The War on Drugs has failed. It’s in the numbers


The New York Times points out what most already knew – The War on Drugs is a failure. But the proof they offer should convince those who were unaware:

If there is one number that embodies the seemingly intractable challenge imposed by the illegal drug trade on the relationship between the United States and Mexico, it is $177.26. That is the retail price, according to Drug Enforcement Administration data, of one gram of pure cocaine from your typical local pusher. That is 74 percent cheaper than it was 30 years ago.

What does it mean that it is 74% cheaper to buy cocaine? It means that the total price to get cocaine from origin to consumer – production, transportation, smuggling, bribes, protection, equipment, guns, intermediaries and dealers – has gone down, which means we are less effective at stopping the drug trade now than we were 30 years ago: a lot less effective. The smugglers know all the tricks, and they are successful at using them.

If declaring a War on Drugs doesn’t work, what would?

My suggestion:

Legalize personal use and possession- but not sale- of most drugs. This way, when people are angry at the pushers, they will feel free to come to law enforcement, knowing they won’t be facing criminal charges themselves.

Legalize and tax the sale of safe, nonaddictive drugs in each “class” as defined by the DEA: narcotics, depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens. (Anabolic steroids are also listed, but those seem off topic) If someone can get a legal and safe drug for recreation, there would be less of a market for harmful drugs such as cocaine.

Allow me to draw a parallel: imagine that during Prohibition, there were distinctions made between different types of alcohol, and so whether the alcohol was wheat based or potato based or fruit based made a difference in the legality.

How many people would buy the illegal moonshine which might make them blind, if there were legal  and safe alternatives?

And what happened when Prohibition ended? A lot of money stopped going to the Mafia to buy guns, politicians and cops.

And between taxing drugs and reducing the prison population by 20% – those who are in for drug possession and use – think of the savings to States.

Link from Wonk Wire.


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