The so-called War on Drugs has criminalized drug use in the United States. Even so, drugs continue to be common. Some have compared it to Prohibition and the failed Eighteenth Amendment.
Prohibition was simply the banning of alcohol. Many of the same reasons for Prohibition are used for the War on Drugs: increasing public health, lowering crime rates and the like.
However, Prohibition failed completely. After only a couple of years, people were drinking anywhere from 60 to 70 percent as much alcohol as they had been before, so there wasn't a very good decline in use. Moreover, illegally produced alcohol often had a lower quality and a higher potency, so overdoses and alcohol poisoning were common.
On top of that, Prohibition created a criminal empire centered around the production and distribution of illegal alcohol. Crime went up and corruption flourished.
Plus, the banning of alcohol pushed some people to other drugs. Instead of drinking, they started using cocaine and opium.
All told, lawmakers realized that Prohibition wasn't making things better, and they repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. It's interesting to see how some of these same issues are now impacting the War on Drugs, and it will also be intriguing to see how lawmakers decide to face these issues in the future.
As the War on Drugs continues, though, it's very important for those who are facing charges to know all of the legal rights and criminal defense options that they have. Everyone has a right a fair trial, for instance, and evidence must be obtained in a legal manner under the Fourth Amendment.
Source: Cato Institute, "Four Decades and Counting: The Continued Failure of the War on Drugs," Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall, accessed Aug. 11, 2017