The *real* reason why drugs like marijuana and coke are illegal. It's not what I expected.

By the end, I was kind of speechless. That's how brilliant Ethan Nadelmann is. This guy knows his stuff, and I'd like to see governments try out his idea.

There is a War on Drugs. And the United States is in the middle of it.

President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs on June 17, 1971. It was at this early point that something remarkable happened. According to PBS:


    For the only time in the history of the war on drugs, the majority of funding goes towards treatment, rather than law enforcement.

Unfortunately, that era wouldn't last for long.

One of the biggest effects of the War on Drugs included heavy penalties for drug offenses.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act into law — a day that Salon.com says the War on Drugs *really* started:

    The law has resulted in 25 years of disproportionately harsh prison sentences for defendants who are disproportionately black. It called for felony charges and mandatory minimum prison sentences for anyone caught with even a small amount of cocaine; inexplicably, it triggered the mandatory sentences for crack cocaine possession at 1/100 the amount of powder cocaine. Rather than rooting out the traffickers, it filled the country's jails with blacks and Hispanics, who in some cases serve more time for possession than convicted murderers.

Ethan Nadelmann says these heavier penalties for drug possession have been of little, if any, benefit.

Nadelmann is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. In a recent TED Talk, Nadelmann said:

    Look at the murder and mayhem in Mexico, Central America, so many other parts of the planet, the global black market estimated at 300 billion dollars a year, prisons packed in the United States and elsewhere, police and military drawn into an unwinnable war that violates basic rights, and ordinary citizens just hope they don't get caught in the crossfire, and meanwhile, more people using more drugs than ever.

    It's my country's history with alcohol prohibition and Al Capone, times 50.

Why *is* there a War on Drugs in the first place? The answer has very little to do with the actual science behind illegal drugs.

While there might be differing opinions about the actual reasons behind the War on Drugs, Nadelmann gives us his expert opinion as someone who has studied the issue in depth:

    When hundreds of thousands of Chinese started showing up in my country, working hard on the railroads and the mines and then kicking back in the evening just like they had in the old country with a few puffs on that opium pipe, that's when you saw the first drug prohibition laws in California and Nevada, driven by racist fears of Chinese transforming white women into opium-addicted sex slaves.

    The first cocaine prohibition laws, similarly prompted by racist fears of black men sniffing that white powder and forgetting their proper place in Southern society. And the first marijuana prohibition laws, all about fears of Mexican migrants in the West and the Southwest.

Kinda sad, right?

Nadelmann has a solution to the War on Drugs: End it. And legalize.

And he doesn't mean legalize *just* weed. He means other drugs, too. It's a pretty bold solution — even Nadelmann disagrees with it sometimes! — but it's worth thinking about. And one that he'll lay out for you carefully in this video.

You can get English captions by clicking the lower-right part of the video, or you can scroll down for a transcript.

More

Comedy legend Carol Burnett once said, "Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head." She wasn't joking.

Going through childbirth is widely acknowledged as one of the most grueling things a human can endure. Having birthed three babies myself, I can attest that Burnett's description is fairly accurate—if that seemingly impossible lip-stretching feat lasted for hours and involved a much more sensitive part of your body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via SNL / YouTube

Christopher Walken is one of the greatest actors of his generation. He's been nominated for an Academy Award twice for best supporting actor, winning once for 1978's "The Deer Hunter" and receiving a nomination for 2002's "Catch Me if You Can."

He's played memorable roles in "Annie Hall," "Pulp Fiction," "Wedding Crashers," "Batman Returns," and countless other films. He's also starred in Shakespeare on the stage and began his career as a dancer.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
popular