How we lost the drug war

Great new read by Ben Wallace-Wells in this month’s Rolling Stone that exposes how the $500 Billion spent on the Drug War over the last 35 years has been all but a complete waste of time and money, and an absolute failure by any standard of measure.

[A]fter U.S. drug agents began systematically busting up the Colombian cartels – doubt was replaced with hard data. Thanks to new research, U.S. policy-makers knew with increasing certainty what would work and what wouldn’t. The tragedy of the War on Drugs is that this knowledge hasn’t been heeded. We continue to treat marijuana as a major threat to public health, even though we know it isn’t. We continue to lock up generations of teenage drug dealers, even though we know imprisonment does little to reduce the amount of drugs sold on the street. And we continue to spend billions to fight drugs abroad, even though we know that military efforts are an ineffective way to cut the supply of narcotics in America or raise the price.

All told, the United States has spent an estimated $500 billion to fight drugs – with very little to show for it. […]

Even by conservative estimates, the War on Drugs now costs the United States $50 billion each year and has overcrowded prisons to the breaking point – all with little discernible impact on the drug trade. …(read on)

That is a truly one great article every policy maker should have to read. I can’t ever read a word on this topic without remembering how Col Oliver North was involved in smuggling cocaine into the U.S. under Reagan, circumventing Congress to pay for an illegal proxy war, which coincided with the birth of the crack epidemic at the very same time the President had declared a ‘War on Drugs’ (Remember Nancy’s ‘Just Say No‘?) and the great expansion in the building of prisons and increasing sentences that has resulted in the disenfranchisement of generations of disproportionately black would-be voters to this very day. But of course all that was just another unintended but electorally significant consequence of Ronald Reagan’s.

H/T C&L

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