Thursday, June 16, 2005

The War on Drugs

Today George Will suggests that the war on drugs is one we can win - or, if not, that it is nonetheless worth fighting. To advance his point, he presents the following arguments:
  • In the early days of the War on Drugs, during Nixon's presidency, key administration officials already perceived it as an unwinnable war;
  • Profit margins for illegal drugs are enormous, and the sale price for cocaine can reach 100 times the cost of production;
  • Illegal drugs are easily smuggled from impoverished nations into the United States;
  • Inflation-adjusted prices for marijuana, cocaine and heroin have decreased significantly over time;
  • There are 19 million active users of illegal drugs, 7 million of whom are addicted;
  • Marijuana is stronger and more potent than ever (although I know some aging hippies who scoff at that claim);
  • The increase in drug prosecutions since 1990 arises from increased prosecution of marijauana possession, not trafficking offenses; and
  • The cost of the "war on drugs" is $35 billion per year.
I will acknowledge that Will notes periodic downward trends in marijuana use among teens, that occasional large seizures of portions of the 200 metric tons of cocaine that entered the U.S. last year caused "abrupt shortages in some metropolitan areas", and that alcohol use did not rise to pre-prohibition levels until the 1960's, but otherwise... which side was he arguing, again?

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