Just this morning, I have come across two items that continue to lend credence to the idea that the War on Drugs is an absolute failure.
Item 1 from an Andrew Stuttaford post in The Corner describes one of the more odious repercussions of our drug war in Latin America. By making it illegal here in the states, drug cartels and black market sellers profit. Further, this profit is then used to combat the legal governments of various countries (Bolivia in this instance, but think also Columbia and pre-war Afghanistan.) Is this really what we want?
Item 2 from Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit looks at the recent drug bust at a school in South Carolina. Do we not have better uses for our police officers and government officials than pointing their weapons at high school students? And they didn't even find any drugs!
Look, I know there are plenty of people opposed to drug use and drugs in general just on moral principle, but I fail to understand how they can continue to support a program (if you can call it that) that has simply failed. Drug use may be down (I have no figures on this so I could be completely wrong) but I would dare say that has more to do with awareness programs than any criminal proceedings aimed at eliminating drugs from our day-to-day life. I am for a total legalization of all drugs poste haste. My argument is simple. One, drug use is not the problem, drug abuse is. Two, money and resources spent in the name of the War on Drugs can be used more efficiently and effectively on more pressing matters (think home front security for one). Three, we have tried banning substances before, to the point of making an actual amendment to the Constitution and we have seen the result - it only adds to the level of crime and illegal profit. And finally four, many of the more objectionable portions of the drug culture would disappear by simple free-market capitalism and government regulation. Crack would disappear, violent crime would decrease and people that really need help could get it through rehab programs rather than taking up much needed space in jail cells across America.
I had an interesting phone call the other day from a survey company interested in the crime in Atlanta (and Mayor Shirley Franklin's performance regarding such.) The questions kept returning to drug dealers and if they kept people from coming downtown, if we were doing enough to stop them and if the police could effectively fight this activity. I tried to answer to the best of my abilities given that I do not experience too many dealers in my particular neighborhood, but my mind kept returning to one basic point - no matter how many resources are used to fight drugs and particularly dealers, they will never eradicate them from our cities. It is wasteful and counterproductive to continue to try. The best way to get rid of drug dealers is by take away their livelihood. If they have no drugs to peddle, what do they do then? And finally, let's look at inner city schools and education rates among folks that live there. When faced with the option to go to school or to carry a bag of drugs across the street for some amount of money, how many children choose the latter? I mean, come on - "Here kid, take this across the street and I'll give you a hundred dollars. Don't bother with going to school. Do you really learn anything anyway? This is a much better way to get ahead." I'd rather take that option away and give kids real options in life.
Drugs are never going to go away, whether it's alcohol, pills or a substance that is currently illegal. We need to find the best way to lesson their deleterious effects while allowing people to experience their personal liberties and choice. Education, awareness and rehabilitation are the ways to do that. The Drug War has failed. We have lost. Let's change direction and find a real solution to the obvious problems drugs present. That is all.