The Unwinnable ‘War On Drugs’

Larry Price
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Wednesday - October 19, 2011
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Hard to believe but true, a summit is scheduled for Oct. 27 and 28 in Honolulu that will bring top drug prosecutors from around the world and across the nation to the shores of Waikiki. It’s called the Hawaii International Drug Trafficking Summit, and the agenda is to discuss the global impact of drug trafficking.

Prosecutors from Guatemala, India and the Philippines will be here along with district attorneys from California to New York. It’s being sponsored by the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney and the National District Attorneys Association. A report from the summit is expected to be presented at next year’s meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

I remember when President Richard Nixon coined the term “War on Drugs” in 1971.

In June 2011, The Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report on the War on Drugs, declaring, “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.”


Don’t expect any great revelations from the summit meeting. The Obama administration won’t even use the term “War on Drugs” because the president claims it is “counter-productive,” although the Office of National Drug Control Policy believes that “drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated, and the idea of making drugs more available will only make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe (2011).”

It’s enough to make a struggling taxpayer wonder where the money will come from for a public program that is not a “war” anymore. The record shows that this “war” has been going on in the United States since 1860!

In 1920, the United States passed the National Prohibition Act along with the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol for consumption on a national level. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created, and it operated out of the Department of the Treasury by an act of Congress in 1930.

In 1933, the federal prohibition of alcohol was repealed. It didn’t take long for government leaders to start asking for financial aid to fight narcotic trafficking, and it hasn’t stopped since.

The laws passed by Congress have not worked. The record shows that in 2008, 1.5 million Americans were arrested for drug offenses and 500,000 were imprisoned. Marijuana constitutes almost half of all drug arrests. A 2008 study by Harvard economist Jeffery A. Miron estimates that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy $44.1 billion would come from law enforcement savings!


So what’s the point? There seem to be rumblings at the Capitol that maybe it’s time to consider legalizing marijuana since the “war” is not succeeding and it’s costing a small fortune in the process. Why else would you have such a magnificent conference of experts in paradise when they already know what the general findings will be?

Time will tell if this is merely a continuation of an old debate.

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