Economic Ramifications of the War on Drugs

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For thousands of years, many drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and morphine were manufactured, marketed and consumed legally. It was not until the early 20th century that the notion that the United States could enforce a worldwide prohibition of drugs developed. For four decades, the drug war has become accountable for squandering hundreds of billions of tax dollars (some experts’ figures put estimates in the trillions), mismanaging government spending, and the overwhelming costs to human beings that overshadow the damage created by drugs alone. The United States’ unparalleled incarceration rate is a relentless financial drain, resulting in a massive loss in workforce output and strains scarce legal and law enforcement resources. Treatment consistently proves to be a more effective, cheaper and more humane way to lower the demand for illegal drugs, but the federal government spends billions attempting to reduce the demand for illegal drugs through prohibition. The war on drugs has also driven the drug trade underground, creating a violent illicit market that caters to organized crime, gangs and drug cartels. It is these criminal enterprises have the most to gain financially from prohibition, and the profits can easily be funneled into gun smuggling, corruption, and additional bloodshed. The Mexican cartels’ brutal agenda is an example of how the war on drugs has made it impossible to continue policing not just our nation but the world with a failing prohibition strategy.
Drug prohibition has not deterred drug use as one would expect, and as the global drug trade continues to thrive: developing countries deal with the consequences. The consequences stretch beyond what happens to law enforcement, unfortunately the violence and corruption associated with the drug trade shows no bounds. Those in power within the drug trade undermine economic expansion and confine millions in poverty. Resources should be used to treat drugs as a health problem after a sensible policy promoting the legalization and regulation of the use and sale of drugs emerges.
A massive opportunity cost is being missed out upon by enforcing prohibition; over the past forty years, federal and state governments have funneled over $1 trillion into drug war expenditures and these governments depend on us as the taxpayers to handle the cost. Regrettably, these tax dollars have gone to waste. The U.S. is now the world’s largest jailer, despite this ironically; drugs continue to be effortlessly obtainable while treatment resources are inadequate. Drug war expenses have also triggered the defunding of several other important services such as education, health, social service and public safety programs struggling to operate on meager funding.
The basic economic principles of supply and demand shows how distorted the governments reasoning truly is. Resources are poured into criminal justice and banning policies intended to reduce the supply of drugs, while disregarding treatment...

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