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False Claims of "Success"


Drug War Defined

Failure to Stop Supply

Failure of Prisons

Measuring Results

Figures for

Texas News



Measuring the Failure 

There are five primary ways to measure the success or failure of the drug war: 

1. Willingness to ever break the law and use an illegal drug. 

About 62% of our young have tried an illegal drug by age 22. 

See 62% Use

The percentage of adults who now admit to using marijuana at some time rose from 31% in 1983 to 47% in 2002. 

- Time/CNN poll, Time Magazine, Nov. 4, 2002 

2. The amount of addiction.

America has the harshest punishments and the highest addiction rates in the free world. There has never even been a government claim of reduced addiction in the past 30 years. 

3. The size of the drug cartels.

Before prohibition there were no drug cartels. 

About 10 years ago, U.N. agencies estimated the annual revenue generated by the illegal drug industry at $400 billion, far more than the entire US national defense budget. An additional estimated $100 billion was made annually from money laundering. They appear to have grown stronger each year since. 

For Americans, the symbol of the drug lord is Al Capone. Prohibition turned him from a young punk in his 20's into one of the most powerful, wealthy men in the world with the power to corrupt the police, the judiciary and the electoral process in Chicago. When he went to prison, the illegal alcohol trade continued without missing a beat. 

The drug war - modern prohibition - has created the equivalent of a thousand Al Capones and spread them all over the world. We have a lot to answer for. 

4. The price of the drugs.

" While whisky and beer prices have doubled and cigarettes almost tripled in price over the decade, illegal drugs are now often cheaper than a night out in a pub. The cost of LSD, a hallucinogenic drug, is less than a packet of cigarettes."

 "The street price of illegal drugs has never been lower. The message should be clear - prohibition has failed." 

- from "Drugs - It's all in the price," The Economist, 6-6-02 

5. The availability of drugs to the young.

Because of their enormous wealth, the cartels have been able to place drugs in or around virtually every school in America. We seem not to have grasped that we are unintentionally funding our own worst enemy. 

When the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse [CASA] (February 2001) asked teens what drug was "easiest to buy," 33% said MARIJUANA, 10% said BEER.

A Politician Reconsiders: but his new views are ignored 

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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