Did you know the United States current spends 41 billion dollars each year fighting “The War on Drugs?”
For me, two questions arise from that statistic. How is that money being spent and is it working?
The fact is that 90 percent of our government funding goes towards policing and punishing drug offenses, and only 10 percent goes towards treatment, education, and job incentive programs. For me, this number is completely backwards. For every dollar we spend on treatment we save $8 in criminal costs and $12 in public related health costs.
It makes me wonder, if we created a legal, regulated system, in which we taxed all drugs at a rate similar to alcohol and tobacco, experts believe we’d make 46.7 billion in taxes. That’s a 87.7 billion dollar gain per year. This makes sense to me.
The war on drugs creates a war for drugs, dealers using violence to control street corners to meet the demand for drugs. Removing supply does not remove demand.
Did you know that murder rates actually significantly increase after large drug busts?
The largest opioid bust in US history was called Operation Tar Pit? We spend thousands of hours of police time and countless dollars in the sting operation. You know what came from it? Nothing. Each distribution cell was back up and operating at full strength within a week. When are we going to wake up and realize that the war on drugs doesn’t work?!
Making drugs illegal also leads the “iron law” of prohibition. During the days of alcohol prohibition, (which didn’t actually stop drinking) people smuggled moonshine, not beer. Why? Because anytime you make something illegal you incentivize making it as strong as possible.
Did you know there’s even a group called, LEAP? Law enforcement against prohibition. Let’s free up cops time to stop violence, not police morality. It costs $35,000 to house someone in jail for a year. And when we give people felonies for non violent drug offenses, what type of citizen is that person likely to become? Are they likely to reintegrate into society and bond with other people, or to feel isolated and continue to bond with drugs?
If you really want to extinguish drug dealers, create a legal regulated system for all drugs. This would bankrupt cartels all together. I know it sounds counterintuitive, that legalizing drugs may reduce crime, violence, and overdoses, but the statistics say otherwise. Where other countries have done this, they’ve seen great success. In Portugal, trust in the police went up, overall addiction rates went down. In Switzerland and Vancouver, overdoses and HIV occurrences dropped. In the Netherlands, it is now harder for teens to get drugs. Gangs have been crippled and the culture of terror has been extinguished. Even in the United States, after we removed the prohibition of alcohol, murder rates fell.
We need real drug reform that works and makes sense. We need to challenge the status quo. We need politicians with the knowledge and courage to advocate for change. We need to start educating citizens not to “just say no,” but rather, “just know.”
If you are interested to learn more about the history of the opioid epidemic or The War on Drugs, please checkout “Dreamland” by Sam Quinones or “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari.