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The Drug War Doesn't Reduce Drug Use. Drug Users Reduce Drug Use.

Submitted by smorgan on
Blogger and biomedical research scientist DrugMonkey asks drug war critics to explain declining rates of drug use over the last several years.

…for those of you who insist vociferously that the War on Drugs (considered inclusively with the Just Say No, D.A.R.E, main-stream media reporting, and all that stuff that is frequently rolled into a whole by the legalization crowd) is an abject failure...

for those of you who insist vociferously that you cannot tell teenagers anything about the dangers of recreational drugs and expect them to listen to you...

I would like these data explained to me.

There are many ways to respond to this and I wasn't surprised to find Pete Guither in the comments section with some good points. I guess I'd begin by observing that the existence of a massive often-brutal campaign to end drug use simply doesn't mean that said campaign is responsible when drug use declines. The drug czar has an obnoxious tendency to claim success by comparing current drug use rates to their highest point in history, which isn't exactly helpful.

But if there is one point that I think really illustrates the absurdity of crediting the drug war at large for the reductions in drug use we've seen, it is this: rates of alcohol and tobacco use have fallen in virtual lockstep with these declines in illegal drug use. That happened without any effort to eradicate the manufacturing of those substances, without interdicting the supply, without revoking financial aid for college from those found in possession, without mandatory minimums, drug-sniffing dogs, or student drug testing (which doesn't look for tobacco and utterly sucks at detecting alcohol).

The drug czar has actually gone so far as to imply that the war on illegal drugs somehow reduced alcohol and tobacco use, I guess through some sort of reverse gateway theory that he didn't flesh out for obvious reasons. But even if someone were to buy that argument (at tremendous risk of becoming an idiot), it would still be true that we were able to reduce consumption of our two most harmful drugs without deploying against them any of the costly, destructive and controversial tactics that characterize our modern drug war.

I would like that explained to me.

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