregation, perhaps even more so. Under segregation, government officials used the force of law to keep the races separated, but at least they permitted blacks to keep living in the community. With drug laws, they have been able to remove blacks entirely from communities and relocate them into places called penitentiaries, where they are forced to spend a large portion of their lives. They have also been able to use drug laws to harass, abuse, insult, and humiliate African-Americans, Latinos, and other racial minorities.

That’s not to say, of course, that all law-enforcement agents and all judges are racially bigoted. It is simply to say that for those who are racially bigoted, the drug war is like heaven on earth, in that it enables them to exercise their bigotry in a legal manner and even get praised for it.

4. The drug war has played a major role in the destruction of liberty in America. Just think: They actually put people into jail for doing nothing more than ingesting a substance that politicians and bureaucrats, both at the state and federal level, don’t approve of.

Who cares whether politicians and bureaucrats approve of a particular substance? What business is that of theirs?

Actually, it’s none of their business what a person puts into his mouth. Freedom necessarily entails the right to ingest whatever a person wants to Ingest, no matter how harmful or destructive it might be. When people live in a society where government officials can punish them for ingesting unapproved substances, there is no way that people in that society can legitimately be considered free.

The repeal of drug laws — all drug laws, not just marijuana laws — is a necessary pre-requisite for a free society. It’s also a prerequisite for a just and humane society, one that treats drug addiction and drug use as a private problem, not a criminal-justice one.