The United States government spent over 25 billion dollars on the War on Drugs in 2013. This was an increase of 415 million dollars over the year before. The ostensible purpose is to reduce drug abuse across the nation by fifteen percent over the next five years. But is the War on Drugs achieving even that? And what is the return on investment? Is 25 billion dollars resulting in fully drug-free and independent citizens, or people on replacement drugs and welfare?
The National Drug Control Strategy
In May 2010, the US Administration published the National Drug Control Strategy. In it, the president stated his intention to increase illicit drug prevention and treatment, fight drug trafficking within the US, and protect the borders against drug smuggling.
Three years later, the Office of National Drug Control requested funding for two new departments and two new bureaus. These are:
- Employment and Training Administration (part of the Department of Labor). This would provide drug prevention and intervention for all members of the Job Corps.
- Defense Health Program (part of the Department of Defense). This would give drug abuse treatment to members of the military.
- Continuum of Care (part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development). This would provide housing and other services to help the homeless struggling with substance abuse.
- Administration for Children and Families (part of the Department of Health and Human Services). This would vamp up efforts to protect children from parents with meth or other substance abuse.
While this all sounds well and good, upon deeper inspection one can see through the smoke and mirrors. For drug abuse continues to soar while money is poured into programs that are so futile that even the administration gives it an optimistic fifteen percent success rate.
Cocaine and the Hidden Cost to the American Economy
As the War on Drugs clamps down on drug smuggling across our southern borders, Mexican cartels turn to other markets. When it comes to drugs like cocaine, however, a lack of supply is not going to stop the demand—it’s merely going to drive up the prices. And so it has, resulting in a 24% increase in cocaine’s retail price on American streets in the last seven years.
Those aren’t the only numbers that are at their highest ever. Drug-related killings are at an all-time high, both in Mexico and the United States, and American kidnappings are also on the rise. Analysts speculate that this could be due to increasing animosity toward Americans for their brutality in the War on Drugs.
Drugs and the Economy
Drug addicts make the perfect customers: steadfast, loyal and… well, desperate. Willing to go to any lengths to get their product. Just look at legal drugs: coffee is one of the hottest commodities on the market, second only to petroleum. $50 billion is spent on cigarettes every year, and more than $100 billion on alcohol.
Illicit drugs are more hidden and rare, but that makes them more valuable than gold—literally. A gram of cocaine costs $100, while gold pales in comparison at $25 per gram.
As you can see, spending 25 billion dollars on the War on Drugs with nothing to show for it is merely driving the American economy further and further into the ground. There must be other, more effective solutions to the problem.