End the 'War on Drugs' Now

Ron Daniels | 4/3/2013, 3:08 p.m.

The War on Drugs, policing, criminalization and mass incarceration have become substitutes for social, economic and racial justice in America's dark ghettos. The damages to our communities have been devastating - and it must end.

As we gather in Dr. King's memory on April 4 this year, our charge must be to call on President Obama to exercise leadership by proclaiming to the nation that it is time to end the War on Drugs and treat the crisis of drugs as a public health rather than criminal justice issue - a dramatic paradigm shift which, at a minimum, will lead to decriminalization of marijuana, increased funding for drug education and treatment, and a national dialogue on the desirability and feasibility of regulating and taxing drugs.

It is time for President Barack Obama to have the audacity to declare a state of emergency in urban inner-city areas, where millions of Black people are suffering and struggle to survive. It is a moral and political crisis that demands direct, targeted economic and social policies and programs to create wholesome, sustainable communities. The president and the nation have reacted as if there is no face to the millions who are suffering in the "dark ghettos" of this land. These millions do have a face and it is overwhelmingly Black.

On April 4, we will honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his opposition to the Vietnam War and his call for an Economic Bill of Rights. We hope President Obama and the nation will heed our call and the walls of ignorance, indifference, hostility, blatant and benign neglect, racial bias and injustice will come tumbling down, clearing the way for the rescue and revitalization of the urban inner-city neighborhoods/communities in this country.

Ron Daniels is president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. He can be reached via email at info@ibw21.org.