The War on Drugs does not improve health and public safety, but rather serves as a tool of institutional racism and militarism. Despite increased spending on drug enforcement efforts, rates of incarceration and overdose deaths remain high. Through analyzing research done on arrest records in areas such as the state of California; Seattle, Washington; and New Haven, Connecticut, the disparity in arrests of black and white Americans becomes apparent. Additionally, analyzing the effectiveness of War on Drugs policies in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Mexico, reveals ulterior motives for American military intervention. Military intervention and incarceration have proven ineffective at addressing the drug crisis; however, the effects of rehabilitation and government programs are both significant and promising. Studies reveal the benefits of decriminalization and the implementation of programs such as safe injection sites and needle-exchange programs. As the United States is plagued by the opioid epidemic, finding effective alternatives to incarceration should be a priority. The United States can take inspiration from European countries, such as Portugal, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, where decriminalization has proven to be an effective tool against the drug epidemic.

Keywords: War on Drugs, United States, racism, incarceration, crime

Year Manuscript Completed

Spring 2021

Senior Project Advisor

Tricia Jordan, PhD

Degree Awarded

Bachelor of Integrated Studies Degree

Field of Study

Social Sciences

Document Type