Many have pointed out that the global war on drugs has been a waste of tax-payer time and money. It has also resulted in loathsome socio-political policies that have negative long-term ramifications. Now, five Nobel Prize winning economists as well as several world leaders are endorsing a just-published report by the London School of Economics and Political Science which seeks to end the drug war, stating that this ridiculous war has resulted in “enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage.”
A dozen professors and several politicians are also championing the report’s findings. The opening statement of the document sums up the drug war expertly:
“It is time to end the ‘war on drugs’ and massively redirect resources towards effective evidence-based policies underpinned by rigorous economic analysis. The pursuit of a militarized and enforcement-led global ‘war on drugs’ strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage. These include mass incarceration in the US, highly repressive policies in Asia, vast corruption and political destabilization in Afghanistan and West Africa, immense violence in Latin America, an HIV epidemic in Russia, an acute global shortage of pain medication and the propagation of systematic human rights abuses around the world . . .”
The United Nations began this comical farce with a one-size-fits all skeleton meant to be swallowed like a pharmaceutical pill by all nations. It has created illicit markets, and shunned the use of age-old healing techniques, criminalizing healing knowledge that has been around for tens of thousands of years. The report recommends that countries instead focus on individualized approaches to drug laws and urges experimentation with the removal of drug prohibitions.
Additionally, the ‘war on drugs’ has been the singular reason that one particular natural, medicinal plant has been kept from the masses. It is the cause of many of the ‘mass incarcerations’ in the United States. We spend $51,000,000,000 on the war on drugs annually just in America. More than 1.55 million people were arrested last year on non-violent drug charges, and the American Civil Liberties Union reports that of the 8.2 million drug ‘busts’ in the last decade, over 80% were simply for possession of marijuana.
That means 80% of the heinous amount of money we’ve spent (yes, our tax payer dollars) waging this war has been to jail and prosecute people who want to use marijuana either recreationally or medicinally. This – for a drug unfairly placed on Schedule I of the Federal Controlled Substances Act, the most tightly restrictive category.
This would be akin to investing in beta instead of VHS, or purchasing real estate in the height of a bubble, and still expecting to make a dime. We’ve bled ourselves dry with the war on drugs, and it hasn’t ended drug use. An often quoted example of a country who saved billions on giving up this ridiculous fight, is Portugal. They are enjoying a 50% decrease in drug abuse rates ten years after decriminalization. They decriminalized all drugs, not just marijuana. While Portugal also turned their attention to rehabilitation of hard drug users and education, they certainly didn’t spend $51 billion annually to achieve this.
Remind me why the US is broke again? (Yes I know, there is much more to it than the War on Drugs.)
Odious drug policies are upheld by power-hungry local police forces and the zombie-eyed DEA. Can we not just legalize already?
The report is signed by:
- Professor Kenneth Arrow, 1972 Nobel Prize in Economics
- Professor Thomas Schelling, 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics
- Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides, 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics
- Professor Vernon Smith, 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics
- Professor Oliver Williamson, 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics
- Dr Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (1999 – 2009)
- Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of the Republic of Poland (1995 – 2005)
- Baroness Vivien Stern, UK House of Lords
- (and others)