The War on Drugs: A billion dollar ruse

The+United+State%E2%80%99s+obsessive+focus+on+penalizing+drug+use+is+causing+more+harm+than+good.+Perhaps+it%E2%80%99s+time+for+us+to+follow+the+examples+of+more+effective+methods%2C+namely+treating+addicts+like+the+patients+they+are+and+not+like+the+criminals+we+pretend+they+should+be.+
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The War on Drugs: A billion dollar ruse

The United State’s obsessive focus on penalizing drug use is causing more harm than good. Perhaps it’s time for us to follow the examples of more effective methods, namely treating addicts like the patients they are and not like the criminals we pretend they should be.

The United State’s obsessive focus on penalizing drug use is causing more harm than good. Perhaps it’s time for us to follow the examples of more effective methods, namely treating addicts like the patients they are and not like the criminals we pretend they should be.

The United State’s obsessive focus on penalizing drug use is causing more harm than good. Perhaps it’s time for us to follow the examples of more effective methods, namely treating addicts like the patients they are and not like the criminals we pretend they should be.

The United State’s obsessive focus on penalizing drug use is causing more harm than good. Perhaps it’s time for us to follow the examples of more effective methods, namely treating addicts like the patients they are and not like the criminals we pretend they should be.


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The United States is known for spending an absurd amount of money on warfare. This is no different in the case of the “War on Drugs” (not prescription drugs). On an average, the U.S. spends a grand total of 51 billion on the war against drugs (that’s more than the grand total GDP of a few countries), including drug-related arrests, raids, employing strict control over pharmaceutical drugs and the raw materials required to make narcotic substances such as heroin, cocaine and crystal meth. Despite this, the U.S. ranks 3rd in the world in terms of opioid prevalence, right below Afghanistan and Russia. Here’s why.

The “War on Drugs” was first introduced by President Nixon in 1971, where he declared drug abuse to be the worst problem in the country. However, it has been a disaster due to the inability of the government to stop the supply and flow of drugs into the country. Unlike traditional commodities, increasing a drug’s price by reducing its supply does not reduce its demand. Addicts beg, borrow or steal in order to get the money to buy drugs. Cartels in countries such as Mexico, Colombia, etc. soon realized this and producing and transporting drugs became a billion-dollar business. Even when a major supply route is destroyed, more novel techniques to transport drugs are immediately found , which sometimes also involves paying off local officials to turn a blind eye. The richest criminal in the history, Pablo Escobar, was notorious for creating a drug empire in Colombia and tightly controlling drug trade routes from Medellin to New Mexico using ingenious tactics. It’s said that about 80 percent of the drug flow to the U.S. was controlled by his Medellin Cartel.

Controlling the production instead of the supply also creates problems. In the 90s, the U.S. government tightly controlled the raw material required to produce crystal meth. Although this reduced its mass production, it resulted in the establishment of several domestic meth labs in abandoned houses and RVs across the U.S., often with no ventilation to prevent the smoke giving away the location. This results in the deaths of amateur “chemists” who inhale the toxic gases released by the improper production techniques. Cartels, once again, seized the opportunity to open “fronts” in the U.S. to produce better meth and smuggle using efficient techniques owing to their experience.

The “War on Drugs” is not only ineffective since only 1 percent of the total drug flow is actually prevented, but it actually creates more damage to society than the drugs themselves. Turf wars between gangs over the drug trade, racial targeting by the police, and the false convictions and locking up of innocent people make up some of the worst effects. Moreover, the drugs are packed in more concentrated doses to make it harder to find, which ultimately results in death by overdose. Health is adversely affected too; cocaine addicts present severe withdrawal effects if the body does not receive adequate supply periodically, which is hard to come by when it is illegal.

So what’s the solution? Legalising it, although seems like a counterintuitive approach, works wonders in reducing the adverse impact on society. The best way to tackle the drug problem is not categorizing addicts as criminals but as patients. Countries such as Portugal, the Netherlands and Switzerland tackled the problem by opening countrywide rehab programs for addicts to get clean. They are given high-quality heroin in controlled doses with clean needles (to prevent AIDS) and good medical facilities. This ultimately reduces their tendency to commit violent crimes, either under the influence of drugs or in order to finance their addiction, so they can finally focus on getting better.

The “War on Drugs” is a wild-goose chase that the U.S. government still employs despite the rest of the world proving time and again that it doesn’t work. Like the “War on Terror,” it is a failed course of action that does nothing but waste taxpayer’s hard earned money to make a huge show of inciting needless fear into criminals, but it only makes everything worse. Unless rational lawmakers come together to implement plans that actually make people’s lives better, America will continue to lie in the corner of a dilapidated house, with puncture wounds on its arm, desperate for that one last hit.