If there ever was a failed US policy, war on drugs is it. Today, June 17, 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of this failure.
War on drugs, as its name suggest, is the movement to criminally punish any drug-related activity domestically and militarily crack down on foreigners attempting to export drugs to the US.
Domestically, it has led to the incarceration of millions of Americans. For example, as of May 28, 2011, 50.8 percent of the Federal prison inmate population was incarcerated for drug-related offenses.
The financial cost of catching, prosecuting, and jailing all these drug offenders is enormous and unquantifiable. I've heard the figure $1 trillion thrown around, but that doesn't take into account all the opportunity costs incurred.
The human cost is also staggering. You have the non-violent drug users who are jailed for the mere offense of possession. Once they're shoved in the underfunded and overcroweded US prisons, there is little or no rehabilitation. When they get out, the jobs market discriminates against their criminal records.
No wonder the majority of them become repeat offenders and are wasted for life.
Both abroad and domestically, you have the families, neighborhoods, communities, and entire cities torn apart by powerful criminal organizations.
Why blame that on the war on drugs, you ask?
Because war on drugs is single-handedly the biggest source of funding for criminal organizations in the entire world.
By criminalizing drugs, misguided governments have given criminals monopoly over the global drug trade industry, which is worth hundreds of billions of dollars per year (the United Nations Drug Control Program says $400 billion).
What do drug cartels do with hundreds of billions of dollars? They buy military-grade weapons (one cartel even built a submarine) and lure youngster with promises with riches. In the process, the ruin entire cities and plunged the entire country of Mexico into a mini-civil war.
If drugs were decriminalized and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues were taken away from criminal organizations, do you really think they'd have enough money to wage a civil war in Mexico?
If drugs remain criminalized, there is no amount of law enforcement that will stop it because criminals simply won't give up a $400-billion industry.
It's time to stop lining the pockets of dangerous criminals. It's time to stop bringing violence to the lives of thousands of innocent people. It's time for the US government to scrap its failed 40-year-old war on drugs and regulate this industry for the good of all.