Why is Drug Addiction a Crime in America?
War On Drugs In America? Is it a War?
Drug addiction is considered a diagnosable disease, just like cancer, diabetes, and HIV. So why do we arrest people who are sick for being sick? Would we arrest someone for being diabetic and carrying around a needle and insulin? Of course, comparing diabetes to drug addiction may seem absurd at first, but how is one disease different from another scientifically? The fact is that the scientific criteria for a classifying something as a disease is the same in either case.
The Criminal Industrial Complex and Drug Addiction
Always follow the money! My philosophy teacher in college once told me that. What he meant was that whenever you’re questioning why something exists, or what’s at the root of something, you can almost always follow the money ‘til you find who or what is profiting from it and most likely you’ll find the true reason it exists, whatever “it” is. For example, who profits from making certain drugs illegal in the United States? You may think it’s society that profits from making certain drugs illegal, because it reduces crime and the proliferation of addictive drugs in America. But this is not true. What we have proven over the years is that America’s political approach to decrease drug use has failed time and time again throughout the years and has had absolutely no effect on the selling of narcotics or the taking of narcotics whatsoever. In fact, both have increased over the years (note: if you compare the percentage of population increase over the years in America and the drug abuse increase percentage over the same time period you’ll find that the percentages are virtually the same). So, if that is your answer you would be sadly mistaken and you haven’t answered the question using the tenet, “Follow the money!”
If you follow the money in relation to drug abuse in America, you’ll eventually find a multi-billion-dollar industry profiting off of drug abuse and addiction – The Criminal Industrial Complex.
The Criminal Industrial Complex are essentially all the jails and prisons in this nation and the companies that profit from them. Every person who is jailed or in prison for drug offenses equates to a dollar amount for those who operate the jail and prison industry. Just as drug dealers and illicit drug makers profit from addicts, there are businessmen in this country making billions in profit from the criminalization of addicts (also cities, states, and law enforcement agencies, but that’s another issue). This is one of the main reasons why laws designed to punish people with the disease of drug addiction remains intact and would be very hard to change. Billion dollar businesses and politicians have used drug addiction, to fatten their wallets and get them elected to government positions for many, many years. It might be too late and the profit margins might be too high now to ever change the system, but should try.
Drug policy cannot end drug use for the same reason that criminal justice policy cannot end crime. The core of the problem, the root cause, is ignored. Some policies even create more crime than it prevents. The drug laws in this country, although designed to decrease criminal activity, actually create more of it according to many criminologists. We should return the treatment of addicts to the medical profession and stop relying on the criminal justice system to solve the problems of society and the individual. One of the biggest problems with the criminal justice system is that we as a society depend on the government to handle and solve problems that it was never designed to handle or solve. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “Sometimes I think this whole world is one big prison yard. Some of us are prisoners, the rest of us are guards.”