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April 13, 2017

"Four Decades and Counting: The Continued Failure of the War on Drugs"

The title of this post is the title of this new Policy Analysis from the Cato Institute authored by Christopher Coyne and Abigail Hall. Here is the 28-page document's Executive Summary:

Private individuals and policymakers often utilize prohibition as a means of controlling the sale, manufacture, and consumption of particular goods.  While the Eighteenth Amendment, which was passed and subsequently repealed in the early 20th century, is often regarded as the first major prohibition in the United States, it certainly was not the last.  The War on Drugs, begun under President Richard Nixon, continues to utilize policies of prohibition to achieve a variety of objectives.

Proponents of drug prohibition claim that such policies reduce drug-related crime, decrease drug-related disease and overdose, and are an effective means of disrupting and dismantling organized criminal enterprises.

We analyze the theoretical underpinnings of these claims, using tools and insights from economics, and explore the economics of prohibition and the veracity of proponent claims by analyzing data on overdose deaths, crime, and cartels.  Moreover, we offer additional insights through an analysis of U.S. international drug policy utilizing data from U.S. drug policy in Afghanistan.  While others have examined the effect of prohibition on domestic outcomes, few have asked how these programs impact foreign policy outcomes.

We conclude that prohibition is not only ineffective, but counterproductive, at achieving the goals of policymakers both domestically and abroad.  Given the insights from economics and the available data, we find that the domestic War on Drugs has contributed to an increase in drug overdoses and fostered and sustained the creation of powerful drug cartels. Internationally, we find that prohibition not only fails in its own right, but also actively undermines the goals of the Global War on Terror.

April 13, 2017 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

Comments

"We conclude that prohibition is not only ineffective, but counterproductive, at achieving the goals of policymakers both domestically and abroad. Given the insights from economics and the available data, we find that the domestic War on Drugs has contributed to an increase in drug overdoses and fostered and sustained the creation of powerful drug cartels. Internationally, we find that prohibition not only fails in its own right, but also actively undermines the goals of the Global War on Terror."

I agree 100 percent. We should have abandoned "the war" long ago, decriminalized drugs, and regulate like alcohol and cigarettes, and increasingly marijuana, and adopt an educational and the medical model.

But now too many pigs at the trough lobby for continuing criminalization of drugs: moral prigs, prison guards, cops, prosecutors, politicians, folks where prisons located. Amazing, actually that Prohibition was repealed. Can someone explain how that came to be and what were the forces that led to repeal?

Posted by: Dave from Texas | Apr 13, 2017 12:39:46 PM

The War on Drugs has been successful if one understands its purpose.

Some clues. Lawyer profession. $36 billion a year.

Posted by: David Behar | Apr 14, 2017 12:02:02 AM

Behar is correct on one thing: the war on drugs has enriched criminal defense attorneys. Keep raising the mandatory minimums!!

Posted by: James for the defense | Apr 14, 2017 9:36:50 AM

James. I sincerely appreciate your candor. You are making an honest living.

If the purpose of the law is to lower the amount of addiction, it is rising. That means the law is a regulatory quackery. I do not blame you, but I blame the fraudulent lawyers continuing this fraud, taking in $38 billion a year. It is not the biggest fraud, but is among the top fraud rackets going.

Involved legislators, regulators, appellate judges should be arrested. Their assets should be seized in civil forfeiture, and they should get long prison terms. They should be placed in population with the dealers they sentenced. That way, they would be murder victims, or what I call the European death penalty. I now oppose the death penalty, even though these internal traitors richly deserve it.

Posted by: David Behar | Apr 15, 2017 1:21:12 PM

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