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Nixon's War on Drugs 50 Years Later

As we reach 50 years since President Richard Nixon declared drugs "public enemy number one" - where do we go from here?

Jason SanderJason Sander · Jun. 17, 2021 · 3 min read
Nixon's War on Drugs 50 Years Later

As we reach 50 years since President Richard Nixon declared illegal drugs "public enemy number one" - we take a look at the harmful failed, racist, Drug War by the numbers. Where do we go from here?

As legislation towards cannabis changes, so does attitudes towards the seemingly endless war on drugs. It’s been exactly 50 years to the day that Nixon called illegal drug users “public enemy number one”. That’s right - drug users. Not terrorists, rapists, or murderers. People who use drugs that the government deems illegal. It's also been 84 years since cannabis prohibition was implemented.

Of course, a large majority of these so-called drug abusers simply possess cannabis. Between 2001 and 2010, nearly 9 million Americans were arrested for cannabis offenses, according to the ACLU. And 88% of drug arrests were for simple possession - flying in the face of the incessant claim that absurd cannabis laws still exist in certain states to “combat drug trafficking and gang activity.” Here's a closer look at the Drug War - by the numbers.

"...88% of drug arrests were for simple possession..."

Drug War By The Numbers

  • Every 25 seconds, someone is arrested for drug possession.
  • 456,000 people are currently serving jail time or long-term prison sentences for drug arrests. This is a whopping one-fifth of the population of incarcerated people.
  • The Drug War has cost taxpayers $1 trillion since Nixon's infamous speech.
  • The Federal Government spends roughly $9 million daily to keep drug offenders incarcerated.
  • State governments spend an estimated $7 billion collectively, on top of the federal cost.

These are just a few examples of the numbers - there's an extensive list here if you care to dive deeper into this absurdity.

Drug War Racial Bias - Hard to Ignore

If you still uphold the delusion that the failed war on drugs is benefiting anyone, you’re either blind or perhaps protecting your financial interest. It’s abundantly clear that the war on drugs is a burden to tax dollars, criminalizes otherwise law-abiding citizens, makes neighbors fear neighbors, militarizes police, and a host of other things.


To make matters worse, the racial bias associated with the unjust war on drugs and cannabis medicine is hard to ignore. Although both use cannabis about equally, people of color are 3 times more likely to be arrested for simple cannabis possession than whites.

Smart Companies & Retired Cops Support Cannabis and Ending the Drug War

It’s abundantly clear that the sensible thing is to end the drug war. It's time to put an end to federal prohibition. How doing so looks is difficult to tell precisely, but it needs to happen sooner rather than later. And smart companies agree. Case in point: Amazon is no longer testing employees for cannabis and will be lobbying for the MORE act.

Additionally, many retired law enforcement officers and agents agree. Thousands of which now support LEAP - Law Enforcement Action Partnership. Formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, these retired cops understand how harmful the drug war has been and continues to be - and most seem remorseful for their part in it.

The War on Drugs is clearly destructive to We the People, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and ruining the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It’s beyond time for a change.

HashDash - Support and Education for the Cannabis Community

We hope you found value in our content about the absurd war on drugs. Did you learn something, or have anything to add? Let us know - @hashdash on all platforms, except for Instagram, where we are @hashdashdotcom.

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Thanks for reading! Please consume responsibly.

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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