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Notes for Drug War Failure 

[1] Drug Dealers 

The basic problem here is that, like the drugs, there is a huge surplus and dealers are replaced as easily as a check out clerk in a super market. Too often it is teens who fill the position. 

Putting a dealer in prison creates two dealers, one in prison at our expense - who will eventually get out - and the person[s] who replace that dealer. 

"Suppliers have an incentive to substitute youth for adults in the distribution chain. The unintended consequences of rising enforcement are that more people are engaged in supplying a smaller amount of drugs and more juveniles have been lured into the drug trade." 


by David W. Rasmussen : Professor of Economics and Director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University. 

and Bruce L. Benson: Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at Florida State University. (Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 1978)

Rationalizing Drug Policy Under Federalism

Note: The reference to "a smaller amount of drugs" is due to the fact that to evade seizure, suppliers make the drugs purer and more compact and not due to lower consumption.

"When you take a bank-robber off the streets you have one less bank-robber. When you take a drug dealer off the streets you have created a job opening." 

-- Peter Christ, retired police captain after 20 years on the job, member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. [LEAP] See: http://leap.cc/

 "There is only one thing wrong with drug law enforcement, just one - it doesn't work." 

-- Volney Brown, a retired Federal Magistrate Judge who was previously the nation's leading drug prosecutor, locking up some 1,100 drug dealers in 18 months. Once, at massive taxpayer expense, he managed to lock up all of the 76 major drug dealers in Phoenix in one night and kept them in prison; within 8 days they had all been replaced. 

For more on dealers, see Children 

[2] Prohibition makes already dangerous drugs much more dangerous. 

Illegal drugs are not subject to regulation so they may be impure as alcohol was during Prohibition. This tendency for illegal drugs to become more potent - the reverse of our experience with legal drugs - has been called "The Iron Law of Prohibition." 

These are critical problems in light of the widespread experimentation that now occurs. 

[3] Prohibition multiplies the harm done to the public by drug abuse and to the abusers themselves. 

What the Swiss have shown by providing heroin to some of their worst addicts is : 

(a) Addicts will generally stop criminal behavior if they can get their drugs at a reasonable price. 

(b) General health care problems and related costs to the public are cut sharply. Overdose deaths were cut to zero. 

(c) Many addicts can return to normal jobs while still addicted and perform reasonably, becoming tax payers rather than tax burdens. 

(d) Relieved of the obsessive need to get their next fix, many addicts can stabilize their intake, order their lives and move to treatment, including abstinence. 

For more information on the above, see Heroin

[5] A Politician Reconsiders 

Rep. Dan Burton [R-IN] has played a key role in getting ever more funding for the drug war for decades. He has reconsidered. What follows are extracts strung together from a remarkable speech on 12-12-02. It was covered by C-SPAN, but got little attention. 

"I have been in probably a hundred or a hundred and fifty hearings like this at various times in my political career. This goes back to the sixties. And the story is always the same. 

"And the drug problem continues to increase. And it continues to cost us not billions, but trillions of dollars. Trillions! 

"But there is no end to it. 

"We saw Pablo Escobar gunned down and everybody applauded and said 'that's the end of the Medellín cartel.' But it wasn't the end. 

"When you kill one, there's ten or twenty or fifty waiting to take his place. There is so much money to be made in it; there is always going to be another person in line to make that money. 

"One of the parts of the equation has never been talked about ­ because politicians are afraid to talk about it. 

"This is my last committee hearing as Chairman. Last time! And I thought about this and thought about this, and thought about this. And one of the things that ought to be asked is, 'What part of the equation are we leaving out?' 

"Let's talk about what would happen if we started addressing how to get the profit out of drugs."

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