'War on Drugs' Wastes Billions!

'War on Drugs' Wastes Billions!
Posted by FoM on February 27, 1999 at 07:19:02 PT

FOR the past 30 years, the United States has fought an unsuccessful war on drugs by trying to construct a barbed-wire fence around the country to keep supplies out.
The US strategy to block supply has proved futile, reports MARK RILEY.It has spent hundreds of billions of dollars doing so, and has passed new laws to ensure it will spend hundreds of billions more.The approach is all about supply-side economics. You try to block the supply to force the cost of heroin and cocaine up, pricing most users out of the market.But the theory has not worked. Heroin and cocaine are as freely available on the streets as it ever - and cheaper.Now, a few progressive politicians and law enforcement officials are fighting against the large prohibitionist majority, advocating a new integrated policy approach to drugs that would continue to build the fence at one end, while trying to address the drug use problem at the other as a health issue.But being branded "soft on drugs" is a death sentence for US politicians. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani recently fought to ban methadone clinics from parts of the city. And he is one of the more progressive Republicans.Despite this, officials like US Senior District Court Judge John Kane of Denver are pressing for education, prevention and rehabilitation programs instead of jail.Judge Kane is one of the most prominent advocates of a trial of the controlled distribution of heroin, along the lines of that firmly opposed in Australia by the Prime Minister, John Howard."If heroin were available in public health clinics and in private clinics with physicians at $3, you would not have any reason in the world in Tijuana or Colombia to try to send it to the US," he said."I don't think we should go around like a Johnny Appleseed and throw drugs around to people, but I think if you're going to have a war you should win it."However, few lawmakers agree with Judge Kane. The US is still "at war" over drugs - and is calling in more troops to prove it.Recent legislation passed in the US Congress has granted $US117 million ($183 million) to put 1,000 more agents on border patrols in the south to police the flow of narcotics from Mexico and Central America. Another bill directs $US13 million to employing another 100 agents to monitor heroin trafficking. A further $US30 million is being spent to create five "high-intensity drug trafficking areas" to patrol the Texas border with Mexico. As well, a proposed bill would add $US3 billion to an expected three-year federal anti-drug budget of $US51 billion, sending planes and boats to help operations in the Caribbean waters.James Traficant (Dem, Ohio) has put a bill to the Senate to send 10,000 more troops to militarise the south-west border.At the same time, liberal States are heralding the successes of the network of drug courts that have been established across the country in the past couple of years. Non-violent drug offenders are directed into institutionalised or outpatient rehabilitation rather than prison to break the vicious cycle of drug dependency that has been proved to worsen inside jail. This system, which claims a rehabilitation success rate of 80 per cent or more, was the model for the drug court trial being conducted in NSW.Advocates of these social policies say they should be seen not as replacements for, but as complements to, the existing prohibitionist approaches. It is noticeable, however, that much more money is being spent repairing the barbed-wire fence than funding the new approaches. 
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Comment #2 posted by Matt N on March 01, 1999 at 13:22:15 PT
Its all good.
The U.S. is wasting to much time on fighting the drug war. We could save billions of dollars if they legalized it, im not just saying all drugs, but maybe marijuana. That is a very resorceful drug.
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Comment #1 posted by Carrie Ernst on March 01, 1999 at 11:02:41 PT:
news reports
Is it possible to receive your news reports via e-mail and if it is please send to the address listed. Thank you!
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