The U.S. Drug War
I have not kept up with the drug war in America since those Nancy Reagan commercials in the 80's, but I found a really nice article by Michael Gersh's Zero Base Thinking about the failure of the current U.S. drug policy. Here is part of that article:
Another study has been released that shows that our benighted policy on drug consumption has failed, according to the Washington Times. While this can not be surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, this study points out that both availability (up) and price (down) are going in the opposite direction to what the entire War on (some) Drugs has promised:
The report conducted by the Washington Office on Latin America, a non-governmental organization that has the stated goal of trying to "reorient U.S. drug control policy to the region," concludes that U.S. policy geared toward "reducing drug abuse and availability in the United States" from a "supply-reduction model does not work."Citing falling wholesale and retail cocaine and heroin prices and collateral damage suffered in Latin American countries as a result of U.S. anti-drug policy, Joy Olson, executive director of WOLA, said, "We've been tough on drugs, now it's time to get smart on drugs."
Over the last 25 years U.S. policy has tried to attack the war on drugs from a supply-side perspective. Through the eradication of coca crops in producing countries, interdicting drug shipments to the United States and jailing drug offenders, authorities were hoping to significantly drive up the cost of cocaine and heroin -- thus reducing cocaine's economic appeal to potential users.
However, the attempted siphoning of the supply side has lowered street prices and increased the number of incarcerated drug offenders, driving up government spending, without significantly reducing the amount of drug flow, the study's findings show.
Data compiled by WOLA show that since 1981 the retail price for 2 grams of cocaine went from $544.59 to $106.54 in 2003. Retail heroin prices mirrored the decline in cocaine prices, falling from $1,974.49 to $361.95 during the period.
Walsh noted that "price estimates are manifestations of supply and demand" and thus are the most accurate indicators to "determine what is coming in."
The number of incarcerated drug offenders rose from 45,272 to 480,519 from 1981 to 2002, and government spending on overseas supply control rose from $373.9 million to $3.6 billion from 1981 to 2004.
The numbers are alarming. Check this Drug War Clock out. It has the total amount of money spent on the war on drugs this year.
Apparently the drug traffickers have developed a new cocaine plant that can produce far more coca than a traditional coca plant has in the past. This new coca plant was also bred to resist certain chemicals that the U.S. sprays over known drug growing regions to kill them. More information on this specific topic can be found at Common Sense for Drug Policy.
Another article can be found HERE that was written in "The Village Voice", a Manhatten newspaper, that outlines the shortcomings of the U.S. Drug War from a Generation X perspective.