Is the war on drugs worth fighting?

After President Richard Nixon’s pronouncement in 1971 that he had declared war on drugs especially heroin, cocaine and cannabis, people have been doing a profit and loss ledger, the headline was:

U.S. drug war has met none of its goals

After 40 years and $1 trillion, drug use is rampant and violence pervasive.

Coming in the wake of that report a new paper has been published in Canada, not known for its liberal tolerance “Effect of drug law enforcement on drug market violence: A systematic review.”

Its conclusions were: “Fourteen (93%) studies reported an adverse impact of drug law enforcement on levels of violence. Ten of the 11 (91%) studies employing longitudinal qualitative analyses found a significant association between drug law enforcement and drug market violence. Our findings suggest that increasing drug law enforcement is unlikely to reduce drug market violence. Instead, the existing evidence base suggests that gun violence and high homicide rates may be an inevitable consequence of drug prohibition and that disrupting drug markets can paradoxically increase violence. In this context, and since drug prohibition has not meaningfully reduced drug supply, alternative regulatory models will be required if drug supply and drug market violence are to be meaningfully reduced.”

Alcohol prohibition led to crime unprecedented levels and as demonstrated here drugs too. With taxes on tobacco dropping down the Laffer Curve, the increasingly vibrant black market will only end up in exactly the same situation.

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