The war on drugs has failed, empirically.

The multi-billion-dollar industry that is the War On Drugs, which has imprisoned countless people for simple possession and spurred development of for-profit prisons across America, “has failed”, according to a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

The major players in the war are, of course, circling their wagons:

The office of White House drug tsar Gil Kerlikowske rejected the panel’s recommendations.

“Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated,” said a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“Making drugs more available – as this report suggests – will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe.”

The government of Mexico, where more than 34,000 people have died in drug-related violence since a crackdown on the cartels began in December 2006, was also critical.

Legalisation would be an “insufficient and inefficient” step given the international nature of the illegal drugs trade, said National Security spokesman Alejandro Poire.

“Legalisation won’t stop organised crime, nor its rivalries and violence,” he said.

“To think organised crime in Mexico means drug-trafficking overlooks the other crimes committed such as kidnapping, extortion and robbery.”

Because Al Capone was able to build an empire of kidnapping, extortion and robbery without black-market hooch, I’m certain. How many of these arguments were used verbatim to justify prohibition? How many of the arrests were of kingpins, rather than for simple possession — and how many of the “drug trafficking” arrests were of people possessing small stockpiles that may have been intended for personal use? Seriously, I hear about people being arrested for growing one or two pot plants and the media plays it up like they’re drug kingpins. It’s ridiculous nonsense, and it has to stop.

Unfortunately, the powers-that-be appear to have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, ratcheting up the laws and building bigger for-profit prisons, or even state prisons that are commissioned by cronies of the people in power. Even the argument that one can make a lot of money legalizing, standardizing and taxing recreational drugs (and thereby fund an underfunded medical system) evidently falls on deaf ears when the money isn’t going directly into certain people’s cronies’ pockets.

This is a humanitarian cause. The mere fact that these demonized recreational pharmaceuticals do a mere fraction as much damage as alcohol, yet alcohol is a cash cow for the government (especially in Canada, with its provincially-run liquor commissions), is proof enough that the current abolitionist situation is not one based on evidence. If there were the merest scintilla of evidence that drug prohibition was worth the body count both in deaths and in lives ruined for which it’s directly responsible, then I’d be all for it.

But there is of course no such evidence to be had.

The war on drugs has failed, empirically.
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6 thoughts on “The war on drugs has failed, empirically.

  1. 1

    The problem is, we don’t have a war on drugs, we have never had a war on drugs, the best we’ve managed is an advertising campaign on drugs. We cannot have lost a war that we’ve never bothered to actually start.

  2. 2

    Um, I’d agree with you if there weren’t tens of thousands more people being put in jail who, before this “war” began, would never have seen the inside of a jail cell. Each of these people being put in jail for things like “having some dried bits of plant with intent to smoke it” or “getting really high and eating lots of doritos”.

  3. 3

    Please! Most of the people in prison for possession are either poor, brown, or have mental issues. Who gives a damned about those kinds of people?

  4. 4

    Putting users in jail isn’t a good idea. Putting dealers to death, however, 100% of the time, most certainly is. Users need treatment, not incarceration. Our prisons don’t need non-violent offenders clogging the cells.

  5. 5


    Here’s the reality of the situation: there are lots of people who use drugs just like alcohol. They are occasional imbibers who work hard at their jobs and raise their families just fine. They aren’t destroying their lives by getting high once in a while. They aren’t robbing little old ladies or selling their kids’ future to get their “fix”. Do those people need treatment?

    Not everyone is a “victim” of those horrible drug dealers. There certainly are dangerous, murderous dealers out there that need to be taken off the streets, but I’ve personally never had one run up to me and attempt to force me to buy drugs off him/her.

    How come it’s okay to murder drug dealers, but we’re not putting alcohol brewers and distillers to death? Why do we allow people the freedom to imbibe the dangerous drug alcohol, yet feel the need to protect people from themselves when it comes to other drugs?

    It’s important for me to know, because as a homebrewer, I don’t think it’s fair to be threatened with death for offering my friends and family a few drinks (which I don’t even charge for. Incidentally, does that make it worse, because I’m getting them “hooked” at no charge?)

    I’m not trying to be facetious (well, maybe just a little bit), I’m seriously asking, where do we draw the line? Drug use is a difficult, complex issue that cannot be solved by simplistic thinking like “just kill all the dealers.”

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