Saturday, June 18, 2011

Global Commission on Drug Policy says war on drugs has failed

From the Washington Independent courtesy of AlterNet:

Breaking news: The war on drugs has failed.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy released its report a few days ago, and it isn’t pretty. Drug use of all kinds is up sharply over the last decade, even as governments spend billions to stop it. When one supply chain is interrupted, another fills the gap, seemingly within minutes.

The Commission recommends decriminalizing drugs and ending the stigmatization of users and the marginalization of small time growers and focusing on regulation and health care.

So, who is this band of liberal, drug-loving miscreants? The Commission includes as its members former U.S. Secretary of Sate George Schultz, former U.S. Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, former Secretary General of the U.N. Kofi Annan and a host of international figures of equal stature.

More here.

It's very nice that there is yet another study verifying what anybody with half a brain has known for decades now: behaving as though drug use is a criminal problem, rather than a public health problem, is really, really, really fucking stupid. But I've been thinking of this all as a fact for a long time now. You know, because it is a fact.

The United States figured this all out back in the 1920s and 30s with our failed experiment on alcohol prohibition. The nationwide ban on liquor didn't stop many people from drinking, but it did set the stage for organized crime to develop from penny ante stuff into some serious multi-million dollar enterprises. And without government regulation, lots of people got poisoned by the bootleg stuff. We spent a lot of money trying to stop people from drinking, but in the end it was all a big waste.

Unfortunately, nobody appears to have retained much from this real world lesson.

So it's the same thing with the modern "War on Drugs." Except on a much larger scale. Now organized crime is about multi-billion dollar enterprises. Drug violence is literally destroying Mexico. Millions of Americans who would otherwise be law-abiding citizens are turned into actual criminals by throwing them into prison for incredibly long sentences. And none of this enforcement stuff helps addicts at all.

Meanwhile, numerous industries associated with keeping drugs illegal are thriving, and their lobbying dollars help to keep serious discussion about legalization off the table. I mean, the "War on Drugs" is a socioeconomic force unto itself, regardless of drug realities.

Given that the study mentioned in the excerpt above is only the latest in a long string of studies proving the folly of prohibition, I seriously doubt it will amount to much in the grand scheme. Too many people have gotten rich from the scam. There's no way they're going to sit by idly while their gravy train comes to an end.