5 January 2009

Crime and Prohibition

Governments will need new revenues and to lower current expenses. Charles Hugh Smith over at two minds makes the case well.

"By a wide margin, no policy has failed more spectacularly and at greater cost in human lives and national treasure than the "war on drugs." No policy runs so counter to well-established research or law enforcement views, yet at the same time no policy is more heavily defended politically as "essential" and "unquestioned."

"Last week saw the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. In Washington, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) - a group of former cops and drug-war veterans who have soured on America's war on drugs - gathered to celebrate the anniversary, and to argue for an end to America's current prohibition on marijuana and more serious drugs.

Essentially, they believe that the war on drugs creates criminals. Richard Van Wickler, a onetime New Hampshire county corrections superintendent, noted during a LEAP conference call last week that despite America's drug laws, 114 million Americans (out of more than 300 million) have used illegal drugs, 35 million of them in the last year. The law is not much of a deterrent.

World Health Organization researchers found that 42.4 percent of Americans had tried marijuana - the highest ratio of any of 17 countries surveyed. New Zealand, which has tough drug policies, scored a close second place at 41.9 percent. Dutch residents can buy cannabis at coffee shops, yet less than 20 percent of Dutch respondents said they had tried cannabis. Researchers concluded, "Drug use does not appear to be related to drug policy, as countries with more stringent policies (e.g., the United States) did not have lower levels of illegal drug use than countries with more liberal policies (e.g. the Netherlands)."

Meanwhile, drug prohibition does work, Van Wickler added, as "a wonderful opportunity for organized crime."

read it all here

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