New York Times, 20 Nov 2020 - MEXICO CITY - On June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon stood in front of the White House press corps and made his historic declaration of a new type of war. "Public Enemy No. 1 in the United States is drug abuse," he said. "In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it's necessary to wage a new all-out offensive." It would be a government-wide effort, and rally the United States's power abroad to stem the supply of drugs. Among the countries targeted was Mexico, which was home to abundant marijuana production and had been resistant to aerial crop spraying.
The Hill, 16 Nov 2020 - Next year will mark 50 years since President Richard Nixon declared drugs "public enemy number one," launching a new war on drugs that has pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into law enforcement, led to the incarceration of millions of people - disproportionately Black - and has done nothing to prevent drug overdoses. In spite of the widespread, growing opposition to this failed war, made clear yet again on Election Day, punitive policies and responses to drug use and possession persist. As President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris prepare to take office, it is abundantly clear that they have a mandate from the electorate to tackle this issue. Today there are more than 1.35 million arrests per year for drug possession, with 500,000 arrests for marijuana alone. By comparison, there are less than 500,000 arrests per year for violent crimes. Every 25 seconds a person is arrested for possessing drugs for personal use, and on average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates. At least 130,000 people are behind bars in the U.S. for drug possession, some 45,000 of them in state prisons and 88,000 in jails, most of the latter in pretrial detention.