40th Anniversary of the War on Drugs – Candlelight Vigils

Candlelight Vigils

Friday, June 17, 2011, marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of the “war on drugs.” His decision catapulted the U.S. into a wasteful, decades-long, failed effort that has had zero impact on drug consumption in the U.S., but has had profound negative impacts on communities in the U.S. and around the world, and on communities of color in particular. Students for Sensible Drug Policy, in partnership with the Drug Policy Alliance, has organized a nationwide day of action to highlight the impacts of this ill-fated war.

Over the last four decades, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from overdoses, gun shots, and drug gang violence, all because many drugs are not regulated and controlled. When President Nixon declared a ‘war on drugs,’ no one imagined the loss of life we have endured.

These vigils will bring attention to the urgency of the world-wide failure of drug policy to protect health and safety and to encourage dialogue on alternatives to drug prohibition. The vigils follow the recent release of the prestigious Global Commission on Drug Policy report that proposed specific reforms across a spectrum of drug problems. While tragedies from drug prohibition continue to flow across the region – untreated addiction, overdoses, infections, violence, incarceration, abandonment, unemployment, disenfranchisement, etc. — metropolitan area residents are calling for a major policy shift from criminalization to regard drug use and abuse as health issues.

Our vigils will be taking place in over 20 locations across the U.S. and in Mexico. We have participating SSDP chapters and drug policy reformers in cities such as San Francisco, Washington D.C., Chicago, New York City, Denver, Boston, Los Angeles, and Mexico City. For more information on our locations around the world, please visit our full vigil list & contacts page. Further information on the vigils is availible at our vigil resources page, which includes a drug war fact sheet, a transcript of Nixon’s  6/17/71 Speech, and a list of those who have lost their lives in the war on drugs.

Map of Vigils: