Is the Drug War Hurting the Economy?

You may remember this blurb about the war on drugs in our June 2011 Newsletter:

Forty years ago this month, President Richard Nixon launched a “war against drugs.” It has turned out to be America’s longest war; and yet the policy is not seriously debated by members of Congress. More than $1 trillion has been spent on the war effort — police, prosecutors, and prisons — but the black market trade is thriving as never before. Tens of millions of Americans break the law and use drugs each year. Clearly, these are not the results that were expected in 1971. Is it now fair to compare the drug war to our disastrous experience with alcohol prohibition and confess the error? We don’t do drugs or recommend that anyone should, but people are clearly doing drugs, so why don’t we let people choose legally?

Expanding on this subject, this great Le Québécois Libre article titled “War on Drugs a Smashing Success!” gives a satirical response to a press release by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. The article cleverly gives reasons why the war on drugs is successful, such as: “State prisons in the United States house over 250,000 inmates for drug offenses, with another 100,000 or so held in federal prisons. These prisoners represent a huge boon to the economy in the form of job creation.”

Before giving key facts, the press release argues that making drugs more available will make it harder for to keep our communities healthy and safe. But echoing our earlier sentiment, the Le Québécois Libre article ends with this: “The never-ending quest to stop people from seeking out altered states of consciousness—beyond what they can achieve with alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and the like—guarantees that the war will never be won.”

What do you think? What changes in the war on drugs would make the most improvements?

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