History has shown that the problems alcohol prohibition caused far outweighed the thirty percent decline in alcohol use. Can the same be said of our 100 year drug prohibition? Would we be better off legalizing and taxing drug use rather than spending trillions of dollars of taxpayer money fighting the war on drugs? The following list contains some of the problems the war on drugs has caused:
- We could house and feed all of the homeless, start paying off our national debt, lower our world record incarceration rates, create a lot of legitimate jobs, and improve our economy with the same amount of energy and money we put in to fight the war on drugs. The problems we could actually solve by taxing and legalizing seem to far outweigh the little that is accomplished by fighting the war on drugs.
- The war on drugs causes our murder rates to go up. The murder rates in America doubled during prohibition. After prohibition the murder rates went down until Nixon escalated the war on drugs. From Nixon’s declared war on drugs until 1998 the murder rates doubled in America, just like during alcohol prohibition. This is caused by drug deals gone bad and dealers fighting over areas. The war on drugs has also caused Latin America to become a war zone. Between the years 2007 to 2014, there were 80,000 people murdered and an additional 25,000 people missing from drug wars just in Mexico alone. These drug shoot outs put innocent citizens at risk from stray bullets, and there have even been judges and government officials killed including 100 mayors and 1,000 municipal officials. Legitimate businesses do not fight over turf because the profits are determined by the free market system whereas the war on drugs creates monopolies for the drug dealers.
- If it were not for the war on drugs, fewer people would carry guns. Many people carry guns to protect their drugs and money. If drugs were legal there would be no reason for these people to carry guns. For example, the Miller Lite and the Jack Daniels delivery person does not carry a gun, but chances are the local drug dealer does.
- The war on drugs causes more people to overdose. Would it be safer for the drug user to get the drugs from a quality controlled pharmacy where the user knows exactly what they are getting or from a street mixture? A prime example of this is when the DEA cracked down on pain pills around 2012. This crack down made pain pills hard to find which caused users to start using heroin which is sometimes mixed with fentanyl. I know many people who said that they would never use heroin, but when they could not obtain pain pills they started using street heroin. During this crack down pain pill overdoses remained the same while heroin overdoses tripled and fentanyl overdoses went up five times in just the next four years. The overall overdose rates went from about 17,000 per year to over 60,000 overdose deaths by 2016. The government’s ideal to lower pain pill use actually caused more deaths.
- The non-violent, victimless drug infractions clog our courts which prevents the courts from focusing on crimes which actually have victims.
- Would you rather have the government collect drug profit money to be spent back to the good of society, or the money to continue to flow to other countries or the underground?
- The harder the war on drugs is fought the higher the prices of drugs become which attracts more people to become involved in selling drugs.
- If drugs were legal then people who sale drugs would put their energies into more productive things like education or starting legitimate businesses.
- The taxes collected from innocent taxpayers chokes out the economy. The taxpayers could be spending their hard earned money to buy goods and services for themselves which expands the economy; instead their money is taken from them to fight the war on drugs. In addition if drugs were taxed and legalized we could start paying off our national debt. Just the interest payments alone on our national debt are about $1,700 per person per year. How much would our economy improve if we all had an additional $1,700 to spend?
- It makes no sense for taxpayers to spend all that money for police to collect illegal drugs; then the drugs come up missing from the evidence room because some police have taken the drugs out and sold them on the street for their own personal gain. The largest heist in American history was the heroin which was stolen out of the New York Police evidence room. Another big case happened in 2013 in South Florida where tons of confiscated drugs were missing from the FDLE lab and evidence storage facility. Many times police collect drugs and let the people go while keeping their drugs which still find their way to the street. Drug traffic and money has spawned crews of crooked police all over the country. In the late 1980s, crews of crooked Miami police would rob drug suspects of drugs, conduct vigilante searches and steal drugs and money. The Miami River Cops stole and resold about 1,000 pounds of cocaine. Around 1992, the Mullen Commission uncovered cocaine dealing cops in New York. The same Commission found that these same police would accept bribes to protect other drug dealers.
- It makes no sense for taxpayers to spend all of that money to throw drug users in jail where they can still do drugs. There are many drugs in prison and some inmates have overdosed from drugs obtained in prison.
- From a business point of view, taxing and legalizing drugs would turn a taxpayer expense into taxpayer revenue.
- The war on drugs breaks up families and causes much grief. When sons and fathers and daughters and mothers are put away for many years for drug infractions the family is forcefully separated against their will. I am sure that the families would rather help their own family members rather than losing them to prison for many years. The government claims that the war on drugs is to force users to stop, but throwing drug users in prison for many years is not working and breaks up families.
- From 2002-2013, the New York police department made 5 million stop and frisks, or unannounced police pat downs, with the stated attempt to find guns. They were probably looking for drugs, but that would be illegal, so they say they are looking for guns. Less than 2/10 of 1%, or 1 person in 500 had a gun; this means a lot of citizens were harassed that were innocent.
- Do we really want to keep spending 100s of billions of taxpayer money each year while sending a massive check to other countries?
- The war on drugs takes away civil liberties and freedoms. In a truly free democracy, individuals should be allowed to make their own choices which affect only them. The government’s job in a free democracy is to protect people from outside forces, not to dictate how individuals should live their own life. Because there are no victims in drug deals, there is no one to make a complaint; because there is not a complaint the police use illegal warrantless searches or harass potential witnesses in order to obtain evidence.
- A free people will not stop doing something just because the government dictates to them, especially younger people who might do something just to rebel. The way to solve the “drug problem” is to educate and teach like the tobacco free advertisements which have been very effective. The government cannot force people not to use drugs.
- The drug laws force consumers to get their supply from other countries. This sends American money and jobs across our borders. Now that some states have legalized marijuana we can begin to see how good it is to create jobs here and to keep our money within our borders.
- The drug laws lure illegal aliens to come across our borders because of the lucrative drug trade.
- Drug arrests led to loss of jobs, which led to loss of tax revenue.
Despite all of the taxpayer money and energy the U.S. has put in the war on drugs, the U.S. has the worse overdose death rate in the world. America has about 4% of the world’s population, but has 27% of the world’s overdose deaths. Why does the county which spends the most to fight drug use have the worst overdose rates? To illustrate this point, just compare America’s war on drugs to Portugal, which decriminalized drugs in 2001, and Countries which have free heroin clinics. America has the highest overdose death rate of any country in the world at 245 overdose deaths per million(the world average is 40), whereas Portugal only had 3 in 2015, and no one has ever died at any free government heroin clinic in Vancouver, Switzerland, Germany, or the Netherlands.
The harder a country tries to fight drugs, the worse the problem becomes. No other country has wasted as much money on the war on drugs as the U.S. and yet we have the highest death rates. The war on drugs causes the price of drugs to go up, which attracts more people willing to sell. The war on drugs causes users to buy street mixtures of unknown qualities instead of buying safer quality controlled drugs from pharmacists. If drugs were legal the small percentage of people who use needles could use clean needles instead of having to share needles which led to increases in HIV and Hepatitis.
In summary, it is clear that the war on drugs causes more problems than it solves and even makes matters worse. Since we have tried drug prohibition for over 100 years, since the Harrison Act in 1914, and the war on drugs is not working; isn’t it time to try a new approach?