According to Obama’s associates, in his second term Obama is expected to take on and reform the tactics of “The Drug War.” Obama, via experience from his time as a state senator has considered the Drug War to be ineffective, having exacerbated the problems of drug use as well as being destructive to communities. Perhaps being inspired by recent Mexican presidential election winner Enrique Peña Nieto’s book, Obama is supposedly working to eliminate the more problematic effects of drugs, some of which have been caused by the war on drugs in itself. In minority communities is has been particularly destructive, where harsh penalties have left many former drug dealers with no alternative but to continue selling drugs. Even those who do not use or sell are affected by the changes in their neighborhood. Obama stated in 2004:
“The war on drugs has been an utter failure. . . .I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws. But I’m not somebody—but I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana. What I do believe is that we need to rethink how we are operating in the drug wars, and I think that currently we are not doing a good job.”
Under the status-quo, success is measured in arrests made. A solution that may remove some drugs from the streets, but has a number of unwanted consequences in the way police are encouraged to treat those in impoverished neighborhoods. Changes in drug laws, specifically even marijuana laws, can have a positive effect on the future of minority youth.
Drug laws and enforcement have also begun to seriously affect non minorities in poor areas. In the Midwest methamphetamines have become and epidemic, and have lead to many arrests and the breaking up of families.
Enrique Peña Nieto, who recently won his election having run on a similar position towards the Drug War, serves as a model for action. Eliminating the negative effects of drugs on communities requires not simply incarcerating individuals, but changing the conditions under which illegal drug trade flourishes.