The “war on drugs” has failed, enough already

The failure of the war on drugs is a recurring topic on many criminal defense and political blogs, to the point where those of us who read blogs were probably bored with the news long ago. But the madness continues, the insane government spending, the mandatory minimum sentences that fill our prisons and destroy lives, the drug task forces who seem to become the most corrupt across the country, our nation’s/ government’s/ law enforcement’s addiction to drugs is not slowing down one bit. Politicians are not going to change their “hard on crime” stance until the voting public is educated on the failure of the war on drugs, so we need to keep blogging and keep talking about it until change happens.
In an article from the AP this week (H/T Grits for Breakfast), Martha Mendoza highlights the failure of the United States’ drug policies over the past 40 years culminating in the current administration. Obama’s government recognizes that it is not working, but can’t help themselves – we are getting more of the same when it comes to drug policy. Despite promises of a new national policy that would treat drug use as a public health issue, focusing on prevention and treatment, spending on interdiction and law enforcement has been increased instead.
The AP has compiled the costs of the war on drugs over the past 40 years, which has not stemmed the flow of drugs one bit, finding:

_ $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico — and the violence along with it.
_ $33 billion in marketing “Just Say No”-style messages to America’s youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have “risen steadily” since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.
_ $49 billion for law enforcement along America’s borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.
_ $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.
_ $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.

That is not a complete list of the costs of the war on drugs, and it doesn’t begin to account for the human costs over the past 40 years – the families ripped apart, the people who were subjected to long prison sentences for drug offenses. I’m impressed that this story came from the AP – let’s keep people talking about this country’s drug policies and why they don’t work.

One Response to “The “war on drugs” has failed, enough already

  • There was a “War On Drugs” no wonder that guy that stole that other guys car called and ask me if a could find him some marij..I hope he did not go to prison…..
    17 years later and still can not get a decent job…

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