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Nona Nguyen

August S, 2u14
Wai 0n Biugs
In 1971, oui piesiuent Richaiu Nixon stateu that something was Public
Enemy #1. Boes anyone know what that something was. (uiugs). Be ueclaieu that
illicit uiug use was a thieat to national secuiity anu cieateu the Wai on Biugs. Since
then, the 0niteu States has spent moie than 1 tiillion uollais on the Wai on Biugs. I
believe that the Wai on Biugs is a colossal waste of money anu the iesouices useu
shoulu be put to bettei use. We aie ovei foity yeais into the wai now. I will tell you
about the amount of money useu, the piogiess maue in the wai anu aftei, bettei
alteinatives to the Wai on Biugs. Let's stait with the costs of the wai.

Accoiuing to the Ameiican Civil Libeities 0nion, Ameiica has the highest
piison population in the woilu. We account foi only S% of the woilu's population
but amount to 2S% of the woilu's piison population. Theie aie about 2 million
people behinu bais in the 0niteu States anu ovei half a million aie theie foi non-
violent uiug convictions.

I came acioss a petition a few weeks ago. It was of a son asking people foi
suppoit to fiee his fathei. }eff Nizanskey of Nissouii has seiveu 21 yeais on his life
without paiole conviction foi maiijuana. This man is set to life without paiole foi
maiijuana. I have seen cases of muiueieis anu iapists that get ieleaseu in the time
that this man has alieauy spent in jail.
Not only aie these piison sentences a waste of life, but a waste of money.
Ameiica's money, which is youi money. Tax payei uollais. A iepoit by the Feueial
Registei states that on aveiage; the cost of an inmate yeaily is about $Su,uuu.
Su,uuu Bollais. Paii that with the half million of people in jail foi non-violent uiug
ciimes anu that's 1S billion a yeai in expenses. I uon't know about you, but I woulu
iathei have people like }eff Nizanskey be fieeu anu be piouuctive membeis of
society iathei than spenuing $Su,uuu a yeai keeping them theie.

Fuitheimoie, accoiuing to Biug Policy Alliance, the 0niteu States spenus
ovei S1 billion a yeai enfoicing these stiict uiug laws. That's a total of at least 76
billion uollais YEARLY foi this Wai. What uo we have to show foi it. What aie the

Aftei 4u yeais of oui Wai on Biugs, the Woilu Bealth 0iganization finus that
Ameiica is still the leauing countiy foi illegal uiug use. Even aftei all these iesouices
funneleu into uecieasing uiug use, it is still iunning iampant anu biggei than evei.
These stiict laws haven't stoppeu citizens fiom using uiugs; citizens have just
stoppeu obeying the law.

In auuition to incieasing uiug use in Ameiica, the 0niteu Nations finus that
the global illegal uiug tiaues the laigest it has evei been. valuing at ovei
S2u billion, the global illegal uiug tiaue woulu have one of the top twenty
economies in the woilu if it weie its own countiy.
I'm not saying all uiugs must be legal this instant, I just believe theie aie
bettei ways to hanule uiug issues. The ieason the Wai on Biugs began was to
piotect the chiluien anu public safety. Some people fully suppoit the Wai on Biugs
because they uo not want theii chiluien to be exposeu to it. But the fact is, chiluien
will get exposeu to uiugs thioughout theii whole life. Whethei it is legal oi illegal. If
youi chilu oi futuie chilu maue a mistake one time, woulu you iathei have them
being thiown into the juuicial system anu jail oi woulu you iathei have them be put
into a haim ieuuction piogiam so they can be euucateu anu helpeu. With the
system we have in place now, they woulu ieceive the fiist option.

Insteau of using all these iesouices to make ciiminals, it shoulu be useu foi
haim ieuuction. In 2uu1, Poitugal ueciiminalizeu all uiugs. Now, being caught with
a substance woulu iesult to something equivalent to a paiking ticket. Thiiteen yeais
latei, Cato iepoits that uiug use has fallen uiastically anu moie people aie aumitteu
into tieatment.

What's the point of this speech. What can we uo about it. Theie is actually a
veiy simple thing we can uo paiticipate in enuing the Wai on Biugs. It is to vote.
vote in suppoit of any pioposition that is a step towaius ueciiminalization. Such as
Califoinia's Piop 19 in 2u1u, that woulu have alloweu foi iecieational maiijuana
use. It was uenieu by a naiiow maigin. Recently, two states have legalizeu the sale
of iecieational maiijuana. Coloiauo is one of the states anu maue 14 million in the
fiist month of sales alone accoiuing to the Bepaitment of Revenue. Imagine the
money that coulu be maue anu saveu if the whole countiy followeu.

The cential iuea of this is that: uiug use is not able to be iestiicteu anu nevei
was. Piohibition of alcohol in the 192u's uiu not woik. Speakeasies, oi illegal
unueigiounu bais, openeu up anu people piotesteu until it was lifteu. Piohibition is
still not woiking touay. With the Inteinet, anu a technology-connecteu society such
as ouis, uiugs aie being obtaineu easiei than evei.

The funuing foi the Wai on Biugs can be bettei utilizeu in haim ieuuction to
help auuiction anu give life insteau of stoiing life in piisons. We coulu even tax
uiugs foi ievenue. With a wai, theie neeus to be an enemy. With uiug use still
iaging anu obviously winning this wai, the enemy anu victims of this wai have
become the Ameiican public.

So the next time a ballot foi ueciiminalization comes up, uo youi own ieseaich, keep
this in minu anu make an euucateu vote.

Woiks Citeu

"The Prison Crisis." American Civil Liberties Union.

Mizanskey, Chris. "Clemency to Jeff Mizanskey: Life without Parole for
Marijuana." Change.org

"Annual Determination of Average Cost of Incarceration." Federal Register.
13 Mar. 2013. Web

"Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from
the WHO World Mental Health Surveys." PLOS Medicine: Web.

"Thematic Debate of the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Drugs
and Crime as a Threat to Development On the Occasion of the UN International Day
against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking." UN News Center.

"Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug
Policies." Cato Institute Web.

"Department of Revenue:Colorado Marijuana Tax Data." Department of
Revenue:Colorado Marijuana Tax Data.. Web.