A once global affair, the war on drugs has seen a sharp decline over the past decade. International cooperation has gradually lessened as European nations have begun easing their drug policies. The legalization of marijuana has opened the slippery slope in ending a very necessary war on drugs.

Legalization advocates may proffer that legalization of marijuana would ease the jobs of law enforcement. Legalization, however, just forces law enforcement to act in broader and more dangerous ways.

Those who believe in principles that facilitate introducing our youth and laypeople to narcotics and other detrimental substances wield dangerous influence. Holland started the revolt by legalizing cannabis in Amsterdam in 1998. The landmark decision attracted worldwide skepticism worldwide as the THC levels of Dutch cannabis rose from about 9 percent in 1998, to nearly 20 percent in 2005. The trend continued as Dutch cannabis was found to contain as much as 28 percent THC in 2012.

Subsequently in 2001, Portugal became the first nation to decriminalize all drugs. Since 2001, there have been several developments in allowing for the cultivation and open possession of marijuana. Prosecution of marijuana-related offenses has declined entirely for first time offenders, while those who are caught with non-authorized marijuana several times may be sentenced to a nominal rehabilitation class.

Legalization advocates in the East have also joined the elation of an ease on drugs. For example, North Korea has an inherently liberal perception of cannabis. Citizens are able to legally cultivate and consume cannabis, with little (or no) restrictions.

Domestically, the federal government maintains its prohibitive stance on marijuana; however President Obama has expressed interest in making marijuana legal in the near future.

California became the first state to open the floodgates by legalizing medical marijuana in 1996, which was later followed by the signing of Senate Bill 1449 in 2010. The bill made any marijuana infraction punishable by only a small fine.

Although many other states have made strides decriminalizing specialized use of marijuana, Colorado became the first to allow for its commercial sale this past year.

Over the past decade, the war on drugs has weakened, if not completely disappeared. Although it would be foolish to acknowledge marijuana as a drug of strong lethality (such as amphetamines and cocaine), the Drug Enforcement Administration maintains its view of marijuana as a “gateway” drug. Under this definition, there is nearly a 70% correlation between those who have smoked marijuana, and those who have ingested drugs of higher lethality.

Since the mitigated response to marijuana began prosecution of cocaine and heroin cases have almost doubled. This relationship emphasizes the holistic approach that the government must take in order to rise victorious.

Unfortunately, once a law is implemented, it is very difficult to regress to an earlier policy, especially when it would involve a prohibition of sorts.

Tough, direct policies are the only way to reduce the lasting scars that have plagued society. Since 2000, trafficking and cartel-related arrests have increased dramatically, with seizures appearing state-wide, often found to be part of international organizations.

Sadly, the War on Drugs is over. Much like the war on poverty, the war on drugs combats an idea, rather than a group. Policymakers have waived the white flag and welcomed the problems that will surely ensue.

The drug problem will only worsen, thus leading to problems for international law enforcement.

If the United States adopts a policy of federally legalizing marijuana, it will be interesting to see what is next. Cocaine? Meth? The possibilities and endless. Personally, the prospect of the president contemplating the nation’s future while smoking a joint or doing a bump scares me.