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Would a Bigger Police State Win the Drug War?

Police State

Most everyone would agree that China is not a free society. It is ruled by a brutal communist regime, one that has absolutely no regard for civil liberties and such criminal-justice principles as due process of law, trial by jury, right to counsel, and habeas corpus. When the state wants to go after someone, there are no institutional barriers that stand in its way.

China has something else: the war on drugs, the same war that the U.S. government has been waging for decades.

According to an article in the New York Times, despite a fierce, unrelenting war waged against drugs, drug use in China remains as big a problem as ever.

Why is that important to Americans?

Two reasons.

One, it shows that drug laws are part and parcel of tyrannical regimes. It is only in genuinely free societies that people are free to ingest any substance they want without being punished by the state for it.

In other words, the United States has the same type of governmental program as the brutal and tyrannical communist regime in China.

Two, the China experience shows Americans that no matter how much more the federal government were to crack down in the war on drugs, it wouldn’t make any difference whatsoever. People would continue to ingest drugs, even while a large percentage of them were being incarcerated or otherwise punished.

In other words, if the U.S. government were to impose the same type of totalitarian police state as China as part of the war on drugs, it would destroy freedom without achieving the desired result.

According to the article,

China has some of the world’s harshest drug laws: those caught trafficking large amounts of drugs can face the death penalty, and the police have the authority to send casual drug users to compulsory drug rehabilitation centers, which human rights groups say are little more than labor camps.

Nonetheless, “Liu Yuejin, director general of the government’s anti-narcotics division, estimated the actual number of addicts at 13 million.”

In one week alone, Chinese police arrested 60,500 people suspected of drug-law violations. By the middle of December 2014, an estimated 180,000 drug users had been punished, with almost a third of them being sent to government-run rehab centers.

As we can see with China, drug laws are part of tyrannical regimes, not free societies. Moreover, even if a total police state were imposed here in the United States as part of the war on drugs, as is the case in communist China, it wouldn’t bring about the desired result anyway.

So, what’s the point of the drug war here at home? Americans should be leading the world to freedom and tolerance, not following the well-trodden road toward tyranny and oppression. What better place to start than by ending the war on drugs?

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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