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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Endless, Ineffective 'War on Drugs': Round 75

The capture of one of Mexico's most-wanted drug gang leaders has everyone all a-titter and breathless about the dedication of the anti-drug police in Mexico and President Enrique Pena Nieto's commitment to ending the drug traffic that permeates his country and much of the hemisphere. But, as a great man once said, poppycock. (see AP story here)

As long as there is poverty, as long as drug consumption is criminalized, and as long as the drug traffic is characterized by immense quantities of cash, there will be an illegal, ruthlessly violent, uncontrollable drug trade and the rotten corruption that it engenders. Drugs must be legalized and the 'War on Drugs' replaced by a rational and systematic attempt across borders to deal with addiction and the social consequences of drug use. Didn't the United States learn anything from the disaster of Prohibition?

Unfortunately, there is now a huge industry built up around the drug trade, and it includes not just drug users and drug dealers, but also industrial suppliers, police, military police, the prison industry and even do-gooder social workers who benefit from minimal public and private programs promoting 'recovery.' All these groups have seen their numbers and their budgets skyrocket as a result of the hopeless efforts to respond to the drug trade. It will be many years before the tide is turned. But the 'War on Drugs' must end.  If major consumer countries spent one-tenth of the money they spend on the 'war' on treatment and education the results would be much more effective. How many prisons can we build?

If we take the money out of the drug trade, we'll take the violence out of it too. As it is today, too many people, public agencies, corporations and other groups benefit immensely from the status quo.

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