The War on Drugs is 32 years old, and it has come with a jaw-dropping price tag. After $1 trillion and 45 million arrests, the rate of illegal drug use hasn’t budged, according to The House I Live In. What got us here?
“If you look at all the money spent on drug enforcement, on prisons, on probation officers, judges, narcotics agents, on interdiction, and everything else that has expanded due to the war on drugs, it gratifies us and makes us feel like we’re tough on crime,” said David Simon, creator of The Wire in an interview for The House I Live In. “But, to what end? We are the jailing-est country on the planet, beyond Saudi Arabia, China, or Russia.”
To take stock of what led us to our current state, here is a timeline of U.S. drug policy over the last century.