Our Top 10 Reasons To End The War On Drugs
The War on Drugs, the righteous crusade to end the production, distribution and sale of illegal substances, and the black market that fuels violence and corruption. Unfortunately, whilst its intentions may be good, it has failed dramatically, and largely lost its way. Instead it has warped and mutated into a monstrosity that mostly wages its war on drug users – a war on normal everyday people.
Count the Cost, an NGO that dedicates its time to assessing the damage this war has caused, published a report that outlined some pretty damning findings. It probably comes as no surprise to discover that the damage has been catastrophic. It is time to end this war.
With this in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to put a list together of our 10 top reasons to end it, and save the world a whole load of trouble.
10. IT IS A BURDEN ON THE PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM
You may think that switching drug abuse from a criminal focus to a health one may increase the burden on public health services. But all you need to do is look at Portugal, where all the War on Drugs has been rejected, and all drugs have been decriminalized. Since decriminalization, drug abuse has fallen, resulting in an eased health system in both terms of monetary expenditure and A&E bed space – freeing up resources for other patients. Plus, the money that is spent on rehabilitating drug users would have otherwise gone to courts and prisons to see them incarcerated – a much greater cost to both state and life.
9. A REGULATED DRUG MARKET CAN GENERATE BILLIONS IN TAX
By embracing drugs instead of waging a war on them, there is potential to generate billions in tax revenue from sales, as well as create an industry with thousands of jobs. A great example of this is the legal cannabis market that has now been set up in Colorado, USA. Not only has it boosted the economy through the creation of jobs, but has generated so much tax that the state is having to consider refunding some tax back to its residents. All of this money generated goes back into the state, improving its infrastructure and public services.
8. THE WAR ON DRUGS ENCOURAGES A POLICE CULTURE OF TARGETING DRUG USERS…
Across the globe police departments receive anti-drug grants and funding depending on how well they perform at combating the illegal drug market. The problem is, it is much easier to go after petty drug users to make up the numbers, than it is to go after dealers and traffickers. It has resulted in an industry within the justice and incarceration system that relies on arresting drug users to secure a budget.
7. …WHICH RESULTS IN NON-VIOLENT PETTY DRUG USERS GOING TO JAIL AND HAVING THEIR LIVES RUINED.
The result of this emphasis on arresting petty drug users is a disproportionate amount of them ending up in jail. Not only does this cost the tax payer an insane amount of money, but it also ruins the lives of non-violent, normal people, who will struggle to find a job and reintegrate into society once they get out. By not focusing on petty drug users, huge amounts of money could be saved from the incarceration system, which could go back into fighting actual serious crime.
6. THE WAR ON DRUGS IS PREVENTING MEDICAL RESEARCH
There is an undeniable body of research out there that is showing how illicit drugs that were thought to be harmful -- such as cannabis, MDMA, and psychedelics -- are not only safer than we thought, but also hold real and revolutionary medical value. The thing is though, because these drugs hold such an illegal and restricted status, it is extremely hard for scientists to research them further. What is also very infuriating about the situation is that it causes a catch 22. These substances cannot be medically researched because they are seen as highly illicit, but they are illicit because more medical research is needed. By easing the restrictions on these drugs by ending the war waged on them, medical research can increase from a snail’s pace to one where lives could be saved/changed much sooner.
5. THE MONETARY COST IS INSANE…
Since the beginning of the War on Drugs over 40 years ago, the US alone has spent over $1 trillion on combating drugs - with the global estimate being around $100 billion a year. It is an insane amount of money.
4. …AND IT IS MONEY WASTED…
Despite these billions being invested in stamping out drugs, the global drug market has grown year on year without failure. More people than ever are using illegal drugs, and it is organised crime that is benefiting from it. Those who support the War on Drugs would argue that there have been successes in stamping out cartels and drug production. But as soon as they are clamped down on in one country, they simply move production to another, making the victory hollow and meaningless. A perfect example of this is the cocaine trade in Colombia. Columbia used to be seen as the global epicentre for cocaine production, and a US backed drive to combat it has largely reduced this. However, the drug lords have not disappeared, they have simply moved their operations to Peru, which is now seeing an unprecedented rise in cocaine farming and production.
3. …THAT COULD BE SPENT ELSEWHERE
Whilst these billions are being wasted, the world is going through a hard period of austerity. This money could be funnelled into things that actually matter, and improve the quality of life for many across the globe. Education, healthcare, infrastructure, renewable energies, combating climate change, and fighting poverty are all be things that could be revolutionised by this money.
2. THE WAR ON DRUGS FUELS CORRUPTION, VIOLENCE AND WAR
Why don’t politicians and large corporations want to end the War on Drugs? Because there are too many big parties with vested interested. Drug money is used to buy off politicians and police, especially in areas where cartels run rampant. War lords also use drug sales to fuel war and insurgency – and there is no finer example of this than Afghanistan. Large industries and corporations - such as the tobacco and alcohol industries - have a lot to lose should things like cannabis become legal. Even the DEA, who lead the War on Drugs, are not immune to the charms of drug money, with DEA agents recently being caught taking part in cartel run sex parties!
1. THE WAR ON DRUGS COSTS THOUSANDS ON INNOCENT LIVES EACH YEAR
Without a doubt, the worst by-product of the War on Drugs, and the biggest reason to end it, is the thousands of innocent lives lost each year. Desperate/enslaved farmers, bystanders, protesters, and users are all killed each year in the crossfire caused by this war. Drug gangs also create a reign of terror and torture in areas they control.
There is no finer example of this than Mexico. The sweeping legalization currently taking place in the US has hit the cartels pretty hard, and as a result murder rates are down by over 20%! We are talking thousands of lives saved here, and is one of the biggest accomplishments of cannabis legalization.
When push comes to shove, it is clear that the War on Drugs needs to end, and we are not the only ones that think so. Numerous world leaders have called for the end to this needless crusade. The progressive countries out there, as well as both social and scientific research, have all shown that there are alternatives to this death, destruction and alienation. It is time for the backwards governments of the world to realise it.