Laws and Punishment Do Not Deter Drug Use or Abuse
The normal assumption is that laws do inhibit. This is a generally false assumption where drugs are concerned.
"The licit or illicit status of substances has little impact on their use."
-- Canada's House of Commons, Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs, report issued November, 2002
So many millions violate the law with impunity that the most basic need for effective deterrence - "the certainty of punishment" - was not, and never could be, in place. The number who have ever used an illegal drug now approaches 100 million and our prisons began to overflow when only a million or so were incarcerated.
Even many top officials have consistently told us that, "We cannot arrest our way out of the problem." Unfortunately, action has not matched the rhetoric.
"The total punishment levied for drug control purposes has increased massively since 1981, when concern with cocaine became prominent. The number of commitments to state and federal prison has risen over tenfold during the same time period. By 1996, there were over 400,000 people in prison or jail serving time for selling or using drugs; the comparable figure for 1980 was about 31,000. Arrests for simple marijuana possession have doubled in the last five years."
-- Drug War Heresies by Peter Reuter and Robert MacCoun