Prohibition: Drug War is a Failure, Associated Press Reports

In a major, broad-ranging report released Thursday, the Associated Press declared that "After 40 Years, $1 Trillion, US War on Drugs Has Failed to Meet Any of Its Goals." The report notes that after four decades of prohibitionist drug enforcement, "Drug use is rampant and violence is even more brutal and widespread."
The AP even got drug czar Gil Kerlikowske to agree. "In the grand scheme, it has not been successful," Kerlikowske said. "Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified."

The AP pointedly notes that despite official acknowledgments that the policy has been a flop, the Obama administration's federal drug budget continues to increase spending on law enforcement and interdiction and that the budget's broad contours are essentially identical to those of the Bush administration.

Here, according to the AP, is where some of that trillion dollars worth of policy disaster went:

  • $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico -- and the violence along with it.
  • $33 billion in marketing "Just Say No"-style messages to America's youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have "risen steadily" since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.
  • $49 billion for law enforcement along America's borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.
  • $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.
  • $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the US were serving sentences for drug offenses. [Editor's Note: This $450 billion dollar figure for federal drug war prisoners appears erroneous on the high side. According to Department of Justice budget figures, funding for the Bureau of Prisons, as well as courthouse security programs, was set at $9 billion for the coming fiscal year.]

The AP notes that, even adjusted for inflation, the federal drug war budget is 31 times what Richard Nixon asked for in his first federal drug budget.

Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron told the AP that spending money for more police and soldiers only leads to more homicides. "Current policy is not having an effect of reducing drug use," Miron said, "but it's costing the public a fortune."

"President Obama's newly released drug war budget is essentially the same as Bush's, with roughly twice as much money going to the criminal justice system as to treatment and prevention," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance. "This despite Obama's statements on the campaign trail that drug use should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue."

"For the first time ever, the nation has before it an administration that views the drug issue first and foremost through the lens of the public health mandate," said economist and drug policy expert John Carnevale, who served three administrations and four drug czars. "Yet... it appears that this historic policy stride has some problems with its supporting budget."

Of the record $15.5 billion Obama is requesting for the drug war for 2011, about two thirds of it is destined for law enforcement, eradication, and interdiction. About one-third will go for prevention and treatment.

The AP did manage to find one person to stick up for the drug war: former Bush administration drug czar John Walters, who insisted society would be worse if today if not for the drug war. "To say that all the things that have been done in the war on drugs haven't made any difference is ridiculous," Walters said. "It destroys everything we've done. It's saying all the people involved in law enforcement, treatment and prevention have been wasting their time. It's saying all these people's work is misguided."

Uh, yeah, John, that's what it's saying.

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No Shit...?

So the 40 year War on Drugs is a failure,go figger. It only cost The People $1 trillion dollars. But look at it this way: It's only 1/12 of the National Debt and surely your succesor, i.e. children and grandchildren will be glad to work hard to pay off the debt. After all, it's what's best for society.

Now, for the Agent of the State that view this website, We know Big Brother is watching us, and conversly, we're watching Big Brother, because we LOVE you TOO!

mel72349's picture

Don't hold you breath on ending this mess

The majority of the $1 trillion goes to vested interests that DO NOT want the money flow to stop.

Everyone involved-police departments, drug agencies, bail bondsmen, the judiciary, lawyers and district attorneys, jails, prisons, and probation departments-they've all been sucking up the money.

Just as with Prohibition, this war will not end until citizens (taxpayers) vote the politicians out and say enough in a clear loud voice.

"Drug" i.e. Tobackgo War Succeeded-- Till Now

It succeeded! Through all those decades the "War on Drugs", actually mainly War Against Cannabis, succeeded in protecting and prolonging the Big 2WackGo empire which makes almost a $trillion a year genociding 6,000,000 poor puffsuckers a year for profit (and the WHO says the death figure is going UP as teenagers in China and India are bombarded with messages about what to do with their increased purchasing power i.e. buy more $igarettes).

If cannabis had been legal, possibly near all of those addicts would have either (a) switched from tobackgo to cannabis and other herbs or (b) from hot burning overdose $igarettes to vaporizers, one-hitters and other low-dosage equipment which have long been risky to own because some nark will accuse you of associating with illegal cannabis.

The incredible profits from the highly advertised overdose habit ("pack-a-day" equals 180 drug hits a day, $2000 a year) have paid for the "war" i.e. crackdown against cannabis, in the form of $igarette "TAXE$" i.e. bribe to the government to do the dirty work for Big 2WackGo. (Example: 10% of all government revenues in Pa(c)ki$tan are from $igarette taxe$. Ru$$ia 8%, etc.)

Some may be annoyed that we keep bringing this old stuff up; question is what to do. Answer: it's the money! Do whatever it takes to break the financial (i.e. government-bribing) power of the hot burning overdose $igarette industry, which has funded cannabis suppression till now.

* Promote vaporizers, one-hitters, e-cigarette, smokeless, anything that smokers can dosereduce down to away from the cash cow "$igarette" format "from whence their profit cometh".

* Read wikiHow "How to Make Smoke Pipes out of Everyday Objects" and supply long-drawtube screened one-hitters to your neighborhood.

* Swarm out as Jah's Witnesses across the planet serving demonstration mini-tokes of sifted alfalfa, basil, camomile, damiana etc. or even a 25-mg. pinch quickly torn from the as yet unlit tip of someone's actual 700-mg. overdose nigotine $igarette.

* Urge the President to serve e-cigarettes instead of beer at summit conferences.

Thanks, everyone, even John Walters, for your attention. Now get bizzy!

Annoyed, no

but it is a wrong conclusion on your part. The tobacco companies are not at all concerned about cannabis. They are the one business that is prepared for legal cannabis, they have the equipment up and running, already, to fashion cannabis cigarettes and the lands and greenhouses to grow it. Not that I would buy such a product from them, myself, I'd be afraid the product would be adulterated with unwanted and unhealthy chemicals, as they already do with tobacco. Also, I don't know anyone who would stop smoking tobacco and switch to cannabis, many people smoke both, and if they don't, there is no reason to believe quitting one will cause them to turn to the other.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

$1 trillion

Oh well, we didn't really need that trillion for anything else, it was pretty much disposable income. Same goes for those American lives that were destroyed or damaged by the drug war, disposable. Americans that can't follow government orders don't deserve freedom.

legalize !

Why does not government legalize marijuana?

Because this would be the sane thing to do!

to moonrider

Glad you're not annoyed. No I'm not counting on converting the nigoslaves to cannabis, rather let's work on converting them to low-profit e-cigarette, vaporizer etc. Point is to take down the $400-bil.-a-year chronic overdose $igarette marketing system because that's the major factor, even more than fHARMa, in tax-funding government crackdowns against our herb.

Follow the money...$$$

To understand WHY we continue to spend billions a year for a failed drug policy
that pushes law enforcement, eradication, and interdiction, follow how the budget-pie is being sliced up and where the money goes. Look into who is benefiting most from maintaining the status quo.
Special interests, powerful law-enforcement/prison guard unions, military equipment suppliers,
aerospace industries, all of them set on not giving up their slice of the pie. These interests spend lavishly year-round on wooing their political partners. (Think corporate Gulfstream jets & Hawaiian resorts) They are partners in bed together in perpetuating this failed policy.
The sad part is that money is still the Ultimate Aphrodisiac, and it is ultimately what career politicians will get on their knees for.

want to really change

want to really change things?
it IS the only power we have

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