Europeans spend $40B on illegal drugs every year

money in your back pocket

European Union citizens spend about 24 billion euros ($NZ40 billion) on illicit drugs every year, a report says, making it one of the continent’s most profitable activities for organised crime groups.

The report, drawn up by Europol and European Union drugs monitoring centre EMCDDA, said the advent of new technology such as encrypted networks and digital currencies had opened a new market for the online supply of drugs.

“Illicit drug production and trafficking remains one of the largest and most innovative criminal markets in Europe,” Europol director Rob Wainwright said in a statement on Tuesday (local time).

While technological advances were made, organised crime groups also sought out new routes to smuggle drugs into Europe, the report added, such as heroin increasingly being shipped through the southern Caucasus.

Europol’s Wainwright added that co-operation between member states was needed to address the problem, also because criminal networks involved in the drug trade often branched out into other areas of crime.

So here’s a radical idea:  make it legal, put GST on top and tax the businesses that sell it.  Add an excise tax to deal with any health problems so it becomes self-funding.

This takes the gangs out of the business, sets quality standards, so you’re actually taking what you’re told you bought, it creates a good tax take for the country and the current policing, court and imprisonment costs will more than cover the health cost.  If not, an excise tax will cover any shortfall so the net cost to taxpayers is zero, the tax take goes up, and crime goes down.

We can try it out with Marijuana.


– Newshub


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  • Keyser Soze

    For some time I’ve been of the opinion that ALL drugs should be made legal, sold in pharmacies or the like and taxed accordingly. Prohibition does not work. Nowhere. Never. When I discuss this with people they say “But surely not P!” My response is that P is a crappy poor man’s drug that there will be no demand for if people can get quality cocaine or MDMA. If people want drugs they will get them so lets make it safe(r) for them to do so and treat any use issues as a health problem funded by drug taxes. Most people who use illegal drugs are functioning, valuable members of society who go to work and pay taxes. Hand in hand with legalisation must be severe and draconian punishments for supplying young persons, drugged driving and causing a public nuisance under the influence. The only problem I can see with such a regime is what the gangs will turn to in order to replace their lost income. They’re not all gonna rush out and get jobs so I can see more robberies, stand-overs, organised cyber crime etc… I think it will only work in a cashless society of which I believe NZ is likely to be one of the first in the world. I give it 20 years.

    • localnews

      We have spent decades fighting drugs and nothing has worked. We should have a proper discussion that if we made everything legal we could bring the issues out in the open. Spending enormous amounts of the police budget each year on a pointless battle is dumb. With a tax regime and a police force with spare time to attack the social problems of drugs, we would have a better society

      • Keyser Soze

        Agreed. The most common argument thrown at me when I raise this is that legalisation will increase use among people who wouldn’t use if drugs remained illicit. However the facts just don’t support this assumption… Amsterdam, Portugal and now Colorado have extremely low proportions of their populations as drug users. Counter intuitive? Yes, but that is the reality. Btw checkout Colorado’s crime stats since the legalisation of cannabis… Something like a 30% reduction in violent crime!

  • cows4me

    The war or so called war on drugs is one of the biggest growth industries in the world today. Governments will never outlaw illicit drugs because governments will be the biggest losers. Since the USA introduced the confiscation of private property from those dealing drugs the amount of revenue flowing into law enforcement coffers has climbed by 20% a year. Many police departments are now funded solely by drug arrests and seizure of property, they have become very militarized . Also many more are being locked up for minor drug offenses in private prisons which employ tens of thousand of guards, 20 + new prisons have being built in California alone. Add the hundreds of drug programs and those employed to fight the problem it has become an industry to big to fail. I would recommend this film for what is really happening when governments outlaw drugs . This film is also being shown on Rialto channel, it’s brilliant.

  • JohnO

    Good to see Whale oil agreeing with Andrew Little’s approval of medical marijuana as reported on Stuff. If Andrew Little approves it what could possibly be wrong with it ?