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What have been the consequences of the War on Drugs for psychedelics?

Before we get into this discussion, let us see what psychedelic drugs are. According to the various journals on drugs, it has repeatedly been reported that these drugs can change one’s thinking that is his perception and the person’s ability to understand things Like all other drugs this drug also takes the help of serotonin receptors. Whenever these drugs are taken the serotonin preceptors cause anxiousness while agonizing these receptors. As a result, the person’s visual and auditory senses undergo changes. Also, the consciousness of the person is also affected. According to resources the consciousness level of the person is elevated to a greater extent. Some common psychedelic drugs include drugs like:

  • LSD which are a kind using mild acids
  • DMT
  • Hallucinogenic mushrooms.

In comparison to the other drugs which change one’s perception ultimately psychedelic drugs affect the consciousness of a person in a different way. However, the difference lies in the quality of it.

  • Psychedelic drugs cause a consciousness with qualities including trance.
  • By using psychedelic drugs a person also feels as if he is in some sort of dream with great excitement or more precisely an ecstatic state.
  • Psychedelic drugs may cause the person to experience near-death experiences.

According to the medical researchers of drug analysis, psychedelic drugs usually fall into the family of three chemicals. However, exceptions are found in it that some psychedelic drugs fall out of the specified family of drugs as mentioned by the medical researchers of drug analysis. The three drug families mentioned by the medical researchers of drug analysis are:

  • Tryptamines
  • Phenethylamines
  • lysergamides.

Due to the adverse effects of these drugs, these psychedelic drugs are prohibited all around the world because nations have suffered worldwide because of their common uses. Also, it has been specified in the UN conventions that psychedelic drugs can only be used in case of any medical or religious context. It is strictly prohibited to use these drugs for any fun or recreational purpose.

Talking about the history of the ‘war on drugs’ it’s quite ambiguous for a normal citizen to understand. However, talking about the first war on drugs Nixon was the first one to announce that war would be held on drugs in the year 1971 which is the late eighteenth century. A little history lies before Nixon’s announcement. Before the prohibition of drugs like marijuana, opium, coca, and psychedelics these drugs were frequently employed in the use of medicines or for treating various other diseases, but with time, these drugs were prohibited due to their excessive and illegal use.

However, the first illegal drug law, in the late nineteenth century that is the year 1870 was primarily for the Chinese immigrants who were frequently using this as a source of recreation.  However, in the early years of the nineteenth century, black men were also found to be a victims of this certain usage. All these people used drugs for fun and recreation which had an adverse effect on the other people and the nation as a whole. In the years between 1910 and 1920, marijuana was banned because many of the Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans were found to be indulged in its excessive use. Coming back to the time of Nixon, in the year of 1960 due to the rebellious behavior of the youth towards the drug banning the government was forced to carry out research on how useful these drugs are or how safely they can be used. It was after the research was carried out that Nixon made the announcement. Nixon, being the president at that time, increased the workforce of the drug agencies that were operational at that time. He, at that time, forced the use of compulsory punishments in case the use of illegal drugs was banned.

Behind this Nixon, announcement laid a political advantage which was highlighted by one of the trustworthy people of the Nixon named as John Ehrlichman. He explained its advantages for Nixon and the nation as a whole. He continued that after the campaign carried out by Nixon in 1968, many of the rebellions constituted of black people as well as the people who left after the anti-war. It was not possible for Nixon to make these people illegal, however; he moved forward strategically and made strict sentencing a part of the illegal use of drugs. The public was included in this fully which made it possible to arrest the rebellious leaders of the blacks and the leaders of the anti-war people by heavily strict punishments or by raiding their houses.

After this, in the year 1972, a commission recommended by favoring either side that marijuana should be allowed and distributed for personal use and the strict punishments on it should be lessened but Nixon, being the president and having the authority to reject rejected this recommendation easily. But in the corresponding years, the use of marijuana was decriminalized when President Jimmy Carter held the presidency and allowed a certain amount of marijuana for personal use. However, he took the assistance of certain committees while decimalizing the use of marijuana. This badly affected the country’s youth in the 1970’s. They were increasingly using it, which was concerning to the parents. This concern made the government abandon all such proposals for the personal use of marijuana.

After the presidency of Nixon and President Jimmy Carter, the presidency of Ronald Reagan somehow marked a difference. The presidency of Regan was considered to be the start of the excessive increase in the imprisonment rate. The number of people being imprisoned for the usage of drugs increased by a sufficient amount, ranging from 50,000 to the amount of 400,000 from the years of 1980 to 1997.

At the time of Regan’s presidency, a raise was made on the annual fund for eradication and interdiction programs from $437 million to $1.4 billion. In 1981, with the help of the public, the highly popular campaign with the slogan of Just Say No was found to be helpful for the prohibition of the drug.

  • 1983, the DARE drug education program was created and accepted nationwide despite lacking evidence of its effectiveness.
  • 1986, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act gave drug users full accountability.

At that Regan said that the taking away of the customers is a much better option than taking away from the drugs. However, this very statement justifies the increase in imprisonment.

After the Regan administration, Clinton’s administration came into existence. He was the one to fight the court case for the decrement in the number of the imprisonment. He, at that time, suggested that the victims using it for recreation in excessive use should be exposed to treatment rather than to excessive imprisonment which can be adverse to their health. After his first few months in the White House as the president, he changed the drug war strategies as for him it was more acceptable to help the victims of drugs for their treatment instead of treating them by imprisonment.

Notoriously, Clinton rejected a U.S. Sentencing Commission recommendation to eliminate the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences. In the 192, presidential campaign many people disagreed with him in the campaign but as the years passed by people stuck around him and he was able to make the people support him in this campaign. He altered the budget as well. The newly founded budget focused more on education.

If we look at the reforms at the time of George Bush, he also formed a new budget, but he was the one to allocate more money for this war on drugs. By the end of Bush’s term, there were about 40,000 paramilitary-style SWAT raids on Americans every year. Barack Obama advocated for reforms but did not shift most drug control funding to a health-based approach. Public opinion has been shifting dramatically for sensible reforms that expand health-based approaches while reducing criminalization in drug policy. This was all about the recent reforms in the drug war context. Let us now look at the statistical analysis of the drug war and the rate of increase in imprisonment. At the start of the time when Nixon made the ‘war on drugs’ announcement, the rate of imprisonment increased significantly especially at the time of Ronald Regan when there was an imprisonment of almost 400,000.

If we look at the statistics for the rate of increase in imprisonment from 1925 to 2014, this is a bit shocking. It feels like that the imprisonment has increased exponentially.

  • The imprisonment increased from almost 218,466 in 1974 to 1,508,636 in 2014. This includes both the state and federal prison populations.

According to the research carried out it was found out that there are a huge number of people who are sent to prison each year due to excessive usage of drugs as compared to property crimes or other violent crimes. Talking about this statistically many facts and figures will leave us with a shock.

  • There are almost 41,000 people that were sent to prison due to drugs in the year 1980.
  • In 2014, the number of prisoners was huge. It was equal to 488,400 prisoners, marking an increase of almost 1000 percent in the prison population.

However, this is also one of the reasons why the prison population is increasing so much in the American States, especially in the States of California. This also marks the reason for the excessive number of black prisoners in the prison city. That is why many people believe that minorities are overrepresented in prison, especially one in which segmentation is practiced brutally throughout all the American States.  Black people are often found to be the pioneers in selling drugs. They are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for the excessive selling of drugs in the country.

Now let us look at how much the trade of drugs has increased or decreased in the mentioned years.  DEA also known as the Drug Enforcement Agency is found to be responsible for a couple of things related to drug policies and the various issues due to the war on drugs. This agency arrests almost thirty thousand people each year who are related to the business of illegal drugs like psychedelics drugs. The business is more precisely related to selling and distribution. The main focus of this business is mainly the youth of the country which is dangerous for the progress of the country.

If we talk about the employees working in the drug enforcement agency, almost four thousand and four hundred employees work full-time. It is found that thirty-two percent of the people in prison of the state in the United States of America were found to be under the influence of drugs. This percentage also includes the prisoners who were caught in the buying and selling of drugs business.

  • Drug enforcement agency in the year 2008 took control of 660,969.2 Kilograms of Marijuana in the USA and 9,199,693 individual units of hallucinogens and shut them down making it a lesson for the other people working on it.
  • It was found out that this shutdown system was more for the excessive use of marijuana. The grab of marijuana increased with time.
  • In 1981, 877,810 Kilograms of marijuana were grabbed and taken hold by the drug enforcement agency.
  • In 2012, it increased to 2,108,497 Kilograms were seized. The trade of drugs in Mexico City is a huge business worth $50 billion. This amount is marked annually for the business operating in Mexico City.

However, the people who indulge in it are working to make this drug usage viral. They have come up with a solution for taking this drug usage to the northern part of the country. This is a result of the gang violence as well. States like California and Texas are victims of such brutal gang violence, selling drugs throughout and making these products viral in the northern part of the country.

If we look at the overdosage of the drugs statistically it can be summarized as follows:

  • In 2007, 27,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S.
  • One death every 19 minutes
  • More drug overdoses occur in poor and rural populations

However, many people believe that drug usage increased exponentially during the presidency of Clinton in the year of 1990’s.

Looking at the benefits of psychedelic drugs there are found to be many. In the year of 1940’ to 1960 researchers started to study that what are the various effects of drugs like LSD on one’s nervous system. However, in all this research, the government was found to be supportive and aided the researchers. The results found as a result of this are very pretty promising.  More than 1000 research papers were written about Psychedelics. More than 40,000 subjects were given these drugs to help see the effects of psychedelics on their conditions:

  • Depression
  • Alcoholism

This research encountered a setback during Nixon’s time in the year of 1970. People believed it to be a political setback against the nation’s liberty in the 1960s. The war on drugs was responsible for the setback of the research carried out on psychedelic drugs. Many of the presidents who have passed such as Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush were against Psychedelic research. Recently, researchers have been carried out which show a positive impact of the LSD type Psychedelic drug on one of the mental disorders. This disorder is found in the disorder of post-traumatic stress disorder. Maybe the positive effect is due to the ecstatic level of happiness caused by the Psychedelic drugs.

The drug wars were found to end suddenly. There are various implications behind this sudden end to the war on drugs. Decriminalization is one of the reasons for this. Decriminalization means to lessen the punishments. However, this was practiced at the time of 2001 when Portugal’s decriminalization of all drugs came into existence. However, this was also practiced in the 1990s during Clinton’s presidency. Overdosing and drug addiction were also one of the reasons for the sudden end of the war. Illegal drug trade made the drug war to end. In this situation, the government must consider other possibilities to address the situation. Talking about the contributions of the people who indulged in the sudden end of history and the sudden end of the drug wars, it would not be possible to summarize it briefly. To conclude, public opinion and the shifting of the presidency among the different people are what made the feasible end of the drug war. However, many of the researchers were for the positive effects of psychedelic drugs.

Work Cited

Jay-Z, ‘A Brief History of the Drug War’

October 25, 2003

Stephanie Kossman, ‘The War on Drugs May Have Misrepresented Psychedelics; Here’s Why That Matters’

May 13, 2016

Nahant A Kumar, ‘Psychedelics: LSD, Mushrooms, Salvia | Facts | Drug Policy Alliance.’

June 15, 2004

Stanford University, ‘The United States War on Drugs’

November 30, 2008

Ronal A Laban, ‘The Politics of LSD and What That Means for the War on Drugs’

March 2009

Laissez Faire Books, ‘Psychedelics and the War on Drugs’

June 18, 2014

Scientific American, ‘End the Ban on Psychoactive Drug Research.’

August 23, 2010

NCBI, Lethem David ‘Psychedelics as medicines for substance abuse rehabilitation.’

November 28, 2010

NIDA Info facts, ‘Entheogens | Drug War Facts.’

December 16, 2013

“Jag Davies vs. the World.” Telephone interview.”

24 Apr. 2017.



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