Casualties of the War on Drugs

War on DrugsYet again I read an article spelling out the complete and utter failure of the war on drugs. Sigh.

First off I’m going to start using a new phrase. “The War on Drugs” simply doesn’t compute in any reasonable way. “The Drug Cartel”. Because that’s all it is. It’s an alliance between the United States, drug manufacturing, and drug dealers legal and illegal.

Now, let’s trace the roots of this Drug Cartel. The term “War on Drugs” was coined by President Nixon in 1971 and its goal was to reduce the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs. I’ll spend one sentence on its failure. Has the production, distribution, and consumption been reduced? Done. Ok, a link with detailed explanations. Global Commission on Drug Policy. Read that and then follow the links to the various papers.

Ok, back to Nixon. While he may have coined the phrase “War on Drugs” the misguided policies in the United States date back to 1914 and the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act.

Another quick detour. Did you know that in the 1890’s before all this madness began that Sears & Roebuck offered a syringe and cocaine priced at $1.50 in their catalog?

The early attacks on drug distribution were the same ones we see today. That drugs fuel violence and crime. Good news then. The Drug Cartel is succeeding in ways that Sears & Roebuck could never have dreamed possible. Unless, of course, the idea was to reduce the violence and crime associated with drug use. Then, well, fail.

The next anti-drug (pro-crime) policy was Prohibition enacted in 1920. Again, easy to see the results.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, precursor to the Drug Enforcement Administration was created in 1930. Guess who expanded it greatly by establishing the DEA? President Nixon in 1973.

Next came the ridiculous Marijuana Transfer Tax Act in 1937. This act placed a tax on cannabis and was eventually replaced in 1969 with something far worse, The Controlled Substances Act.

But, let’s get back to the DEA. In 2010 there operating budget was over one billion dollars. A healthy sum. Guess what percentage of that was dedicated to reducing demands for drugs as opposed to prosecuting and catching offenders? .28%. So, 99.72% of the budget of the DEA was used to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States through interdiction in foreign countries and here. The numbers in 2005 suggest that the DEA seized about 2 billion worth of drugs and drug related assets of which about half a billion was actual drugs. The total amount of drugs sold in the US that year is estimated at 64 billion. Let’s do the math … .78% of all drugs were prevented. Really? .78%? In what world is that worthwhile?

Meanwhile there are any number of accusations that the United States works with drug providing nations to bring the material to the country. I’m willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt that they are simply doing this in order to catch drug dealers. But, they aren’t stopping the flow by any appreciable amount and they are actually contributing to it! This is insane.

Meanwhile the number of American citizens incarcerated has increased hugely since the Drug Cartel began. It was less than .2% of the population at the onset of the Drug Cartel and is now over .8%.

I’m now tired of finding reasons why the Drug Cartel is madness. I’m not out of reasons, I could go on .. and on … and on, but I’m just tired and discouraged.

It’s up to you, people of the United States. Write your Congressmen, ask them politely (don’t yell and scream like a five-year old who didn’t get his cookies) in Town Hall meetings. We must stop this insanity. Legalize drugs. Disband the DEA.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
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