What will drugs do to YOUR town in 2010? Most of us know that Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug of choice, and that heroin may be the most damaging drug an individual can use, but it is crack cocaine that has changed the world as Americans know it, especially in big cities. And the war against them isn’t working.

Researcher Mark Osler says, “Crack cocaine has done more to shape our laws, our cities, our fears and our politics than any other narcotic in our nation’s history, and now is the right time to tell this story because the worst of the crack epidemic is over and we can see the full arc of its path of destruction. At the same time, crack is still on the streets and continues to unsettle institutions from the local police to the Supreme Court of the United States.”

He traces the start of the crack epidemic and those harsh sentencing guidelines to the 1980s, when a surplus of powder cocaine flooded the Caribbean, bringing prices down by as much as 80%. In a market-driven response, dealers began promoting crack as a way to broaden their revenue.

Pushed by gangs, crack had an immediate and shocking effect on cities throughout the US. With crack distribution came violence, which accelerated the flight of residents and capital investment from central cities. Crack also devastated minority communities which were disproportionately affected by the posses targeting their neighborhoods.

The “War on Drugs” was largely focused on crack cocaine, and was one of the most massive failures in American law enforcement history. After spending billions of dollars and incarcerating millions of Americans, the price of cocaine on the street went down, not up, showing that supply had not been reduced relative to demand. The harsh sentences being handed out for drug possession and sales resulted in long mandatory sentences that had little effect on reducing crime.

Federal judges in many jurisdictions saw the crack laws as unjust and subverted them, ultimately playing the key role in the downfall of mandatory federal sentencing guidelines.

The story of crack cocaine in the US has implications in how all policy is formulated, Osler says. “Our national failure to deal effectively with the crack epidemic illustrates a troubling aspect of our political process. The reason we should pay attention to how crack cocaine policy has been made is that it fully shows the cost and fallacy of failing to articulate principles before acting.” (Like going to war for no reason)?

As we learned from the deaths of Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger, prescription drugs can be abused as well, especially when you’re taking drugs that have been prescribed for someone else. It turns out that 25% of people who borrow prescription medications experience side effects.Researcher Richard Goldsworthy says, “Borrowers are frequently bypassing instructions and warnings, are avoiding or delaying seeking care from health professionals, are not communicating their borrowing to their health care provider (probably because they can’t afford to go to the doctor), and are experiencing allergic reactions or side effects when they borrow prescription medications.”

What do Visitor experiences do to the PEOPLE in a city? While most contact experiences take place in less populated areas, Anne Strieber has heard stories about people who were abducted from the middle of major metropolitan areas. Subscribers can listen to Whitley’s interview with someone who met an alien while strolling down a major shopping street in London! And in this week’s New Year’s edition of Dreamland, Anne Strieber tells more about big city abductions.

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