Cocaine Shortages Don't Prevent Violence, They Cause It

Submitted by smorgan on
The best thing you can ever hope for in the drug war is a statistical anomaly. That's why this summer's temporary cocaine shortages have prompted multiple gleeful posts at ONDCP's blog. Courtesy of a commenter on Phil's recent post on this topic, here's a great example of how little the drug czar actually knows about the relationship between drugs and crime:
In the past, Walters said a shortage of drugs has led to a decrease in violence. "The vast majority of the violence is committed by the user under the influence of drugs," Walters said. "When there's a contraction in the market, there isn't as much violence. There's more likelihood that individuals who can't get the drug will seek detoxification, will seek treatment." [Indianapolis Star]
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Planet Walters, a magical world where all your wishes come true. Oh wait, darn, we're on Earth:
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson believes that the shortage in cocaine could be to blame for a spike in certain violent crimes close to home.

Jackson said that federal indictments that have yanked dozens of suspected dope dealers off the streets in recent months have increased competition - and violence - in the drug trade. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

So in the short-term, violence goes up, not down. And in the long-term cocaine prices go down, not up. That is just Drug Enforcement 101, and it has been perfectly documented and understood for a very long time.

Let's play a game. Pretend you're the Mayor of Cleveland. Disruptions in the local drug market have produced a rash of brutal summer violence. Then you read the newspaper to find the Drug Czar declaring that disrupted drug markets lead to order and tranquility because everyone just gives up and goes to rehab. As the sirens blare outside your office, it must be just galling to watch the genius drug war experts in Washington, D.C. predicting an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity.

It gets tiresome trying to think of new ways to explain how odd it is that there's a whole White House office dedicated to making up fictitious criminal justice theories. You could fill a book with what they don’t know about drug enforcement and, in fact, many have.

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