For the past 90 years this debate has been dominated by the professional purveyors of moral panic in our society – a toxic combination of politicians, pressmen, prelates and policemen, aided and abetted by ill-informed parents, who have sought to pre-empt any serious discussion of “psychoactive” substances.That’s in the U.K.
Meanwhile, AP IMPACT: US drug war has met none of its goals:
After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.What does this mean to Georgia? It has to do with what’s been spent to fight that non-war since Nixon declared it:
Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked.
“In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,” Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. “Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.”
His first drug-fighting budget was $100 million. Now it’s $15.1 billion, 31 times Nixon’s amount even when adjusted for inflation.The AP researched where that money went, and two of their points are:
– $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.And that’s only direct expenditures. Look a little farther, and:
– $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.
At the same time, drug abuse is costing the nation in other ways. The Justice Department estimates the consequences of drug abuse – “an overburdened justice system, a strained health care system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction” – cost the United States $215 billion a year.This isn’t actually news. Walter Cronkite, for example, told us about this years ago:
Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron says the only sure thing taxpayers get for more spending on police and soldiers is more homicides.
“Current policy is not having an effect of reducing drug use,” Miron said, “but it’s costing the public a fortune.”
Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on this effort – with no one held accountable for its failure.However, the mainstream press has been recognizing the failure more lately. The Economist notes:
Amid the clichés of the drug war, our country has lost sight of the scientific facts. Amid the frantic rhetoric of our leaders, we’ve become blind to reality: The war on drugs, as it is currently fought, is too expensive, and too inhumane.
But nothing will change until someone has the courage to stand up and say what so many politicians privately know: The war on drugs has failed.
Nearly 1.9m people were arrested in America for drug offences in 2006—over three times the number detained in 1980. Around one in eight arrests is now drug related. But what they achieve in the “war on drugs” is unclear, according to a report by The Sentencing Project, an advocacy group. Fewer people take drugs: 14% of people reported using them monthly in 1979, but only 8% in 2005. But arrests are increasingly for more trivial crimes: in 2006 only 17.5% of arrests were made for the sale or manufacture of drugs, whereas some 39% were for the possession of marijuana.As Geoffrey Alderman asked, what next, locking up students for caffeine?
Stay tuned for what that has to do with Georgia.