The War on Drugs began in the 20th Century and aimed to address the marijuana and opioid epidemic that plagued the United States. The War on Drugs, declared in the 1970s by President Richard Nixon, primarily targeted nonviolent drug offenders and resulted in unprecedented growth of the U.S. penal system and has been criticized for creating a “new Jim Crow” in which incarcerated people of color are targeted for arrest, and put into jails where they work for free or low wages.
Marijuana was deemed an issue to society in the 1930s by the United States government. This made marijuana illegal. This was like prohibition but for marijuana. There was an FBI agent named of Harry J. Anslinger who was the force behind the marijuana tax act of 1937. He did this because he wanted to find another way to make minorities inferior to the White race because it states in the article “Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, jazz musicians, and entertainers.
Their satanic music is driven by marijuana, and marijuana smoking by white women makes them want to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and others. It is a drug that causes insanity, criminality, and death — the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind”. The article that this information was derived from was The Roots of Marijuana Prohibition – Harry Anslinger and the Marihuana Tax Act . There was propaganda for the idea that marijuana was a bad drug for example there was a anti weed movie called “reefer madness”.
This movie was made in 1937 in support of the marijuana tax act.
Richard M. Nixon was elected thirty-seventh President of the United States of America and intercepted a broken country upon his arrival to the Oval Office in 1968. This year was crucial because Nixon could have either wielded his Presidential power to end the stormy nature of the 60s or let country continue to fall apart before the new the new decade in the United States of America. This was a hectic decade because of the tremulous events that included the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his brother Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Civil RIghts Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alongside Anti-war protests of Vietnam, and the African American Civil Rights movement. The riots occurred in cities such as Los Angeles, California, Newark, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Illinois, and also Detroit Michigan . Als,o the veterans were addicted to drugs like heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines. And the hippies who frequently smoked marijuana His plan to mend the country was to target minorities and dissenters of the war on drugs.
On June the 17th of 1971 at a press conference on capitol hill in Washington D.C President Richard M. Nixon declared a war on drugs. He identified drug abuse as “public enemy number one”This saw the rapid increase of federal drug control agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Another drug enforcement agency that Nixon helped create was called the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP). At this time the creation of these agencies cost 73 billion the American taxpayers dollars. John Ehrlichman admitted in an interview in 1994 that “the real public enemy in 1971 wasn’t really drugs or drug abuse” that Nixon only did this because he hated African American people ananti-protesters. He thought if we can’t lock them up for being black and being against the war we could lock them up for drugs. They locked protesters up for marijuana and African Americans up for heroin. By doing this they could disrupt the communities. They knew that they were lying about the war on drugs. After President Nixon declared the war on drugs in the 70s it led to the Reagan administration with the “Just Say No” to drugs campaign in the 80s.
The Just Say No movement was started by President Ronald Reagan in October of 1982 when he also declared a war on drugs after he announced it to the nation in his weekly radio address. The face of the Just says no campaign was the first lady Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Reagan had campaign rallies all over the United States. She also went to schools and told children about the “dangers of drugs” . She also made a guest appearance on a season 5 episode of the hit 80s television show called “Different Strokes” when she tries to promote anti-drug use when she spoke at Arnold and Willis school “to warn the students about the dangers of drugs” the campaign lasted throughout the 1980s. This campaign looked good on the surface because it warned people about drug use, and don’t get me wrong I think that drug use is bad but some people had to make a living from selling drugs because selling drugs was their only source of income. The rap artist “Jay Z” briefly talks about this in this video I found talking about the drug policy
President Reagan like President Nixon thought of drugs as the enemy but he felt more passionate about the war drugs use by using military terms like a battle,’ ‘war,’ and ‘surrender. The main target that the War on drugs were African American and Hispanic communities that were then This was one of the reasons why African Americans were incarcerated. They were incarcerated because of the “crack” cocaine epidemic in urban areas such as New York City, New York Los Angeles, California, Newark, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Illinois, and also Detroit Michigan and countless other inner-city areas. This saw a rapid increase in incarceration for example if someone had 5 grams of cocaine they would get a minimum of 5 years in prison . The things that African Americans have to go through are like the new Jim Crow someone even wrote a book about it.
On January 5th, 2010 a book titled “The New Jim Crow” was published. The book was written by a legal scholar named Michelle Alexander. The book talks about African Americans being “trapped in a justice system”. What she means by that is African Americans having their lives were taken from them and their families being ripped apart. She also quotes that ‘People are swept into the criminal justice system — particularly in poor communities of color — at very early ages … typically for fairly minor, nonviolent crimes,’ she tells Fresh Air’s, Dave Davies. ‘[The young black males are] shuttled into prisons, branded as criminals and felons, and then when they’re released, they’re relegated to a permanent second-class status, stripped of the very rights supposedly won in the civil rights movement — like the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, the right to be free of legal discrimination and employment, and access to education and public benefits. Many of the old forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind during the Jim Crow era are suddenly legal again, once you’ve been branded a felon.’ African Americans were being put to work in the Prison Industrial Complex. The Prison Industrial Complex is prison labor which is modern day slavery. For example, there was this former drug dealer named Kevin Rashad Johnson who was wrongfully convicted of a drug-related murder and was sent to a Virginia Prison was sentenced to death but he never got executed they just use him for labor to put money in their pockets. The prison system is unjust because even in you are put in jail as a child they will change your sentence for their own good
Overall, Nixon’s declaration of the war on drugs devastated the African American community in a very drastic way. Simple drug charges became a catalyst for the penal system to maintain the suppression of the African-American community. Just like Kevin Rashad Johnson who exemplified this problem by being wrongfully accused of a drug-related murder. He was made to work in prison for free, and that was one of many examples of how the war on drugs declared by President Richard Nixon destroyed the black community.