The US has has a ‘War on Drugs’ for more than 100 years.
A few short years ago John Key and his Chief ‘Science’ Advisor declared a war on drugs too.
But have all these Â wars on drugs worked.
Letâ€™s all pause today to wish a happy 100thÂ birthday to the War on Drugs. And what a century itâ€™s been!
Twenty-five years ago, the stated goal of the United Statesâ€™ anti-narcotic efforts according to the Department of Justice was to â€śdisrupt, destroy and dismantle drug trafficking enterprises.â€ť That same year, the U.S. government pumped almost $8 billion into anti-drug efforts, including $600 million in prison construction alone. It was just a typical fiscal year during the height of the drug war. But two and a half decades later, despite this dizzying spending, we donâ€™t need a drug czar to tell usâ€”even though one of them hasâ€”the war on drugs, by its own measures, has been a century-long failure.
A hundred years ago this month, the U.S. government started this fight to rid us of the scourge of opiates. Today, not only have we failed to control drug demand, an entirely new breed of opiate epidemic has flourished in the face of the most draconian drug laws in the world. Aided by aggressive Big Pharma marketing and enthusiastic â€śpain specialists,â€ť opiate abuse has simply taken on a new shape, moving from urban enclaves and overrunning pockets of New England and the South, from rural Vermont to the suburbs of Dallas, that have little history of widespread drug abuse. Heroin today is cheaper and purer than it was 50 years ago. Thatâ€™s to say nothing of the 700 percent increase in incarceration of American citizens in the past four decades, the distribution of nearly $450 million worth of military equipment that is used by local and state law enforcement agencies (that â€śmilitarization of the policeâ€ť youâ€™ve been reading so much about lately), and the creation of a wasteful, labyrinthine bureaucracy dedicated to what has proven a perhaps impossible goal: The eradication of drugs.