The war on drugs has failed
Former President Richard Nixon established the war on drugs in 1971. At that time the size and presence of federal control agencies were increased significantly and measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants were introduced. Since that time the war on drugs has been a constant reminder of how prohibition fails to address the real problems. The following statistics demonstrate how the war on drugs has failed…
- Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: More than $51,000,000,000
- Number of arrests in 2014 in the U.S. for drug law violations: 1,561,231
Number of these arrests that were for possession only: 1,297,384 (83 percent)
- Number of arrests in 2014 in the U.S. for marijuana law violations: 700,993
Number of these arrests that were for possession only: 619,809 (88 percent)
- Number of Americans incarcerated in 2014 in federal, state and local prisons and jails: 2,224,400 or 1 in every 111 adults, the highest incarceration rate in the world
Essentially, our nation spends tens of billions of dollars annually to imprison drug dealers or drug users. In many cases drug dealers go back to dealing once released and drug users go back to using drugs after they serve their time. In some cases, those drug dealers and drug users commit worse crimes once they are released from prison. And while drug dealers and drug users go to prison, recreational drug use continues to flourish.
Eliminate the war on drugs
Even though the statistics demonstrate otherwise, we still believe that we can solve the drug problem by imprisoning those who use and sell drugs. Unfortunately, the drug problem will never be resolved entirely. Our society has a sin problem (Romans 3:23), which is what has led to a drug problem. And that is the reason that prohibition of substances like drugs or alcohol fails. We cannot prevent people from using ‘harmful’ substances by imprisoning them. Instead drug users and drug dealers need freedom from their sin.
The truth is, some laws are necessary for a society to function (Romans 13:1-7), but not all laws are beneficial to society. There could be some unexpected benefits to legalizing drugs or decriminalizing the use of drugs…
- Many non-violent criminals would likely be home with their families and have a better chance of restoration
- The drug cartel would likely cease to exist or at least be extremely limited
- Taxpayers would likely have less of a burden
- Drug use would likely not increase and could possibly decrease
Restoring individuals with the Gospel
Our disdain for those who break the law by using drugs has clouded our vision for helping to restore them. Our desire for restoration has been less of a priority then our desire for justice. Our idea of restoration has been based on government intervention instead of the body of Christ reaching out to those who need help.
We have given up on our love for people in lieu of sending them to prison. We may have great intentions, but we may be making life more difficult for our neighbor by supporting the war on drugs. Only God can restore drug abusers, but he can use us to do so. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
Once again, we are witnessing the affects of the lack of presence that the Church has in society and the government has filled our role by punishing non-violent criminals. Loving and caring for sinners may sound oversimplified, but it is exactly what Christ wants us to do. There are churches that support ending the drug war and promote individual responsibility among Christians. We should hope that more Christians begin to realize that they can do more to help those who abuse drugs, by loving and caring for them, one individual at a time.