Standoff: War on drugs

Robert Mullen & Graham C Wheat, Reporter & Editor-in-Chief

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Many can argue, have argued, that the War on Drugs is failing. They say it’s a waste of money that costs taxpayers and puts the profits of high demand, low supply drugs into the pockets of kingpins south of the border.
While these are pretty valid points, the fact of the matter is that the War on Drugs is a slow and painful fight over an issue that can’t be quickly resolved. However, it has helped damper use and the impact of drugs, primarily through the education programs its funded.
First off, nearly all illegal drugs currently being suppressed in this “war” are horrible. They do terrible things to the human body and mind; they destroy lives, not always just the users, but affect their families and friends, too. Many are incredibly addictive, and if a person is hooked it’s a painful and expensive process to rehabilitate them.
If many of these drugs were legalized, it’s doubtful to think that drug use would go down. Current users want to do them regardless if there are already criminal consequences, and it’s likely that use would increase because of the lack of more direct outside consequences.
Even regulating these drugs wouldn’t be as effective as fighting them. Drug dealers and the larger organizations of growers and suppliers are notoriously ornery about losing profits. A drug that is sold to make a profit and taxed will be much more expensive than a drug that isn’t taxed. There will still be a black market for these tax-free drugs; a grower can ship his product by himself using the same delivery infrastructures he had before to undercut the new legalized drugs. His drugs will cost the same, or even lower, while the legal drug will cost more because of the taxes.
Beyond that, it isn’t likely that these organizations are going to like “mom and pop” drug shops popping up and taking over the places they are sold in. In all likelihood, the same organizations dealing in the majority of the drug trade now, will eventually take over all of the legal drug trade due to the slowly waning influence and power they posses. Part of the reason people say the war on drugs is a failure is because it puts money in the pockets of drug dealers, but legalizing or even regulating these drugs will do the exact same thing after a few years as these powerful groups take out the new drug growing businesses.
If anything, this war needs to focus on taking out growing operations, not the suppliers or users. Cut the snake’s head off, and the problem will fizzle and die. If enough kingpins get wiped out, if enough fields get burned, these major operations will fold up, lacking the financial base to constantly open a new operation after new operation.


In our world of instant gratification and quick fixes, it is no wonder that the war on drugs is horribly failing. Our society is only satisfied when something is attained immediately, of the best quality, and the cheapest possible price. This is the nature of America and it’s people, and the driving force behind the demise of the war on drugs. The term “war on drugs” can be a vague one. It is the continued prohibition of illegal substances and the actions that are taken to combat supply chain, production, and preventative education.
A recent study published in BMJ Open, a resource for open access to general medicine research studies, is the first conclusive study of the war on illegal drugs and the methods for enforceability, internationally and at home, since the ’90s. The findings might be eye opening to some, and to others confirm the pointless nature of this war.
After sifting through much scientific jargon, the stats that are the crux of the study are staggering.
From 1990 to 2007 the prices of illegal drugs in the U.S. (specifically cocaine, heroin and cannabis) has dropped 81 percent, 80 percent, and 86 percent respectively. While simultaneously decreasing in price, the purity of said illicit drugs has increased by 60 percent in cocaine, 11 percent in heroin, and a whopping 161 percent in the case of marijuana.
So what do these statistics mean in our everyday life? The Office of National Drug Control Policy estimated the war on drugs in 2011 to cost nearly $15 billion in government spending, with states and counties spending billions of dollars as well. The United Nations estimates the profits from the national and international sale of drugs to be near $350 billion a year. Remember none of these statistics include legal prescriptions, another issue entirely.
Despite all the best efforts at home and abroad, drugs continue to get stronger and cheaper. Simply put, the war on drugs isn’t a “war” at all. Wars have winners and losers. Whatever tactics these drug soldiers are using do not seem to have any effect. One look at the overview of this study clearly shows the ineffectiveness in which these soldiers operate.
The reason this “war” can never be won is simple. Our society is insatiable. And we are very, very sad.
The Center For Disease Control estimates that 48.5 percent of Americans are on at least one type of prescription drug in 2010, with anti depressants and painkillers leading these categories.
We will go to any lengths to try and fill the voids that are perceived in our lives, legally or illegally. More and more dejected Americans are turning to illicit drugs to fill their familial or social voids.
The moral here is not prohibition, because clearly the “Just Say No” tactics are not working. It is only through major reform on drug policy and education that such an epidemic can be curved.
We must all realize the human element in this and strike down the demonization that has been forced upon for so long.

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