In 1971 President Richard Nixon launched a countrywide campaign known as the War On Drugs, this war was not on a country or an organisation as many have been since but on the act of abusing restricted substances and seemingly the substances themselves. The initiative which was launched set into place policies and action by the government that were designed to stamp out the overbearing use of illicit compounds that were sweeping the nation. Nixon declared drug abuse as “Public enemy number one” and the resulting actions appeared to be in sync with this idea. Now nearly 40 years later the War On Drugs has become somewhat of a bad joke, its intentions questionable, its execution discriminatory and its effectiveness non-existent. Taking a look at the drugs still very much in circulation today is the war coming to a halt and if so, who is winning?

Cannabis

Probably the most controversial and widespread of the narcotics, this plant commonly grown in areas close the equator (such as the Caribbean), is now grown almost anywhere. With one of its properties being that it isn’t particularly fragile to manage, this drug has been grown by drug dealers and drug users all over the world with tools as easily acquirable as a plant pot and a desk lamp. This makes Marijuana a big thorn in the side to the war on drugs campaign, as innumerable batches of the stuff are cultivated and grown indoors and outdoors by curious parties. Though it is much further down on the class list than other harder hitting drugs, users often become lethargic, and unaware of their surroundings and in some cases paranoid which can be dangerous. This is basically as deadly as Marijuana gets, and as a result the governmental standpoint on the drug have changed wildly since the early 70’s.

Today in certain states ‘weed’ is completely legal to buy and sell, though restrictions are in place to dissuade abusers. What was once a reason to lock someone up is now a viable medicinal product, with over the counter options having more variety than any other pharmaceutical. Now with Canada, the neighbour to the north recently legalizing the drug entirely, its going to be tougher and tougher for the remaining states to keep the stuff out or conversely keep their residents in. Marijuana it seems has not only brought on a drug problem but has helped the fracturing of states. Residents who seek the healing powers of the drug are forced to hide their usage in fear of prosecution or up and move elsewhere, despite the barriers where the laws lie being entirely invisible. And these constantly moving and blurring ethical and legal lines bring to the surface even tougher questions, such as – If the drug becomes legal, what happens to those who were prosecuted for possession? Does an instant release happen? Do they get compensated for the amount of time they spent behind bars? The loosening grip on cannabis is making a lot more people happy, but thousands have suffered at the hand of the law for something today we know is less harmful than both smoking and drinking. Because of this it seems like it won’t be long until the war on cannabis is over.