Monday, April 13

Criminally Stupid Drug War in the USA

I agree line by line, word by word on what Clive Crook says on his recent blog article about the drug war in the USA. There is no difference here in the UK as well. I quote:

How much misery can a policy cause before it is acknowledged as a failure and reversed? The US “war on drugs” suggests there is no upper limit. The country’s implacable blend of prohibition and punitive criminal justice is wrong-headed in every way: immoral in principle, since it prosecutes victimless crimes, and in practice a disaster of remarkable proportions. Yet for a US politician to suggest wholesale reform of this brainless regime is still seen as an act of reckless self-harm.

Few policies manage to fail so comprehensively, and what makes it all the odder is that the US has seen it all before. Everybody understands that alcohol prohibition in the 1920s suffered from many of the same pathologies – albeit on a smaller scale – and was eventually abandoned.

The present treatment of alcohol, which is to regulate and tax the product, is the right approach for today’s illegal drugs. One could expect some increase in the use of the drugs in question, but also an enormous net reduction in the harms that they and the attempt to prohibit them cause. Adding the direct costs of prohibition (police and prisons) to the taxes forgone by the present system, the US could also expect a fiscal benefit of about $100bn (€75.7bn, £68.2bn) a year.

Is an outbreak of common sense on this subject likely? Unfortunately, no.

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