Why the “War on Drugs” is a failure

October 10, 2007 | By | 10 Replies More

According to this article at Alternet (“The War on Pot: America’s $42 Billion Annual Boondoggle“) we should “regulate marijuana just as we do beer, wine, and liquor.”  Why?  Consider the human toll:

The new FBI stats show an all-time record 829,627 marijuana arrests in 2006, 43,000 more than in 2005. That’s like arresting every man, woman and child in the state of North Dakota plus every man, woman, and child in Des Moines, Iowa on marijuana charges … every year. Arrests for marijuana possession — not sales or trafficking, just possession — totaled 738,916. By comparison, there were 611,523 arrests last year for all violent crimes combined.

If that amount of arrests doesn’t concern you, then consider the economic toll.  The war on marijuana is costing the United States $42 billion per year.   What could you do with that kind of money?  You could hire “880,000 schoolteachers at the average U.S. teacher salary of $47,602 per year.”

Is the war on marijuana saving the lives or health of Americans?  Far from it, according to honest medical information.

I’m not advocating the use of marijuana (or any other mind-altering or mood-altering drug).  I believe in natural highs, the type triggered by good health and an active intellect. 

On the other hand, the “War on Drugs” is horribly counter-productive and it is devastating to the lives of good and decent Americans and their families.  And because that “war” is a massive drain on the national economy, it hurts people like you.


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Category: Health, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (10)

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  1. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    The simplest and most sane first step would be simple decriminalzation. It would be far better to treat it in a manner similar to alcohol. This would greatly reduce the load on the prison system, while actually brimg in money from fines for lesser offenses.

  2. Alison says:

    A friend of mine points out that if it weren't sold exclusively by drug dealers, it would cease being a "gateway drug," too.

  3. xiaogou says:

    I wonder if the cotton industry was not so powerful would we have a hemp industry today?

    Anyway, the marijuana industry is getting very sophisticated. They are using caves, lava tubes and warehouses to grow them. The growers are using blowers to dilute to pungent smell the plants make. They also growing lights and tapping the powergrid for energy to run the equipment. The equipment themselves costs thousands of dollars. So, I believe someone is making good money even with the war on.

  4. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I remember reading somewhere years ago, that a major reduction of heroin production in Pakistan, was not due to stronger enforcement, but simply because MacDonald's Restaurants had flourished in the country. MacDonald's policy at the timewas to use locally grown potatoes for their fries, and they paid the farmers more to grow potatoes than the druglords paid them to grow the opium poppies.

    The point being, declaring "war " on anything doesn't is not leadership. It isn't showing someone a better alternative, it not being in front of the crowd and getting them to follow. It is staying in the back of the crowd, while trying to push them in the direction you want them to go. So instead of leadership, we have developed a "pushership".

    Ever tried pushing a chain?

  5. Wes Bennett says:

    The answer to "why" that you're all looking for…why arrest marijuana smokers…why don't they cure "incurable" diseases…why do we keep relying on oil…why do we keep pursuing war. …the answer is money.

    The American prison system, and all the vendors (clothing, medical, food, etc) that rely on the prison system make a lot of money. That's a lot of people voting to keep things illegal & put more people in prison. I read a year or so ago that it costs well over $100,000 to house each inmate per year.

    The FDA & our Federal government flat out lies about the medical benefits of marijuana – but they will produce a synthetic version (called "Marinol") that can be obtained with a prescription. It doens't work as well to reduce the nausea from hiv meds & chemotherapy meds, but it does cost approximatley $20 a pill.

    Why don't they cure AIDS, Cancer and the other "incurables" when MANY natural therapy supporters have accomplished just that? Because the more money you throw at a problem, the more people will rely on that money and fight to the death to keep it flowing.

    We all have to learn to peacefully undermine the corruption and greed, while quietly promoting and spreading the truth.


    Wes Bennett

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    When crack cocaine possession means 24 years in prison and manslaughter means only 3, you know something is seriously wrong with the U.S. criminal justice system. http://alternet.org/rights/65406/?page=1

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars waging a 40-year "war on drugs" that is responsible for the imprisonment of 500,000 of our fellow Americans. Despite the enormous waste of money and lives, drugs are as easily available as ever. The warmongers say it is for the protection of the kids, yet high schoolers can easily obtain whatever they are looking for in this unregulated market. Fifty percent of high-school seniors will try marijuana before they graduate.

    While I could easily write about my frustration and despair when thinking about how our elected officials wage this war on their fellow Americans and around the world, there is reason to be optimistic for change.

    Here are my Top 10 reasons for optimism in the Fight Against the War on Drugs


  8. Dan Klarmann says:

    Prohibitions against normal human behavior are both futile and inevitable. "Everyone knows" that the use of drugs causes crime, poverty, insanity and other socially destructive effects.

    Tobacco, cannabis, gin, unlicensed sex (criminality now graded by age), heroin, licensed sex (as in Nevada), dancing, and many other vices have been periodically outlawed in part or overall in our own country.

    The only consistent and historically documented effect of these laws has been to increase the number of lawbreakers, as people continue to do what people will do.As long as political hay can be made by passing clearly useless laws, these laws will be passed. A recent example (peeve of mine) is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Clause after clause of which gets struck down by the supreme court, when tested in lawsuits.

    Most provisions that still stand are unenforceable. This massive and useless bill got many a senator re-elected because they were "protecting the children" and (more importantly) protecting the big studio interests from copyright infringement by file-sharing youngsters.

    Since the bill was signed, online pornography hasn't become harder to find, bootleg copies of music and movies are just as available, and companies are busily teaming lawyers with engineers to try to find ways to use this law to their own profit. One example is the little chip now found in printer ink reservoirs. Because of this chip, via the DMCA, third parties are forbidden by Federal Law to produce or sell competing ink supplies, forever. The primary function of the chip is to allow this law to be applied to ink carriers. (It contains a fragment of computer program that would normally be part of the printer in order to be applicable).

    If the War on Drugs is ever conceded, and currently outlawed drugs decriminalized, it will be a short generation before another prohibition (that requires the services of this existing bureaucracy) is instated.

  9. Erich Vieth says:

    By 57-to-43-percent margin, Denver voters have approved a ballot initiative that instructs police to make possession of marijuana in small quantities (less than an ounce) their lowest law enforcement priority.


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