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Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Failure of The War on Drugs

As it stands now, 20 + years after the start of the USA’s “War on Drugs” campaign, can we finally pronounce it a profound failure? Does anyone still believe this “War” has made any difference at all in keeping drugs and crime out of our society? 

The availability of illegal drugs has not changed, quality has improved and prices have stayed constant for a decade and in the case of heroin, has actually gone down. Can anyone dispute the sustained availability of these drugs on the streets of the USA right now? No, I don’t smoke the stuff but I know where it can be found: Everywhere. We all know someone who can get some. Or just ask a student, ANY student. 

What the War on Drugs has managed to produce is a large US prison population, well funded domestic gangland activity, a huge judicial industry that supports government judges, lawyers and large police forces and, of course, horrible and tortuous death. Over 9,000 people have died in Mexico’s two-year-old Drug War alone. That’s just on the Mexican side of the border while our own inner cities have become killing zones as well though much less reported. It's a joke.

This underground drug money sponsors the drug cartels of South America and the Taliban in the Middle East and anti-gov’t activities worldwide. It has been widely reported that 90 percent of the world’s heroin comes from the mountains of Afghanistan. (We’re not hearing any stories of Coalition troops burning those poppy fields are we?) All fueled by this Prohibition.

It’s time for a shift in attitudes and tactics. Resources must shift from enforcement to education and TREATMENT. Treat the stuff like we treat booze since THAT 13 year failure stands as a prime example. Addicts have very few resources available to them. They can go rob a bank/corner store/ someone’s house or car for a quick fix since we’ll happily send them to jail at a cost of $24,000.00 per year but hell; we won’t treat your dependency since that would cost too much!

Drug prohibition has been a colossal failure. We have to allow economics to achieve what our enforcement personnel cannot and that is to eliminate their access to illicit money gained from the sale of illegal drugs used to sustain their forces. This will put these organizations under pressure for alternate means of funding, more traceable and above board means of funding. They may even have to get jobs! The original purpose of the War on Drugs was to do just this but it can’t and it will never succeed even if we throw 3x the money at the problem. Supply and Demand is a market force that cannot be stopped by Prohibition.

The body count continues to climb among the competing underground factions that attempt to manufacture, grow and sell illegal drugs. Why? Because it’s ILLEGAL! And because drugs are illegal, the underground economy controls the money and distribution.

We all endeavor to educate our kids to take pride in themselves and what they can achieve and about the dangers of drugs, booze, driving while drunk and gambling. We do this because these are the major dangers of living free in the United States TODAY. This will not change. The “War on Drugs” has become an industry unto itself. It employs thousands of people. Who cares that it doesn’t work?

I do. We need to change the way we look at this problem. The sooner we face the reality of the situation, the sooner we can fix it.   

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