Seven hidden costs of the ‘war on drugs’


Saturday, June 30, 2012
By Cameron Ljubic

The Transform Drug Policy Foundation recently informed me of Count the Costs: 50 years of the war on drugs, a new online research tool developed to educate people on the need for drug law reform.

Comprising pf groups like the Drug Policy Alliance and the Beckley Foundation, International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies, Count the Costs highlights seven key costs to society under current draconian drug policy initiatives. This collaborative effort of global organisations coincides with the 50th anniversary of the enacting of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

They say the “war on drugs” undermines development, security and fuels conflict in many of the world’s most fragile regions and states. Using the examples of Colombia and Afghanistan, they explain how drug traffickers prefer to work in areas where there is little public infrastructure and where government officials (politicians, the military etc) can be kept at arm’s length, either through corruption or the threat of violence. With public infrastructure, such as roads, schools, and so forth, virtually non-existent, farmers have little option but drug production.

Second, while the war on drugs has in the past been promoted as a means of promoting public health by eliminating the availability of drugs and its use, Count the Costs provides ample evidence to the contrary.

Over the past 50 years, drug use has risen and prices of drugs have fallen. Furthermore, their analysis confirms that current policies have raised the risks associated with drug use. Drugs are cut with contaminants, and risky behaviours, such as injecting, are undertaken in unsupervised and unhygienic environments. As a result, users suffer from avoidable health problems.

Third, current drug laws ignore the human rights of drug users and the farming communities growing drug crops. In many countries, drug control efforts by governments have resulted in torture and ill-treatment by police, mass incarceration, executions, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and the denial of basic health services. Likewise, farmers in drug-producing countries face human rights violations as a result of drug crop eradication programs and the related criminalisation of certain indigenous cultural practices.

Fourth, the war on drugs also promotes discrimination against people who, through poverty, are forced into the drug trade. Stigma and discrimination is also often attached to those with criminal records, and, by default, to the children of drug-using parents.

Fifth, the literature points out that contemporary drug policies are the biggest factor generating crime and enriching criminals. In 2005, the UN estimated the illicit drug trade at $300 billion. The profits of this trade flow, untaxed, into the hands of unregulated and often violent criminals.

The sixth cost concerns deforestation and pollution. Aerial spraying and chemical eradication in environmentally sensitive places like the Andes and Amazon basin not only causes deforestation, but also encourages a “multiplier effect” whereby drug producers move to deforest new, uncontaminated areas for further cultivation. Unregulated drug production can lead to pollution connected to the disposal of toxic chemicals, used in crude processing of coca and opium, into local environments and waterways.

Finally, global spending, estimated at well over $100 billion, on a law enforcement model that does not work is a waste of taxpayer money. Rather than reducing production, supply and use of drugs, law enforcement initiatives have had the opposite result — a big criminal market. In turn, it has led to grave social and economic costs, through crime and ill health. These costs far exceed the billions spent on law enforcement.

As government budgets increase spending in the area of law enforcement and all of its corollaries — the courts, customs and border security, police and prisons — other areas, such as hospitals and schools, are being starved of funds. With this knowledge, it is now time for the politicians to wake up and begin implementing a set of constructive drug policies based on the facts.

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/51488
 

Comments

That's the unfortunate truth. My mother spent many years in jails and prisons due to the current War On Drugs. I am completely aware of what a boon the War On Drugs is to the corrections infrastructure. It sadly is all about the money :(.
 
When the Netherlands introduced its "toleration" policy of "soft drugs" in 1980 (although coffee shops already existed) it was facing a wave of drug abuse problems.
In terms of reducing drug nuisance the tolerance policy has been immensely successful.
Stats indicate that cannabis use in the Netherlands is among the lowest in Europe. Far less than in France for example where repression still reigns.
Alas tolerance did not apply to the supply side, and in consequence criminal organizations have profited from the trade and used the money to finance other criminal activities.
The coffee shop regime is currently being dismantled in a retrograde step by the current extreme right wing government.
Street criminality is reportedly already on the rise.
Like Prohibition the war on drugs has been a colossal waste of money and lives. Ultimately repression is not a policy.
As the Dutch example shows, managed tolerance can be beneficial in terms of law and order, public health, and drug usage levels.
However, if new drug laws are to succeed, a system for licensing producers must also be introduced.
 
no means no, I might not say no to drugs, however, if I drug around an "onterage" without knowing it, saying no didnt work, they.raped me after hitting me, so maybe to say yes I'll now need to meet wiyh a meth batcher, produce meth "drugs" my son aint the illeagal obtoaner and its realized, say yes yet again, and smoke some drug. not have sex withit thos time,.dince when is the date rape drug any drug and allows volontary sex on both parts while aeake
 
The current privatized prison system is no less modern day slavery. Keeping more nad more ppl behind bars for a profit under the guise of fighting drugs. You cannot fight an object.
 
You could add a huge amount of medical cost due to opiophobia and under-prescribing of necessary opioid medications due to superstition about addiction to that; under-medicating for pain leads to longer surgical recovery times, higher levels of long-term disability following illness or injury, etc. etc., as well as more suffering for patients.
 
doppelganga196;10729425 said:
Surely there'd be more money in legalizing & taxing drugs?
The reason that they don't do this is because it is so easy (obviously) to sell drugs under the table. In addition to this, it costs about $20,000 per year per inmate. Things won't change anytime soon. There will have to be mass violence.
 
bourgeo;10842653 said:
The reason that they don't do this is because it is so easy (obviously) to sell drugs under the table. In addition to this, it costs about $20,000 per year per inmate. Things won't change anytime soon. There will have to be mass violence.
Its actually upward of $50,000 pr inmate. The penal system is hooked like crack to the money it makes off the war on drugs. Building new prisons, mandatory minimums, all the guards who need a paycheck, the food doctors needed to care for sick inmates. Things need to change NOW. We all need to be talking about this to our friends who dont exactly believe drugs should be legal or decriminalized.
Look up LEAP on Facebook. or the Drug Policy Alliance. Get involved.
This whole lock em up attitude is just modern day slavery. Lock a nigga up and make $50,000 a year for every year you can hold him.
 
FROM Cameroon.

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Negotiable prices.

Cocaine "pure" .....................$80 per gram
Heroin....................... ..........$120 for 8 balls(3.5 g)
Hydrocodone .........................$3 for 5mg pill
MDMA(ecstasy) ....................$20 per 8mg pill
Hashish.................................$15 per gram
Morphine...............................$15 per 100mg pill
PCP......................................$11 a tablet
$20 for a gram of powder
$200 for an ounce of liquid
Crystal meth..........................$70 per gram
OxyContin.............................$40 per 80mg pill
Ketamine...............................$25 per gram
Mephedrone...........................$8 per gram
Amphetamine(white)...............$10 per kg
Purple kush............................$200 per kg
LSD.......................................$3 per blotter tab
Methcathinone(Cat).................$45 per gram
Dexedrine...............................$4 per 5mg pill
Phenazepam...........................$20 per gram
Activis Promethazine Codeine Cough Cyrup.$30 per 16 ounce bottle.
 
50 years?? The drug war is 98 years old, at least in USA. First drug act was in 1914, Harrison Narcotics Tax Act. The war was launched from then on
 
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