Monday, April 20, 2009

An Industry Not In Need of a Bailout

Happy 4/20!

The US Government, financed by taxpayer money, wastes billions of dollars every year on The War on Drugs, which has been documented as a complete and utter failure. The price of illegal drugs, relative to the strength of the dollar, has only gone down, the availability is the same as it was 25 years ago, and quality has gone up. What Americans need to do now is acknowledge that The War on Drugs is a total failure and find a way to extract ourselves from it as quickly as possible.

Tobacco, which is by far the most lethal recreational drug available, and kills more people each year than all illegal drugs, drunk driving, and homicide combined, is taxed and regulated by the US government. For drugs like marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, which are far less harmful to society, to be criminalized reflects a total ignorance on the part of Americans as to what the actual impact of illegal drugs is. Most of the violence surrounding the illegal drug trade is a reflection of its illegal status: you dont see executives from Phillip Morris or Pfizer doing drive bys on their rivals.

America, wake up. We are wasting billions and billions of dollars on a Drug War which cannot be won. Its impossible, and the past 25 years of failure have proven that conclusively. Those are billions of dollars which Americans desperately need right now. When you combine the billions we would save in interdiction costs, incarceration, and aid to foreign countries like Columbia and Mexico, and add that number to how much the government would take in if illegal drugs were taxed and regulated like tobacco and alcohol, the net gain would be astronomical.

Despite the country being in a depression the scale of which nobody has seen in several generations, the market for illegal drugs is as profitable today as it has ever been. Marijuana growers in California posted a record haul in 2008, generating billions of dollars in cash - more money than was made on any other agricultural product in the state. The cocaine and heroin cartels in Mexico essentially control the government and all of its law enforcement divisions. Americans want to get high, and they are not going to stop anytime soon. While other entire industries collapse in on themselves, the illegal drug trade is flourishing as well as it ever has. If there is one major industry in the world that is not in need of a bailout, it is the illegal drug trade in the United States of America.

Further Reading:

How America Lost The War on Drugs

Budgetary Implications of Marijauna Prohibition

Mexico: The Making of a Narco State


His Noodly Appendage said...

It is rather sad that the current admin is seeking to escalate this war. I thought they were going to objectively apply science to their policy decisions. I guess the data tells them the GoP can successfully use this as a wedge issue. I doubt we will see any movement till a 2nd term from this overly timid admin.

The rolling stone's articles are very interesting and quite disturbing.

Chronic said...

Well, to give credit where credit is due, Obama's drug czar has said they will not being using federal law enforcement (DEA, FBI) to persue medical marijuana operations.

Its a start. Although, how about raising taxes nationally on tobacco to NYC like levels ($10/pack). I wonder how much cash that would generate and how many lives that would save.